Fenris Unchained

a group of locals film a horror flick in Eau Claire

Nick Gourdoux, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

“YEP, THAT'S HIS GOOD SIDE.” Movie magic on the set of locally produced film Fenris Unchained.

Several months ago Kris Bishop and Jeremy Head sat down to write a 15-minute movie to air on Eau Claire’s Community Television. They jotted down a general idea involving zombies in Eau Claire. But before long their 15-minute horror-comedy flick included Norse mythology and strippers, so they scrapped the short film idea to create a feature-length film, instead.

Fenris Unchained is the debut of the recently formed production company, Eight Foot Squid Productions (founded by Aaron Rigby, Executive Producer  and Jason Boehm, Associate Producer). Shooting on the Wisconsin-based horror movie wrapped up at the end of July, and aims to be completed this winter.

The movie is based on the idea that Norse gods come to Earth and attempt to bring about ragnorok (the end of the world) and an Eau Claire bartender’s attempt to stop it. Loki, a Norse god, must help Fenrir escape to ensure the Earth’s doom, while the bartender and his cohorts who are out to stop them must also deal with Hate, Fenrir’s son.

“Most films, even the small ones, have at least $100,000 budgets,” said director Kris Bishop, who also wrote the script. “This one has a $14,000 budget.” Bishop added that the funding has been raised largely thanks to private investors, and the House of Rock has periodically held concerts to help raise funds for the film.

Because of the small budget, the crew is forced to do things a little differently. Filming occurred almost exclusively on weekends because, for the most part, everyone has jobs during the week.

    “We’ve lucked out,” Bishop said. “CTV (Eau Claire’s Community Television) and Studio One have helped us out a lot with lighting and cameras … and we’ve made our own lighting equipment utilizing Home Depot and stuff like that.”

The cast of the film all calls the Midwest their home, with the vast majority of the more than 100 actors coming from Eau Claire and Menomonie. Among the filmmakers’ goals for the project was to showcase Wisconsin, and while some of the shooting has been done in Boyceville, Hallie, Pine Hurst, and Elk Mound, familiar spots such as House of Rock, Shooters, The Joynt, Grand Illusion, Tropic Waters, and 18th Hole seem to suggest that Eau Claire is in the spotlight.

Most recently the crew set up shop in Banbury Place, where they built a soundstage featuring breakaway walls for special effect purposes. Like practically every other horror movie, fake blood, guts, and entrails are being used prominently (sometimes by the bucketful).

“Everyone has done their own stunts up to this point, and nobody has had to go to the emergency room … so we’ve done pretty well with our own stunts,” Bishop said, adding that, while special effects are on the small scale, he hopes to have some CGI included, too.

Upon completion as soon as December, the filmmakers hope to employ several  tactics for distribution. Bishop said he hoped to enter the film into one of the many science-fiction film festivals around the nation. A potential screening of the film at either Grengs Theatres or Micon Cinemas is also a possibility. For individual copies, the crew hopes to use Amazon and similar sites.