When Emily Elliott was 14, she thought it would be fun to make a movie.
So, with eight of her friends, she did.
After two years of dreaming, writing, filming and editing, nine Midland-area teenagers have produced "Remember Me," a two-hour 22-minute mystery film. It premiered Jan. 29 at Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
"I was just interested in doing something fun with a few friends and making a short mystery film," said Emily, now 16. "I thought it might take a couple of weeks."
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Her mom, self-described "proud parent" Cheryl Elliott, arranged an authentic premiere for the film, which included a limousine arrival for the nine cast and crew members - who wore formal attire - a red carpet, pre-film speeches and autographs.
"It was amazing to me how many people came out to support us," Emily said. "... The movie turned out better than I expected, and it seemed to be pretty well-liked. I think people were surprised that a bunch of teenagers made the movie."
"Remember Me" is the story of Rebecca Branton and David Brecks, played by Emily and Josiah Graf, as they figure out what happened to an FBI agent who mysteriously disappeared from Midland in 1977.
Emily's idea took hold in 2007 when she met Josiah and his family, who recently had started attending her church.
Later, in an online forum, she asked Josiah and his friends, who had already made a short independent film, for some filmmaking advice. They gave her advice and joined the project.
The Elliotts had the Grafs and a few other families over for dinner at their five-acre farm in Midland.
"The parents were off chatting, and nine kids got in a circle," Cheryl Elliott said. "The kids were starting to make a movie."
Josiah, now 18, agreed to write the screenplay, and he and Emily agreed to co-direct. He said he didn't decide on a specific length, but when he was finished he had a feature-length film script.
The teens, all home-schooled, began meeting once a month to film. They used a camera Emily had bought, a steady-cam Josiah and his friends made and a microphone boom Josiah got for his birthday.
"I would research techniques for filmmaking on the Internet ...," Josiah said. "I would pass that information on to our cameraman and the rest of the group. Really, we were all learning as we went along as to what looked good and what worked."
To speed production, the teens had a four-day "movie camp" to get a chunk of filming done. Several cast and crew stayed in a pop-up trailer on the Elliotts' property.
They began editing in late 2009 and finished the film last month.
At the outset, Emily said, the group didn't know the project would take two years. She said they encouraged each other in tough times.
"When it started to become a bigger project and we were realizing we had 'fans,' ... it was no longer just something we were just doing for fun," Emily said. "We didn't want to let them down."
All the cast and crew are Christians, and Emily said the movie-making process began to take on a larger purpose.
"The longer we worked on the movie, we saw we wanted to glorify God through it," Emily said. "We didn't think dropping out and giving up would be the best thing to do."
Josiah, the only one of the core filmmaking group who has a long-term interest in Christian indie filmmaking, said he didn't set out to make an "evangelistic film where it was constantly preaching at the audience."
"I wanted it to be more of an entertainment film that had Christian elements that show through," Josiah said. "We wanted ... a good film that families could watch and that had a good message behind it."
Emily said they were careful to not include characters that would set a bad example, such as irresponsible parents. They included a subtle spiritual storyline by having the main character, who is not Christian, become friends with a group of Christian youth.
"As he gets to know us, he sees there's something different," Emily said.
Post-premiere, the teens don't have big plans for the movie, but they are selling DVDs at cost and posters via their Web site.
Although making the movie didn't prompt her to pursue a filmmaking career, Emily said, she did learn a tremendous amount from the experience. She hopes it showed how a group of teens can work hard at something and not give up.
"I learned a ton about filmmaking," she said. "But I learned just as much about other areas of life."