Matt McCroy

GREG LOCKE: Tell me about the production team. Everyone. How did you guys all get together?

MATT MCCROY: Knew Frame Productions is made up of Matthew McCrory, Nichole Root, Kiowa Ackley and Evangeline (Evan) Figg. We all met while at IPFW in production classes and then a Film Production Organization that Nichole had started. She started the group in an attempt to expand upon the limited filmmaking resources offered on campus and in the Fort Wayne area in general. We worked on lots of projects together ranging from bad to worse (that we wouldn't dare show anyone!) and basically taught ourselves everything we could until our projects progressively got better. We got to the point where we were quite confident in our abilities and we knew we just needed to have the right project, and a talented cast and crew, to be dedicated and make something happen, which, is no easy feat in this area. We've all been involved with projects with other local production companies and local TV stations, and some of those experiences have been great, but we really wanted to have the chance to do something more artistic.

GL: Tell me a bit about how you guys

decided to turn Kiowa's script into a film.

MM: Before I had moved to Fort Wayne, Kiowa, Nichole and a few others had the intentions of turning the script into a film (it was called "Spiral", at that time), but they decided to wait and focus on shorter projects. Kiowa had showed me an early draft of the script about 4 years ago and I immediately related to it. Not just the fact that one of the central characters finds himself returning to small town life from Los Angeles, which I had just done, but the dialogue and storylines of the film's troubled and apathetic leads was so authentic to people I knew and had been surrounded by, spending my teenage years in a small Midwestern town. 

I had read scripts and seen films set in small towns that always depicted them as a "safe haven" or sweet escape from the problems of troublesome big city life and it was interesting to see a different perspective. In the story the characters are in an environment where everyone knows each other and nothing substantial ever happens. To focus on characters who are lost, it seemed important that they be in a town that could easily be lost on the map. It was an interesting dynamic having a setting where the characters are essentially isolated from most of the outside world, but also in a location that could be relatable to a lot of people. Reading the script I almost thought of it as a "Lord of the Flies" type story, but instead of a bunch of kids trapped on an isolated island doing horrible things to each other, it was a bunch of kids trapped in an isolated small town. There were different instances in the town I grew up in where the police would not report a crime or not bring someone with a warrant in, simply because they knew that person. When you have a group of characters in a setting like that, where no one really cares what you do, it makes the situations they find themselves in seem more out of control.  (Note: although we filmed in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas, the small town which the film is set, is NOT Fort Wayne nor meant to resemble Fort Wayne as none of us actually grew up here).  

The script always stayed with me, and we've always had intentions of making it one day. We realized that this past summer, with most of us graduating and potentially moving soon, we knew that this was going to be our last chance to do an independent project that was wholly our own idea that we could have complete creative control over so we started making it into a reality. Nichole, Kiowa and I immediately started looking at the script focusing on each scene, ensuring it was possible to even attempt on a NO string budget. Given the way the story escalates and the dramatic impact of a number of scenes written, we knew that this film wouldn't be possible unless we found the right actors for each role that were able to show a range of emotions. We brought Evan in as our casting director at that point. We didn't want to take the time finding the crew until we knew we had the right actors to pull this movie off.

GL: Tell me a bit about the casting

process and the actors.

MM: Evan and the rest of us, just basically focused on painting this city and surrounding areas with casting call flyers. We also utilized many online resources to draw people from outside the area as well. We had a few actors with whom we'd worked before that we invited to private casting sessions and had 2 days of Open Call casting held at the downtown Fort Wayne Public Library. Surprisingly, there was a large interest from outside the area and many actors came from Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus, various cities in Michigan to audition for the film. We found that, like us, actors were just looking for a creative project to work on as well, even though we were not able to compensate anyone upfront for a role. We saw countless actors and narrowed it down to just a few to bring in for callbacks. We called back those we were interested in and spent the entire day having them read with each other, switching people in and out, reading from the script, doing lots of improv. We were looking for 2 major things 1.) That these young actors were able to be authentic. (Many actors we had audition came from a theater background, which is great, but film and theater are completely different mediums and many actors were unable to make the transition.) 2.) We had to make sure these people were going to make this film a priority and were really interested in developing these characters. We knew we were going to have LONG shooting days paying people with only food and drink and they also had to have the right personality and mind set going into something like that from the start.

After callbacks some of the decisions were difficult, but for the most part we were confident at that point knowing who had the right chemistry and the right look and ability to not only pull off each individual character, but work with each other well as this is an ensemble piece. To be honest, I don't know if any of us really knew if we would find the right actors. We were very lucky. We knew, going in, that these were difficult roles to pull off. 

