Just in time for Halloween, an independent horror film made by two Crothersville High School graduates is set to premiere.
“Gnawbone” will be shown to the public for the first time at 6:15 and 8 p.m. Friday at Ohio Theatre in downtown Madison.
Co-written and directed by Darrin Means and James Thompson, the 1½-hour-long film tells the story of a little boy who witnesses something terrible kill his grandfather, but no one believes him. Instead, people think he has created a false memory of a monster. Years later, the boy, now a grown man, goes back to the woods and, with the help of friends, tries to figure out what really happened.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and a question-and-answer session with the directors and some of the cast members will be at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8, and the theater holds 300 people.
A meet-and-greet and photos with the cast and crew will be after each showing.
With the film set in the 1980s, people are encouraged but not required to attend the premiere in an ’80s Halloween costume. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.
“We’re encouraging people to make it festive,” Means said, noting that members of the cast and crew plan to dress up, too.
T-shirts, signed photos, keychains, stickers and other “Gnawbone” merchandise will be available for purchase. Also, people will be able to have their picture taken with a bust of the main character, Gnawbone.
Means, who now lives in Madison and has taught visual arts at Southwestern High School in Hanover for 18 years, said he expects family members, friends and some of his students to attend Friday’s showings. He said he is excited for them to see it.
“It’s going to be an interesting mix of people, I’m sure,” he said. “I’m interested in seeing the difference between the people that watched old-school horror and those who haven’t. The pace and scare factor and cheese factor are different. It was fun making it. I want to see what they think about it. I’m hoping they appreciate the work that we put into it.”
If you can’t make it to one of Friday’s showings, another opportunity to see the film will be at 10 p.m. Oct. 29 at Indiana RedBarn in Nashville. It will be outdoor viewing, so people can bring chairs and blankets. There will be concessions and merchandise for sale, and camping also is available.
While he has created some short films in the past, this is Means’ first feature-length film.
Means and Thompson, lifelong friends and 1991 Crothersville graduates, grew up watching classic horror movies and decided to make their own scary movie.
The idea originated from a story Thompson, who lives in Seymour, made up to scare his mother. She liked taking walks in the woods behind their house, and he said he decided to make up a story about something that lived in those woods.
He shared the story with Means, and they began working on the script in the fall of 2014.
They assembled a cast of up-and-coming professional Hoosier actors, including Tony Bartele, Katy O’Brian, Derek Kunzman, Katie Harbridge, Charlie Bruce and Ransom Pugh. With the cast and crew, there wound up being about 25 people.
Once they had some funding and put equipment together, filming began. Most of it took place in Jefferson County, while some was done outside of Crothersville in Jackson County, and two scenes were filmed in Scott County.
The initial thought was to wrap up filming by mid-November so editing could be done and completed in early 2015.
But cast and crew members weren’t able to be around all of the time because of their jobs or other obligations, so filming took a little longer than expected.
It went until the first part of November 2014, picked back up in the summer of 2015 and wrapped up in the fall.
For the past year, they have been working on editing and sound. That included spending 3½ months to record Foley sounds, which are sound effects added to a film. All of those have to be recorded separately, Means said.
All of the music is original, and there is no use of computer-generated imagery in the film. All special effects were done with costumes, makeup and props. The Gnawbone creature was made by Scott Blake of Yordreem Creations in Brazil, Indiana.
Means recruited two of his former students, Trent Persinger and Joe Sailer, to help bring Thompson’s concept to life. Persinger is the film’s editor and artist, while Sailer is the cinematographer and director of photography.
In all, it cost nearly $7,000 to make the film.
Making a feature-length film was on Means’ bucket list, so he can now check that off.
Now, he is going to work on entering the movie in film festivals. That will help them achieve their ultimate goal — getting the film distributed.
“I’m not looking to make a bunch of money. This is not something where I want to change careers or anything,” Means said. “It’s something I wanted to do out of pure joy from it.”
He’s also now working on finishing a documentary about boys high school basketball in Indiana that he started in 2007. His father was going to be a part of it, but he passed away, so Means took some time away from the project.
“Gnawbone,” an independent horror film co-written and directed by Darrin Means and James Thompson, will premiere Friday at Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St., downtown Madison. Showings will be at 6:15 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $8.
People are encouraged but not required to dress in costume. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.
A question-and-answer session with the directors and some of the cast members will be at 6 p.m. A meet-and-greet and photos with the cast and crew will be after each showing. Merchandise also will be available for purchase.
Another opportunity to see the film is at 10 p.m. Oct. 29 at Indiana RedBarn, 71 Parkview Road, Nashville. That will be outdoor viewing, so people can bring chairs and blankets. Concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase, and camping also is an option.
For information, search for “Gnawbone — The Film” on Facebook.