‘Anxiety of modern life’ at heart of Fargo filmmakers’ psychological thriller
Local filmmaker Oscar De Leon vividly remembers the moment he was inspired to create his first psychological thriller more than two years ago.
While sleeping in his south Fargo apartment, he heard someone pounding on the other side of his bedroom wall. He later realized it was simply two small children knocking on the wall, but in the moment, his subconscious mind was submerged into a numbing state of sleep paralysis and conjured a nightmare about something much more violent.
“I thought someone was being murdered on the other side of my wall,” De Leon recalls.
Once he was fully awake and the cold sweat subsided, De Leon knew he had to express the intense emotions he felt in the best way he knew how: a horror film. So he started writing.
“I was at this point in filmmaking where I wanted to do something stark and abstract with little dialogue, one location and one actor (that focused on) the subconscious,” says De Leon, who has studied film independently since he was young. “While I was writing, I started digging into things that terrify me.”
He pitched the idea to his partner Kevin Ackley, who shares his passion for storytelling and stirring conversations with film through their small video production company Chamber Six Media.
Now, 32 months later, Chamber Six Media has brought the idea to fruition with “Eviction,” a 10-minute psychological thriller the filmmakers produced completely in Fargo on a shoestring budget.
They created “Eviction” mainly as a form of artistic expression, but because the artists believe films are supposed to be shared, they invite anyone — particularly other artists — to watch the film and provide their interpretations.
“I want people to watch our films and dissect them,” De Leon says. “Nothing we’ve put in (the film) is out of place.”
Ackley and De Leon both went to West Fargo High School, but didn’t start collaborating until five years ago. In 2015, they launched Chamber Six Media, which produces documentaries and films about a range of topics, many for “our own indulgence,” Ackley says.
“Eviction” is one of their darkest artistic explorations to date.
In the film, which was shot in black and white, the filmmakers experiment with atmosphere and mood to tell a story about a single man facing eviction from his dilapidated apartment by an unethical landlord.
When producing “Eviction,” De Leon and Ackley channeled some of their favorite thrillers like “Eraserhead” by David Lynch and “Pink Floyd: The Wall” by Alan Parker, both of which deal with specific pacing and the manipulation with reality.
The film touches on overarching themes like nostalgia, consumerism and the “anxiety of modern life,” Ackley says. But there are many layers to dissect as the character reacts to his surroundings.
The filmmakers purposely didn’t delve much further into the movie to allow viewers to provide their own objective interpretations.
De Leon and Ackley often do this with their abstract films in hopes of inspiring discussion among viewers in traditional and alternative ways, especially other visual art forms.
They enjoy collaborating with other artists and stretching conversations “into further channels,” Ackley says. Now that the film is complete, they invite other local artists to watch the film and express how it affects them with their art.
They’ve already sent the video to several friends, cohorts and artists, but hope the film continues to gain momentum.
“Our motivation is that we just want to keep making cool stuff. That’s always been the drive behind what we’re doing,” Ackley says.
De Leon agrees.
“We’re just here to tell stories and express ourselves as artists. That’s it.”
Because Chamber Six Media has submitted “Eviction” to several film festivals, the entire film is not yet available online, but anyone interested in watching it can email email@example.com to get a link to the video. Viewer discretion is advised.
For more information about Chamber Six Media, visit chambersixmedia.com.
This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, July 23, 2018.
All photos are courtesy of Chamber Six Media.