We actually had a relatively large cast for a no-budget film. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Amelia Windom (who plays Lydia's best friend GINA and added a needed light to the film); Kelron Mixon (plays the small time drug dealer ROMAN who uses the other younger characters to his advantage); Andrean Willis (plays JULIAN, the former friend of DEACON and MARLON who was severely wounded in a tragic incident); Sia Harding plays JULIAN'S seemingly positive fiancee; Toni Stanley plays the back-stabbing friend of SHANA, and Stephanie Adams plays the drug addled girlfriend of DEACON and MISSY'S father (she's the closest thing to a parent we see in the film). The lack of even showing any parental figures in the film was an important one. This isn't a film about pretty kids having problems with their parents giving them an early curfew...we wanted to avoid any comparisons the film could have with lighter weight dramas. That's why the only Teaser we have up now is quite brief, offering a mood rather than a storyline...some have mistaken the film's Teaser to represent a thriller; the film is not a thriller nor a horror film, but a rather a drama where some very horrible things happen. We wanted people to know, right off the bat, that this wasn't going to be a feel good movie.

GL: How did you guys handle


MM: As soon as we knew we had the actors who could handle the roles, we started looking for the right crew members. The only crew member attached prior to casting (besides Nichole, Kiowa, Evan and I) was makeup artist Cara Digate. We had worked with her on 2 projects before and she did some amazing work in this film. We knew, early on, that the most important crew member to find would be a good sound designer. We all knew the basics of sound, but we really needed someone who could focus on sound design and that was going to be just as dedicated to the project that we were. Troy Koch had initially came in to audition for a role in the film, because we had not yet spread the word about crew calls. He quickly told us that he was a musician and a sound technician and after meeting with him a few times, realized he had the same interests and was the right person for the job. As the project progressed he became more involved during each step, really understand the story, and the dedication to get the job done. Ryan Woebekking had also come into audition, but had more of an interest behind the camera. He had more of a screenwriting background, but when meeting with other people who had expressed interest in doing camera work for the film (even some who had a bit more experience), Ryan just understood the style we were going for more than anyone else and we had faith he would be dedicated to the project.

We had many other crew members who were not able to make a full-time commitment (many students as well) but gave us help on many shooting days including Jeremy Wilson, Sarah Brimm, Robert Thompson, Cory Allen, Dana Jinyx, Marcela Zapari, Sheila Almazan, and Tim Collins. Amber Talirico did Hair Styling for a few key scenes and Seth Larimer did an additional special effects makeup job for us.

After the crew was in place we started our location scouts. We had the pleasure of working with many local businesses in the film including Wooden Nickel, Calhoun Street Soups and Spirits, Deer Park Irish Pub, Brookwood Laundry/Drycleaning, Hyde Brothers Book Store  (and the homes of lots of understanding roommates and parents!) Many people were very generous opening up the doors to their homes and allowing us to, basically, TAKE OVER. (Filming means bringing in high wattage lights, which give off lots of heat in an already hot summer and unplugging noisy items that add comfort like air conditioners and fridges). All of the businesses we shot in also allowed us to do so during closed hours, which meant we supplied our own extras, but were able to control every element of the set including the people, lighting and sound. It was amazing having that kind of support when business owners were willing to let us control their place for a day, or on some occasion a number of days.

GL: As far as gear and resources go, did

you guys use your own stuff or borrow

or rent or get funding?

MM: We shot on video. Kiowa had a Canon XH-A1 HD camera, which is a really great camera and gives a really great picture (it's been used on various films, commercials and music videos) that Nichole and I were familiar with and we got Ryan acquainted with. IPFW and CATV-5 were generous to help us out and let us rent lighting equipment and a monitor from them for free so that was awesome. For the rest of the equipment we used we did 2 promotions on Kickstarter and got around $3,000 from various backers to get our sound equipment, HD tapes, and various camera rigs. Tony Henry was also generous enough to let us host a fundraiser at Deer Park Irish Pub in which we were able to raise some additional funds for the film. We had a Karaoke Contest and gave away prizes from many generous local businesses (including Deer Park, Dawson's Dawgs, Hyatt Place, Woodland Lounge, Jimmy John's and B. Antonio's Pizza). All other equipment, tapes, props, etc...were paid for out of pocket. We picked a shooting style that was achievable with our budget, as well as our schedule. If we would've have more elaborate camera rigs and set ups it not only wouldn't have worked for the look of our film, it wouldn't have been possible with our shooting schedule...we were always fighting time...adding rigging the camera to mounts or trying to pull off steady cam or crane shots would have been impossible.

