Brian Jalbert, left, as Chase Diamond and Randall Speakman as Micky Diamond in the horror thriller “House Guest.”
SEMINOLE – After retiring from his job as an undercover narcotics detective for the Sheriff’s Office three years ago, Randall Speakman was uncertain what his next step would be.
Then, his mother succumbed to cancer. Not long after that, his brother died from a heart attack.
“I would wake up and feel like I had no purpose,” Speakman said.
But things slowly got better. He bought the London Bus Pub with his friend and business partner, Brad Doran. He also began making horror movies, including last summer’s “House Guest,” with a pair of local filmmaker brothers, Brian and Jake Jalbert, and found he had a knack for playing the bad guy.
“It saved me,” Speakman said. “Between the Bus and meeting Brian and doing movies. I think it’s the main reason I’m still here.”
Speakman and Doran met while hanging out at the Angry Pepper. Speakman was considering a move to Bradenton at the time, but the two would talk about what it would be like if they opened up their own bar.
When the longtime owners of the London Bus Pub put the business up for sale, Doran and Speakman jumped at the chance to buy it.
“That business has been there over 41 years,” Doran said. “Its roots go that far back in the community.”
The community was their primary motivation for buying the restaurant – they wanted to give back, Speakman said. He rattled down the list of charities and causes that have benefitted from fundraisers they’ve organized: breast cancer awareness and research, pitbull rescue efforts, The Wounded Warrior Project, No Child Goes Hungry.
The pair also wanted to create a friendly atmosphere, a second home.
“It’s a ‘Cheers’ atmosphere,” Speakman said. “Hey, how you doing? Everybody knows each other’s name.”
Then a chance encounter with Brian at a local Subway fast food restaurant led him in a different direction.
Speakman overheard Brian talking with friends about shooting a movie. Intrigued, Speakman stopped to chat.
The Jalbert brothers, Boca Ciega High School graduates, filmed weddings through their company Iyrus Entertainment by day, and made action and horror movies in their free time.
Speakman had always been interested in acting. After all, he had spent 27 years with the Sheriff’s Office, where acting was an integral part of his job as an undercover detective.
He expressed an interest in working on one of Brian’s films and the two exchanged contact information.
Their first project together was a short film, “Love Struck.”
This is when they realized Speakman had a knack for playing the bad guy. He took on the role of a seedy pawn shop owner who was running drugs on the side.
“He was a bad dude,” said Speakman, who added that roles like that come naturally to him because of his background. “As an undercover cop, all I did was work with bad guys.”
They entered the film into the 2012 Action Film Challenge.
Speakman was named Best Villain and Brian won the award for Best Actor.
Next came the thriller “House Guest,” which premiered at Muvico in Ybor City last July. In “House Guest,” a group of friends gather at one of their homes only to realize a murderer terrorizing their city is one of the guests.
Speakman joined the brothers as co-executive producer and funded the $3,000 needed for the budget.
They also brought in Alex Vincent, the child star of the “Child’s Play” movies. Not only did Vincent star in the film, but he wrote the script as well. Brian met Vincent, who lives in New Port Richey, after publishing an ad on Craigslist seeking local scriptwriters.
“He’s such a down-to-earth guy,” Brian said. “He wrote it, and I thought it would be cool to get him to star in it as well.”
Now they’re hard at work on their next projects, “In Your Image” and “10 Seconds to Run.”
“10 Seconds to Run” is about a group of white trash rednecks that toy with their victims by giving them a 10-second head-start before hunting them down.
“In Your Image,” based on a dream Speakman had, is about two twin brothers adopted out to two different families – one very loving and supportive, the other abusive. Each brother takes a very different path in life, and, not knowing the other exists, encounter each other later in life.
“I dream in vivid detail,” Speakman said.
“It’s crazy,” Brian said. “He made a dream come true.”
They passed Speakman’s notes from the dream on to local scriptwriter Jim Duncan who formatted it and fixed it up. Now they’re trying to grab the attention of a big name actor to star in it. Daniel Baldwin and Ice T are two actors who have asked them to make an offer, Brian said.
He also reached out to Kevin Spacey, but he received a polite email telling him that Spacey’s compensation would be greater than the film’s entire budget of $5,000.
“Just the fact that he got back to us is pretty cool, though,” Speakman said.