The Summer House

A short LGBTQ Thriller.
After many years away, Greg returns to his family’s secluded vacation house with his boyfriend only to be tormented by the ghost of his homophobic father.

  • Luke Willis
  • Luke Willis
  • Julia Epstein-Norris
  • Tim Torre
    Key Cast
  • Nick Zephyrin
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Thriller, LGBTQ, LGBT, Horror, Drama
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 13, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Luke Willis

Luke is a writer and director based in San Francisco, CA and originally from Jacksonville, FL. He is a graduate of USC film school. Beside’s a tuition scholarship recipient, Luke was USC’s nomination for the 2016 Princess Grace Award, and one of the first students to be awarded a Jaunt VR Grant for his senior project which was also featured in the annual USC First Look showcase. After graduating, Luke worked on the award winning documentary, Gay Chorus Deep South which inspired him to continue to tell stories that celebrate otherness. His award winning films have been featured at more than twenty international film festivals, and gathered over half a million views online. Luke has been telling stories and putting on elaborate productions since he could first walk and talk. He attended a performing arts high school for theater and served as the State Representative for the Florida Thespian Society before he went on to study acting at Boston University for two years. At the age of twenty Luke took a twelve year hiatus from writing, directing and acting to pursue an unprecedented career, for having started so late, with San Francisco Ballet and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

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Director Statement

Growing up gay in the south was no easy task. As a young child I learned it was not okay to express my infatuation with other males, often times in traumatically humiliating or frightening ways. I hated myself for being gay, and for being different than everyone else around me. In my teenage years, the church I attended convinced me that I could be cured of homosexuality, so I came out of the closet at fourteen and then quickly ran back inside until my late twenties. My story is unfortunately common. Even in an era when same sex marriage is finally legal, kids are still being raised with immense shame and self hate. In fact, in direct response to the 2015 supreme court ruling that legalized same sex marriage, 17 states passed legislation that legalized discrimination toward LGBT+ people as a religious freedom - a very real sign that the LGBT+ community is still unwelcome in much of America.

My idea forThe Summer House arose from my own childhood traumas and a desire to address them in a way that would give the audience the same experience of the crippling fear and anxiety those traumas planted in me. The guilt and shame haunts me still, like ghosts, so it was very natural for me to turn to the genre of a haunting to tell this story. Genre filmmaking has always allowed us to suspend our disbelief and collectively experience a universal emotional response while subtly dealing with current socio political issues. The issue laying below the surface of The Summer House is that prejudices are carefully taught from one generation to the next. My self hate was informed by a multi generational homophobia, which made healthy and sustainable relationships incredibly difficult. How can we love others if we don’t love ourselves.

My experiences have compelled me to tell stories that go beyond the process of “coming out” and to avoid unrealistic happily ever after endings. Instead, I seek to tell stories that explore life after coming out and that delve deep into the hardships that we carry under the surface of our daily niceties. My hope is that through cathartic storytelling people will begin to question their belief systems and actions that oppress “otherness” and instead come to understand one another on a deeper level.

- Luke Willis, Director