GL: As far as the story and style of the film

goes, can you tell me about some of your


MM: With this film, we all tried to draw from life more than anything else. We made that important. There are many scenes in the film that are pretty accurate to actual events that Kiowa or I had been involved in or witnessed growing up. We didn't want to model this film after any other, but tried, as much as possible, to take experiences from our own lives and put them into how we told the story. Even on a visual level we decided early on that we wanted to have a simplistic shooting style and that the camera would act almost as an unseen 7th character in the film, following along these characters during a hellish week in a small town. That meant lots of long-takes and lots of hand held camera work. (Filming long hours during a heated summer handheld may sound a lot easier than it actually is!)

We also decided that the flashback storyline would have a completely different look from the primary present day story in that we attempted to use the camera, and our editing, as if the characters were piecing together memories, (focusing on little details shot in extreme close-ups, editing sequences out of order, etc...), we wanted the audience to be in the character's shoes when they were having the memories. It really works well together when, visually, the film goes through following these characters on their monotonous day to day lives, then getting closer to them in the flashback scenes. We tried to really put ourselves in the character's shoes at all times, whether it be with sound, music, camera work, directing or editing, we wanted to think of where they were at in every scene, almost an actor's approach but from a filmmaker's standpoint. I don't think any of us had ever done that before, but it paid off...there are some shots we got for flashback scenes that we won't use in the final cut of the film because it doesn't make sense fort that specific character (i.e. so although it's a great-lit, great looking shot, we won't use it because that character wouldn't remember that detail)

I guess, telling this story and doing it right was always more important to us. We didn't just want to get everyone together and have fun making a movie. Although it could be fun at times I think all of our cast and crew would agree that this was a LOT of hard work. Having said that...we did focus on certain films or filmmakers, and had our crew watch those. For the most part there was no film in its entirety that was pertinent, rather bits and pieces from different films, or sometimes even music, that evoked a certain feeling of hopelessness or isolation. We singled out Scorcese's "Mean Streets" and Larry Clark's "Kids" as 2 prime examples of the gritty down-to-earth shooting style we were going for, as well as examples of improvised scenes that achieved a sense of realism...while pointing out Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" and Gasper Noe's "Irreversible" as a motivation for the intensity level some of our actors were going to have to reach. Ryan pointed out some of the early works of Gus Van Sant as a good reference for our style as well.  And, although this is in no way a film about street life, the earlier films of John Singleton and the Hughes Brother's, gave us lots of inspiration for characters who found themselves trapped or in situations they couldn't get out of. For the alternate look of our flashback scenes we referenced films that couldn't be more different from the previous listings such as Sean Ellis' "Cashback" and Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" as not so much what we would be trying to achieve visually, but how different camera, or editing techniques could be used to express a character's feelings. I would even reference Jon Caouette's documentary "Tarnation" as an influence of how home video and snapshots can be used to evoke a feeling or mood, although I wouldn't say that film would be anything like ours.

GL: When did you guys shoot? Were you

shooting daily or weekend or more so

whenever you could get everyone together?

MM: Our shooting schedule was actually quite strict. We had it all mapped out months in advance (including crew meetings, table reads, rehearsals, and equipment tests) so our Cast and Crew could schedule other obligations around the shooting schedule. We actually had to re-cast 2 roles early on due to some actors not being able to make scheduled rehearsals, (which is a tough thing to do when it's a volunteer position, but we had the actors who WERE willing to make that commitment and we knew the film would only work that way). We had some days where we just shot one scene and others where we filmed 10hrs or more. The last act of the film takes place entirely in one house and we spent 2 consecutive days of 20 (+)hrs, had a 2 day break, then one more day of the same (which happened to be the hottest days of the entire summer). Everyone was exhausted by the end of that, but in a way, it helped the actors reach the intensity level they needed to get to because at the point of the script, the characters really start to lose control. We filmed mostly over the duration of the summer, but took a month break when Evan, along with our make-up artist Cara Digate, took some time to change the actor's looks so we could film the storyline's that occurred 5 years ago and 3 years ago. 

On past projects we had done a more "whenever we could get everyone together" type thing, but it always worked poorly. We'd end up with lots of great material, but unfinished, or rushed, work due to lack of commitment. We knew that we'd have to stick to our shooting schedule in order to make this film work.

GL: Are you done shooting? All post

production now?

