SCHWENKSVILLE — Two Union soldiers fought around a burned out campfire near two white canvas tents erected in the tall grass at the edge of some dense woods. One staggered backward, droped his rifle and fell to the ground. The standing solider yelled at his comrade to get up, then the director stopped the scene.
The actors relaxed and everyone gathered together to discuss what should happen next.
Three brothers, Kurtis Theorin, 20, along with twins Kris and Nik, both 15, were nearing the end of shooting their short film, “Retreat.” The film, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, is an adaptation of a short story written by Nik.
“I entered a 24-hour story contest where they give you a prompt and a word count,” he said. “The prompt was a man writing a letter on a lake.”
“Retreat” is “a dark psychological drama that looks at two soldiers trying to deal with their wounds, both physical and mental, old and new. The non-chronological story slowly reveals what happened between the two men,” according to a press release.
For three days last week, Pennypacker Mills became the backdrop, with Kurtis and Kris co-directing the film.
“It’s exhausting,” Kurtis said about directing. “The director is the person that keeps things moving.”
Kurtis, a film production major at Emerson College, also adapted the short story into a screenplay.
He said the adaptation process includes figuring out dialogue for all the characters instead of the one-character perspective of the story.
“My favorite genre to write is thriller or dark mystery,” Nik said about his writing.
Recently, Nik won the Scholastic Arts and Writing National Silver Medal for his short story “The Two Hour Clock.”
According to their mother, Amy, her sons have always been interested in making movies.
“They have been doing it since they were 10,” she said.
Kris has a YouTube channel with approximately 7,000 subscribers who view his stop-motion animated films.
“They’ve just started getting into live action,” she said.
“I told my kids, ‘Let’s do a summer project. Let’s take one of Nik’s stories and turn it into a movie.’”
Theorin said her sons do not like the organizational part of putting a film together, so she took over.
“I told them to tell me what they needed and I would get it,” she said standing under a tree not far from the outdoor set.
“It just happened to work out that everyone fell into their own little role,” she said.
The process of organizing locations, finding actors, period-appropriate costumes, writing the script, story boards and lodging began in May.
During the month-long Kickstarter campaign, the project raise $1,000 more than the original goal, Theorin said.
“Retreat” is a departure from some of the sibling’s earlier films because they used age-appropriate actors instead of friends.
“We got the film approved by the Screen Actors Guild, which allowed us to hire union actors,” Amy Theorin said.
This change, according to Theorin, could help Retreat garner recognition at film festivals.
Editing, writing the score and special effects will all happen in the three weeks Kurtis, Nik and Kris have before they go back to school.
“They all have to go back to school at the beginning of September and I told them that was their deadline,” Amy Theorin said.
Kris Theorin will be doing a majority of the editing, and said although it doesn’t take natural talent to be a good editor, experience helps.
“The more you edit, the better you will get,” he said. “It is certainly harder to edit live action.”
Nik said he is looking forward to the editing process and to see how his story translates on the screen.