Cheap Chills In Forney

Harry Keane did not receive in Oscar this year, but the Dallas film maker’s first feature is already a classic example of how to produce a film on a shoestring budget, to make Verdun Manor, his film about a haunted house, Keane raised 560,000 from two local doctors and Preston Neely, owner of Dallas’ Neely Optical.

“I told them that no horror movie had ever lost money,” Keane says. “And it’s true. They are the surest bet in the film and video business.”

Keane secured Dallas for local talent willing to work for free on his project, promising to pay them when the movie made money. He was able to assemble 18 actors and over 100 support personnel under a hot Texas sun last summer in Forney, Texas. The city of Forney provided police cars, city personnel and the high-school gym free of charge.

“I remember screaming a lot and being chased,” says Heidi Franz, whose character survives a night of terror. Cast members found themselves crammed into a trailer without air conditioning, trying to put makeup on before it melted away.

Keane was able to finish shooting in 13 days, but then had to raise another $20,000 for processing and editing before selling the horror film to a distribution company. He says Verdun Manor will be available in Dallas video stores mis summer. Meanwhile, the cast is still waiting for their paychecks.

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