The Story Behind the Story

Lights Out began as a simple high school media class project, birthed at a homeschool cooperative. The teacher, Linda Holmes encouraged the students to “write something from their hearts that comes out of real life.” At the time, it was a collection of camp counseling experiences pulled out of the real life of the students in the class. The story was compelled into a winter setting, featuring a Minnesota blizzard. The class filmed a scene or two of their film experiment at a Wisconsin camp. After the class project was done, screenwriter Linda Holmes’ mind began twirling…what if Minnesota made a story about Minnesota kids? She took the germ of the idea and began fashioning a real screenplay.

Several years later, Linda Holmes pitched the Lights Out project to the ICVM-MN film group as a project that could be produced in Minnesota by Minnesota talent. In 2003, the ICVM group moved forward in filming the first professional scene of Lights Out. A two-day shoot turned into some beautiful footage. Linda and her crew of wanna-be filmmakers began seeing the potential for Lights Out to be a full-fledged Minnesota feature film.

The problem was the story. It wasn’t quite complete. A nice story about Minnesota kids at camp, although funny, was just not quite enough tension. In a moment of frustration, Linda threw the script down on her daughter Alissa’s bed. “You’re a teenager, you write this.” For the next 24 hours Linda tried to give up on the story…and then the idea came to mind about mixing the inner city culture into the story. She marched back to her daughter’s bedroom to take back the script, but it was too late. Alissa had been thinking too. Linda and Alissa secluded themselves at a winter camp for 3 days and hashed out the story together…what would happen if inner city youth culture mixed with suburban culture at a Minnesota Camp in the middle of a blizzard? The real Lights Out story was birthed.

In 2005, White Horse Productions hosted a Youth Acting Camp to train up young actors and look for potential cast members. Producer/Director/Writer Linda Holmes went to inner city schools and churches to find just the right youth to fill out the cast. “I knew I didn’t want ‘acting’ on the set, so I was looking for real kids who knew the walk and talk of the inner city.” After this, a whirlwind set of auditions, and three intense months of pre-production, the unbelievable happened and filming began.

Lights Out went into full production in October 2005. Equipped with a dedicated, but extremely busy and overworked crew, the HD Sony CineAlta camera, and full cast of actors ranging from professional to newly discovered, Lights Out forged forward as a Minnesota collaborative effort.

The cast and crew were met with long weekend hours and harsh conditions. Rather than having the ability to create the extensive winter scenes in studio, the Lights Out cast and crew endured long days in the actual snow and freezing cold, with unheated buildings and very real frozen breath for the camera. In the midst of this harsh environment and the blending of inner city actors and culture with suburban actors and culture, Lights Out lived in reality part of the story it hoped to tell on screen.

Cast and crew from all walks of life worked together to film this Minnesota based project. Professional filmmakers, new interns, suburban kids, and inner city youths all worked together and firmly cemented a deep sense of community on the set. Several of cast members, to this day, state that the film changed their life forever.

After six months of mostly weekend winter shooting in the snow and inclement weather, Lights Out wrapped up and moved into post-production. Crash & Sue’s, a Minneapolis-based post house, took on the project and Lights Out moved into the polishing of the film. Everything from colorization, to mixing, to extensive animated snow was beautifully created by the Crash & Sue’s team and their companion sound company, Echo Boys.

All and all, Lights Out was it’s own Minnesota miracle, made possible by the support and dreams of so many people.

See Lights Out on YouTube
© 2010 white horse productions