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Running Time: 36 minutes

Industry hasn’t destroyed all the sacred spaces in the world. In Hawai'i pockets of magic still exist. And so do those that protect them. Green Lake draws inspiration not only from the beauty and mysticism of Hawaii, but also from B-horror/monster movies, The Twilight Zone and The X-Files. It's a micro-budget Creature from the Black Lagoon meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

TAGLINE: Horror Dwells Deep

Starring RaVani Flood, Thom Durkin, Valery Richardson, Leah Gallo, Liam Durkin, and Carmen Richardson
Directed and Produced by Derek Frey
Written by Derek Frey (story), Leah Gallo (screenplay)
Cinematography by Derek Frey
Music by Matthew Reid
Special Makeup Effects by Valery Richardson
Edited by Derek Frey
Featuring the songs “(Come In) The Water’s Fine” by Technical Difficulties and “Ariel” by Delight Talkies


Voices From The Balcony, “GREEN LAKE” Review
by Jim Morazzini

Green Lake is the larger of two freshwater lakes on the island of Hawaii. Residing in the crater of an extinct volcano and reputed to be bottomless. It is a beautiful place and the legendary Mo’o is tasked with keeping it that way. When a group of friends decide that it would be the perfect place to take hallucinogenic mushrooms, they awaken its wrath.

The 36-minute short GREEN LAKE is a cheerful throwback to films like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON with its amphibious creature wreaking havoc on those who would defile its domain. Unlike the Black Lagoon’s Gillman, the Mo’o is a supernatural being which does change the dynamics of things a bit, but the feel is much the same. This extends to the creature being portrayed by a person in a suit, not CGI. Like the older classics, it’s also light on gore, relying on its script, camerawork, and atmosphere for shocks.

Director Derek Frey has helmed many shorts and worked as a producer on a number of features, several with Tim Burton such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND and DARK SHADOWS. His experience shows in the finished film. Frey has referred to shooting GREEN LAKE as his “mini-Apocalypse Now” due to how difficult it was. A quick look at the cast and credits shows everyone was filling multiple roles in front of and behind the camera. The results were worth it as the film pulled in a huge number of awards in its festival run.

Frey remains proud of his film, and its message. “It was the most challenging shoot I’ve ever been part of but also the most rewarding and I’m so proud of the result. Green Lake is more than your typical horror film, it’s a warning to everyone that we must maintain our balance with and respect nature, or face the consequences.” And he’s put the film up on streaming site where it can be seen free. And you can’t beat free, especially for a good film. And GREEN LAKE is a very good film.

Interview: Derek Frey, Cult Critic Film Magazine
by Helen Wheels

Derek Frey’s credits are long and impressive; filled with some of the best fantasy coming out of Hollywood. He’s been working with Tim Burton Productions since 1996, building a career assisting on films such as “Mars Attacks!”, “Sleepy Hollow”, “Planet of the Apes” and “Big Fish”. He was the executive producer on some of my personal favorites such as “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and “Big Eyes” which is based on the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), whose husband Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) became one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s by using his wife’s art and signing his own name.

Derek co-produced the 2012 Academy Award© nominated “Frankenweenie” and associate produced the blockbuster “Alice in Wonderland”, as well as “Dark Shadows”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Corpse Bride”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. Derek currently is producing Disney’s “Dumbo”, a live-action adaptation of the classic animated children’s story, scheduled for release in spring 2019. In addition to all that, he still finds time to produce his own work! I recently reviewed his 2016 horror featurette, “Green Lake”, which has appeared at over forty film festivals and won numerous awards. Last year I was fortunate to review his short film “Kill the Engine,” which is also enjoying quite a bit of success on the circuit.

1. Derek, I am thrilled to have an opportunity to interview you, and I’ve been wondering, having been born and raised across the country in Philadelphia PA, how did you end up in Hollywood working with Tim Burton?

Derek: Filmmaking started as a hobby for me during high school and college, and over time I grew increasingly passionate about it. I was always infatuated with films but as a kid growing up on the east coast, the idea of moving to Los Angeles to work in the film industry was something I never really considered a possibility. During my senior year of university, I had an opportunity to visit LA and through some personal connections was able to meet a number of executives and producers in the industry. They all had helpful career advice for me if I decided to make the move west. In the final weeks of college, my energy was focused on completing my cult opus: Verge of Darkness. The positive reaction to the film fueled my desire to make movies for a living. A couple of weeks after graduating college I decided to take a gamble and moved to Los Angeles.

