Great Barrington — The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center goes out of its way to showcase local talent whenever possible. And this weekend you can’t get much more local or timely than the world premiere of Matt Greene-DeLanghe’s film about Halloween.
When Matt Greene-DeLanghe, a 2004 graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School and a filmmaker, was growing up in Great Barrington’s the Hill neighborhood in the 1990s, his father, computer engineer Jon Greene, along with some friends, would design and build a haunted house in the family’s home at 83 Hollenbeck Ave.
The Hill neighborhood has well-lit sidewalks, houses that sit close together and wide streets, making it ideal for children at Halloween, but its popularity was sealed more than 20 years ago by the haunted house on Hollenbeck.
After trick-or-treating ended at 8 p.m., children and adults alike would line up at the Greene household to go through a basement haunted house constructed by people who lived in the neighborhood. Between 150 and 200 people would visit the haunted house each year.
“This was a work of art created by people who knew exactly what a haunted house should be and a father who had the engineering prowess to be able to bring it to life,” said Greene-DeLanghe’s mother, Kathy Duhon.
“The Year of the Haunted House” is a short, Berkshire-inspired film based on that actual haunted house created by a group of neighborhood kids and the Greene family, or, as Greene-DeLanghe put it, “basically my group of friends, my brother Will, my dad and few other adults who were friends of the family.” It’s is a film about what happens, he says, “when youthful imagination combines with the power of community.”
“It was a story I wanted to make into a film ever since I went to film school,” explained Greene-DeLanghe, who was 11 when he helped create the original haunted house. “An experience like that is just asking to be turned into a film.”
So about two years ago, Greene-DeLanghe, a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, set about recreating the experience for film. But first he needed the resources to make it happen.
He promptly wrote a full-length script and produced a four-minute trailer, which features a terrifying snake scene, in an attempt to attract financial support for a 15-minute version. The scene can be viewed on his Kickstarter page. Greene-DeLanghe says his is the first Halloween film since “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” that isn’t a horror film.
In one month last October, he succeeded in raising most of the necessary funds on Kickstarter, a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity. He raised more than $20,000 from 126 backers and was overwhelmed by the response from the creative community. Then Greene-DeLanghe and his family kicked in some additional funds–a little more than $10,000–to meet the goal. And a budget was born.
The filming was completed this summer at locations in the Berkshires and in neighboring Columbia County, New York, including three days each at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire in Housatonic and at a farm owned by Greene-DeLanghe’s family in New Lebanon, New York.
Many cast and crew members are from the area, including local students. The film also attracted a cinematography and lighting crew from Boston and actors from New York City.
When Greene-DeLanghe was at Monument, he took an independent-study film course during his junior year. He produced and directed a silent film (with music) entitled “A Boy And A Girl.”
“It was sort of based on Norman Rockwell paintings,” explained Greene-DeLanghe, who now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, Kimberly Greene-DeLanghe. “It was almost like a Romeo and Juliet story–a love story.”
During his time in the Berkshires, Greene-DeLanghe ran a food truck, got married to a Minnesota woman and hiked half of the Appalachian Trail. Now he’s a teacher at a charter school in St. Paul and is finishing up a master’s degree in education. And he and his wife are expecting their first child in January.
Greene-DeLanghe is excited to return to the Mahaiwe, where he saw a lot of movies and concerts as a child growing up in Great Barrington.
“Playing the Mahaiwe, so to speak, is a dream come true for me,” he said.
“The Year of the Haunted House” will premiere Saturday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Mahaiwe and will be followed by a reception and question-and-answer session with Greene-DeLanghe and members of the cast and crew. Admission is free but donations are welcome.