It’s safer inside… at least it is in INSIDE, the student film that is causing quite the buzz in Bartlesville. Teasers for the short film were released on social media starting early October, so anticipation for the project has heightened since it’s premiere is Thursday, January 18. Showtimes start this week and continue through Saturday. All thirteen members of the cast and crew are high school students, including executive director Aleeyah Dean and the film’s main character Noah Estes. Both Dean and Estes are seniors at Bartlesville High School.
The INSIDE cast and crew is no stranger to lofty projects. In October of 2016, the same group put on Pig Path, a spook walk through abandoned pig barns. The walk itself was completely free, but donations were taken up in support of Drake Yancey’s family. “We were unable to do Pig Path again this year, so we created INSIDE. It started as a dream of mine, and we decided to make it a reality to continue supporting a great cause,” Dean said.
Filmmaking is surely different than creating a haunted experience like Pig Path. Dean and the rest of the crew had to assign specific titles, with individual tasks, in order to get the film completed. “All of us had multiple jobs throughout the making of the movie. I helped script, create characters, and filmed the entire thing with the help of our cinematographer Edward Reali,” Dean said. “As a director I was in charge of setting up all of the scenes and telling people where to be and when. I gave lines and adjusted angles, but I made all decisions with my team and help from my co-creator and director Kayla Hoelscher.”
Although Pig Path could not happen for a second year, the location was still a major role in the new project. “We filmed primarily at the Hoelcher Farms old pig barns. We had Pig Path there in 2016 and wanted to base the movie around it as well, it has become a very important place for all of us,” Dean said.
Since the entire cast and crew are students at Bartlesville High School, they utilized the school as a location as well. “We filmed at the school a lot too,” Dean said. “The most fun place to film was definitely with Mr.McQueen in his classroom.”
When the trailer was released on YouTube on December 25, the mysterious teasers started to make more sense. The film is intended to be scary, but also follows a realistic story line. “INSIDE is about a high school student named Will who gets asked to write an article about local history around Halloween in Bartlesville. He gets together with his close group of friends to visit the scene of a spook walk, for his article, that ended in murder a few years back. His best friend Ross proposes the idea to spend the night… and the story goes from there,” Dean said.
Noah Estes plays Will Harris, the main character in INSIDE. “Will is a quiet kid who does not care about much. He frequently has headphones in and is only half engaged in what is happening around him. His quiet characteristics seem to come from a bad past, but that is never fully revealed to the audience,” Estes said.
As Dean shared in the synopsis of the film, Will’s best friend Ross, played by Riggs Gorman, is a crucial character in the film as well. “The only thing that matters to him is his best friend Ross and music. He is the kind of character that demands the audience to listen to him when he speaks because he speaks so little. When he does speak, you know it is something important,” Estes said.
Characters can sometimes be built around the actor who plays said character. Estes is a music geek in real life, but he does not share all of Will’s characteristics. “Will is a sad version of me. I am quiet and reserved, but not to this extent,” Estes said. “Plus, I actually smile and am happy in real life, and Will does not seem to ever feel real joy. I do love me some music. Will is a depressed little wallflower. I am a happy little wallflower.”
As a self proclaimed wallflower, it is surprising that Estes snagged the lead role in INSIDE. Although he may not seem like the acting “type,” Estes admits he has always hoped to give it a shot. “Being the lead role is extremely humbling. At one point in my life I wanted to try acting, but was too shy to do school plays or anything,” Estes said. “This project allowed me to experience acting. I am not saying I am amazing at acting by any means, but I at least got to try my hand at it.”
Although being the main character seems glamorous, loads of hard work went into the role. “The entire cast and crew here are so many bright people in this project. Each of these people are so talented. From acting, to filming, to editing, every one of these people involved are so talented and I love them all. I am very lucky to get to be involved in something that is so much bigger than me or all of us,” Estes said.
Not only is INSIDE entirely student acted, directed and edited, but its creation is all for a solid cause. “People should go see INSIDE because we worked long days and sleepless nights to help people remember Drake Yancey. Every ticket sale is going towards a bench on Pathfinder for Drake and a suicide prevention organization called Buddy Project,” Dean said.
Drake Yancey was a sophomore last year, before he passed away. His legacy will continue on through the generous support of the INSIDE audience.
Tickets are being sold through the cast and crew, who are wearing long sleeve black t-shirts with the INSIDE logo in red on the front. Tickets are $3 and all proceeds are going towards a bench on Pathfinder as a legacy to Drake Yancey. Inside play times are Thursday January 18 at seven p.m., Friday January 19 at six and eight p.m. and Saturday January 20 at seven p.m. The film is set to show at Tri County Technology Center.