My first paying job in LA was as a production assistant on a sitcom for ABC Productions. It was a great experience, but my real goal was to work on films. An executive at ABC knew this and she recommended me for an opening at Tim Burton Productions. I remember her asking “Would you be interested in interviewing for a position at Tim Burton Productions?” After getting over the initial shock, I went through a couple of rounds of interviews and was hired as a runner, just as Mars Attacks! was in pre-production. I was extremely fortunate to be working for an idol of mine months after making the move to Los Angeles.

2. In what ways have working on films for Burton and Disney influenced your sensibilities as a filmmaker and your approach to your own work?

Derek: I felt a strong affinity for Tim’s work from the very first film I saw of his: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I remember seeing it at a drive-in movie theater – they were showing a double feature of Pee-Wee and Goonies. I went mostly to see Goonies, it was massive at the time and all my friends were talking about it. Goonies is a great film, but I was blown away by Pee-Wee. I’d never seen anything like it. From a kid’s perspective, it was very funny, odd, strange and unique. On the top layer, it seems really ridiculous, but there’s a lot going on. There’s an artistic richness to the film and it widened my perspective as to what a movie could be.

As time went on I followed his career. Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands were films I would watch repeatedly and ultimately prompted me to pick up a camera and make films of my own. As a fan, his films were ingrained in me and inspired me, long before I ever had the chance to work with him. Watching him work and create continues to be a huge inspiration to me.

3. You have numerous credits as a producer and associate producer, what other roles do you play behind the camera, and do you have a preference?

Derek: I have played a number of roles on various projects. It’s always a real thrill and honor to produce for Tim and help him actualize his incredible vision. I love so many aspects of the process but enjoy directing the most. The symmetry and excitement generated between the camera and your subject is the most satisfying.

4. Have you ever worked on the other side of the camera, as an actor? How does that experience compare to being a crew member?

Derek: I’ve never worked as a paid actor. It never really appealed to me though I have a lot of respect for people with that skill. In college, I would play roles in my early films, mainly out of necessity. I had stories I wanted to tell, and it was a collaborative effort with all of my friends helping out in front and behind the camera. In the end, we’d all pitch in, filling in roles that we were (or weren’t) naturally inclined for.

5. When I reviewed Green Lake, I noticed that you had credits for the story, but Leah Gallo was the screenwriter. Could you describe that process? How do you work with the writer to go from concept to script and what does the revision process look like?

Derek: For Green Lake I had the general outline of a story but knew Leah would do a great job writing the screenplay. The story revolves around a strong female character and has many elements of fantasy – of which Leah is a fan. I thought the story really needed to be told from a female perspective and I think that is one of the greatest strengths of the film.

6. You played several behind the scenes roles in your horror featurette “Green Lake”, how do you juggle the sometimes-conflicting demands on a film as cinematographer, director, and editor?

Derek: Juggling many roles is something I’ve always assumed without hesitation. For short films, I think it is a challenging and a healthy exercise – and it’s great to immerse yourself on such a complete level. I will say on a project like Green Lake, which creeps closer to a feature-length running time, taking on so many roles was extremely challenging. Shooting at real locations, many of which were on or under water, combined with makeup and effects, proved a huge undertaking. Our small cast doubled as basically our only crew. It took a toll on everyone physically and emotionally. Looking back, I think everyone appreciates what we went through and the end product. It certainly helps when the film does well and receives praise. That has been therapeutic.

7. Could you describe a day in your life when you’re in the middle of a big production for Burton and/or Disney and how does it differ from your day as an independent filmmaker?

Derek: Each day presents its own challenges and unexpected hurdles. A workday can be strikingly different from pre-production to filming to post-production. Generally, when filming you’re on your feet a lot, moving from between sets and locations. It can be quite a transient lifestyle. During post and prep, it’s a bit more of a stable office/cutting room environment. The hours are always long, but I thrive on a heavy workload and embrace it.
During the rare time I have off, usually around the holidays, I’ll try to film a project of my own. It’s a nice antidote to work on smaller projects where I have complete control over how and when they’re made, versus a studio project where you are responsible to the powers that be.

