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Minnesotans take their 'Four Boxes' to SXSW hoping for a big break

Posted at 8:55 AM on March 11, 2009 by Euan Kerr

(McDill and Huber get ready to head south or maybe South by Southwest. Images courtesy Lake Street Productions.)

It's a huge week for Wyatt McDill and Megan Huber, the Minneapolis based production team behind "Four Boxes" which gets its world premiere at South By Southwest on Sunday.

It's a low budget suspense film shot in Rosemount back in November 2007. Producer Huber says the movie came together after a larger project for another company stalled, and they realized they needed to do a production themselves. Something, as she puts it, "That was not a million locations, not a million actors, something that we could pull off, the two of us, raise the money ourselves and just follow it all the way through."

McDill, wearing his screenwriter hat set about putting together a script with those things in mind. "We came up with the conceit pretty early on just like '"Rear Window" on the internet'" McDill says.

(Sam Rosen, Terryn Westbrook and Justin Kirk playing Rob Rankrus, Amber Croft and Trevor Grainger in a scene from "Four Boxes.")

The idea is three people emptying a dead man's house come across a laptop where the deceased has been watching a strange voyeur site called "Four Boxes." They begin seeing some very disquieting things and wonder what they should do about it.

"And once we had that premise in place," McDill says, "there were a lot of aspects of the story which came though of their own accord. Just 'What is the web?' You never know what you are seeing. I mean with the Hitchcock movie they were trying to figure out what they was happening and they could never figure it out, but at least they believed their eyes. What they saw through the window was actually happening, they just didn't know how to interpret it. With the web you are getting your information on ones and zeroes, so not only do you not know what it is, you don't know where it is, or who it is, or even when it is."

The film is delightfully creepy, and takes some unexpected twists. McDill admits they are hoping people who see the film can keep mum. However he also says he's heard from people who have seen the film they want to go see it again to see how it changes with a new understanding of the action.

They shot the film in 19 days, using actors Justin Kirk (from Showtime's 'Weeds,') Sam Rosen and Terryn Westbrook (David Lynch's "Inland Empire.") Kirk and McDill were old friends from the days they went through the Children's Theater Company acting school. Huber says the shoot was a blast, and credits the suspense which tightens it's grip on the story to the acting and some editing room magic.

McDill says they entered the film for Sundance, but didn't get in. However the Sundance judges were very positive about the film and Huber and McDill says that probably helped with the SXSW application.

"It's a film that appeals to people because it speaks in a new language," McDill says, "A kind of language which appeals to the times."

It looks as though the film will get a Twin Cities premiere on May 7th at the Riverview in Minneapolis.

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