After three years in Columbia’s Film MFA Program and an additional year of development and prep, it’s finally time to make the move from short to feature. Back in the spring of 2011, I teamed up with writer-director Erlingur Thoroddsen and together, we made the short film Child Eater under the Columbia umbrella to fulfill our thesis requirement. A year later, it was in the can, a year after that it played in SXSW’s Midnight Shorts Program, and now that another year has passed, it’s time to make our next big move – turn Child Eater into a full feature.
The film focuses on a boogeyman-type character named Robert Bowery. Way back when, Bowery was the proud owner of a beloved petting zoo. Trouble is, after getting hit with a case of macular degeneration, the local parents no longer felt safe letting their little ones loose on the game farm grounds. Completely distraught, Bowery snapped, attacked the children and chowed down on their eyes to keep himself from going blind. Now, Bowery is long gone, but the legend and decaying zoo still remain and 10-year-old Lucas is the unlucky little boy who has to move into the old home just a short walk away. At least Lucas has Helen coming over to babysit tonight. If he could just convince her that Bowery is real, maybe she can help him make it through the night alive.
After so many years of development, it’s hard to believe it’s really happening, but come April 7th, we will start principal photography in Catskill, New York. Not only are we lucky enough to have quite a few people returning from the short film including Cait Bliss (Helen), John Wakayama Carey (director of photography), Ramsey Scott (production designer) and Fiona Tyson (make-up), but we’ve also recruited a number of newcomers, all eager to live through our little nightmare. Child Eater will mark Waiting for Godot’s Colin Critchley’s (Lucas) first lead role in a feature film while seasoned actress, Melinda Chilton, will step in as Ginger, a recluse obsessed with killing Robert Bowery who tends to take her passion to protect the innocent a bit too far.
Having grown up in the 80s, we’re undeniably influenced by classic slashers like Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers, and also the tone of their respective films, particularly their ability to deliver powerful scares, but exhilarating and enjoyable ones, too. We are shooting the zoo portion of the film in a real, rundown game farm and the property is just brimming with eerily curious buildings that are all loaded with highly unique kill opportunities, giving us the chance to subvert genre tropes, and truly show you things you’ve never seen before.
We’re confident in the material and in our team, but there’s still no denying that making the leap from shorts to features is a monumental challenge. Columbia trained us well and our experience making shorts absolutely honed our craft, but there’s an endless list of elements that are vital to the success of the production. Of course you’ve got the obvious components like the script, talent involved and financing, but then there’s also an enormous amount of paperwork, feeding a company of close to 30 people for a month, ensuring there are accessible bathrooms on every set, stunt safety concerns, and so much more. It’s certainly a learning process, but it’s also one where you can’t miss a beat, otherwise the whole production could come crumbling down. Fortunately, between myself, Erlingur and producer Luke Spears, the pieces are coming together well and we’re heading straight towards a fulfilling and successful shoot.
I’ll be Tweeting throughout the entire production, so if you’d like to get a sense of what a first feature shoot is like, feel free to follow along here @PNemiroff or here @ChildEaterMovie. And if you’d like to learn more about the production right now, we’ve currently got a Kickstarter campaign up and running to help us secure the last little bit of our budget.
Mind your eyes; Robert Bowery is coming!
Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.