8. Other than Disney’s much anticipated “Dumbo,” what projects are currently in your cue?

Derek: Aside from producing Dumbo, I’m in the process of developing a stop-motion anthology series based on the characters from Tim’s book: The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories. I’m editing a music video, Pangea, that I recently directed in Hawaii for Professor T and the East Side Shredders. It’s going to be a wild trip through history and around the world. Looking further ahead I’m developing a couple of feature films: Awkward Endeavors with my frequent Philadelphia collaborators the Minor Prophets, and Quiet Fire, a story about the recording of the album Kind of Blue and the creative collaboration between Miles Davis and pianist Bill Evans.

Island Beat, “Big Screens, Big Fun” article excerpt [May 26, 2016]
by Katie Young Yamanaka

For filmmaker Derek Frey, the natural mystery of the Big Island itself was inspiration for his film, “Green Lake,” a horror film inspired by the Green Lake in Kapoho.

“I’ve always been inspired by the beauty of the Big Island,” says Frey, whose home base is London. “I’ve also shot a couple of other short films in and around Hilo. It’s my favorite place to go to re-energize.

“I had heard of the Green Lake, but I didn’t know many people who had been there. When I finally went, I was so struck by the beauty of this place, but also its power … and I felt there was a little bit of a darker side to it, too.”

Frey started looking into local legends about the area and was prompted to do a film about preserving nature, but also about the consequences of venturing into areas you shouldn’t go.

“It’s been classified as a horror film, but I’d like to think there is something more poetic to it as well,” he says. “I went with the vibe I felt there. I think it’s something you feel in a lot of places that are off the beaten path in Hawaii. There are areas with tremendous beauty but also that have a haunted feeling. You get into areas where you feel like you shouldn’t be there.

“Industry is treading on a lot of these secret little places, and Green Lake is certainly a place like that. It’s important to protect and preserve it.” Frey, whose used a cast of locals from East Hawaii, says he hopes people will be entertained, get a little scared, but also tap into the emotion of the story.

“Green Lake” just started making the film festival rounds this past month. “We got into 10 or 12 festivals … and we won Best Horror Film at the LA Independent Film Festival,” Frey says. “A song that appears in the film, written by Hilo band Technical Difficulties, also won for Best Original Song. At HIFF we won a gold award and have been nominated for other awards at other festivals, too, so we’re off to a good start.”

Frey says that while it seems like everyone is doing film festivals now, BIFF is regarded as one of the top 25 film festivals that filmmakers want to get into.

“It’s not just because the beautiful setting, too, it’s because they take great pride in what they do and so they attract great talent,” he says. “BIFF puts a lot of effort into making the festival part of the community. As a filmmaker, you just want your film to be seen, so to have it in a place where people can gather together outdoors is fantastic.”

Cult Critic Film Magazine – “GREEN LAKE”
by Helen Wheels

Derek Frey’s 30-minute featurette, “Green Lake” (2016) reads like a classic horror movie. A “Creature of the Black Lagoon” of sorts, with the added intrigue of being filmed on location, at one of only two lakes in Hawaii. Mythological shapeshifters are the fabled guards of these precious fresh water sources, and legend has it that if their land is disrespected or trespassed upon, a Mo’o possesses the power to wreak havoc.

Frey gives us a classic horror set-up. A group of friends, unaware of the danger that lurks in their surroundings, decide to make the worst possible decision. The lush beauty engulfing the lake does seem like the perfect backdrop for a good old fashion psychedelic mushroom trip. And it could be a great bonding experience, except for the issue with the pissed off protector of sacred land who woke up to join the party.

The dark shape of a woman materializes from the murky waters of Green Lake. Her visage is reminiscent of Samara moving toward the audience after emerging from the well, in Gore Verbinski’s famous scene from “The Ring.” Unlike Samara, the Mo’o is seductive. She hypnotizes her victim as she slinks ever so slowly in for the kill. Her skin is smooth and reptilian. Her hair, long and matted with seaweed gives her the appearance of a being who is part of the eco-system.

