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Iowa City to backdrop horror film

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | NOVEMBER 20, 2014 5:00 AM

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To little kids, babysitters may be capable of instilling terror. That tends to wane by the time you reach adulthood, but babysitters just got scary again.

Night of the Babysitter, a new film written by University of Iowa alumnus Louie Doerge and starring/co-produced by Dora Madison Burge ("Friday Night Lights," "Dexter"), will be filmed in Iowa City the last week of January and the first week of February. (Though the title may be changed before release.)

"The film is a crime movie, kind of a crime thriller, but it's in the guise of a horror film; so it has all these typical horror-movie elements such as babysitters and masked killers," Doerge said. "As it unfolds, it becomes this revenge tale of this father and daughter who are at the end of a yearlong revenge mission against the people they feel murdered the man's husband, the babysitter's mother."

Unlike many revenge tales, Doerge said, the film will examine the guilt people would experience in enacting revenge.

"The babysitter feels guilty for [seeking revenge,] kind of pushed into it by her father," he said. "She's in it, but she's not sure she wants to be. It focuses more on the moral complications of a revenge tale rather than just the killings. It's something I've always wanted to see more of in revenge movies, so I'm doing it myself."

Burge is eager to join him, even if it means the Texas native will have to spend two weeks enduring an Iowan winter. She said it's a great "excuse to buy a really rad coat."

After meeting through one of Doerge's friends, a designer on "Friday Night Lights," Burge was attracted to his writing, and the two soon began collaborating. Night of the Babysitter will be their first feature film together, selected for its simplicity to shoot and fresh story line.

"I've probably read a gazillion scripts, and some of them you can just kind of sleep through, and it's the same with movies," Burge said. "I'm so sick of going to the movies and seeing the same movies over and over, knowing exactly what's going to happen from the beginning. With this, you'll really be able to be absorbed in it because it isn't so familiar; it draws you in because it's unique and wild."

One of those unorthodox components is the filming location. Burge said she likes to make choices that make other people say, "What?" Though Doerge has worked in Texas and Arizona for the past seven years, he said he felt this film needed to be shot in Iowa.

"I wanted to sort of tell a moody winter tale, so I just sort of drew from my own life — and that was Iowa," Doerge said. "I wasn't sure where we were going to shoot it, and I just kept telling the producer, 'It's like Iowa,' and so we decided to shoot it in Iowa. All of my visual cues for it were things in Iowa City, so I just decided to go for it."

The film will feature houses from around Iowa City; seeing as it'll be shot during winter, most scenes take place indoors. A high-school gymnasium, the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, and downtown will all potentially be featured in the film as well.

The majority of the crew will also be from Iowa City and the surrounding area. The film's producers began an Indiegogo page — started Oct. 24 and open through Dec. 14 — to help fund the costs of production. The donations will assist in the cost of film, which will be shot on 16-mm film "in true horror movie fashion," Doerge said.

Jeff Wedding will utilize his 15 years of experience working with 16-mm film in his position as director of photography.

"I'm getting asked more and more why I'm shooting on film, like it's a vintage or nostalgic choice, when the truth is I just never stopped," he said. "I like the grittiness of it. It sort of has a quality to it that extends back to classic horror."

After seeing Wedding's Master of the Sin, Doerge approached him about shooting Night of the Babysitter.

"The script is the reason I was interested," Wedding said. "I don't consider myself a cinematographer; I've just done it on my own films out of necessity. As soon as I started reading it, though, I really liked the tone, and I don't see a lot of crime-revenge. I felt like I could do it, like I had something to bring to it."

Everyone involved, Burge said, is bringing something to the table — and she would know, she had a role in selecting most people involved.

"I'm really excited because Louie really trusts me and my judgment about who are right for roles and everything, so I was able to almost handpick the cast," Burge said. "I like that we're going to the middle of nowhere with a bunch of nobodies to make something totally badass."

To support the film or learn more, visit IndieGoGo.com and search for Night of the Babysitter.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/night-of-the-babysitter


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