PORTLAND — A group of local filmmakers have created a series of short horror films just in time for Halloween weekend.
The series, “Damnationland: The Way Life Should Bleed,” will debut with two showings on Thursday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Patriot Cinemas’ Nickelodeon in Portland and be shown as far north as Houlton.
The films, which will also be shown Friday night at 7 p.m. as part of the Portland Museum of Art’s Movies at the Museum, is the brainchild of filmmaker Allen Baldwin. He was encouraged by his friend, Eddie Boltz, who works at the Nickelodeon.
In an effort to avoid the stereotypical low-budget shortfalls of the genre, Baldwin hand-selected six other local film companies to participate – filmmakers known for their quality of work.
“The horror genre has a sort of stigma with it,” Baldwin said. “Hopefully, we can avoid that stigma.”
The local filmmakers participating in the show are Strongpaw Productions, Mint Films, Gitgo Productions, Camlin & Sons, Dog and Pony, Page Street Studios and Laughing Man Films.
“They’re independent films, but they’re not amateurs,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the quality of the product was on top.”
Each company created films ranging from eight to 15 minutes long. Allen said he originally hoped to create a common theme for all of the films, but the typically fiercely independent filmmakers quickly cast that idea aside.
Instead, the individual pieces bleed together haphazardly, with only a title separating each film, leaving the viewer to decipher the interplay, if any, between them. Together, the show lasts about 90 minutes.
Allen, of Strongpaw Productions, didn’t want to give away too much of his 15-minute film, “Humoresque,” saying it was about two mysterious killers.
“I’ve been pitching it as a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode with blood,” the 34-year-old said. “Or kind of like a dark cartoon brought to life.”
Kate Kaminski said her 15-minute film, “20/20,” is a tale about computers set on destroying the human race by 2020.
But don’t look for any blood-thirsty robots. Instead, the murder weapon is a virus created by the computers.
“You don’t see a single computer, because the virus is carried through radio waves,” Kaminski said. “(The humans) are headed to what they think is a safe place, but I won’t say any more than that.”
Kaminski said portions of the film were shot in a Cape Elizabeth quarry and at the Scarborough Public Works facility.
Nick Poulin, of Portland-based Dog and Pony, said “Consumption” was his company’s attempt at horror, a genre he was always afraid to try.
“We love watching horror,” said Poulin, who mostly films local bands with his childhood friend Krister Rollins. “But we never made a horror movie because we were afraid we would screw it up.”
Poulin, however, said he was pleased with the 12-minute film about a kidnapped couple.
Beyond seeing the creation of his first horror film, Poulin said he was excited to see work of the other filmmakers.
“It’s just really exciting to see all this work, especially with all of these great filmmakers together,” he said.
In that regard, whether the work itself receives critical acclaim, the festival is already a success, Allen said.
“We really wanted to make sure a showcase of local film talent,” Allen said.
“Damnationland” will also be shown on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Frontier Cafe, Cinema & Gallery in Brunswick, at 9 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre in Belfast, 9:15 p.m. at the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville and 9 p.m. at the Temple Theatre in Houlton.
To see a trailer, visit Damnationland.com.
Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotional poster by Mike Hadley.
Actors Veronica Druchniak and Brent Askari star in Gitgo Productions’ “20/20.”