Filmmakers' `Dream' is about to come true

After months of hard work, five Severna Park High seniors will show their feature-length movie


Ben Reed is sitting in a corner at a friend's house, head down, trying to make himself cry.

So far, the whites of his eyes are a little red, but they are tear-free.

"For me, it's a challenge," the Severna Park High School senior says. "I've even tried poking my eyes."

The pressure is on, because Reed and four of his classmates are still tinkering with their new full-length movie, which will premiere in the school's auditorium Friday.

The movie, Broken Dreams, was written, filmed, acted, edited and even scored by the students for an independent study program that started in the fall.

The script was written by Taylor Young, who is also the film's director. Young's parents have a recording studio in their basement, so the friends frequently gather at his house to work on the project, as they did Thursday.

The other participants are Katie Gahs, Steve Malm and Alex Davis, who composed an original score for the film and brought it to life with a software program.

All five had taken a class in media production at Severna Park during their junior year. Young was so inspired that he came up with the idea for a feature-length psychological thriller and recruited his friends to participate.

The premise of the movie is that a high school student, played by Davis, keeps dreaming of murders, which then really happen. As he and his friends, played by Malm and Reed, work to solve the crimes, the danger grows. Young said he was influenced by such films as Mystic River and Seven.

The logistics of filming the scenes were daunting. The young filmmakers got real police officers to lend their cars and driving skills to several scenes. They recruited their parents and siblings, and they even got a professional actor, Tim King, to play a role because King's girlfriend goes to church with Davis.

These days, filming new scenes is difficult because the movie is supposed to take place over the fall and winter. That means the young actors are running around wearing sweaters and down jackets in 80-degree weather.

To make himself cry, Davis has rubbed onions in his eyes. To make himself bleed, he's nicked his nose, even though Gahs, who works in the school's drama department, has access to fake blood.

They shot about 13 hours of film, which was whittled down to about two. The friends have devoted untold hours to the project, meeting after school and often working well into the night.

"We're full-time students trying to make a full-length movie in our spare time," Young said.

After the premiere at Severna Park, the group wants to get the film shown at film festivals.

"I think the thing about this film isn't so much about making a lot of money as about getting our name out," Davis said.

He'll continue studying composition at the University of South Carolina next year, while Young will major in film at LaSalle University in Philadelphia and Gahs will major in film at Towson University. The other two are going in nonfilm directions. Reed will major in philosophy at Salisbury University and Malm will be a business major at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

Though the movie wasn't quite finished last week, two trailers had been made. On the day of the premiere, the group plans to wander around the school with a television on a trolley, showing one of the trailers to classes throughout the day.

They don't know how many people will attend the premiere, but they have a good feeling about it. The movie has been written up in the school newspaper, and the trailer can be seen on "Everybody in school's been talking about it, so hopefully a lot" of people will show up, Gahs said.

As for Reed's tears, he'll have to try again later. Right now, he just doesn't feel sad.

Broken Dreams will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday in the auditorium of Severna Park High School. Admission is $5. DVDs of the movie will be sold for $10.

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