Locally Filmed Horror Movie a Creative Stretch – by Mike Leonard, Bloomington Herald Times, 10/23/11

Most actors will tell you they like to stretch themselves, but what Ethan Philbeck did over the summer was a bit extreme.One role he rehearsed was the duck character in the recently completed Cardinal Stage production of the charming children’s musical, “Click Clack Moo.”

The other was a serial killer in local independent filmmaker Scott Schirmer’s latest project, “Found.” The killer’s name, by the way, is … Steve.

“It was unusual,” the 20-year-old, Bloomington High School North graduate said with a knowing grin last week. “For a children’s musical like that, everything you do has to be big. You want to be a bright flashing light up there with exaggerated movement. And then for Steve — he’s rough and subdued, kind of an introvert, really. And at the same time, he’s a loving guy. He loves his little brother, for example.

“He just finds comfort in things other people might not find comforting?” he asked rhetorically.

Of all of the independent films shot in and around Bloomington over the past several years, “Found” might have the best chance of going places, at film festivals and within the horror genre, if not at the box office as well.

Schirmer started winning awards for writing and video productions in grade school and high school and studied film, playwriting, gender studies and sociology, among other things, at Indiana University. He wrote and directed a handful of well-received independent films from 2000-2005 before backing off a bit and settling into a full-time job as a video producer at Author Solutions.

The teaser poster for “Found.”

About a year ago, Schirmer stumbled across an Author Solutions (iUniverse) title, “Found,” by Kentucky-based writer Todd Rigney, started to read it, and found himself hooked by the first sentence in the book: “My brother keeps a human head in his closet.”

“I was so taken by it, I read it from cover to cover without even getting up to go to the bathroom,” he said last week. He contacted Rigney, the two collaborated on the screenplay, and Schirmer and some associates eagerly plunged into the complicated process of location scouting, casting, creating special effects and doing everything else it takes to make a movie.

One huge help, he said, was the advent of the technological marvel that has taken both Hollywood and the independent film industry by storm — the under $2,000 Canon 7D camera that is so good and easy to use that major television programs such as “House” and filmmakers including Robert Rodriguez are using it.

Schirmer and his crew have filmed at several local locations, including Yellowwood Lake and state forest, Woolery Mill and Baker’s Junction. They’ve also mined local talent, including producers Leya Taylor and Damien Wesner and actors including Philbeck, Gavin Brown, Phyllis Munro and Louie Lawless, over a demanding summer of filming.

The plot focuses on a bullied fifth-grader, played by Brown, who takes refuge in horror films until he finds out about his brother, Steve, and his own life becomes a horror film of sorts.

Schirmer, Taylor and Philbeck all said last week that Brown, a Jackson Creek Middle School student, has been inspiring to work with. “One of the most incredible things to me has been watching him grow up before our eyes,” said Taylor. “He was very good as a child actor to start with, but he’s just seemed to get better and more mature every week.”

Gavin Brown stars as the troubled Marty in “Found.” Photo by Leya Taylor.

“Ethan’s been a joy because he requires so little attention,” added Schirmer. “His character is a pretty far-fetched guy and it’s the kind of role you have to totally commit to or it would be laughable. He has. He has that fearlessness you have to have, and we’re all really pleased things have come together as they have.”

Everything else aside, though, it was the plot and the story that had everyone involved with “Found” willing to work hard and for free, with just Schirmer’s promise that if the film makes money, everyone will share in it.

“I like to tell people my favorite films are ‘Ordinary People’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’” Schirmer said. “‘Found’ marries the two together in a really compelling way.”

Tayor said she finds the film to be more of a family drama or coming-of-age story than a horror film — not that there isn’t a good bit of blood and guts, especially in two film-within-a-film excursions in “Found.”

“Bloodbaths by themselves are not interesting to me,” Schirmer said. “But if you can take that edginess and add meaning and depth and get beyond just the visual element, that is interesting, and that’s what we think we have.”

Scott Schirmer, Ethan Philbeck, and Gavin Brown prepare for dramatic scene. Photo by Leya Taylor.

The “Found” crew has another few days of filming to complete before putting the rest of the editing and production work together this winter. Schirmer said he plans to premiere the film at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater this spring, and do another screening in author Rigney’s hometown of Lexington, Ky., before taking it to film festivals and competitions.

Find out more

More information about the film, including the movie’s first “teaser trailer,” can be found at foundmovie.net or scottschirmer.com.

Ethan Philbeck plays a serial killer in the independent film “Found,” which is being made locally. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Leya Taylor is one of the producers for the independent film “Found.” David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Scott Schirmer is filmmaker for the independent film “Found.” David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

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