— A visit to a farm’s popular Halloween attraction has given a filmmaker an idea for a fright flick.
Charles Christman III was working at Shepard Recreation Center in West Philadelphia back in 2008 when he brought some members of the film club to the annual HorrorFest at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley.
The youngsters had fun, and so did their chaperone.
In fact, Christman, of Holmesburg, decided to write a movie script titled Hellhound Hayride.
“My main inspiration was when I brought six of my kids from the film club here,” he said during a recent interview at the 220-acre Bucks County farm that will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
The production was delayed for a few years, but Christman started 2012 determined to make the film.
While looking for a location, he thought of Shady Brook Farm. In January, he and his Back2ninety9 Productions got the OK to film there.
“I was floored,” he said. “On the first pitch, someone says yes. That never happens. When you have the location, you’ve won half the battle.”
The other half, of course, is money.
Christman, a St. Bernard and Father Judge graduate who now works at Ferko Playground in Juniata, believes he can make the film within a $50,000 budget.
The main fund-raising vehicle he will pursue is Kickstarter, an online company that bills itself as the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects in areas such as music, film, art, technology, design, food and publishing.
Christman, 31, would set his goal of raising $50,000 in a certain period of time.
If the general public contributes that much, let the filming begin, at least as soon as Christman obtains insurance and hires actors, crew and sound technicians.
If not, no money changes hands.
Christman, who has been directing and producing short films since 2003, is confident that Kickstarter will accept his project, and that fans will back it financially.
“I love horror, and there’s a huge fan base for it,” he said. “Horror fans are rabid like that.”
The film is about three kids who are taking a CYO-sponsored Halloween bus trip to a horror attraction. The students encounter three unwelcome visitors who take a “bite” out of their fun time.
Asked to describe it further, Christman likened it to “Stand By Me meets The Monster Squad.” It’s more of a 1980s throwback horror film, with some fun mixed in the plot.
Christman, who graduated from Temple University in 2005 with a degree in film and media arts, believes it’s a coup that he’ll shoot about 80 percent of the film at Shady Brook Farm (the rest will be shot elsewhere, including scenes in an alley and a veterinarian’s office).
The folks at Shady Brook Farm are also happy to provide the location.
Dave Fleming, Shady Brook’s general manager and a member of the family that has owned the farm all these 99 years, read the script and reviewed Christman’s past projects before giving the OK.
“We’re honored that he felt HorrorFest was an inspiration,” Fleming said. “We were excited to be approached and are thrilled to be a part of it.”
If all goes as planned, shooting would begin in mid-September. Christman would film at night and dusk over six days. He’d include live footage of HorrorFest.
Fleming said Shady Brook has never been a location for a feature film, though it’s been home to a music video and student films. Its haunted hayride was also the inspiration for a book.
Fleming also indicated that Shady Brook might even want to hold an outdoor screening once the film is released.
Eve Moody, Shady Brook’s director of fun, said the farm feels good about attaching its name to the project.
“I think Charles’ movie will film nicely here,” she said.
Much of the action will take place at a junkyard filled with broken-down cars, fake body parts and rusted equipment.
“There’s your scene right there,” Christman was told by producer/director of photography Wendell Raulston Jr., whom he met at Temple.
The super-hybrid mutated hellhounds get loose and really begin to wreak havoc in a giant coffin. Other scenes will be shot at a barn and in fields.
Christman has long-range plans to take Hellhound Hayride on the film festival circuit, but only after a big opening night at Shady Brook Farm.
“I plan to premiere it here on Halloween 2013,” he said. ••