Wrapped & In Print

Alright, we've wrapped up shooting the movie now. My hair shall return. It's been a fun shoot, but it's nice to be in the next phase as well. It's in Lewis' hands to turn the 17-plus hours of footage into a feature-length film.

The Evansville Courier & Press talked with me and Lewis last week about the movie.

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Director, star relish their roles
Behind scenes of the movie 'victimEYES'

By GORDON ENGELHARDT Courier & Press staff writer 464-7518 or gordone@evansville.net
October 27, 2005

Regarded as a nice, even-tempered guy in real life, Seth Cheek relished the idea of playing the despicable murderer in Lewis Chaney's movie "victimEYES."

Playing a bad guy gives an actor a chance to delve into the roles, teetering on the edge of self-parody without going over the top.

"It definitely was something I hadn't done before," said Cheek, a North High School graduate who portrays Jason Karnes

"Most of my roles in high school and the University of Evansville were more Lil' Abner musicals. I played the bad guy in 'Babes in Toyland,' but that was such a cartoony thing."

Chaney, who served as the videographer on Garth Brooks' tour of Northern Ireland in 1998 - a career highlight - has written and directed short films before. But "victimEYES" is his first full-length feature. Shooting began Aug. 6 and wrapped Saturday in Henderson, Ky., with the exception of one scene in Evansville.

"I have always loved movies, just how they're made, with the special effects and everything behind the scenes," said Chaney, a native of St. Charles, Ky., south of Madisonville. "I read everything I could get my hands on. Since I got into TV production (at WEHT-News25) and had a camera in my hand, I started doing things and banged out a script."

WEHT chief photographer Chad Rinesmith and Chaney began writing a screenplay in November 2004. Four drafts later, it was completed in March 2005. Chaney hopes postproduction will be completed in late February or early March 2006.

"I'm not sure it will get onto a movie screen," Chaney said. "I would be happy if it went straight to video. We're trying to find a distributor. It's a learning process because it's something I've never done before."

One advantage he has is the help of special-effects makeup artist Dave Snyder, an Owensboro, Ky., native who worked on "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" in 2003 and is working on "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," scheduled to be released in 2006.

Cheek, 26, and Chaney, 42, characterize "victimEYES" as a psychological thriller in which heroine Janet Kessler, played by Henderson native and UE student Katie Morton, deals with her demons. But Chaney also paid tribute to "Halloween," regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time.

"'Halloween,' I love," said Chaney, whose cast and crew worked for free. "One scene kind of pays tribute to that. The killer is there, and then he's gone."

Although the first name of Cheek's character is Jason, it in no way is a tribute to the "Friday the 13th" movies, Chaney said.

"I like classics like "The Exorcist.' I like a wide variety of movies. This one falls more into the kind of movie where it is much more suspenseful. You can see a point where it makes you jump and see a point where it makes you laugh. Hopefully, it will scare the hell out of you."

Cheek said he hadn't had a lot of opportunities in acting because his inflexible hours as Web producer at WEHT wouldn't allow him to do things such as Civic Theatre. But because Chaney is assignments manager at the same station, it allowed them to work together on "victimEYES."

Chaney has no illusions of his actors becoming the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie or himself becoming the next Steven Spielberg. He's a realist.

"Hopefully, out there somebody will like it," Chaney said.

Perhaps lightning of sorts will strike twice. Former Henderson resident Gregg Hale produced the low-budget horror movie "The Blair Witch Project," one of the surprise hits of 1999.

"The fact that 'Blair Witch Project' did well only reinforces that independent movie-making can make it," Chaney said. "I think the worst crime is someone not making the movie they always talk about making.

"The bottom line is, the worst we're going to do is it's a two-hour movie and we can pop it in and laugh with friends sometime. The best thing is we'll all make a little money out of it. We all had a helluva time."