By Kristen Skeet
Make a movie, I said. It’ll be great, I said.
It was June 2017, and my friends and eventual fellow producers and I happened to be in New York City at the same time. We decided to meet up, and it was during the ensuing talk that we realized had mutual aspirations of becoming filmmakers.
I mentioned I’d written a film short set in Akron Falls Park in my hometown. That original script was only four pages, and it was very simple: vaguely horror in genre with only two characters and one location, the park. Once we decided to produce it, it became … something else. By the time we started shooting “Murder Creek,” the script was 14 pages, with 14 characters, multiple shooting locations, and the need for special effects and more than a handful of extras.
I’ll be frank: I had no idea what I was getting into and the hours it would take to pull it off. We had our first official production meeting in early April 2018 and not a day has gone by since that night that I haven’t worked on the film in some capacity. Not a single day.
Securing locations, securing permits for locations, creating a casting call, creating a crew call, scheduling auditions, the auditions themselves, figuring out a production budget, creating a crowd-funding campaign and begging for money across three social media platforms every day for 30 straight days while doing it in a way that is hopefully charming enough to make people want to contribute to the film. And that was all before we started shooting.
By the night of our table read with the cast in September, the night before we started shooting, my mind was a chaotic mess. My phone had become a permanent fixture of my hand. The four days we spent shooting are still a blur to me. There are notes in the margins of my shooting script that I don’t remember writing. I had full-on conversations with various people throughout those four days that I have no recollection of.
Then came the editing.
What nobody tells you about directing your first film is how much you’ll hate your movie by the time it’s ready to be released to the public.
I don’t really hate “Murder Creek.” I love it, in fact. I’m proud of it. I’m incredibly grateful to our cast and crew and friends and family for their hard work and support.
But I can’t get away from this thing.
I started editing in late September, a week after we wrapped, and didn’t have a rough cut of it until the night before Thanksgiving, where I subjected my family to it after dinner while their defenses were down in a turkey stupor. It was another two months of tweaking it after that showing before we had something ready to submit to film festivals.
I’m seeing this thing in my sleep at this point. I’ve memorized it start to finish. Not just the dialogue but the way that one leaf on that one tree is blowing in that one scene.
But here’s something else nobody tells you about directing your first film: how much you’ll learn and how incredible it feels knowing you actually pulled it off.
We submitted to our first batch of film festivals on Jan. 19. A week later we were chosen as an “official selection” for one of them.
Yes, that is a great feeling. I can’t wait to do it all over again.
Kristen Skeet, of Akron, is the writer and director of the short film "Murder Creek."