One Man's Poison

Jake Dombrowski is hired by Darla Brand to find a necklace. While trying to find the necklace, Jake is recruited by Elijah Wilson, the mob boss who runs the city, to kill Pat Noonan, Elijah’s young rival. When Wilson kidnaps Darla, Jake hatches a plan to clean up the city and get himself out once and for all.

  • James Cotton
    Violet, Iguana Pizza
  • James Cotton
  • James Cotton
  • Carl T. Rogers
    Annabel Lee
  • Jay Stallworth
  • Jon Bowlby
    Key Cast
  • Christy Edney Lancaster
    Key Cast
  • Steve Carlisle
    Key Cast
    Fled, My Fellow Americans
  • Nick Culp
    Key Cast
  • Justin Michael Brtittain
    Annabel Lee
  • Carl T. Rogers
    Director of Photography
    Annabel Lee
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Mystry, Film Noir
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes 38 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - James Cotton

James Cotton, a North Carolina native, has been entertaining people all his life. From an early age it seemed obvious he would eventually be an entertainer. His first onstage roles were Lt. Brannigan in Guys and Dolls and Eugene in Grease for which he won a Favorite Character Actor award from the theatre.

He went to Western Carolina University, graduating in 2000 with a BA in Theatre with an emphasis on acting and directing. While at WCU, he appeared in such shows as Steve Martin’s Picasso At the Lapin Agile, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, and Willi with David Forsyth as well as writing, producing, directing and starring in a one-man show titled The Tragedy of the President of the United States (in 1999). He also worked backstage as Stage Manager, soundboard operator, sound effects technical, and many other jobs on shows such as Mustang, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Barefoot in the Park. He was property master on a post-apocalyptic production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

James worked for a season at Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theatre of North Carolina. While there, he appeared on stage with Pat Hingle in You Can’t Take it With You and worked as a scenic artist on West Side Story, The Woman in Black, Oklahoma, and many more.

James then appeared in productions of Arsenic and Old Lace as Teddy, The Odd Couple as Felix, and Clifford in DeathTrap at various theatres in North Carolina before turning to directing in 2003, directing The Rainmaker and The Diary of Anne Frank for the Uwharrie Players, a theatre group in central North Carolina where he has also served as a member of the board of directors for many years. In 2010, he directed Smoke on The Mountain for them.

In 2004, James decided it was time to go to film school and enrolled in Vancouver Film School, where he started in the summer of 2005. While there he was the editor on the documentary Rev-Up, assistant director for the midterm drama Mary McPhearson and director of the midterm drama Iguana Pizza as well as serving in several other jobs on other short films.

After graduating from VFS in 2006, James adapted, produced, and directed the short film Violet that was included in the 2008 Cannes Short Film Corner at the 2008 Festival de Cannes. He produced and directed a short parody of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as Twas the Night After Christmas in 2008.

James worked for Stanly Community College, running the local PEG channel, SCC-TV, since 2010 where he produced all the programming for the channel as well as promotional material for the college.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Several years ago I was reading the Dashiell Hammett novel “Red Harvest” and fell in love with it. I realized that no one has made the novel into a film before. Of course, Kurosawa loosely based Yojimbo on the novel and then Sergio Leone remade that as Fistful of Dollars, but the actual novel has never been adapted directly to the screen. I decided that I wanted to be that person to adapt the novel. I have always liked 1920s detective stories and that time period in general.

I realized very quickly that I needed something to show what I wanted to do, so I wrote One Man’s Poison with similar themes and characters to show what I was thinking.

The original concept was to do the film as a computer animated film because, for some reason, that was how I saw the novel when I read it. I was working at Stanly Community College at the time and they have a simulation and game development program. My intern in the TV studio was a student in that program who had a background in animation, so I recruited him to help. My original idea was to partner with SCC and have the students work on the film as a school project to give them experience. We began talking to the program head and things looked promising for a while, but eventually we realized that wasn’t going to happen, so I gave up on that idea. We then decided to change the film to live action and shoot it here in Albemarle, NC.

Things began to fall into place when I asked my friend Steve Carlisle to play the mob boss Elijah Wilson. Steve has an extensive resume of stage and film credits, so get him was very exciting and jumped everything forward.

It still took almost a year to get everything together and the funding, but during a rainy and hot week in July, we began filming in The Boardroom, a special events restaurant in Albemarle, North Carolina, filming the majority of the movie in that location. We dressed different rooms to appear as if they were different locations, saving time and money on company moves. We closed off two streets in downtown Albemarle one night for the filming of the street scenes, including one in front of the historic Alameda Theatre, built around 1919.

Though everything did not go as smoothly as I would have hoped, the film came together into a very well done film noir piece and I am excited to release it.