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Scream king: Spokane director Jesse James Hennessy’s latest horror-comedy work is ‘13 Callaway Place’

Oct. 31, 2021 Updated Sun., Oct. 31, 2021 at 10:36 a.m.

Don’t ask Jesse James Hennessy to fix a broken window or repair a leaky faucet. “I’m just not good at those sorts of things,” Hennessy said from his home in the Garland District.

However, Hennessy has a unique skill set since he is remarkably adept at crafting amusing and scary films. The ability to create comedy-horror films is the most difficult to pull off in the world of cinema. Hennessy can tackle each challenging genre.

“Those types of movies can be very difficult to do, but they are in my sweet spot,” Hennessy said. “I love making that kind of stuff. It’s probably tricky for others, but it comes natural for me.”

Hennessy, 41, takes it to another level with his latest project, “13 Callaway Place,” which is about a couple of authors who visit the lone survivor of a serial killer rampage for their forthcoming book.

The short, which has some truly scary and funny moments, is only three minutes long. To convey an arc of a story and execute humor and fright in that span is remarkable. “It is pretty hard to make a movie in that short of time, but what helps me is that I’ve been making shorts for years,” Hennessey said. “All I can afford to do is make short films. So, I can tell a story in five minutes.”

The award-winning filmmaker shot the short during a short period of time. Hennessy had mere days to produce the film in order to qualify for the Rode Reel 2021 Film Contest. Hennessy made the deadline last week and hopes to win the grand prize of $250,000.

There are a number of prizes, but the one that stands out to Hennessy is the People’s Choice Awards. The native of tiny Warren, Minnesota, will win the fan favorite category if he garners enough votes at 13callawayplace.com/2hh. If “13 Callaway Place” takes the grand prize, Hennessy will split the proceeds with his crew.

Trevin Spencer, who is director of photography, worked on the film “Outpost,” which was directed by Joe Lo Truglio (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”). Actress Tonya Ballman, who impresses during her scenes, is a musical conductor at Gonzaga. Jason A. Young, who acts in a number of local shorts, is a regular in Hennessy’s productions.

“Jason is a good buddy of mine,” Hennessy said. “I love working with him. I feel like he’s my Johnny Depp, and I’m Tim Burton. Everyone I work with is incredibly talented, but so many gifted people live in the Spokane area. I’m so fortunate that I work with such amazing people.”

The married father of a 19-year-old son will be even more fortunate if he wins the grand prize. The cash will also go toward a full-feature workup of Hennessy’s award-winning short “Night of the Witch.”

The 15-minute short is an entertaining take on 1980s slasher flicks. “I had a blast making that movie and would love to turn it into a full-length feature,” Hennessy said. “It takes a lot of money to make one of those. I enter so many contests. We’ll see how this goes. Maybe I can get some votes from the people here in Spokane?”

Perhaps Hennessy’s films will one day be screened at the Garland Theater, which is blocks from his home. “Now that would be cool,” he said. In the meantime, Hennessy will continue to release films online, which is exactly what he will do for Halloween. His next flick – “Mr. Dark: Take It, Eat It, Love It!” – will see the light of day during All Hallow’s Eve.

“It’s a funny little short,” Hennessy said. “It features actors who are in their 40s and 50s as if they’re back in the ’80s. Like a guy has a mullet, but he doesn’t look younger.”

For Halloween, he and his wife, Tami, will dress up for the occasion. “I’ll be Ghost Face, the classic ‘Scream’ character, and my wife will dress as the character Drew Barrymore played in ‘Scream’ … I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Halloween.”

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