Local filmmakers turn their dreams into reality
Wednesday, 31 July 2013 11:31

Area residents start production company

by Nicole Rodman

    Area residents Richard Donahue and Justin Williams always dreamed about making horror films.
    Though they discussed it for years, it was the death of close friends that made them decide to stop talking and start filming.
    “We felt we owed it to those who were no longer with us,” Donahue and Williams noted in an e-mail to The Eagle last week. “You could say it was our sentimental way of keeping their memories alive, by continuing to be as creative and productive as possible without neglecting our wives and children.”
    Pulling together some friends and a bit of start-up money, Donahue and Williams started Mourningside Productions.
    Named after the cemetery in the 1979 horror film Phantasm, Mourningside Productions specializes in horror films, soundtrack scores and music videos.
    While the company started out with just Donahue and Williams, it has since expanded to include Daemon McConnaughey, Kevin Keeley and Jeff Mahady.
    Together with assistant Tim Dietz, the group works collaboratively to develop concepts, write scripts and produce independent horror films.
    While all of the company’s core members spent their teenage years making movies with VHS camcorders, it was not until recently that they got together to take their craft to the next level.
   

Most of the members do not have formal backgrounds in film production, though Donahue has worked on some Hollywood films (most notably 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick) and attended special effects artist Tom Savini’s Special Effects and Makeup Program.
    Since its inception, Mourningside Productions has released five films, all available at www.
mourningsideproductions.com, and on YouTube.
    The company’s first film, Jenny Greenteeth, clocks in at just 10 minutes long, yet, as the production team noted, it was the company’s most expensive film.
    “We were in our infancy and had no idea what the heck we were doing,” production team members explained. “So we eventually maxed out our credit cards to get Mourningside off the ground.”
    Following its first film, Mourningside released Behold, a quiet film about siblings coping with the death of their father, and Grayhaven, the tale of a sleepover that turns into a night of terror.
    One of the company’s most-seen works, with 12,000 Youtube views, is Midnight Sun, a retelling of the classic Twilight Zone episode of the same name.
    Recently, Mourningside Productions released its fifth film, Nightmares Through the Needle.
    An anthology film, the movie tells the story of a young boy who finds a strange record.
    As he listens to the record, the narrator proceeds to tell him — and the audience — three terrifying tales of terror.
    Currently, the company is working on two new films, now in pre-production.
    Dying Skin will begin principal photography next month, while another film, Sawin, is set for October.
    The company’s most ambitious production to date, Sawin is set in Ireland 2,000 years ago and tells of the origins of Halloween.
    In addition, the group is also working on two films for production in 2014.
    One of these films, The Dark Embrace, will focus on the legend of “Black Aggie.”
    “Black Aggie” is the nickname given to a statue once located at the gravesite of General Felix Agnus in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville.
    According to urban legends, the statue was haunted and would come alive at night and haunt anyone brave — or foolish — enough to spend a night in its lap.
    For each of their films, the staff of Mourningside Productions fully funds and produces the work themselves.
    They find actors for their movies through Craigslist and by recruiting friends.
    “Our actors/actresses have become part of our family, they deliver great performances, we trust them and they don’t cost us money aside from food,” the production team noted.
    As a company, Mourningside Productions prides itself on offering quality, thought-provoking horror films rather than gory, blood-soaked spectacles.
    As the team explained, “We take pride in developing good characters [and]establishing tension, and we rarely rely on cheap scares or gag effects.”
    While they are looking to grow their company and fan base, for the staff of Mourningside Productions, the main goal is to just keep doing what they love.
    “As long as we can continue to make movies and be an important part of each other’s lives, we’ll be living one collective dream,” staff members explained.   
    For more information on Mourningside Productions, or to view their films, visit www.
mourningsideproductions.com or visit Mourningside Productions on Facebook.