As I Prey (2016 / IMDb)
|SoxGrl_95 — Kirsten Ray||Writer, Director — John Johnson|
|Jenny — Elizabeth Mears||Camera — John Johnson|
|Fen-Fan — Scott Johnson||Editor — Scott Johnson|
|SoxGrl_95 (voice) — Elizabeth Mears||Sound/Score — John Johnson|
|SoxGrl_95 (POV Double) — Karissa Johnson||Music — The Channels|
|Officer 433 — John Johnson||Production Assistant — Tyler Sawyer|
|Dispatch — Alex Provenzano||Production Assistant — Michael Chapman|
|Production Assistant — Alisa Chapman|
This film started out as a really short and simple concept, but then morphed into something bigger. We originally planned a one-shot, first-person POV, slightly out-of-focus murder film. That’s a cool idea if it can be pulled off. So here’s what we did…
A guy is in his garage working on something mechanical. The place is dark and grungy. His hands are dirty, but he wipes them with a rag when he hears a chime from the computer next to him, letting him know that the person he is chatting with has responded.
He is in a baseball chat room with a girl (SoxGrl_95) who he is trying to impress enough to ask out. Their computer screens flash the texts and the camera eventually switches over to her. She is a pretty, young woman enjoying the conversation on the computer and texting her best friend on the phone at the same time.
When he finally asks her out, she pauses the chat long enough to text her friend, asking her to go out with them. She likes him, but is hesitant to be alone on the first date. She figures nothing should go wrong as long as they are both together. Her friend agrees and she sends the man in the garage her address. He picks them up later that evening.
The next morning the young girl awakens. She opens her eyes, but cannot move or speak. She is being dragged through woods right next to a family park. We hear her thoughts and see through her eyes.
Still looking up, she comes to a stop. She feels someone remove her purse and hears him going through the contents. Not finding anything of value, he tosses the contents onto the ground next to her, including her cellphone. She cannot move.
He steps over her and walks into the distance where she notices her friend Jenny laying on the ground about twenty feet away. Jenny’s head rolls to the side as if she too is paralyzed, perhaps already dead.
He kneels down beside Jenny and pulls a saw from the ground behind her, taking time to carefully place the blade on her leg. She does not move, but we hear a scream from inside SoxGrl’s head…STOP! NO!! He begins to saw through the Jenny’s leg. As he is cutting, the cellphone on the ground vibrates and shows a text. “MOM: You were supposed to be home an hour ago.” SoxGrl cries out for her mother in her head, but cannot make anyone hear.
Finished cutting through the leg, he picks it up and moves it to the side. He pulls out a box cutter and slices open the side of Jenny’s stomach. Tossing the blade to the ground, he reaches inside Jenny and starts pulling our her intestine. SoxGrl screams inside her head again, even louder. He cannot hear. But the cellphone lights up again with another text from mom, “Where are you?”
Her desperation overwhelms her and she screams out to her mother. The drug has been wearing off just a little and her hand twitches slightly. He looks up, then lets the intestines drop. He stands up, picks up the saw, and walks toward her, stopping just inches from her…then moves to crouch beside her.
He puts the saw down and pulls a syringe and vial out of his pocket. With practiced hands, he draws some of the liquid into the syringe, then jabs needle into her neck. Once empty, he pulls the needle out and tosses both onto the ground beside him.
As her vision starts to blur, she panics. She knows what is about to happen. Her heartbeat is audible and she begins to prey. He picks up the saw and lustfully scans her body for a good entry point.
She continues to prey quicker and louder as the moment draws near. He places the blade on her leg and with a quick shove pushes the blade down into her flesh. She screams in vain as the drug has paralyzed her once more.
No one hears her screams.
A little time passes and we see him cleaning off his tools as he places them back in his truck. We hear an audio overlay of a police officer calling in what he finds in the woods a few hours later. The scene ends with police photos of body parts all over the grounds.
As you can see, we didn’t shoot the film as originally planned. Not exactly.
We actually shot the middle of the film first, beginning with the dragging in the woods and ending with him cutting through her leg. This was close to the original idea and is a one-shot, first-person POV murder. But we felt that it was a little too short and ended too quickly.
So we added in some police photos and an audio track of the police call during the credits. This seemed to extend the ending beyond the original cut and gave the story a little dimension. But we soon realized that we wanted to see more of the story and didn’t have any background for the characters. Not good. We needed an intro. This was a lesson we learned from The Cleansing Field.
So we created the intro with the two of them chatting back and forth on the internet. This balances the story and provides more build time for the grizzly scenes. We also added in a couple shots of the guy cleaning his tools and placing them back in the truck before leaving the scene. The pacing now feels right to us.
As we are always wanting to try new things, we decided early on in development that the one-shot would have screen slices to show close up details. This is not a pop-up video kind of thing, but an effect that flows with the feel of the film. Since the two girls are twenty feet apart and cannot move, a one-shot scene will not be able to show all of the action.
So we utilized a FCPEffects plugin for Final Cut Pro to give this scene more information than you could other wise see, without losing the one-shot effect. Clever, huh?!
However, once we extended the film to include a long intro and short outro, we felt that the screen splices had to be consistent throughout. It’s too salient a feature to only have in one section of the film. Luckily, it works beautifully with the intro chat and text sessions. We hope everyone likes it.
As the film is currently submitted to more than a dozen film festivals, we are not able to show it here. It is a common courtesy (soft requirement) to not publicly air your film while on the festival circuit. So it will be some time before we let you view it.
But we can say that we feel really good about this film and have already received two festival official selections and one award! Awesome!