Filmmaker Ursula Kay Ellis' beautifully melancholic historical-fiction drama, "Crick in the Holler," pulls from the moody winter at the onset of the Elk River spill in West Virginia in 2014. Ellis, whose family ancestry in West Virginia dates back to the early 1800s, wrote this fictional short film about a first-generation college student, Dawn, charged with the care of her rebellious younger sister, Summer, for a weekend, who instead becomes consumed with investigating an issue with their water supply. The story takes an unexpected turn when tragedy strikes at home due to her negligence. The film is Ellis' ninth short film and is her Columbia University MFA Thesis film. "Crick in the Holler" was a winner of the 2016 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Production Grant for science-related films.
The lead character Dawn Guthrie is played by South Carolina-born, New York-based actress Rebeca Robles. Summer Guthrie is played by Chloe Roe, star of "This is Not a Love Song," also written and directed by Ursula Kay Ellis, which went on to the Cannes Film Festival in the Short Film Corner. Roe also made an appearance in the 2011 film, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," directed by Stephen Daldry. Van Hansis, known for his role as Luke Snyder in "As the World Turns," plays the role of Buck, the frustratingly immature uncle of Dawn and Summer.
The production of "Crick in the Holler" comes just one month after it was announced that a $151 million settlement would be paid to hundreds of thousands of state residents, including small businesses affected by the chemical spill, making the film all the more timely.
The film is being shot in Greenbrier and Nicholas counties with cinematography helmed by Nick Perron-Siegel, production design by Carrie Heckel, art direction by Jason Hively, costume design by Chloe Heymans, edited by Russell Yaffe, with music by Benjamin John Vanden Heuvel. "Crick in the Holler" is produced by Ursula Ellis, Ben Gojer, Kiera Lewis, Emerson Nosek and Nadia Zoe.