Short films for 'Nightmare' to benefit South Elgin animal shelter
Besides zombies and scary stuff, this week's Nightmare on Chicago Street in Elgin will give visitors a chance to benefit a good cause.
The short films "The Devil Cat" and "It Came From the Lab," shot entirely in Elgin, will be released during the festival Saturday night, when they will play on a loop in the lobby of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, 31 S. Grove Ave. All proceeds from the films' DVDs and posters will benefit Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin.
"One movie is about a cat, one is about a dog, so we said, 'OK, let's do something with a nonprofit and animals,' " co-director David Metzger said. "That's how the whole thing started."
Carrie Frost, the shelter's community outreach and humane education coordinator, called the gesture "really generous." The shelter, which relies on private donations to fund its $1.7 million yearly expenses, is expected to hit the 3,000 adoption mark this year, she said.
"There is a misconception by the public that our shelter is funded with government money," she said. "We rely solely on the support of the community to operate."
The short films were co-directed by Metzger, of Elgin, a member of the festival's organizing committee, and his friend Jeff Kelley of Gurnee. They have collaborated on zombie-themed film work for the festival since its first edition in 2011.
Their work has evolved from video promos to a series of mini-episodes released weekly to generate excitement for the festival, and a first short film two years ago, Metzger said. This year's films are 15 to 20 minutes and feature casts of local actors, all volunteers.
"Over the years we've done a bit more with a little more storytelling," Metzger said. "We've learned a bit more each year. Jeff does the editing and the bulk of the shooting."
Scenes were filmed mostly in downtown Elgin, including an alley behind the Elgin Public House, the Professional Building and city hall.
"There are a lot of great shooting locations in Elgin," said actor Jason Pawlowski, who works for the chamber of commerce. "There are so many intricate buildings, nooks and spaces, and it's really cool to see (the directors) take advantage of that. Maybe it will catch on as a good location for films of all genres to be shot."
The work is fun but intense, requiring a few weeks of shooting and "pretty much nonstop" effort during the last two weeks. "Editing is down to the wire," Metzger said. "We think we will be done in time."