Lights, Camera, Graves

2As independent film “Dig Two Graves” crew members embark on a brisk southern Illinois morning along the secluded Tunnel Hill Trail, director Hunter Adams instructs the crew on the day’s tasks.

Shortly after the crew eats an eggs, rice, black beans and cornbread breakfast, they unload cameras, lighting equipment, heaters and tents from the trucks. After the equipment is set up, Eric Maddison, the film’s director of photography, sits in a cart attached to a dolly. He holds the camera and focuses on Jacqueline, the film’s main character, who stands alone on the trail.

Maddison counts down: “Three, two, one,” and a long day of “Dig” filming has officially begun.1

This is the typical day on set for the film, whose shot locations include areas all around Southern Illinois such as the Cache River’s Cypress Swamps, Shawnee National Forest and the Kuykendall Home in Vienna. Filming started Jan. 5 and is scheduled to wrap up near the moth’s end, when the post production process will begin.

Danny Goldring (“The Dark Knight”, “The Fugitive”) and Ted Levine (“Silence of the Lambs”, “Shutter Island”) lead the film’s cast.  The suspense thriller is based on an old Confucian proverb that warns those who seek after revenge had better dig two graves.

The story of the movie focuses on a young girl named Jacqueline, who is often to referred to by her brother as “Jake,” as she is caught in an ethical dilemma proposed by three moonshiners; take the life of one person to bring back to life a dead loved one.

3Adams said Jacqueline’s ethical dilemma is what compelled him most when he wrote the script. Having a child in a position where he or she has to make an adult decision where the lines aren’t black and white is the conflict of the film, he said.

“(The Film raises the question) What are you willing to do to save your family?” he said.

The filmmaking process has lasted a few years, Adams said. The process included getting the movie’s script approved by the Independent Film Project, scouting shot locations, casting and finally filming.

To capture the dark-gritty world Adams envisions, Maddison said he is in charge of fixing scenes’ color, tone, mood and lighting to the director’s liking. Maddison said the film’s picture says as 4much as the dialogue.

“I need to have an idea of what a scene would need to tell in a visual sentence,” he said.

Phil Plowden, one of the film’s associate producers, said the camera Phil uses is the Red Epic. According to, the camera company’s website, the camera is capable of shooting 1-120 5frames per second at full resolution. It is extremely fast and makes it easier to change the film’s lighting and tone during the post production stage, according to the website. It makes film images appear crisper, is good for challenging lighting situations and easy to carry, Plowden said.

“It’s a great piece of equipment,” he said. “It has been used by filmmakers like Peter Jackson (‘The Lord of The Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’) quite a bit.”


Film stills taken by Steve Matzker






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