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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Q5: 'Fun of a good scare'

  • The three-person team of Natalie Jones and Aaron and Austin Keeling have returned home to work on their passion project — a small horror film called "The House on Pine Street."
    The young filmmakers are using Leavenworth locations, and plan on submitting the finished flick to film festivals.
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  • The three-person team of Natalie Jones and Aaron and Austin Keeling have returned home to work on their passion project — a small horror film called "The House on Pine Street."
    The young filmmakers are using Leavenworth locations, and plan on submitting the finished flick to film festivals.
    Here, Jones discusses her colleagues/friends and using their hometown as a backdrop for the feature.
    1. Natalie, what are the backgrounds of your group of filmmakers, which includes Aaron and Austin Keeling?
    "The three of us were born and raised in Leavenworth, but didn’t meet until attending Lansing Middle School. We’ve been best friends ever since.
    “Aaron and Austin have actually been making movies since they were 12 years old, and completed their first feature film 'I.Q.' while seniors in high school.
    "At first, I didn’t do much for their movies, just appearing in some truly horrible music videos that will forever haunt me on YouTube. But, once we got into college we all started to take filmmaking more seriously.
    "Aaron and Austin went to the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles and studied film and television production.
    “There they were able to work on professional film sets and learn every aspect of the filmmaking process.
    “I went to KU and graduated from the School of Business with a degree in finance.
    “I also played trombone in the KU Marching Band, and I flew out to California to help produce film projects with Aaron and Austin whenever I could."
     
    2. How did you get the idea for making "The House on Pine Street," and what motivated you all to work together to make this film?
    "We’ve been talking about making movies together for the past few years. We made a decision that we didn’t want to start our career in the film industry by being an assistant’s assistant, so instead we decided to make a full feature on our own. We started brainstorming for this specific movie in March of last year, but really started to write when Aaron and Austin moved back to Kansas last July.
    "The idea came from the types of movies we’ve always loved – horror movies. All three of us have a wide range of taste when it comes to movies, but the horror genre is something that we all seem to gravitate towards. There is something so fun about horror, so primal and immediate — the shock, the suspense, the fun of a good scare. Some of our most formative memories of watching movies are memories of horror films, so we thought it would be a great place to start.
    Page 2 of 3 - "That being said, we wanted to approach this film from a different perspective. Though horror is great, too many films in the genre focus too much on gore and violence without any purpose. We wanted to ensure that the film would resonate with all types of viewers, even those who aren’t normally fans of horror. We did that by focusing on creating deep, complex, real characters to populate the film. Writing the script took a little over eight months, and a lot of that time was spent fleshing out these characters and finding a way to tell their story in an honest and powerful way.
    "The movie is about a pregnant woman who returns to her small hometown after an unexpected mental breakdown and moves into a house that she suspects may be haunted. We wanted to take the standard formula for haunted house movies and turn it on its head a bit — to try new things and present the usual elements in a unique way. We believe our film will be a smart and fresh approach to the horror genre.
    "Casting the film was a huge project. We put out casting notices in the Kansas City area and had an overwhelming response. We saw hundreds of auditions, both in person and through video submissions. We weren’t sure what to expect when we started casting, but we were blown away by the talent we saw and we’re thrilled with our final cast. Most of the cast consists of local actors from the Kansas City area, with two of our roles being played by actors from Los Angeles."
     
    3. What locations are you using to shoot the film and what are some of the most challenging aspects of making a movie?
    "Our main location is a house in Independence, Mo., that was built in 1840. We found the house by posting on Craigslist, believe it or not, and are thrilled to be shooting in a home with so much history and character.
    "The rest of the locations are in Leavenworth. We really wanted to pay tribute to the town we grew up in, so we tried to find as many locations as we could here. We will be shooting in the Community Center, at a local doctor’s office, and in three homes that were generously provided to us by the Leavenworth Historical Society — they are so great.
    "Making a movie, especially one this big, is an incredibly challenging undertaking. Keeping all the details and elements organized and coordinated is probably one of the most difficult aspects. There are just so many things to think about and plan — actors, schedules, equipment, crew, stunts, visual effects, and much, much more.
    "Fundraising is also challenging. We’ve raised some of the money necessary for the film, but are still looking for contributions to make this movie the best that it can be. If anyone is interested, we have a Kickstarter campaign where you can find out more about the film and donate. There are some cool rewards for donating, too: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1484196320/the-house-on-pine-street.
    Page 3 of 3 - "We are filming for three weeks, and will wrap production on May 12. After that, it’s just editing. Austin is editing the film, and he’s aiming to have it finished by the end of September so we can submit it to Sundance."
     
    4. What films have influenced you, Aaron and Austin the most over your lifetimes and are there any that actually inspired any of you to become filmmakers?
    "So many movies have influenced us in one way or another, from 'American Beauty' and 'Magnolia' to 'Synecdoche, New York' and 'Requiem for a Dream.' The work of David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Paul Thomas Anderson, and more, have all been big inspirations. Specific films that influenced our movie include 'Take Shelter,' 'The Blair Witch Project,' 'Black Swan,' and 'The Others.'
    Surprisingly, the biggest influence on this film is actually a book — 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson, which all three of us have read. We actually read it together, out loud. The book is a classic haunted house story told with emphasis on character, realistic terror, and psychological ambiguity — a definite inspiration for the type of movie we wanted to make.
     
    5. Will you, Austin and Aaron collaborate on more projects and do you have any specific ideas for your next project?
    "We will definitely collaborate on more projects. The way we see it, we will probably be working together for the rest of our lives.
    "We do have some specific ideas for the next project, but it’s in very early stages. All I can say is that it’s set in the woods of the Pacific Northwest and will be pretty creepy. We plan to start writing the next script while editing this film, that way we’ll have another project to pitch when we start taking 'The House on Pine Street' to festivals.
    "Hopefully, in 20 years, we will still be writing and making movies together. It’s a difficult thing to do, and there isn’t really a safety net when deciding to go for it and make a movie. But it’s what we love to do, what we feel we were born to do, and we can’t imagine doing anything else.
    If you want to find out more info about our film, take a look at our Kickstarter page, or visit our website at www.thehouseonpinestreet.com."
    — Rimsie McConiga

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