Most kids like to go off to summer camp, but for young David (Blake Woodruff from CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN) in the new fright feature WHISPER, it’s not really much of a choice. Nor is it for Max (LOST’s Josh Holloway, pictured), a career criminal who’s trying to go straight, but ends up kidnapping David from his wealthy family and then has to take refuge at an abandoned summer camp (during winter, no less). However, that’s not the only thing that goes wrong, as Max and the rest of his crew begin to realize that David isn’t what you’d call an average kid.
“Once the kidnappers get there, things start sort of turning for the worst, and a series of events turns them against each other,” remarks first-time feature director Stewart Hendler. “What was once a fantastic plan starts to unravel, and they a series of accidents and tragedies befall them.”
On shooting day 28 of 37, the cast and crew are shooting the major climactic moment. Filming on a Vancouver soundstage affectionately referred to as “The Zoo,” the crew is fitted with paper masks to avoid inhaling bits of paper used to create the illusion of snow. Standing on the rooftop of the ranch where the group of criminals has been hiding out, Max is having his final confrontation with David. It is clear he has really had it with this kid.
WHISPER is an ambitious shoot with a “mid-range” budget, taking the cast and crew to various points in western Canada—mostly in Vancouver, but occasionally moving as far north as the actual arctic Yukon. Like any film production, this one has presented its own set of unique challenges, although WHISPER has the added distinction of being not only Hendler’s first feature (he has previously directed commercials for Budweiser and Amstel Light), but also the first movie lead for Holloway, after his breakout role as LOST’s scheming Sawyer. “We laugh and joke about being rookies on the set,” Holloway notes while praising his director. “He’s really good; he’s got a strong vision.”
Clearly, everyone’s in it for the long haul (despite the very compressed shooting schedule). “All of us are kind of walking zombies at this point in terms of how much effort we’ve had to put into this—it’s an immense amount,” Hendler notes, “It’s a very ambitious project for the time we have to shoot it in.”
Produced by Gold Circle Films for distribution by Universal (the two companies also teamed on WHITE NOISE and the upcoming SLITHER), WHISPER has wrapped and is aiming for a late 2005/early 2006 debut.