Prison City Film Festival intern and Sam Houston State University film student Nico McKee’s “Insomnia” hits close to home for some, as it delves into the horrors of sleepless nights and the monsters that lurk in the dark.
Clocking in at around five minutes in length, “Insomnia” is a horror film inspired by McKee’s own struggles with sleep deprivation and has been nominated for four awards in Thursday’s student block, including best director, best performance, best narrative super-short and best student movie.
As the film’s main character loses his ability to sleep, he begins to face the consequences of hallucinations that typically come after 72 hours with no rest, manifesting a monster that stalks him through his everyday life without his knowing. Resorting to taking melatonin pills to induce sleep, their realities are switched, as the main character’s slumber brings the monster closer to life.
The film was shot in the course of one evening with the help of two friends taking on the roles of the main character and his monster.
“It’s work that I’m proud of and we definitely did put a lot of hard work into it, even though it was a sort of run and gun production,” McKee said. “I was holding a camera, while holding a light with one hand, moving in all sorts of awkward positions to get the right shot, so I was happy with how it turned out.”
This is McKee’s second film festival nomination, his first coming during his time living in Thailand for the Across Asia Youth Festival in Singapore.
“More than my own screening, I think I’m more excited to see other people’s films and the other filmmakers and film buffs like myself, as well as getting to take part in the really cool workshops that they have set up for us,” McKee said.
McKee found his passion for film making at a young age while on a family vacation in a small cabin, when his parents turned on a familiar Spielberg classic to entertain him.
“I had nothing to watch or do in that cabin so we put on ‘Jurassic Park’ and some of the extras in that film have the making of ‘Jurassic Park’ and I think that at such a young age, having watched the behind the Scenes of how they made this dinosaur come to life, for me, what kind of eye opening,” McKee said. “At that age, I don’t think I ever really grasped the concept of it’s people making the things that I’m watching, so ever since I sort of gained consciousness of this idea, I sort of pursued it.”
Only a sophomore at SHSU, McKee is already in the process or putting together his own production company to bring his passion projects to life and collaborate with other filmmakers that he’s met along the way.
“Just getting to work in that set environment on my own terms for whatever contracts I can put together,” McKee said.
Insomnia will be showing as part of the student film block today at Prison City Film Festival in Downtown Huntsville.