Anna Awful (2014 / IMDb)
|Karissa — Karissa Johnson||Writer, Director — John Johnson|
|Anna “Awful” Carver — Jennifer Schertzer||Camera — John Johnson|
|Eugene Carver — Scott Johnson||Editor — Scott Johnson|
|Truck Driver — John Johnson||Makeup, Effects — John Johnson|
|Music — The Channels|
This was the first story we did with actual film equipment: Canon SL1 and Canon T5i, softbox light kits, tripods, slides, bounces, etc. A great improvement over our previous unreleased film, The Patron, which was filmed on an iPad and an iPhone. Here’s the story:
A girl is in the park listening to her aunt talking on the phone. The girl’s parents are out on the town that night and the aunt is checking on her niece. The aunt tells the local legend of Anna Awful (seen through flashback).
Anna was the wife of a local real estate developer who tells her they can no longer be married and that he loves another. He leaves and doesn’t come back. Anna waits for a few days to see if he changes his mind, but he doesn’t return home. Driven to delusions, she searches the local undeveloped properties, thinking that perhaps he is lost and needs her help. She doesn’t find him.
Reality finally sets in and she knows she can’t go on. She grabs a chair and some rope, heads into the woods, finds a tree, and hangs herself. With her last thought she vows revenge on the woman who took her husband away from her. But not knowing his new love’s identity, Anna sets out to kill any woman she finds in those properties.
The niece, of course, doesn’t believe in such fairytales. She tells her aunt goodbye. Listening to music with her headphones on, she leaves the park and heads for home, only to hear an anguished wail in the distance. She turns around, but no one is there. As she turns back again toward her house, a truck slams to a stop only inches from her. The driver yells at her to watch what she is doing and roars off.
The girl makes it home, a little shaken. She heads to the kitchen for a drink. She sets a glass down on the counter, goes to the fridge, and turns back around to reach for the glass…which has moved. The girl believes she may have misremembered where the glass was, but becomes a little more suspicious of her surroundings. As she drinks, she hears distant wailing/crying. She looks around the backyard and the garage, but sees nothing. The wailing stops. SLAM! The juice bottle from the fridge is now on the kitchen floor.
Freaked out, she calls her parents. No answer. She leaves a message asking when they will be home, then hangs up. Hearing her parents voice message brings her back to reality. She calms herself, takes a shower, then makes some popcorn to watch TV. She falls asleep on the couch.
During her sleep, all of the house doors lock shut…from the outside! The final lock noise wakes her up. She drops her popcorn bowl and starts to pick up the mess, not noticing Anna Awful now walking toward her from down the hallway. Seeing the horrific Anna, the girl screams and runs to the other side of the room. Anna’s supernatural power catches the girl in thrall and holds her in mid-air for a moment before slamming her into the wall and knocking her unconscious.
A few moments later, the girl comes to (bruises on her face). She looks groggily around the room but does not see Anna. Deciding she needs to get out of the house immediately, she stumbles to the front door, falling just short of reaching the handle. On her knees, she starts to get up when she suddenly hears three or four thunderous footsteps behind her. She turns and screams. Anna lunges forward to devour her.
Although this was a bigger production than our first film, it did not seem daunting at all. John and I were so excited to have real equipment for the first time and believed that we would get awesome footage, which we mostly did. Many of the shots we are still proud of today and could probably rework into a better final product if we had the time. (No looking back!)
We really concentrated on the special effects this time, given that effects are what brought down our first film. In general, they were very good. The bruises were subtle and believable. Tricks shots helped with a lot of paranormal stuff. And even Anna Awful’s makeup turned out good enough for the camera. If you look closely at the image, you can see that we actually painted the outside of Jennifer’s eyelids for that white-eye effect. She had to perform her movements with her eyes shut. Well done!
Unfortunately, we didn’t yet have enough experience with set lighting or our new camera features to pull off a good looking film. Knowing how to use our camera was a weak spot we remedied fairly quickly. But lighting is an issue that plagues even the best of sets. Unlike our first film which was all outside, most of these scenes were indoors and we were shown just how little we knew about light. Lighting makes or breaks films and this was our first time trying to “fix it in post” with color grading. Difficult when you don’t know anything about grading.
Overall a decent film…our first with real equipment. We were happy with what it looked like at the time and couldn’t wait to jump into our next project.