SOV Flashback Classics – Teen Suicide

Way back in 1998 I was a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, a place that I both loved and hated as my fellow students were great, but much of the facility disliked me as I was labeled a Satanist, a trouble maker, and a scumbag metalhead. They threatened to call the police on me  and they had no issues giving me detention, suspending me, kicking me out of classes, trying to expel me and even calling my parents and telling them that they should make me drop out of school! It’s crazy to think that in the late 90’s I was judged by the teachers and such based on the way I dressed as I wore horror movie shirts, 80’s hair bands and comic & TV characters. Plus I was always poorly judged on my artwork of monsters and demons and my writings of spooky stores about killers….they labeled me a threat to others and that’s how the Satanist label was branded on me, because of one terrible art teacher I had in the 9th grade. But because their small minded judgments I would be pulled from classes even if I was getting passing grades and forced into study halls or other classes that they could tuck me away in, and because of this I was placed in Media Class my senior year and that was the best thing for me, even though when they first placed me in the class they had two security guards and a principal escorted me in and sit me away from everyone. Great first impression, am I right? But because of this move I got to learn how to use Super VHS cameras, shoot live school broadcasts, learned how to deck to deck edit, learned Photoshop, how to edit on Avid and how to become a Radio DJ and even had my own shows one being called “Matt And Matt” that was me and Matt Hoffman, a guy that because of this class I became life long friends with. And that was one of the best things about them putting me in this class, I got to meet so many amazing people and friends like Brandon Womeldorff, Dave Wean, Linda Webb, Rion Neeley, Sarah McMurchy, Abigail Keyton, Scott Hunter and many more, all of whom are great people. And because of this class, the shot-on-video, no-budget backyard filmmaking bug that sparkled a creative part of my brain I did not have a means to let out and sparked the birth of Fairmont Productions that would later become Independent B Movie.

Over the years we shot goofy little skits, self-portraits and us just being goofs in the hallways, but it was because of Sociology Class that some of us got to make our first short film about subject that faced teens. This was called “Teen Suicide,” and it became a school cult classic and was a big part of our grade. Many of the Media Students were placed together in this class, and naturally we stuck together as Matt Hoffman, Brandon Womeldorff and myself became a group and took in Scott Harmon and a dude named Chris, and we started to brain storm the idea of what Teen Suicide the short film would be about. After many different ideas we landed on the idea that bullying can lead to youth suicide and we stuck with that idea. Because we were in media class, we also had a pass to leave school grounds to film it and that was a major help as we could take the bullying out of just the hallways and into our character’s normal day-to-day life as well. The “script” was really just ideas that all of us minus Chris came up with. We cast Hoffman as the young man being bullied as sadly he was bullied a lot in school, and Brandon, Scott, Chris and myself all played people that bullied him (I was “Bully 2″), aka we were the real scumbags. When it came down to who was going to direct plus edit the film we all landed on Brandon as he was the best editor of the class and it seemed right that he should also get the directing credit. When it came to camera work, all of us did our part behind the super bulky and heavy Super VHS Camera, and I was slated to also pick some of the music to be used along with Brandon…and of course my selections were W.A.S.P., Motley Crue and Pantera!

The filming took us all over the hallways of the school and we also used the houses of Hoffman and myself. We shot behind Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering as well as State Farm Park in Kettering for the film’s tragic ending. My big bullying scene took place behind Mavericks near a weird manmade concrete creek that had me trying to push Hoffman into the water as he hung on for dear life to a pole that was near by. The whole time I had a David Lee Roth type smile on my face with a flannel around my waist and rocking a Whitesnake T-Shirt. The scene went really well and Hoffman looked nervous and slightly scared in the scene, as he really did not want to go into the water…like the scene was planned out. So a few days later we went back to the creek to film him going into the water to maybe slice into the scene and he did so but wore swimming trunks and the add on scene was terrible and was never used and footage lost, so sadly him going into the water will never see the light of day. The film’s ending scene was our big day of production, and if memory serves me right, the only people on set that day was Hoffman, Brandon and myself. The climax had Hoffman shoot himself and fall backwards down a hill in State Farm Park, and I can remember Hoffman was nervous as the stunt was dangerous but after some coaching from Brandon and I, he did it and it looked pretty dang cool for the time. The “blood” we used for the end shot of Matt after he shot himself was ketchup that we bought from K-Mart that was right down the road from the park. Once done with filming that took about 2 weeks to complete, Brandon took the footage and worked his editing magic on the Avid Editing system and it was official Teen Suicide, our first film under the Fairmont Productions banner, was complete!

