Another locally filmed movie just became available on Amazon Prime Video for streaming. “Confession” was written, directed, and produced by local artist and author Daniel Nyiri. While filmed entirely in Humboldt, the movie was made to suggest a much larger metropolitan area. Almost the entire cast and crew was comprised of local residents, many of whom were new to the filmmaking process. Notable locals include Cinematographer Matt St. Charles, whose work is recognizable for his numerous commercials for Wildberries Market, Sole Savers, and the Minor Theater, and Editor Cole Saxton, who received his BA in Film from Humboldt State University and has worked extensively editing three features, documentaries, music videos and numerous TV advertisements as well.
The film is an intelligent thriller with deep metaphysical themes. After a gruesome multiple murder, Dean McCallum, a seemingly good and decent man, walks into a cafe covered in blood. Brought in for questioning by detectives Jared Lamb and Reina Herrera, who begin a series of interrogations to determine if McCallum is a psychopath, serial killer or suffering from multiple personalities. He is further evaluated by Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Waverly, which proves to be an unsettling and disturbing experience for her. McCallum's increasingly bizarre and disquieting comments, his paranormal awareness of things unknowable to him, and unexplainable peripheral occurrences, suggest there may be otherworldly influences. Now they must determine if McCallum could be possessed by demons, be the Devil himself, or if there is something even more shocking to consider. Once the truth is revealed, everything they believe in will be questioned and the foundations of their very reality will be shaken.
Nyiri believed that he could maximize the limited local resources available to make a movie that would provide the kind of challenging subject matter and fearlessness major studios are hesitant to tackle. Far more ambitious than your usual “Cabin in the Woods” approach to a low budget first feature, “Confession” required over 60 distinct locations and had 28 speaking parts. Unbelievably for the budget, the majority of the settings were built completely from scratch or heavily modified, so that Nyiri could maintain maximum control over the various visual elements. For example, one single location became three different apartments in the film by adding and removing windows and walls, while large sections of the film’s police station were actually constructed in an empty basement facility. This could be accomplished on the highly restrictive budget because of Nyiri’s expertise as a scenic designer with over 150 productions to his credit; including 15 shows for Redwood Curtain Theater and 9 shows for
Ferndale Repertory Theater. Those theaters, along with NCRT, received special thanks in the closing credits because of additional set materials loaned to the film, use of their spaces for the original auditions, and the hosting of the cast and crew private screening. All of it evidences of the connection between the local theater community and the filmmakers.
Attentive viewers will note many unfamiliar high-rise buildings appearing in shots, alongside the humbler ones they are used to seeing around Eureka and McKinleyville. For one montage, a whole series of religious structures were fabricated. All of these efforts were to give the impression of a much larger, more metropolitan setting. Matte paintings and miniatures were also used to give the locations more scale. Everything attests to the objective of creatingf a film which defies expectations as to what can be accomplished on a limited budget. Nyiri has said, “Too often individuals settle for what is easiest.
This film shows what you can achieve, if compromise is not your instinctive first choice, and you have a few people willing to put in the extra effort to go the distance.”
Many local actors were cast, including Gary C. Stillman, Queena DeLany, Gavin Lyall, Charlie Heinberg (who portrays serial killer Holden Parks), Jo Kuzelka (as Heather Kadar), Gary Sommers (as the Coroner) and James Hitchcock (as the Medical Examiner), as well as up and coming talents like Bailey Barnick, who plays the key supporting role of Casey Emerson). The production was fortunate to attract the participation of Tony-nominated actress Cynthia Martells, who played the difficult role of Dr. Waverly. In addition to her role in August Wilson’s Broadway production of “Two Trains Running” (for which she was nominated as Best Actress in a Featured Role for the 1992 Tony Award) she has appeared in “Nurse Betty,” “Gattaca,” and “Regarding Henry” among her 38 film and television credits.
“Confession” has a runtime of 1 hr and 58 min and is unrated. It currently has a rating of 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon Prime Video. Streaming is free for Prime members, $2.99 to rent, and $9.99 to purchase.