Where Is Alice? is a continuation of Zachary Beckler’s 2011 hit Seance. Plays today at the Regal Cinema in Winter Park Village as part of the final day of programming for the Florida Film Festival.
By Jacob Engels
First, tell us a little bit about yourself –
I am a graduate of the UCF Film BFA program and am graduating this Spring from the MFA program there. My thesis project is a feature length film entitled INTERIOR, and is a continuation of my short films Séance and Where Is Alice? That film is due to be completed this summer.
Your 2011 short Seance was very well received. For those that aren’t familiar with Seance, give us the skinny. What influenced you to make that film and how has it continued to influence you today?
Séance was another student film, which I made as my undergraduate thesis project. I am drawn to horror cinema as a filmmaker, because I think it is one of the most effective cinematic genres that has ever existed. The film concerned a group of friends who hire a psychic to have a séance at a new house one of them has just purchased. It, of course, does not go well. I am highly influenced by a multitude of films and directors, but mostly I love the improvisational humanity of Robert Altman and the disturbing dream-like horror of David Lynch. That is really the marriage of tones in that film. The film is available online.
Your film Where Is Alice will be screening today during the final day of the Florida Film Festival. What is it about?
Where Is Alice? is a film I actually shot before Séance, and is a sequel of sorts, taking place about 30 years later. Alice, the expecting mother from Séance, is in living in a mental health facility when a man visits her to ask some questions about a new house he has inherited. This is the same house that Alice had the séance in, and the man is also experiencing weird phenomena. Through the course of their conversation, we get glimpses of what happened after the séance and all the years leading up to this conversation, particularly what happened to her husband. As the conversation progresses, it becomes clear that this man’s presence is awakening something inside of her, something that she has not experienced in years.
What was the greatest challenge you overcame while filming Where Is Alice?
Where Is Alice? was one of the easiest shoots I have ever gone through, but the biggest challenge came during the editorial process. The film is basically a 9 minute conversation, and we covered it from every conceivable angle, meaning there was an infinite amount directions we could go. In fact, I felt I had finished the film all the way back in 2010, but I never submitted it anywhere. As the years went on, I felt the film was incomplete, and my skills as an editor, sound designer, colorist, and visual effects artist had improved so much that I decided to take a break from editing INTERIOR and spent about a week re-grading and re-sound designing the film. I also added a few VFX that were startlingly effective, so much so that one effect became the most pivotal moment of the film, and is probably the one people will talk about most. All of these enhancements turned the film from something I felt was decent, to a piece that I am truly proud of.
Will it be playing at other festivals? What’s next for you.
I have submitted the short to couple of other festivals, but the plan is to submit the film along with my feature film to the same festivals in the hopes that at least one of them would get in. And if they both do, Where Is Alice? would make a damn good prologue to INTERIOR. Right now I working hard to get the feature festival ready, as it is the film I am most proud of, as well as the scariest fucking thing I have ever made.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at email@example.com