The day the film was to play in class, our group had to have two people go up and speak to the class about suicide and the film Teen Suicide and after the movie they would have to do a Q&A. After talking it over, it only made sense if Brandon and Hoffman went up as one was the director and the other the main star of the film. The pre-screening talk went well and Brandon and Hoffman gave facts and such about the topic and then it was showtime and man did the film go over well as our fellow students seemed to be drawn in by the film’s subject and the song by Pantera that was Suicide Death Note Part 1 got comments about being well used from them as well. But after the film was over and the Q&A started, things got a little awkward and sad as Hoffman dropped a bombshell on everyone and admitted he had tried to kill himself in the past and ran from the classroom after admitting it. Everyone was shocked and Brandon did his best to wrap up the presentation. The teacher then let me and Brandon go and find Hoffman and talk with him. I am glad she allowed us to do this, as it was something I think that was weighing on Hoffman for a long time and you could tell he felt really good after talking to his friends about it. When it came to it getting a grade, we all got an A for it and the film was considered a staple for watching among our friends at parties and get togethers, and remains one of the films that lived on with the crew of Independent B Movie with a sequel and a remake (but they are for another update). It has shown at Horror Conventions like Scary Camp and even played at local now sadly gone theater Paige Manor. While Teen Suicide was surpassed in quality and fanfare by other films we made over the years, it’s one that holds a special place in my heart and I am glad it lives on via DVD and screenings. One other interesting thing I should note about Teen Suicide is that for the most part it is a silent film with just music playing over the scenes from bands like Bush and The Offspring, but during the film climax Matt has the only bit of dialogue in the film as he reads his suicide note left behind for his parents.

I want to also say once we started up as a full indie production company Teen Suicide was released on VHS and later as a double feature with the second film in the series. The film sold just ok on VHS and did better on DVD and was reviewed on many websites and even in print magazines. The cover for the VHS release was done by Brandon and the DVD release cover was done by my brother Bryan and both for the time were well done and I really dig the cover for the DVD as I think it’s eye catching for a very cheaply made film series. Oh and for those wondering, Henrique Couto and his Freak Productions is who made the DVD for us way back when. It’s shocking that a film called Teen Suicide being sold at Horror Conventions in the early 2000’s didn’t sell like hot cakes. The film would also go on and get a limited long sleeve t-shirt released that was designed by students at Fairmont High School that had a white figure with a bullet hole in its head with the words Teen Suicide on him…yep, this was made around 2003/2004 and the teacher let a student make that for us…awesome and how the times changed from when I was a student. The shirts sold really well and sadly over the years I no longer have mine but my pal Josh Weinberg still has his and sent a pic of it so that I can share. So as you can see, Teen Suicide made its very tiny mark on SOV cinema here in the Dayton, Ohio area.

This was so much fun remembering back on the production of Teen Suicide and made me feel like I should go back to my roots so during the Stay At Home 2020 Order here in Ohio, Juliet and I decided to revisit one of the filming locations from the film, the site that was where my first scene ever was filmed in any SOV film…and that was behind Christopher’s Restaurant in Kettering Ohio was the opening to the creek that my character Bully 2 tried to push Matt into the water…and man the area like every thing has changed as the plants and weeds have grown taller and the concrete has became way more beaten up. While we barely visited the spot, it was very cool to take a moment and see it again. Take a look at the picture below as I took it on the day we visited that was May 7, 2020.

So let’s now take a look at Teen Suicide the film and characters that made up this universe, and what it was that drove the Matt character into wanting to end his life. So I want to say that for these I.B.M films I will write about the plot, my thoughts on the film and will in the end give it a Report Card Grade on the classic A-F scale and will only be judging it on a scale that is ONLY for Independent B Movie/Bloodline Video films. Now it’s with great honor that I bring to you the 1998 short film masterpiece Teen Suicide.

