This story originally appeared on on August 18, 2014. 12 Kilometers will premiere at the Boston International Film Festival on Saturday, April 16 at 3:00 pm. Buy tickets here.

The secret to directing an effective horror film is not to try to scare the viewer, because savvy audiences will always see through the calculations. But if you have the courage to put your own deepest nightmares on the screen, the connection between you and your audience will make your movie exponentially scarier for everyone because the fear behind it will be genuine.

For Boston filmmaker Mike Pecci, the origin of his upcoming 12 Kilometers couldn’t be more real. While recovering from a head injury while ice skating this winter, Pecci experienced a level of horror beyond the physical pain and possibility of permanent brain damage. By chance, the location of the resulting subdural hematoma that put dangerous amounts of pressure on Pecci’s brain was located directly above a blood vessel, making standard treatment of drilling a hole into the skull too risky. This, combined with the medication, the need to keep him awake at all costs, and the constant bustle of his hospital room caused the director to have waking nightmares.

“The nightmares I had in the hospital we especially surreal and vivid because of the sleep deprivation,” Pecci told DigBoston. ”I had a nurse coming into my room every 15 minutes with a flashlight and shining it in my eyes. This went one for over a day. You end up hallucinating and the lines of reality and dream blur. No to mention being jammed into MRI machines, multiple X-rays, and other prodding and tests. I remember at one point watching the shadows on the wall closing in on me. It was awesome!”

Awesome, you say? “It was an amazing life experience that I’m glad to have had,” Pecci continued, while noting that “of course it help to look back on it now that I’ve fully recovered and think that!”

From these nightmares and fear of drilling came the idea for 12 Kilometers, the forthcoming film from McFarland & Pecci, the production company Pecci owns with business partner Ian McFarland. The story takes place in 1989 on the Kola Peninsula in the far northwest of Russia, which is home to the world’s deepest drilled hole. We follow the drilling team who uncovers a mysterious creature from the deep who manipulates the crew by exploiting their most intimate fears.

Filming begins this September with a cast of Russian-speakers in historically and geographically appropriate dialect. “I want the viewer to be completely emerged in the characters and the setting. I want you to feel the anxiety and discomfort as you meet the team, and are exposed to the creature. Not being able to fully understand the language is part of that. Of course it will be subtitled, but the goal is to tell the story visually so that if you weren’t reading them you would still be scared.” (Speak Russian? The film is still casting!)

12 Kilometers marks M&P’s first major film release, following a prolific stint in music videos (Meshuggah, Czarface, Killswitch Engage) and short films and documentaries (Vice, MTV, Suicide Girls). The project will be mostly financed independently, but Pecci is looking to the crowdfunding community to bring such an ambitious project to reality. “Kickstarter is an interesting experience. In the past I had always been hesitant to use it but I’m glad we did. It’s the perfect way to get people excited about your idea. It starts with friends and family, then seeps into the folks you want to work with, then ultimately leaks into the minds of the fans. Kinda like the creature [in 12 Kilometers].”

“We have been treating the campaign as seriously as we are the film itself. The videos we made are done the same way we do our mini-docs, with special attention to detail and making them fun to watch. The same thing goes for the incentives. We wanted to give the fans more that one way to interact with the film. Check out the Directors Inner Circle incentive! You can become part of our test kitchen, watch early cuts of the film, and your opinion could shape the final edit.”

Доверяй, но проверяй, Ronald Reagan was fond of saying at the time 12 Kilometers takes place. Trust, but verify. Good advice for Kickstarter campaigns. With their prolific output and work ethic (not to mention head injuries) that would kill most people, McFarland & Pecci always keep their promises, and we certainly trust 12 Kilometers to scare the shit out of us. Dive into M&P’s body of work and check out the Kickstarter page for 12 Kilometers and for more updates as they become available.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Kristofer Jenson’s story.