Students' create short film based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Monika Davis / Beacon Correspondent • December 1, 2016

Last month, Hope Alexander, a sophomore visual and media arts major, approached her friends and pitched the idea for a short horror film. Three weeks later, it was shot and ready for editing.

The horror thriller, Ed, is about a teenager who sets out to find his alleged stalker. The film follows the protagonist, Ed, as he grapples with the real and imaginary and makes the audience question whether or not his stalker is a figment of his imagination. It’s still in post-production, but it’s estimated to be about eight minutes long.

Alexander came up with the idea for the movie after she had a vision three years ago of a person sitting in a chair with a camera attached to the leg creating a dizzying effect. She said that most of her films are based off of an instantaneous vision that triggers her creativity.

Alexander worked alongside three other women to create the film: Annie Huang, a sophomore marketing communications major; Mariela Deynes, a sophomore visual and media arts major; and Sofia Barrett, a junior visual and media arts major.

To raise money for the film, they created a Kickstarter campaign and said they were shocked when Ed raised its goal of $808 in less than 24 hours. It ultimately reached more than $1,500 in the three weeks of the Kickstarter.

For Huang, who was assistant arts editor last spring for The Berkeley Beacon, this experience was a new one. She said without a connection outside the classroom, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to produce a film.

As a marketing communications major, she said, she sees a promising disparity in the film industry in terms of how films are publicized. While many filmmakers are concerned with solely the production of the film, Huang feels like there needs to be someone acting as a liaison between the project and the public. When working as producer on Ed, she focused on public relations.

“I had wanted to pitch the position of a marketing producer to a lot of the films here, like the BFA films,” Huang said. “I was in the process of making that pitch because I feel like marketing and film go hand and hand.”

Huang said she did a lot of research on Kickstarter before starting their campaign. She found out that people or companies are more likely to donate when rewards or incentives are offered. On the site, there was an option to donate $5, $15, $35, $50, $100, or $200, with each monetary level attached to rewards ascending in value. If a person or company donated $200 or more, Huang gave them the opportunity to have their name listed as an Executive Producer in the credits and on IMDB.

Deynes, the screenwriter for the short film, said creating the script was interesting because she had never written something based off of someone else’s idea before.

“Hope [Alexander] came to me with a really loose story, and said she had been wanting to do a film for years with the themes of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Deynes said. “She asked me to do it and we banged out the script in a week.”

According to Deynes, writers don’t usually have much say in the actual production of the film, but with Ed she was able to work closely with the cast and crew to create a cohesive story. She met with Barrett, Alexander, and Huang almost daily to discuss props and locations, and help them in casting actors and hiring crew members.

Alexander and Barrett said that there are few opportunities to create meaningful work as an underclassman. For Alexander, who will be studying at Kasteel Well next semester, she said, now was the perfect time.

“Last year [Alexander and I] discussed having our creativity kind of stifled by Emerson because of all the projects we had to do in class,” Barrett said. “Maybe it’s because of the foundations or the basics we had to do in our first year, but we wanted to do more stuff.”

As for where the film will be going after it’s been finished, the core four women who created Ed want to send it to as many film festivals as possible and maybe one day screen it at Emerson.

“I can’t wait to to see the final product and I can’t wait for it to be screened, for people to see this because we’ve worked so hard,” Deynes said.