Private Project

Murder in the Making: A Documentary

A documentarian is hired by a serial killer to film his next kill.

  • Hunter Rising
  • Hunter Rising
  • Christopher Dean
    Key Cast
  • Cleo Malone
    Key Cast
  • Maddie Dooher
    Audio Operator
  • Nick Goodsell
    Audio Operator
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Dark Comedy, Horror, Mockumentary
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 39 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 4, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Hunter Rising

Hunter Rising is a writer and filmmaker from the Fox Valley in Wisconsin. He currently attends University of Wisconsin - Stout with a BFA in Entertainment Design in the Animation concentration. He also has a minor in English Writing. Hunter is preparing his senior project for a December graduation, as well as drafting a novel and various screenplays.

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Director Statement

MURDER IN THE MAKING: A DOCUMENTARY is a horror/comedy mockumentary focusing on a serial killer, The Badger State Butcher, who hires a documentarian to film the kill of his next victim. For my directorial debut, I wanted to instill anxiety and tension in the viewer, play with two genres that aren’t often mixed together, and make a found footage film with genuine reasoning behind why it was being recorded.

When MURDER IN THE MAKING was first conceived, I was heavily influenced by how many found footage horror films have been released in the past few years. As someone who is an avid fan of the genre, many of the films in this style fall flat. There are multiple films that are shot in the found footage style with no established reason to have the camera rolling. With that, I knew I had to give the character behind the camera good reason to be there and filming. Thus, a documentary format was chosen.

Given the documentary format and the awkwardness a serial killer must feel in front of a camera, I decided to explore the comedic angle. Some of the most successful comedies on television have been in the documentary crew style, such as Parks and Recreation and The Office. This style became a major influence on the short and allowed me to make my characters more self-aware and play into some horror cliches that would seem gimmicky otherwise.

Damon, the character behind the camera, was a challenge to write. He is comfortable enough with what The Butcher to agree to film, but what would keep him there as the night of the kill approaches? Why would he respond in the first place? In my eyes, Damon knew what he was getting into as soon at the start of the film, having already responded to the ad and talked with The Butcher. What he didn’t expect was The Butcher following through with what he proposed. The only thing that keeps Damon there at that point is the unpredictability of The Butcher.

Actor Christopher Dean and I worked very closely to convey the emotions needed in the character. One of the production rules that I set for the film was The Butcher could not appear on camera without his mask. This provided a fun challenge of being able to perform with mostly his subtle body movements, tone of voice, and his eyes. Having this rule set also helped give more power to the reveal at the climax. We envisioned the character as someone who didn’t really know how to react in front of a camera, but still wanted to make himself an exciting personality.

One challenge with found footage movies, especially if they are meant to be believable, is editing. Many people will question how the film has cuts and voiceovers when Damon is killed in the end. The decision was made that he was “editing as he went.” It’s for this reason, the climax of the film is all film in long continuous takes rather than spliced together. These long takes also served as ways to build tension and anxiety in the viewer.

We worked with sound mostly on location, though some foley and dialogue dubs were done. There were instances where Christopher’s voice was muffled due to the mask and the intensity of the scene we need to record. During the dialogue dubs, Christopher still wore the mask so the sound didn’t sound too crisp and have conflicting timbres throughout.

I believe we are all morbidly curious in a way, and MURDER IN THE MAKING plays with this idea in following one of the most morbid kinds of people. We want to know the inner workings of the darkest minds, but is it something we really would like to know? I think we can all relate to Damon in this instance where we are curious, but don’t know how to react when it is taken too far.