Student’s short film deals with drugs and demons

In the dark woods of a conservative Christian school, two students may have experienced an encounter with the demonic. From what is known, the demonic images can be traced to only two possible sources: either they were hallucinations from a drug indulgence, or they were from hell itself.

This is the storyline of senior Gavin Peretti’s Follow Thy Master, which kicked off this year’s Eastern Film Festival on April 26.

After completing the script last year, Peretti turned to Dave Manzo, a local director and freelance editor.

Having liked the script, Manzo and a team of Easterners including senior Rachel Stephan, junior David Mack and Mark Hallen, director of the theater program, joined Peretti along with a number of professional actors to make the movie at Eastern.

“The film truly speaks about the dangers of playing around with power,” said Manzo. “Whether you are a Christian attempting to force demons out of someone or a non-believer trying to get someone high, both cases show a person with a pompous and reckless attitude towards power.”

In the film, Peretti plays Trevor, a student struggling with both his faith and his drug addiction. Stephan plays Megan, Trevor’s compassionate girlfriend.

Schedule demands took quite a toll on Stephan, because the majority of filming took place before and after finals last spring. A day of work on the film typically started at 7 p.m. and ended anytime past 3 a.m.

“It was at 3 a.m. when I would start rehearsing scenes that I was in,” Stephan said.

Working on a movie about demons and drugs late at night on sets enclosed by tall-standing trees may seem like an eerie recipe to some.

However, Stephan explained that the only eeriness she experienced throughout the course of production was in the Walton chapel.

It was there that the entire cast gathered to record the words “follow thy master” in a deep, mumbled resonance to create the film’s demonic sounds.

“After we were done, the eeriness left,” Stephan said.

Follow Thy Master will show at a number of horror film festivals including the Erie Film Festival in Erie, Pennsylvania, the LA Screen Fest and the NY Festival of Horrors.

The film premiered April 16 at the Cheap Shot Film Festival which features films made with a budget of under $15. Peretti’s film was one of 35 chosen finalists. The film will also show at the Clearview Theater in Wayne tonight at 8 p.m.

Although Peretti has not yet made money from his film, he is happy that the film is finished and people can now see it.

“From start, to script, to editing to final cut, the film took about nine months to complete,” Peretti said.

Now Peretti is looking to make his film into a full-length feature that requires a longer script and a $100,000 grant. Manzo said that he would be more than happy to fill the director’s chair again should Peretti obtain the grant.

“This project was the first step in our filmmaking relationship,” Manzo said. “Since we share the same drive to put out Christian movies on the secular market, I see us making more movies together down the road.”

Peretti has copies of the film for any interested in buying one. Email:

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