For his first feature film as a lead producer, Matt Waldeck returned to his roots. The Bainbridge native and St. Ignatius High School graduate scouted many locations for highly anticipated horror flick I See You in Northeast Ohio. The majority of the film was shot in Lakewood and Chagrin Falls.
Screening at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 29, March 30 and March 31, I See You opens with an aerial shot of Chagrin Falls, where Waldeck had his first job at the village’s Popcorn Shop. In Lakewood, he was also able to find a stylish house on Edgewater Drive with a panoramic view of Lake Erie.
The Northeastern Ohio settings are a perfect fit with I See You's unusual mood, a film that can best be described as a cerebral supernatural horror movie. Starring Oscar winner Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney and Judah Lewis, it follows the Harpers, a family torn apart by mother Jackie (Hunt)'s recent affair. Their personal drama takes a backseat however, when an eerily familiar string of kidnappings begins to plague their small Ohio town—and Jackie starts experiencing unexplained occurrences in her stately home. The film harkens back to the work of Alfred Hitchcock with classic themes of betrayal, terror and revenge — and a fair dose of shocking twists.
“Once you release a film into the wild, it takes on a life of its own,” says the 35-year-old Waldeck. “The first couple of reviews compared it to Get Out which is not at all what it’s about.”
Waldeck talks about the film’s unique approach, working with an iconic actress and the challenges of producing his first feature.
Q: This is not your typical horror movie. How did you approach making it?
A: The last decade of horror films have been the Blumhouse paradigm. They are the Coca-Cola of horror films. We didn’t go for a lot of blood and gore. I appreciate a great story that’s going to engage the audience. We wanted to pull the rug out from under people. There are a lot of red herrings in the film…it’s like a Russian doll.
Q: With a budget of less than $5 million, you were still able to land Helen Hunt in a leading role. How did you do it?
A: She originally wanted to film in California but I thought it would be much more authentic to shoot at a real house on the lake. Helen came in for 10 days, returned to California and came back for five days. Kudos to her for taking a gamble with the first genre movie she’s ever been in. When she first saw it at South by Southwest, she was very pleased.
Q: What were the biggest challenges in shooting this film?
A: Time and money. We shot over 20 days in the spring of 2018, so we had to thread the needle in terms of the timing for the cast. Getting the money was a challenge. There was a 48-hour period where it looked like the movie wasn’t going to happen.
Q: How did the Lakewood neighborhood react to the production?
A: It was truly collaborative. Two of the neighbors had homes with dressing rooms for us to use and another one set up a tent we used for catering. For six weeks, we had a whole block that turned into our own studio lot.