Film & TV

“Crowbar” film debuts Saturday at McDonald Theatre



The creators of Over the Line Films don’t believe money can take place of creativity. While filming their latest full length feature, “Crowbar,” to compensate for a low budget, they needed a lot of creativity.

But Sean Schoppe, the film’s producer, doesn’t want it to look cheap either.

“We hope people say, ‘Wow, they made a great-looking film with no money,'” he said.

Eugene-based aspiring filmmakers Schoppe, cinematographer Kurt Richter, writer and director Scott Phillips and audio engineer Aaron Doughan are the creative masterminds behind the film “Crowbar,” which they describe as a horror and suspense film with an artistic fringe and an element of what Richter calls a “who-done-it” film.

The movie is based around the character Wendell Graves, a killer who terrorizes a small town after he witnesses his parents being brutally murdered in his home.

Phillips’ hope was to create the first of a slasher movie franchise, like the Freddy Krueger or Jason films.

But unlike many slasher films, the crew wanted to create a film with drama and depth, too.

“This is not a gore fest,” Schoppe said. “We want it to be creepy, not cheesy.”

The film was entirely filmed in Eugene and Coburg, and several roles were cast to Portland actors.

To accomplish such a massive undertaking, the filmmakers created “Crowbar” with only $3,000 in a span of more than three years, each while working full-time jobs.

This wasn’t their first experience with filmmaking, though.

Schoppe and Richter both have experience with media through their current jobs at local TV network KEZI, and Phillips works as a producer for Oregon Sports Network.

Before this project, each had dabbled in a wide array of filmmaking such as short feature films, commercials and music videos before collaborating together on their first full-length film, “Hippie.”

Phillips wrote the script for “Crowbar” soon after the completion of “Hippie” in 2006, but the crew was worn out after wrapping up the previous film. It was not until 2007 that the crew picked up the script again.

After casting and planning was complete, the crew began filming in November 2009. Three nights a week, after a full day at work, the cast and crew filmed from 7 p.m. to midnight.

On such a tight budget, there was little room for error.

“We only had one camera to film,” Richter said. “Every shot had to be carefully planned ahead of time.”

The crew also had to adjust to Eugene’s ever-changing weather, in addition to their ever-changing opinions.

Richter said filmmaking is “a tumultuous process; people don’t see eye to eye.”

Schoppe said it’s difficult to deal with all the different perspectives from cast and crew members and trying to make them all mesh.

“But we’re all still here and we’re all still friends,” he said.

Though the crew’s lack of money left them with limited options, the filmmakers don’t think it lacks in quality.

Phillips said he looks at “B-movie” films to learn from their examples, compare where he is better and where he is worse, and look for ways he can improve with less money.

Schoppe said films like “The Blair Witch Project” worked so well because of their concept, not their budget.

“We’re trying to create the illusion of money,” he said.

After the premiere of “Crowbar” on Saturday, the crew hopes to gain some recognition from investors so they can continue the “Crowbar” series.

Their ultimate dream is to create movies for a living.

With so little time and money, the cast and crew of “Crowbar” are pleased with their creation.

“If you think you need a lot of money to make a good-looking film, you don’t,” Phillips said. “Take your time and make every shot count, and in the end, you’ll have a high-quality product that you can be proud of.”

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