Alumni sets out on new film project

Brandon Townsend, photo provided
Brandon Townsend, photo provided

Brandon Townsend, a Ball State University alumni who majored in telecommunications with a focus in video production, has started pre-production for his next movie. Titled “Comfort Zone”, a psychological thriller, is set to touch on themes of addiction, guilt, loneliness and shame. 

According to Townsend, the film follows Jeff Thomas, a drug and sex addict in his mid-twenties struggling to take care of himself. His new apartment is perpetually a mess, he makes little effort to socialize and relies on his vices to numb the pain of his own loneliness.

The one thing Thomas deeply cares about is his mother, Wendy, and her recent hospitalizations have pushed him further into his own darkness. After getting an unexpected phone call from someone he believed to be dead, he begins to experience bizarre, unexplainable visions, as reality unwinds around him. 

Townsend said the film was inspired by lucid dreams, writings from Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung and films from directors David Lynch, Takashi Ito and Stanley Kubrick.

“Many of us have never done a feature before,” Townsend said. “So it's a learning curve for a lot of us and staying organized is the key.” 

With the project being a larger production than his first film, “Smokestack” (2020), the pre-production process has been more complicated. Townsend said more locations, people and funds are needed for this film.

“Smokestack was created with just a small group of people,” Townsend said. “When moving on to a bigger project, there is much more to work out and coordinate.”

According to Townsend, funding is a major goal for production and has been set up on Indiegogo, where supporters can provide financial backup for the film and earn perks in exchange for their contribution. Donators can buy T-shirts, a DVD for the film and even an autographed poster.

Brandon Townsend, photo provided

Besides merchandise for the movie, they are also given the option to be involved as a producer, to have their name in the film or to be an extra in the film. They can be in-front of the camera or behind the scenes helping in the process of production. 

With casting already finished, the next step in pre-production is securing locations and filling other crew positions. Townsend said after casting was finished, he was even more excited for the film due to having so many great people involved.

“I want to add that the cast we have, including Thomas Casey Zellers, Joanna Ferbrache and Cassandra Schomer, are all amazing and incredibly talented in their craft,” Townsend said. 

Townsend is working with Vigo Johnson, Prince (Dox) Paradox, Harshil Patel, Phillip McFarland and Thomas Casey Zellers as the main producers, ensuring that everything runs smootly. Paradox and Johnson worked with Townsend previously on Smokestack.

“We’ve been a team for years, in multiple production companies.” Paradox said, “It’s like working with my brother at this point.”

For potential filmmaking students, Townsend advises to do classwork but to also work on projects outside of classes. He said to see what new things can be learned about the art of filmmaking on their own.

“Even if it’s just getting on a computer and editing something, or going out and filming something,” Townsend said. “There is no better education than experience.” 

Via the Indiegogo page, a teaser can be viewed for the film, as well as on the Doxby Films Facebook page – regular updates on production and the film will be posted. 

In his director's statement, Townsend said his vision for the film is that the viewer feels as though they have stepped into a dream that slowly becomes a nightmare. He said films can be like icebergs, with the bulk of the substance existing below the surface.

“If you can bring something out of your audience, you’ve given them something more valuable than just entertainment,” Townsend said. 

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