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by MATTHEW EELES
New production company Chrave has launched in Perth, and its founders Christopher Mark Peters and David Laurance are busy preparing to unleash their first feature film Moorehouse Road under the fresh banner.
The new horror thriller stars Hannah Arevalo, Taylor Than-Htay, Lawrence Murphy, Kate Hall and Grady O’Connell and follows young newlyweds Sunni (Arevalo) and Flynn (Murphy), along with their friend (Than-Htay) as they travel across the state with plans to start a new life. Along the way, they stay at a guest house on Moorehouse Road, on a property owned and occupied by an eccentric woman and her mute son. Strange incidents begin to occur during their stay, and the visit becomes increasingly terrifying when they learn the bizarre owners are the reclusive family members of an infamous serial killer.
The Chrave name may be new to the scene, but Chris and Dave have been making movies together for over ten years.
“What started as a fun weekend hobby evolved slowly over time, to the point where it dominates a large portion of our lives. Our past work has been available online for a few years, however, this is our first venture into feature film territory. My hope is that audiences can simply be entertained by our work. We want the audience to feel what the characters are feeling” Chris tells Cinema Australia.
The duo’s first collaboration was Sinking Ships, a 25 minute short drama exploring domestic abuse which has amassed almost 300,000 views on YouTube and sparked conversation with just under 500 comments discussing the film.
“I was humbled by the amount of engagement Sinking Ships received on YouTube. Views and comments are one way to measure success online, so I’m glad that our work was good enough to spark a discussion about the horror genre. Looking back on all of our previous shorts today is even more horrific because we only had family and friends as cast. I’m glad to say we’ve improved a lot since then,” laughs Dave.
Like most contemporary horror filmmakers, both Peters and Laurence grew up watching the good ol’ iconic classics like Scream, Halloween, The Exorcist and A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is what inspired them to make Moorehouse Road.
“I fell in love with the horror genre around the age of thirteen. Upon discovering the genre it gave me a fascination with filmmaking and the history of cinema in general. I knew I wanted to make a horror movie one day. Instead of the common “crazy serial killer” theme, I thought it would be interesting to explore a villain who killed for financial profit. In this case, an organ harvesting surgeon who catered to people who are desperate and wealthy enough to skip the medical system. I feel this makes for a calculating perpetrator,” Chris explained to Cinema Australia when asked why he wanted to explore horror.
Moorehouse Road was originally conceived as a short film but quickly grew to a feature film so Peters and Laurence could deliver a more in-depth look at the human psyche and what lengths a person will go to in order to save themselves or a loved one.
“Even seeking organs on the black market which comes at the cost of another life. The question remains unanswered, who is the true villain? The killer, or the people selfishly creating the demand for the killer’s work?”
Peters and Laurance’s connection runs much deeper than film. Dave is actually Chris’ brother-in-law and the two met when Dave was dating Chris’ sister. They bonded over their mutual love of filmmaking and thus the partnership was born. Chris says he works so well with Dave because they each bring their own strengths to Chrave that complement each other so well. Chris will write and direct while Dave does cinematography, colour grading and all things visual.
“What I love about our filmmaking partnership is that, as individuals, we have a very similar and broad skillset. While our skills almost entirely overlap, we each have core strengths and areas of focus. This is really beneficial when it comes to the creative process as we can both offer valuable input when needed and share the workload,” says Dave.
As any independent filmmaker will tell you, especially in Australia, there’s no greater benefit than a strong network to support your journey. Through his work at Artist Management Australia, a talent management agency, Chris has been fortunate enough to met and build relationships with many talented actors.
“In the lead role of Sunni we have an exceptional young actress, Hannah Arevalo who started work on the film right after graduating WAAPA,” says Chris.
“Also in lead roles we have Taylor Than-Htay, who has also recently booked another horror film role, starring opposite Tara Reid, Lawrence Murphy, and veteran actor of stage and screen, Kate Hall, known to audiences for her role in the children’s television classic Ship to Shore.”
The crew consists of hard-working, recent film school graduates: Gaffer Nick Valentini and Ethan Phillips on sound, as well as Vicki Clarke who’s on visual effects makeup. And like any true independent production, close family and friends participated as extras and additional crew.
“Every single person involved in Moorehouse Road really gave everything to the project. While we’re used to doing a lot ourselves, there are areas we aren’t as skilled in, which is why it was important to work with a talented cast and crew. Our team had the perfect mix of professionalism and sense-of-humor, which made shoot days really enjoyable,” says Dave.
Moorehouse Road is currently in post-production and as any filmmaker will know, the process can be a very long and sometimes tedious process, but ultimately rewarding.
“The main lesson I have learnt about post, apart from patience, is that the more organised you are, the easier the process is. Have back-ups of all your footage and work, and take time for yourself between days of editing to keep your mind healthy,” says Chris.
“It has been a lot of fun watching the film take shape. I’m always learning new things, like how there is no computer fast enough and no solid state drive big enough when dealing with 4K footage,” adds Dave.
Moorehouse Road is eyeing a mid-2022 release date. Keep an eye on cinemaaustralia.com.au for more details.