“Watch Your Back” directed by senior Althof to screen at Omaha Film Festival

Emmalie Herd, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The horror film, “Watch Your Back,” directed by senior Eliot Althof, was named an official selection at the Omaha Film Festival. Seniors Addisyn Stueve, Abby Vater, and sophomore Evelyn Seitz act in the film as teenagers searching for their friend (played by senior Lydia Torres) in the woods where they soon discover the reason she went missing and the great danger they are in.

Broadcast and Video Production adviser Aaron Stueve entered Althof’s film in the Omaha Film Festival through a website called Film Freeway which allows him to enter films into various film festivals.

According to Althof, the short film was recorded at Hummel Park, a place notorious for its spooky history, particularly the staircase on which the movie was filmed. The group originally saw the park on the way back from the Wildcat Film Festival and as they drove by it they knew it was perfect for a horror film.

“Hummel park is known for being really creepy,” Torres said. “I was freaked out. I think it’s a well known spot where bad things could happen.”

While filming, Althof paid careful attention to the shots in the film and made sure the film had the right ‘vibe’ and read well to the audience.

I like the horror genre the most because I feel like I can be more creative with my shots,”  Althof said. “Weirder shots are more common in horror movies and I like to shoot more uniquely and have my own style of filming.”

According to Stueve, he worked with Althof on the script and gave him critiques. He also talked through ideas Althof had for the types of shots he would get. However, according to Stueve, producing a horror film in high school comes with its own challenges.

The most difficult part of producing horror films is a problem specific to a high school production team,” Stueve said. “We have limits on funding so for effects, filming locations, and things like that, we have to get creative.”

The film took over three months to complete and was presented to its first audience, the Broadcast and Video Production staff, on Oct. 31, 2022.

Both Althof and the actors in the film are on the Broadcast and Video production staff and according to Torres, some members of the group have been friends for years.

“Growing up together, we had like characters we talked about, because we’ve known each other since like six,” Torres said. “And it’s fun to play one of the characters that [Althof] writes.”

Althof wrote the characters with the actor’s names and wrote their lines based on the actual people who played the parts.

“We played ourselves,” Torres said. “And he just wrote us however he wanted to write us. We kind of just trusted his writing ability.”

According to Althof, the actors weren’t required to memorize their lines. This was mostly to speed up the process of making the film but according to Torres, there was another benefit.

“I didn’t read the script all the way through as we’re doing it,” Torres said. “So I didn’t know who the actual person was in the end. So I think to keep the mystery to the audience, you kind of have to keep the mystery to yourself.”

According to Stueve, the film creates a sense of mystery for the audience that adds to the quality of the film.

“I think the strongest part of the film is its mystery element,” Stueve said. “Audiences have no idea who the “bad guy” is until the end. But then, when it is revealed, it is obvious that there are clues planted throughout.”

Althof used unique shots and color grading to create suspense and mislead the audience.

“We have to build up and then at the end you’re supposed to think one character did something all the time and it’s really focused on them,” Althof said. “But then it has a twist at the end.”

The film will screen at Aksarben Cinema on Wednesday, March 8 at 8:30 p.m.