MM: Due to the weather, we have still not been able to get a few establishing shots that we will pick up when the snow clears, in the mean time, we are primarily working on the video editing right now. Kiowa and I have very different editing styles so we've broken it up with Kiowa working on the primary present day storyline, while I'm taking over the 3 years ago and 5 years ago's working quite well and the footage is looking great. To say that this is the project we're most proud of to date would be a sincere understatement. It's leaps and bounds beyond anything we've ever done, and that's due, in large part, to a talented and dedicated cast and crew. 

GL: How has the editing been going? Any

idea when the movie will be completed and

what do you guys plan to do with the movie

once it is completed?

MM: We plan on having our video rough cut of the film complete by early next month. Brandon Smits will then start working on Sound Editing, we will begin Foley and ADR, and Troy Koch will be working on music. Troy has had a few different musicians working on the score, including Peter Lock (from the band Exterminate All Rational Thought) and Lance Hoeppner (of Moser Woods). The Final Cut of the film will be complete by May and we plan on premiering it late in JULY. We are still deciding on a venue for our first premier, but would like to do it at Cinema Center since it's the place for indie film in the area.

We are looking to premier the film in a few other cities (primarily venues in Indianapolis and Boston right now), but due to restrictions of some of the more prominent film festivals we will be entering the film into (Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Tribecca, etc...) we cannot hold public screenings or charge at any venue. Our preliminary screenings will be private. Cast, Crew, Friends, Family, anyone involved in the film in some way basically or invited by one of those people. Prior to entering the film into festivals we are going to submit our rough cut to IFP Film Lab contest. (more info here: IFP is a great resource for independent filmmakers, they hosted a screenwriting contest that helped get funding for the current indie hit "Blue Valentine". Everything about this contest is perfect for our situation (first time feature filmmakers who need help with marketing and distribution) so we have high hopes, but they only accept 10 narrative films a year so the competition will be steep.

GL: Do any/all of you have plans for projects

after East of Nowhere is completed?

MM: At this point we are really focused at getting this project out there and we think it has a great chance. We'd be silly to start something new that would take away from the quality of this. If this project gets a chance to get in front of audiences and get a distribution deal, making our next project will be a lot easier. I know many of us are working on different scripts now though.

Right now, in between editing, we are also focused on taking more time to do some commercial work in the area that we haven't had the chance to do. We know Fort Wayne's not the best market for it but we plan on working with some businesses to come up with some creative ad campaigns.

GL: Can you tell me a little more about some

of the other projects you guys have done?

MM: As I said before we all got together in the IPFW Film Production group. We worked on various short projects within that group, many of us have had various jobs in local TV, some we're proud of, some we'll likely deny our involvement in. Many of our crew members were recently involved in the independent project "Missing" with Mike the Pike Productions, and many of our actors are on to different projects in the area and outside the area.

Many of us were involved in a comedic webisode series entitled "In Good Time" prior to shooting "East of Nowhere", but since we jumped right into the latter project, we were unable to complete initial sound/music work on the former. It's actually a project we are quite proud of and the lead actors (Stephanie Lochbihler and Paul David Fernandez) are quite talented comedians and touring on a consistent basis between our festival entry deadlines for "East of Nowhere" we'd love to pick that back up again to pitch it properly, but don't want to just unleash it on the internet just yet.


Nichole Root (Co-Director/Director of Photography): Production Assistant at WAYNE TV (News Channel 15), Production Assistant at CATV, Media Production at IPFW, Founding President of IPFW FIlm Organization.

Matt McCroy (Co-Director/Editor): Studied at New York Film Academy, Camera operator for NBA Development League, Editing Lab Consultant at IPFW Studio M, Media Production at IPFW, Former President of IPFW Film Organization, Producer/Director on "In Good Time", Extra work and Production Assistant with Central Casting and 20th Century Fox.

Kiowa Ackley (Screenwriter/Editor): Producer Arts Weekly on PBS, Editor at CATV, Camera Operator for NBA Development League, Media Production at IPFW, Producer/Screenwriter on "In Good Time."

Evan Figg (Art Director/Casting Director): Producer for Arts Weekly on CATV and PBS, Several independent documentaries, Stop-Motion Animation Comedy Clips(for future webisodes), Video Producer for DeBrand Fine Chocolates, Production, Media Production at IPFW, Carmel High School Tv.

Troy Koch (Sound Designer/Composer): Voice over artist (radio and television), Sound Designer "Missing", Musician: Stone Crow, Viscera, Lucidus, Six Lives Out, and other various local bands.


