Twenty years ago, a group of us got together and made a haunted house. We were kids, 11 to 14 years old, and we knew what a haunted house should be. It didn’t cost us much money to build it, but man it was scary. Now I’m trying to recreate that experience in a film.
Last May I started writing down my memories of that time and by July I had a full-length screenplay on my hands. The film is not just about the haunted house, though. It’s about the loss you experience when childhood comes to an end. It’s also about the loss my father experienced during that time when his own father died of cancer, and my 11-year-old perspective of my father’s grief.
While I hope to turn this screenplay into a full-length film sometime in the next five years, right now I am only aiming to make a short (15 minute) version of it. This short version will focus almost entirely on the actual haunted house we made and the Halloween night 20 years ago when we put it on. It will follow a fictional narrative, but it will feel like a documentary. Think of movies like Bloody Sunday or Y Tu Mamá También.
I grew up in Western Massachusetts in the 90's. I cut my teeth on filmmaking at NYU 10 years ago then promptly forgot about it for the next several years. During that time, I ran a food truck, got married to a Minnesota woman, and hiked half of the Appalachian Trail. Now I'm finishing up a master's degree in education. In my free time I like to play soccer, write, hike, and go contra dancing.
Preproduction will begin in May of 2017. Filming will take place over a 1-week stretch at the end of July. Post production will begin in August and run until December. In the beginning of 2018 we will begin preparing the film to send to festivals and aim to starting sending it out by March.
Behind the Scenes of the "Snake Scene"
Interested in knowing how we made the snake scene? Check out this short video of the production process. It won't answer all your questions (we like to hold on to some of our secrets), but it will give you a taste of what we went through to make it.
Original "Witch" Footage
This is a short video I filmed 14 years ago of the witch we set up for Halloween that year. At 16 years old, it also marks one of my first forays into filmmaking.
Risks and challenges
• Building a quality crew. Western MA is not known as a hub for film-making so finding crew members that are able to commit to the shoot could pose a challenge. To solve this, we may bring in crew from out of town.
• Finding actors who can commit to the time and location. Since most of the characters in this movie are kids, not only will the actors have to commit to the shoot, but their parents or guardians will as well. Some or all of the actors may also need to have lodging provided for the duration of the shoot. To accommodate this, we will look into renting a large house. Since the shoot takes place in my home town we thankfully have many connections that could make this task easier.
• Music. There are a couple of songs that I would like to get licensed for this movie. Some of them are fairly popular, though, so this won't be cheap. Since our budget is minimal, we may have to look into alternative music for these scenes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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