‘Here On Out,’ a feature film produced by Elon alumni, earns widespread release

Alumnus Liam Hall ’16 reflects on how the film came together thanks to Elon connections and the support of friends, family and classmates.

There are a few reasons Liam Hall ’16 didn’t initially anticipate this week’s big news – the release of his first feature-length film, titled “Here On Out.”

A digital poster for “Here On Out,” a feature-length film created by Liam Hall ’16, Chris Carter ’16 and Matias Breuer. The film, which was shot in Mebane, Burlington, Greensboro and a few other locations, started streaming online on Dec. 15.

First, the Elon alumnus and friends penned the film’s script nearly five years ago, when he was still a student.

Second, a widespread release wasn’t the goal then – learning was.

“Distribution isn’t something we even dreamed of when we set out to do the project,” said Hall, a few days before his film’s Dec. 15 release on Amazon, iTunes and other streaming platforms. “We just thought we would make this film for ourselves. Teach ourselves how to make a feature film. Do it for the experience. But then we came all this way, and this distribution deal materialized.”

When recounting the years between the initial script and the film’s release, Hall described the process as “a journey” on a few occasions. It was certainly a passion project for Hall and co-creators Chris Carter ’16 and Matias Breuer given the time involved to bring the film to completion.

After Hall and Carter graduated, they settled in Greensboro with Breuer, a Vassar College graduate whom Hall met while studying abroad in Prague. From there, the trio reworked the script of “Here On Out” into its current form: a coming-of-age thriller that follows a group of friends as they celebrate their college graduation at a secluded cabin. Click here to see the film’s trailer.

Hall said the biggest advantage that came from residing close to his alma mater was the built-in support system he and Carter could tap into. “We realized that we could still lean on the people we knew there – the faculty and our friends who were still in school,” he said.

While working on the revised script in fall 2016, the filmmakers figured the final project might take a year, maybe 18 months. “Obviously, it was a bit longer than we thought it would be,” Hall said.

The trio juggled different jobs during the next few years, but always considered “Here On Out” as their “side job.” Filming began in early 2017, with the film’s actors – all Elon students at the time – volunteering to shoot over spring break. With such a condensed schedule, the filmmakers didn’t get everything they needed, so they continued to do pick-ups, or secondary footage, over the next year. The process could be tricky.

Hall poses in front of a step-and-repeat banner while attending the 2020 FirstGlance Film Festival in Los Angeles.

On several occasions, the filmmakers shot scenes without having a full cast available. One day they’d shoot one person and three months later they’d film the reverse shots with the other actors. “We had to get pretty creative in how we cobbled everything together,” Hall said.

In one sequence at the end of the movie, the scene has three characters all in direct conflict. At no one time were the characters in the same room together when the sequence was shot.

“It works well enough,” Hall said. “Sometimes, I can’t believe that this scene came together.”

Then two years ago, Hall, Carter and Breuer headed in different directions to continue their careers, with Hall landing in Denver, working for an education tech company. As one might expect, the distance added another wrinkle. With the film in post-production, the creators collaborated remotely, tying in their sound mixer and music composer who were based in Los Angeles. At times, the group was in three different time zones communicating across different edits.

Finally, the filmmakers headed to Los Angeles in summer 2019 for the final mixing of music and sound.

With the film completed, “Here On Out” hit the festival circuit and received strong praise. The 87-minute film premiered at the FirstGlance Film Festival and captured the Audience Choice and Best Ensemble Cast awards – remember, the ensemble consisted of only Elon students/graduates.

Yet, just as the film began garnering accolades, the pandemic hit and halted in-person festivals across the country. Fortunately for Hall and company, the film had already made an impression and Gravitas Ventures, an independent film distributor, wanted to take on the project.

Much of the past year has been spent getting the distribution deal set up, no easy task, Hall pointed out. “The business side of movies was another huge learning curve for us,” he said. And it was pretty removed from the creative side, which was the initial draw of the project.

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With the film wrapped up nearly a year ago, and footage shot almost three years ago, Hall admitted feeling a bit “removed” from the project as it prepared to hit streaming platforms.

Nevertheless, Hall said he was filled with excitement for its release and appreciation for the many people who supported the project along the way. The film worked on a microbudget with the filmmakers crowdfunding over $17,000 for the project’s budget.

“We feel fortunate because we are very privileged people,” Hall said. “We are fortunate to have family and friends who were able and generous enough to donate. It is support that not everyone has.

“To have our film available on Amazon and iTunes, anywhere you get your movies, wasn’t something we thought would be an option for us when we started,” he added. “But with it happening now, it does seem surreal.”

Elon connections

Below is a rundown of Elon alumni who contributed to “Here On Out.”

Liam Hall ’16 – Writer, Director, Co-producer
Chris Carter ’16 – Cinematographer, Editor, Co-producer
Rebekah Richin ’17 – Producer
Megan Cobourn ’18 – Makeup
Connor Whitaker ’15 – Original song
Nicole Brydon Bloom ’17 – Cast
Fergie L. Philippe ’17 – Cast
Austin Larkin ’17 – Cast
Claire Lord ’19 – Cast
Tess Tregellas ’19 – Cast
Becca Evans ’16 – Miscellaneous
Jane Seidel ’16 – Miscellaneous