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Director brings ‘The Eyes’ for Gateway premiere

still from “The Eyes” featuring Vincent Pastore. Credit: Courtesy of Good To Be Seen Films

By the end of “The Eyes,” only one of six kidnapped strangers will be left alive.

The psychological thriller movie premieres at the Gateway Film Center on Friday. Director Robbie Bryan and producer Christie Botelho will be in attendance for the event, while Bryan’s friend Amanda Hofer, a fourth-year in public health, hopes to spread the word on the event.

“It’s more of a psychological thriller and I feel like those movies have gone by the wayside,” Hofer said. “I’m excited to see that come back.”  

Ed Peters, publicist for the film, said the film reveals deep and dark secrets of each character as they are thrust together under life-threatening circumstances.  

“It’s a provocative thriller and it engages your mind as much as your adrenaline glands (sic),” Peters said.

Bryan chose the screenplay for a few reasons, one being its timeliness and relevance to audience members. The lack of privacy in an increasingly technology-driven world is a topic that young people will both identify with and find entertaining, Bryan said. Each of the character’s secrets in the movie are dug up via the internet.

“Today you can get people’s information through the computers, through your phone or your TV, so I thought it was very topical  — the whole object of how our privacy is being invaded,” he said.

Actress Megan West, known for her roles in shows such as “This Is Us” and “How To Get Away With Murder,” plays the strong and feisty lawyer Jaclyn. She said “The Eyes” is a film for anyone who loves being engaged in a story.

“It all happens in one day, you dive in with these characters,” West said. “They’re all strangers to each other and you’re strangers to the characters … it’s this cool kind of puzzle that gets put together, and you’re doing it with them.”   

Apart from a few minutes, almost the entire film is shot in one location chronologically. Since many films use multiple locations and shoot scenes out of order, West said the actors in “The Eyes” had the opportunity to really grow with their characters as the single-location, 15-day shoot progressed.

“We didn’t move anything because nothing had to get changed,” West said. “(Being a) psychological thriller made it very tension building. We knew exactly where we were coming from when we needed to build the tension.”

West said her character was originally written as a male, and it was refreshing to play a strong and powerful female leader.  

“(Jaclyn) knows what she wants and she’s going to get it. She’s very determined because she grew up with absolutely nothing and made it her mission to be something more,” West said. “I think women characters are growing in all media … It’s cool to know that (the role could) be easily switched. There is no gender bias.”

An obstacle in the making of “The Eyes” was Bryan’s diagnosis with stage four cancer in 2014. Although he had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation, after only nine weeks Bryan received a clear scan and they set out to shoot the film in August of 2015.

“It was kind of insane, three months later after treatment, to actually shoot a feature film but I just thought of it as an affirmation of life and moving forward,” Bryan said. “To this day I don’t really know how I got through it but I’m so happy that I did.”

“The Eyes” was awarded best film in the “vortex sci-fi and fantasy” category at the Rhode Island International Film Festival last year.

Students can get special discounts with their ticket stub at World of Beer at 1568 N. High St on Friday and meet Bryan.

Bryan said he is looking forward to meeting all who come out to the Gateway premiere. He said he is more excited for the Columbus premiere than he was for the premiere in Los Angeles last week.

“People have been really ‘gotcha’ with the ending,” Bryan said. “It’s been well-received by the two audiences (at the premieres in LA and New York City) … I’m so proud of the work that everybody did on this.”

“The Eyes” is set to premiere at Gateway Film Center at 1550 N. High St. on Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6.50 for students and $10.50 for the general public.

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