Gami media classes pay off for rising film director

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Katie Ennis, a Galloway native and rising film director, is making an independent film in September in New Hampshire. The 28-year old Absegami High School graduate who was in the school’s media program - where she said she got her inspiration to go into film - lives in New York City, makes a living editing and hopes to fulfill her dream of becoming a director. Katie Ennis, a Galloway native and rising film director, is making an independent film in September in New Hampshire. The 28-year old Absegami High School graduate who was in the school’s media program - where she said she got her inspiration to go into film - lives in New York City, makes a living editing and hopes to fulfill her dream of becoming a director. GALLOWAY – Katie Ennis loves a good ghost story.

But unlike some fans of the scary thrillers, the native of the Smithville section of the township and Absegami High School graduate, decided to take her obsession with ghostly tales to another level and make a movie.

“Haunted,” her independent film, is a mix of comedy and thriller weaved together and designed to surprise. 

“I wanted to make something that I knew people would enjoy, laugh at and spook themselves out a bit,” Ennis, 28, said from her New York City apartment Friday, Aug. 8. “I always like movies that go one step beyond, that activate your imagination sort of like the Harry Potter movies. I just always really loved fantasies.”

She begins shooting the short film Sept. 15 on location at the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island, on the Isle of Shoals in New Hampshire. The entire shoot is expected to take four days. 

“I am making a short film first to try and gain an audience to see if we could find a producer to bring some real money in,” Ennis said. “The short film acts as a calling card to showcase my film and me as a director.”

Ennis said the actors in “Haunted” are a collective of people she has worked with in New York and New Hampshire over the years. A lot of the actors will work “in kind” and basically donate their time to the film. She is hoping to raise $15,000 for some of the costs. The total budget including in-kind donations and equipment is approximately $30,000.

Ennis, a 2004 Absegami grad and a graduate of Boston University where she studied film and television production, lived in New Hampshire for two years after graduating college.
She moved to New York City five years ago because of the endless opportunities, she said.

Ennis makes her living as an assistant editor on various television shows. Some of her work is on “Crossbones,” “Royal Pains,” “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and “Hannah has a Hophase.”
And she has experience as a director.

In 2012, she directed a short film, "Jim and the Genie," which was a whimsical comedy about the psychological turmoil that comes with making a life-changing wish (and babysitting an immortal being). It screened in festivals around the country.
Ennis’ self-described obsession with scary movies came from her childhood vacations. But not in a bad way, she joked.

“My parents were huge history buffs,” Ennis said. “We went to a lot of historical villages and seacoast towns. I used to get bored on some, and then I became obsessed with ghost tours and we would go on ghost walking tours in places like Charleston, S.C., and Portsmouth, N.H. It was funny and quirky and sometimes scary.”

But it was that love of the macabre with a twist of comedy that helped create “Haunted” she said.
Ennis said there are many people who have influenced her in her effort to achieve a certain star status in the film world.
Her parents Diane and Jim Ennis are two major, positive role models enjoy her work very much, she said.
Ennis often visits her parents at the same Smithville house she grew up in.

Two other people who made huge impressions on her were her Absegami media teachers. They motivated Ennis to turn her love of films and production into a career, she said.

Mike Piotrowski and Edward Johnson were the first people to introduce Ennis to working on a television set and editing.
“We did morning newscasts,” Ennis said. “I used to edit video commercials for school dances, cut highlight reels of sports games and edit school musicals.”

“It was just something I really enjoyed,” she said. “E.J. and Po (nicknames of her former teachers) ignited the spark. The media program introduced me to all of this and really showed me I could do it. The program was so important for me.”
Piotrowski said in a field that requires a lot of skill, patience and desire, Ennis has been a role model for the Absegami media students who wish to follow in her footsteps.

“Ever since her sophomore year when she stepped into the media I class, Katie was always a happy and driven student,” Piotrowski said Monday, Aug. 11. “By the time she had reached the media II class we could tell Katie caught the media bug. Her senior year she was mastering and displaying all of the basic skills of being on camera and video production. We are honored that Katie feels the Absegami Media Department had such a huge influence on her.”

Ennis said she knows that she’s in a tough business – and that there is no other business she would rather be in.
“You have to fully dive in and commit to it,” she said. “In this line of work it is a combination of meeting the right people at the right time, networking and being willing to work really hard. I started out by working on sets and moved into post production, and as an editor. I worked on a ton of independent films and was surrounded by creative people and that was when I got the idea to go out and do ‘Haunted’. I was inspired to do something of my own. That is why people get into this business. We are story tellers by heart.”

For information about Ennis’ upcoming film, “Haunted,” see creativedistrict.com/project/2315/
To donate to Ennis’ film make checks payable to “Fractured Atlas,” (a non-profit arts service organization), with “Haunted” in the memo line, and mail to Katie Ennis, 420 2nd St. Apt. 3 Brooklyn, NY 11215, or to use a credit card see www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile? id=10575.


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