BY LONDYN GRAY
AND JAYTON PIMENTAL
MEDIA WRITING REPORTERS
Rather than competing for an award at FilmFest, the crew of The Legend of Lake Fort Phantom simply wanted to create a story about an Abilene hotspot.
Director Elizabeth Dzina, a junior multimedia major from Dallas, said the film is “kind of like a spoof thriller” about a group of friends encountering the horrors of the lake.
However, the film didn’t become a spoof until two weeks before competition. Screenwriter and actress Lauren Ramsey, senior early childhood education major from Frisco, said the team intended to create a horror film.
Film editor Jason Baumgardner told the crew the film would be better received if it were comedic. This caused Ramsey to pivot the film’s overtone.
“We want you to laugh at it but it’s also meant to be scary,” Ramsey said.
With a knack for horror, Ramsey said she wanted to bring an under-represented genre to FilmFest and was drawn to the familiarity of Lake Fort Phantom.
“I thought it would be really cool to use the lore of someplace here that makes it a little more personal,” Ramsey said.
Producer Judson Voss, freshman English major from Fort Worth, called the film a “relatable horror” because of the cast’s performances.
“You can tell that there’s a lot of heart in it, if there’s not, like, a lot of technical moves,” Voss said.
The film’s main character, Ethan, is considered an outcast.
“He is kind of this cowardly, almost nobody, in the friend group,” Ramsey said. “But you see develop in him this courage through the film.”
Ramsey’s character, Evelyn, gets her car stuck in a ditch in the film. While actually filming that scene, Ramsey’s car died. She found jumper cables only to discover that the other vehicle on set had its keys locked inside.
“We are like, ‘Do we even film the rest of the thing?’ ” she said.
That’s when the crew heard what sounded like wolves. “We’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to die,’” Ramsey said.
Two hours later by campfire light, a motor service unlocked the vehicle and retrieved the keys. The crew was able to remove Ramsey’s car from the ditch and finished filming around 2 a.m.
“That was kind of like a lesson learned, that everything is not going to go your way,” Dzina said.
Dzina said learning to navigate the unknowns of production will help her become a better filmmaker. For her filmmaking is about having fun.
“I’m going to take from it that it’s just a fun experience, especially if you have a great crew – and I had an amazing crew,” Dzina said.
Members of the crew said they were never seeking an award throughout production but that they hope to receive the People’s Choice Award to confirm their concept.
“We just wanted to make something,” Voss said.
Crew/cast: Judson Voss, producer, sound, actor; Elizabeth Dzina, director, editor; Lauren Ramsey, screenwriter, actress; Kaylee Wilkins, cinematographer; Skylar Griffin, actor; Justin Keathly, actor; Madison Brothers, actress; John Funetes, actor; R.C. Summers, actor; Tebow Keathly, actor; Gwen Womack, makeup.