When Jaws and Star Wars debuted in the late 1970s, Kentucky natives Neil Kellen and Lewis D. Chaney became hooked on the film industry. The pair individually spent their childhood making home movies and used their siblings and family members as actors and crew. They wanted to make careers telling stories visually, and in early 2000, Kellen and Chaney met while working at Henderson, Ky.’s, former WEHT News25.
Their common interest in independent filmmaking began a partnership. Over the next decade, Kellen and Chaney juggled family life and jobs and spent weekends producing and directing independent films. In 2007, the duo’s first movie Forever, a short horror film, earned them their first Internet Movie Database (IMDB) credit. Since 2007, they’ve been involved in the production of nearly a dozen short films and received an award for Best Story in the World Independent Film Expo.
When WEHT downsized last November, they seized the opportunity to focus on transforming their longtime hobby into a career. In December, they launched KeyChain-Productions, a motion picture company specializing in feature films, corporate videos, commercials, and more. Their current project is a music video for Henderson musician Mina Fedora, an artist mixing hip-hop and electronic sounds. With proper funding, Kellen and Chaney’s main goal is to finish and promote Eidolon, a film geared toward women while combining characteristics from Poltergeist and Field of Dreams.
EL: How does each of your creative efforts complement each other?
NK: We’re so receptive to each other’s ideas, so I think that helps a lot. We suggest ideas to each other, and we try to take the best course of action. We plan constantly, and at the end of the day, we don’t go home mad at each other. That’s really the key because to any good partnership, you have to be friends first. LC: It’s just been about creating the best that we can create and meeting somewhere in the middle.
EL: How do the geographic dynamics of the Tri-State cater to or enhance the type of films you make?
NK: One thing that I always like to say is, Alfred Hitchcock, before he ever started to write a movie, picked out his locations. For us, living and working in the Evansville and Henderson area, we know all the little nooks and crannies that would make really cool set pieces.
EL: What’s happened on a shoot that you’ll never forget?
NK: One film we did was in negative 8 degrees outside in the woods. We were all frozen; I was trying to hold a camera and I couldn’t even feel my fingers. We had the other extreme when we worked on the hottest day of the summer out in Garvin Park. We were all smoldering; makeup was melting off the actors’ faces and needed to be re-applied every minute. It’s just funny — the extremes you go through and you aren’t getting paid to do it.
EL: What separates good films from bad films?
LC: Steven Spielberg said, “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” It starts with the script; it starts with the character. If you don’t have that down, it’s not going to be a good film. You can’t go back and edit it into something it’s not.
EL: What’s to come with KeyChain-Productions?
LC: We love what we do. There’s no other word for it. Some people may like something as a hobby, but you don’t understand. Filmmaking absolutely drives us. It’s in our blood; we can’t stop.
For more on Kellen and Chaney, visit www.keychain-productions.com.