It's 2am, a soft snow falls as moonlight shines through the slats of the long-abandoned barn, and I'm covered in frozen blood. Not real blood; it's peanut butter, paint, and dish soap, which creates a sickly smell that will forever give me nauseating flashbacks to this moment. It lays against my bare skin while the camera operator buttons up my shirt, thus sealing my freezing fate. We've been at this since nightfall, which in Kansas winter takes place around 6pm. The February winds are howling and the snow is covered in a layer of ice, courtesy of the polar vortex that pushed through the Midwest this weekend. I should be miserable, tired, hungry, and perhaps I am. But mostly, I'm having an absolute blast.
After writing, producing, and acting in The Adventures of Botfly, I told myself I would never produce again. It simply was not worth the spreadsheets, the panic, the responsibility to make sure everyone was fed and all batteries were charged. But by the end of filming our last episode, I had fallen victim to the creative bug once again, and I told my director and cinematographer that I had a new project for us to work on. Thankfully, they're just as delusional as I am, and they jumped on board.
This was hands-down the most intense project I have ever worked on, and if there was any doubt in my mind before about my dedication or love for acting, this obliterated it entirely. Through 6-hour pre-production meetings, panic attacks over the weather, panic attacks over food, panic attacks over the consistency of fake blood, panic attacks over missing outfits, panic attacks over equipment, and an unnecessary amount of chicken poop, I never once questioned my love for the work or dedication to the project. I reminded myself every time that it would all pay off when I got to actually work on camera, and the reward was even better than I expected. I've spent my life hating the cold, brutal winters that Kansas endures, but for this film, I excitedly pulled off my puffy blue coat and stood in the freezing night wearing nothing but a long-sleeve and thermals, all for the chance to perform as a character.
It's weird to call a horror short about murder, witches, and necromancy a love story, but in a way, that's exactly what this project was for me. My final film for my time in Kansas, The Thing About Miller House features beautiful shots of the Kansas countryside, some casual Kansas farm fashion, and undertones about cultural repression. In a way, it's my love story to my home state, even the things (winter) I've always hated most about it. In return, it further confirmed my love for acting, and gave me the confidence to say that I will follow through in rain or shine.