Anyone who has dreamed of seeing their name in the end credits of a movie now has their chance, and it doesn’t require an investment of thousands of dollars.
In an effort to raise funds for their next project and make it easy and accessible for everyone to support the arts, local filmmakers Aaron Crocker and Justin Bridges have launched the #letsmakeamoviefxbg campaign.
A dollar will get your name a spot on the “thank you” list during the credits of “Poison Tree,” a psychological horror movie Crocker and Bridges plan to start filming in Fredericksburg this summer.
Their goal is to raise $20,000 to support the project via 20,000 donors.
They also hope to thank so many people that the credits for “Poison Tree” will break the world record for longest credits, an honor currently held by 2003’s “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”, which has a credits of nine and a half minutes.
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“The $1 minimum makes it accessible,” said Crocker, an actor, writer and director who has lived in the Fredericksburg area since 2008. “There have been times in the past when I’ve wanted to contribute to a project, but the minimum was too high, and I wasn’t where I am now.
Crocker teamed up with Bridges, a full-time photographer from King George’s County, several years ago, and the two completed their first film project, a horror short titled “Slashed Ceiling.” in 2021.
This film flips the slasher genre on its head by portraying a female serial killer who pursues her victims with an ax and is driven not by money or a romantic relationship, but by career ambition.
“Slashed Ceiling” is making its way onto the festival circuit and this year won Best Short Horror at the Awesome Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Crocker and Bridges made the film in Fredericksburg, shooting scenes in downtown Katora Coffee, a local gym, and the Bowman Center.
Their follow-up feature, a tale based on William Blake’s 1794 poem “A Poison Tree” about a couple who cannot escape the pull of the past, will also be shot in Fredericksburg.
“It will open with a picture of the train passing over the railway bridge,” Bridges said.
It was actually a photo he took of the railway bridge that inspired Bridges to take up photography four years ago.
He posted the image on a Facebook group and received requests to buy a copy of the image. The only problem was that he didn’t have one.
“It inspired me to go out and buy a camera,” Bridges said.
He started a full-time wedding photography business, JB Concepts, then ventured into videography, teaming up with several local musicians to make music videos.
However, the opportunities dried up during the spring 2020 pandemic shutdown, so when Crocker — whom he had met via Facebook — reached out to say, “Let’s make a movie,” Bridges was immediately on board.
“I just want Aaron’s story to be as cool as possible,” he said, noting that he draws inspiration from the direction of Stanley Kubrik and the photography of Roger Deakins, known for his collaborations. with the Coen brothers and Sam Mendes.
Crocker has published several books but said he always viewed his writing as a movie and that the horror genre, in particular, had been a salvation and an outlet for him.
As a child, Crocker suffered trauma and couldn’t relate to a lot of childhood fiction.
“Things like ‘The Babysitters Club’ and ‘American Girl’ books — I didn’t find them relevant and dark enough for what I’ve been through,” he said.
But books like Stephen King’s “Firestarter” and VC Andrews’ “Flowers in the Attic” helped him both process his trauma and escape from it.
“Horror is supposed to make our lives more enjoyable,” Crocker said. “It was survival for me. I hope to give back to the genre that really saved me.
In “Slashed Ceiling,” Crocker has begun to find his directorial voice, and he hopes to smooth it out in “Poison Tree.”
Crocker and Bridges have already cast the film with actors hailing from Washington, DC, Washington State, Maryland and Virginia. There will be a handful of additional roles for the locals, which the filmmakers will play closer to filming.
The pair launched the #letsmakeamoviefxbg campaign in February and have raised around $2,000 so far, they said.
They have also started canvassing downtown businesses. Companies that donate a minimum of $100 to the project can appear in a promotional video shot by Crocker and Bridges, which they will post on all of their social media platforms.
Katora and Biliken’s Smokehouse are among a handful of companies that have contributed so far.
“Our goal is to bring positivity through filmmaking to Fredericksburg and Stafford County, and we hope to raise awareness and involve the community in our independent production,” Crocker said.
To contribute to the campaign or learn more about the project, visit the film’s Facebook page at facebook.com/poisontreethemovie or follow @letsmakeamoviefxbg on Instagram.
Adele Uphaus-Conner: 540/735-1973