An eye for directing
February 2, 2010
By Emily Fairbrook
Local filmmaker looks to ride low-budget horror movie trend to success with ‘Eyes in the Dark’
On his 26th birthday, Issaquah resident Bjorn Anderson walked into work at the Home Depot and gave his two weeks’ notice. He wanted to pursue his dream of making movies. He started his first script the same day.
“I figured I was young enough that if I was ever going to do it, it would have to be now,” Anderson said.
He never had any formalized film training, but said he watched movies with a critical eye for years.
“I could pay money for film school or pay money for actual film and learn as I go,” Anderson said.
He chose the latter.Five years later, Anderson has released his second feature-length film, “Eyes in the Dark.” The horror story follows seven college students to a cabin for the weekend; they find a hidden cave and adventure surrounding it.
The young director pitched the idea for “Eyes in the Dark” in 2007 to Joseph Cole and Mike Ash, two friends who worked on Anderson’s first movie, “Warrior’s End.”
“That’s part of the pre-production process — convincing everyone that it’ll be worth their time and fun,” Anderson said.
Auditions were held in April 2008 and filming began in June. Issaquah resident Maureen Francisco was one of the actors cast. Francisco has dabbled in other forms of media, but this was her first film.
“I’ve been in numerous commercials and I wanted to really stretch myself,” Francisco said. “I’ve always loved storytelling.”
Anderson recruited friends, local actors and even his parents to work on the project. As with many independent films, the director funded the project and everyone involved worked without pay.
“We’d love to have money to pay people and spend money on food and transportation, but with an independent film, you always have to make hard choices,” Anderson said. “You don’t always get the gourmet stuff. Sometimes, for lunch, you get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Anderson augments his income by working as a property manager on the plateau and making videos for clients with Emerald City Pictures, a production company he started in 2008. He’s done weddings, corporate videos and a charity fundraising film.
As a new director, he said he had to “fake it” a lot.
“The first time out, I had no idea what I was doing,” he said.
Filming for “Eyes in the Dark” was mostly finished by the end of summer 2008, but editing the footage had just begun. Anderson added a few story lines and refined the plot.
“That’s one of the hardest parts with filmmaking — letting it go,” he said.
Finally, on Nov 5, 2009, “Eyes in the Dark” premiered at the Rendezvous’ Jewel Box in Seattle to a sold-out audience.
“I don’t remember a whole lot of it, because I was nervous and working the whole time. Most of the time while watching it I kept putting down things that needed to be improved, notes,” he said. “I guess I knew the whole time we still had work to do on it.”
Completing the film was an accomplishment in itself, but the next step is taking it to a film festival. The production team entered “Eyes in the Dark” into Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival, but won’t know the lineup until spring.
Robyn Scaringi, a producer and video editor, hopes to see the film picked up by a distributor.
“If I could see that ‘Eyes in the Dark’ was something you could rent at Blockbuster or Netflix — that’s my idea of success for the film,” Scaringi said.
Anderson dreams that one day his work will all pay off, or pay for itself, but he doesn’t think he’ll move to Hollywood.
“I really think there’s a lot of talent up here in the Seattle area that remains untapped,” he said. “As far as location, it’s hard to beat the Washington area. Seattle’s my home, so I can’t really see myself moving away from here.”
Emily Fairbrook is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.