Teen Suicide
Starring – Matt Hoffman & Scott Harman     Directed by Brandon Womeldorff
1998     Not Rated     11min     Independent B Movie     DVD-R     Full Frame

Movie: The film takes place in the life of a high school student named Matt and follows him through a week of being bullied by his peers. Day 1 has Matt trying to get his locker open when Bully 1 walks by and shoves him hard into the metal lockers. Day 2 Matt is at school again this time Bully 1 shoves Matt’s face into a sink getting it all wet, and Matt is clearly getting more tired of the constant bullying. Day 3 that damn Bully 1 is at it again and this time in the hall way knocks Matt down making him drop all his books all over the hallway. Day 4 has Matt is outside of School driving to a creek to walk around only to run into Bully 2 who tries to shove Matt into the water, ruining his chance to find some peace with nature. Day 5 while driving around he is carjacked by a bully Car Thief, after walking home the Thief follows him home and fake apologizes in order to get into Matt’s house where he steals his CDs and Car again! Day 6 after losing his car and music Matt decides to visit a park and while looking at flowers Bully 3 appears and beats Matt down and leaves him in a field and Bully 3 jumps into Matt’s car still being driven around by the Car Thief Bully. Day 7 poor Matt has had enough of his torment and writes a suicide note that he reads aloud, he then grabs a hand gun and walks across a bridge and goes atop a hill and kneels and puts the gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger and falls down the hill, with the end shot being Matt with blood on his head and the camera fades out.

Thoughts: Watching this film over 20 years after we made it brought back a wave of nostalgia and makes me miss making these old shot on video films with my friends, as this is the film that really started it all for us. Plus to think I was only 17 years old when we made this film…crazy. The film’s plot is very simple as it just takes a week in the life of a kid who is being bullied and beaten up by his fellow classmates who all seem to just not like him for some reason, and finally on this final week of life all the bad stuff he has gone through piles up and with no help from his parents nor the school he does what he thinks he has to do to end the pain and that’s take his own life. The film is an odd mix of drama, action and even a touch of humor with the end of the film being very downbeat and got the impact we wanted from our fellow classmates. Plus I am a mark for Silent Films and this being a mostly silent film has always made me happy, as our group would not make another silent film until 2002 when we did the Horror Comedy Short “Last Man On Earth”. The “fight” scenes are so cheesy with Bully 3 played by Scott Harmon beating up Matt being one of the worst fight scenes any of us at Independent B Movie has ever been involved with or even shot in our company. I mean it’s super bad, and because it’s so bad, it is fun to laugh at. The true shinning star of this film was Matt Hoffman who plays Matt as he did a great job of allowing his fellow actors to knock him around and even put his heart into the suicide note in the film the he wrote himself, because of this role as well Hoffman would go on to be casted in lead roles in many of our films and would also go on to be a director and script writer. This also was the major jumping off point for Brandon Womeldorff as his editing skills for this time and for his first film edited are solid, and he also showed that he understood how to direct his goofy friends in a serious subject film. The downside is because of being edited on an Avid system and its age, the film is a little bleached out and the whites tend to take over some shots.

Grade: B+

The short film Teen Suicide and Fairmont Productions are two very important creative elements in my life and helped truly lead me down the path of picking up a camera and filming ideas that popped into my mind and lead to many amazing films, shows and skits that I have made over the years. It’s really crazy to think that all of this happened for me by chance as if not for being treated poorly by the school system and placed in the Media class, none of this would have been in my life. I would have never made Teen Suicide as a class project and I would have never met the creative minds and lifelong friends like Matt Hoffman and Brandon Wolmeldorff who both helped birth Independent B Movie along with me as well as Dave Wean, Josh Weinberg and Patrick Neeley. So when writing this update looking back at the short film Teen Suicide, I feel very nostalgic for it and all the creative hard work that little rag tag group of high school students put into it. Below I wanted to share the original VHS tape of this cult classic SOV film and one day soon I hope that Teen Suicide and Suicide 2 will see the light of day again in some home media.

I would like to tell you readers that this is not the last of the films of Independent B Movie that I will be breaking down here on Rotten Ink as sometime in the very near future we will also be talking about the second film I was apart of called “Twisted Batman Theater” as well as a Fairmount Production I helped on called “Cask Of Amontillado”, so make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for that update! And guess what, that Twisted Batman update is next!! So until next update read an indie comic or three, watch a SOV film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a fun time with Batman and Robin in the world of stop motion shot on video films!

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