By Emma Castleberry
Two years ago, filmmaker Jennifer Trudrung learned about horror author Stephen King’s Dollar Baby Program, which allows writers and directors to license one of King’s stories for only $1 with the purpose of creating a short film. Trudrung has a local reputation in Asheville as a horror film maven, but, at the time, she felt too intimidated by the idea of adapting the iconic author’s story. That changed this past year, after she saw three of the Dollar Baby movies. “I’m a life-long fan of Stephen King,” Trudrung says. “I finally reached the point in my confidence as a writer and an actor that I wanted to make my own Stephen King film. I picked the short story ‘Here There Be Tygers’ because it intrigued me and resonated with me the most out of the stories available.” Trudrung partnered with director Polly Schattel to realize the film.
The “Here There Be Tygers” film centers around Charlie, a preteen girl facing ridicule from her teacher and peers. Charlie is played by Trudrung’s 11-year-old daughter, Penny Munroe. After an embarrassing moment in the classroom, Charlie finds herself in a terrifying situation and discovers inner strength. “The role of Charlie was very interesting because I got to to go on her journey of finding her power after being bullied,” says Munroe. “It truly is a story of a victim finding her own self.”
Trudrung’s initial ideas for adapting the story were going to be rather straightforward. “I adore Stephen King and his words were sacred to me,” she says. But upon further consideration, Trudrung realized she wanted her film to have a female lead and address contemporary women’s issues. Director Schattel agreed. “Jennifer and I agreed right away that we should update it, that the story should now be about a young girl,” says Schattel. “I was deep into telling stories about female protagonists, and I felt it would not only translate well, but improve upon the original concept. Jennifer did her screenwriting magic, and this little film is the result.”
Trudrung joins the cast alongside her daughter. They are accompanied by local and regional actors Selah Atwood, Drez Ryan and Marisa Blake, with photography director Greg Hudgins and production designer Shane Meador. “I got really lucky with my crew and cast for this film,” says Trudrung. “I had so much support from the Asheville community.” The film was shot on location at Evergreen Charter School, and Biscuit Head provided catering for the film crew. Friends volunteered to help with wardrobe and other tasks. “All of these things are the reason this film is going to be beautiful and memorable,” says Trudrung. “This is a true Asheville film full of Asheville heart and support.”
The completed film is poised to begin its film festival run in summer of 2019. For more information, visit Facebook.com/HereThereBeTygersShortFilm.