Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling Natalie Jones, filmakers: THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET
1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET, from concept to financing.
The three of us have been best friends since middle school, and immediately after college we decided to move in together back in our home state of Kansas to write (and presumably then make) our first feature film.
We knew right off the bat that we wanted to make a haunted house film. We are all extremely paranoid and terrified of pretty much everything, and each of us has had ‘ghostly’ experiences at some time in our lives. We also love the horror genre, especially haunted house movies, but when we sat down to discuss our favorites we realized we had a lot of problems with most of them and that there weren’t many specific horror films that we could say we loved. We couldn’t find the great haunted house movie that we wanted to see, so we decided to make it!
It took us about eight months to write and immediately afterwards we jumped into preproduction. We raised a good chuck of our budget on Kickstarter (THANK YOU WORLD!) and about two months after we printed our final draft of the script we moved into the shooting location. Three weeks later we wrapped production and about 6 months after that we had a finished film! The entire process took less than a year and a half, which was pretty crazy.
2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?
We’re really excited for people to see it! We’ve been with this film for a loooong time, so we’re kind of numb to it by now. It’s going to be a lot fun to have an audience who knows virtually nothing about the film experience it with fresh eyes.
At the end of last year we had a private cast/crew/family/friends screening with an audience of about 200 people and it was a blast. People were screaming in the theater. One woman stepped out of the theater about halfway through to use the restroom and told us later that the movie literally scared the pee out of her! So basically we can’t wait for more of that. Hopefully the Cinequest crowd will be equally as spooked!
3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET.
We ran into a couple issues that we guess you could say were our ‘worst’ times. The house we shot (and lived) in was built in the 1840s and didn’t have some of the more modern amenities. For example: no shower. There was a single tub upstairs that we jerry-rigged into a make-shift shower and that was… interesting. A couple days into the shoot the floor beneath the shower started to leak into the dining room and we had to call in an emergency plumber, and not long after that the septic tank in the basement started to back up. Mix that in with the breaker box that started to short circuit and spark everywhere AND the fact that most nights we were pretty convinced the house was actually haunted, not to mention that we naively scheduled our entire 19 day shoot without any days off, and you’ll get an idea of the sheer madness of it all!
But these were just minor setbacks. Everything else was amazing. Pretty much everything just fell into place. We shot in the Midwest and had an overwhelming amount support at all times. Strangers donated their houses for locations, their furniture for set dressing, their food, their time, their love. We didn’t pay for a single meal during the shoot because MIDWEST IS BEST. Seriously. We met some of the most amazing people during this process, and the film definitely couldn’t have happened without them.
But probably the best experience of it all was the community that we formed with the entire cast and crew. Things were hectic, we were tired and stretching ourselves thin, sometimes things went wrong, and we had to go, go, go pretty much nonstop for three weeks. But somehow everyone stayed positive and had a great time. We were lucky enough to put together a team that was not only incredibly talented, but also incredibly fun. We had impromptu dance breaks between shots, we ate all of our meals together at a big dining room table, we sang, we laughed, we never took anything too seriously. It was so fun that many of our actors came to set even when they weren’t needed, and some of our crew members who initially couldn’t make it on certain days due to previous plans would cancel and show up on set anyway. It was like a big happy family, as corny as that sounds. We cooked, and cleaned, and ate, and slept, and filmed together and it was the best.
4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?
Because who doesn’t like a good scary movie?! We think there is something so fun about horror, so primal and immediate – the shock, the suspense, the fun of a good scare. Also, we are the only straight-up horror movie playing at Cinequest, so if you’re looking to get scared, this is the film for you!
That being said, we approached this film from a slightly different perspective. Though horror is great, too many films in the genre focus on gore and violence without any purpose, and 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 this by focusing on creating deep, complex characters to populate the film, and making sure the film had an emotional payoff that stemmed from something bigger than just ‘BOO!’
5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET. Give us your acceptance speech.
First of all – HUH? How did this happen?! What on Earth was the Academy thinking? There are probably a ton of people who are rightfully ticked off right now.
Secondly – THANK YOU. To everyone. This couldn’t have been done without our amazing cast, our incredible crew, the countless people who showed us generosity and support and respect. Oh, and our parents. Thank you.
Thirdly – We’re bad at speeches so this is going to be short.
In conclusion – MIDWEST IS BEST. GO THOPS!