“Pale Blue Eye” is a movie written and directed by Keith A. Nixon, which is also the first movie he directed. It is a story about a woman named Norma Redmond, who is a schizophrenic surgical assistant for a crooked doctor. She becomes haunted by the sound of her employer’s heartbeat after she murders him. The story is inspired by “Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe and by a play Keith saw at his school when he was younger.
It all started at St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Bronzeville, which Keith attended and where he saw a theatre company perform a stage play of the story for the students. “The sound of the story is what was horrifying, The story is about a man who murders another man and he could still hear his heart beating after death. For me that was the part of the story I wanted to capture. I started to ask the ‘what if’ questions, like what if the main character was a female. Norma Redman came out of that experience,” said Keith.
The movie is produced by Edwin Ruiz and director of photography is Josh Woo. The casting was done by Casting Peach, LLC.
When the casting director from Casting Peach, Lakita Montgomery, read the script she had to find the right actress to play Norma. That’s how they found Tiffany J. Curtis. “As we chose talent for the film we wanted to make sure that the actors we chose were able to reach outside the box within their range of acting for this psychological thriller,” said Lakita.
“I thought it was Tiffany when she walked in. I said she looks just like the character in my look book. Tiffany nailed the part right off the bat. She brought something extra to the part that brought it to life. It was no longer just words on a page anymore,” said Keith.
The story also resonated deep and personal with Tiffany who gave it not just a 100 percent but a little bit extra. “I read the script and it grabbed my attention because of the story line, because of the mental illness aspect of it because mental illness touches home in my family and I wanted to be respectful to the character and present it in a way that is respectful to the character. I did my research and I was able to find a voice for the character that resonated,” said Tiffany. “Why is she fragile and broken? I wanted to find the why.”
“Pale Blue Eye” is a great example that it doesn’t take a high budget to make a great movie. More than just a thesis project for Keith and Edwin, this movie turned out to be something very special that has the inspirations to end up in big film festivals, such as Sundance. “Before we had the money we had the love and support of the community, which is what I believe pushed the project further,” said Keith.
“This movie was definitely one of the most unique projects I’ve filmed. The story was so engaging and disturbing that I felt compelled to bring the visuals to the next level. Keith and I, who both have been in the film world for a while now, had very similar visions for this film from the start, it was a mixture between Mr. Robot and Hitchcock. My gaffer, Alex Halstead, who is also very established here in the Chicago community like the rest of us, brought many great lighting ideas to the table. Needless to say, “Pale Blue Eye” was a combination of a whole bunch of creative crew and cast,” said Josh.
It also took Depaul University’s support, community’s support and a great cast to pull off the production of the movie. “This project is Keith’s thesis film and mine as a producer. We are both MFA students at Depaul University. Depaul gave us the cameras and 80 percent of the production we needed for the film,” said Edwin.
But it is the location of this movie project that holds a special place in Keith’s heart. “As I began the search for one of the critical locations for “Pale Blue Eye,” St. Elizabeth immediately came to mind. I called the church office and set a meeting with the board of trustees. We discussed my plans for the film and their plans to possibly reopen in the future. Later, they unanimously voted for us to shoot our film in the basement of the former church building. The old church was where I experienced “Tell-Tale Heart” for the first time. So, it felt surreal to return to my old stomping ground with the cast and crew of my new movie. The church’s basement turned out to be the perfect location. It was a massive unfinished space and had the eerie look we needed to help compellingly tell the story,” said Keith.
“I really thought we had an interesting piece and room for storytelling visually,” said Johnny Griffiths, Production Designer for Pale Blue Eye.
The rest of the main cast: Tiffany J. Curtis, Michael Termine, Chris Colucci, and Arica Gale.
If you would like to help the team out, you can donate here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pale-blue-eye-post-production-fundraiser#/.
For more information on the movie: http://paleblueeyefilm.com/.