Frey’s use of practical effects blends into the natural world. A CGI creature would have appeared too perfect, too modern in this setting. Instead, using costume and make-up, along with body movements and some clever editing produced a believable rendition of the mythic creature. It’s no wonder Frey has such a strong affinity to practical effects; he has spent his career working with Tim Burton.

Matthew Reid’s original score adds substance to the opening narration, transforming the narrator’s words into folklore. The music drifts and bounces throughout the film, moving seamlessly connecting scenes. Reid’s score combined with the skillful use of foley sound adds a sense of anticipation, and outright panic, perfectly timed. Frey also called in some of his Big Island musician friends, Technical Difficulties and Delight Talkies, who wrote songs specifically for the film.

In true Indie fashion, everyone had multiple roles; cast doubled as crew. For nine grueling days, the small band of filmmakers weathered the elements and went without sleep to the point of exhaustion and mental breakdown. Frey calls “Green Lake” his mini “Apocalypse Now.” The Mo’o rising from the water does call to mind one of the famous scenes from Francis Ford Coppola’s movie; however, Frey could be referring to the mental and physical pain that he and his friends went through to produce the film. The sacrifices must have been worth it because the result of their perseverance has garnered numerous festival awards.

“Green Lake” is a solid, entertaining horror film that keeps you hanging on until the end. All great horror movies have an underlying meaning, a warning about some mistake that humanity is making, and “Green Lake” is no different. It’s a warning to everyone that we must maintain our balance with and respect nature or face the consequences. Always remember, “Horror Dwells Deep.”

The Big Island of Hawai’i has been a great source of inspiration for me. I’ve had the unique opportunity to become friends with many artists and musicians on the island. These friendships have led to a number of music video and short film collaborations. Many of these projects showcase the beauty of the land and the mystical power that surrounds it.

I am fascinated with the supernatural aspect to Hawai’i and the tales found in Glen Grant’s Obake Files. I also love horror films and in 2010 created a short on the Big Island: The Curse of the Sacred Stone. It was a horror/comedy that lightly depicted the implications of disturbing sacred land when an unsuspecting tourist removes a lava rock from a sacred site.

I still felt the impulse to create more of a straightforward horror film on the Big Island. Since my first visit to Hawai'i in 2001, I had heard about Green Lake, an unspoiled fresh body of water located in a crater within a mountainous rainforest in Kapoho. Green Lake is the larger of only two lakes in Hawaii. Allegedly Jacques Cousteau conducted a diving expedition in the 1970’s and couldn’t find the bottom. We don’t know if this is true, but one thing is certain, the towering walls of the crater make the lake seem bottomless. Discussion of Green Lake is almost one of urban legend. The fact is many people who live in Hawai’i have never visited the lake, though the land manager is very inviting and enthusiastic about the lake and its surrounding land.

My first visit to Green Lake, a few years ago, was incredibly inspiring. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Accompanying that beauty is a deep and powerful mystical vibe. This place demands that you respect it and it feels like there are protective energies present. During that initial visit a group of us ventured onto the lake via a small paddleboat and our first jump into the water was met with excitement, exhilaration and downright fear. The water is dark and though we know there are no snakes or other predators to fear in Hawai’i it certainly feels as though something lurks below.

From that visit the seed for a film was firmly established and I returned the next year with the Green Lake script in hand. Thus began a grueling 9 day shoot, pulling upon friends from the Big Island I’ve made over the years to play the roles and double as crew. Our core group of 6 played multiple roles in front of and behind the camera, weathering the elements, without sleep to the point of exhaustion and mental breakdown - all for the sake of creating. Green Lake was my mini-Apocalypse Now. It was the most challenging shoot I’ve ever been part of but also the most rewarding and I’m so proud of the result. Green Lake is more than your typical horror film, it’s a warning to everyone that we must maintain our balance with and respect nature, or face the consequences.

A special mention must be expressed to the wonderful music that accompanies the film. Big Island bands Technical Difficulties and Delight Talkies provide songs written specifically for the film. Matthew Reid’s terrific original score is more than I could have ever hoped for.

Enjoy the swim and remember “Horror Dwells Deep”!

green lake poster