There are 6 central characters in the film:

Deacon (played by Kyle Kiningham): Kyle was one of the few actors who we had worked with prior to this project, but it had mostly been quick comedic projects and we never got to see his range. Deacon had to be someone who looked like he'd been through something profound, someone mature for his age, but at the same time be able to handle the more delinquent side of the character revealed in the flashback storyline. At the end of the casting process, Kyle was the only actor who was able to pull of both.

Marlon (Doug Bolton): Doug had originally came in to audition for the role of Deacon. He gave a great read, but (as we did often in auditions) we had him switch it up and read for the character of Marlon. Marlon is Deacon's childhood best friend who, in the 5 years since Deacon has been gone, has fallen deeper into a lifestyle filled with substance abuse and random acts of violence. Much like the carefree lifestyle he and Deacon once shared. Oddly enough, Kiowa, the screenwriter, had another actor in mind for the role of Marlon who was quite different than Doug's take on the character, but Doug's authenticity and range really surprised us. Marlon does a lot of awful things in the movie and Doug has this youthful energy he carries that made some of those actions seem less malicious. Doug has done a few different independent projects in the past and really got into the role.

Lydia (Mia Favela): Mia was one of the last actresses to read for Lydia and, at that point, we were a bit discouraged. We hadn't really seen anyone that was charismatic enough, troubled enough, witty enough...basically Lydia becomes the object of affection of the 3 male leads in the film...if you don't find the right actress for that role, then the movie doesn't work. Mia came to auditions on a whim, with little experience, but had a similar background to her character...she was completely authentic and we knew she was the only one who could pull this role off.

Dave (Andrew Meredith): Kiowa and I had known Andrew from an acting class, but his audition for the role of Dave was purely incidental. He came into auditions, a bit unsure of himself, but struck our attention immediately. The character of Dave has a lot of anger issues in the film and takes them out on his girlfriend Lydia until it becomes walking the fine line between a "we can talk this out" argument to domestic abuse. We knew Andrew could be charming and we pushed him to show us his darker side, which he did with ease also. Watching his character go from being an innocent shy guy to an abusive aggressor had to be heartbreaking, and Andrew was the only actor we saw capable of that.

Missy (Kayla Crance): I think we had the most actresses invited back to read for Missy. She is the younger sister of Deacon who is loud-mouthed, unapologetic, but mostly just lost. A lot of the actresses could pull of the sassy vindictive side of the character, but Kayla sort of did the opposite with the character. She would always pull the performance back and simplify it, doing more with her non-verbals and she had this innocent look about her, so the fact that the character was essentially a lost "kid" came across a lot more.

Shauna (Makenna de Vaux): Makenna was an actress who I had worked with on 2 previous projects. The character of Shauna was originally a very small part of the storyline, but after casting Makenna, and as the film progressed, the character, who is a trashy young mother of 2, became much more integral. Makenna has this likable, fun, outgoing personality so it was a bit of counter-casting on our part. Seeing her character attempting to be a mother or attempting to carry on a dangerous relationship with a local drug dealer, are really not the situations where being carefree is a good thing so it added the dynamic we needed, not to mention she has to tackle a pretty hefty dramatic scene at the film's climax that left the entire crew in tears while shooting.

Also: We actually had a relatively large cast for a no-budget film. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Amelia Windom (who plays Lydia's best friend Gine and added a needed light to the film); Kelron Mixon (plays the small time drug dealer Roman who uses the other younger characters to his advantage); Andrean Willis (plays Julia, the former friend of Deacon and Marlon who was severely wounded in a tragic incident); Sia Harding plays Julian's seemingly positive fiancee; Toni Stanley plays the back-stabbing friend of Shauna, and Stephanie Adams plays the drug addled girlfriend of Deacon and Missy's father (she's the closest thing to a parent we see in the film). The lack of even showing any parental figures in the film was an important one. This isn't a film about pretty kids having problems with their parents giving them an early curfew...we wanted to avoid any comparisons the film could have with lighter weight dramas. That's why the only Teaser we have up now is quite brief, offering a mood rather than a storyline...some have mistaken the film's Teaser to represent a thriller; the film is not a thriller nor a horror film, but a rather a drama where some very horrible things happen. We wanted people to know, right off the bat, that this wasn't going to be a feel good movie.


Ryan Woebekking (Primary Camera Operator/Assistant Sound Technician): Screenwriter, Camera Operator on independent film missing, various local bands including Lucidus, Viscera and Six Lives Out.

Brandon Smits (Post-Production Sound Supervisor): Video Editor at Sweetwater, Production Assistant at CATV, Editor on the Kenny Kenny Bergle Show.

Cara Digate (Makeup Artist): Makeup Artist for various films/commercials/TV in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne area.