LARRY FESSENDEN on "THE HOLE DIGGER"

“It is the folly of my relationship to horror that given all the potential stories I could choose to tell in this spooky medium, I would seize upon a childhood recollection for my radio play. For as much as I love werewolves and the undead, it is the odd intrusions of the unknown into daily life that draws me to stories of the vaguely unsettling, over stories of carnage and visceral terror. And so I found myself working on a mood piece, trying to capture some element of the strange story of the hole digger, a fully unresolved incident that occurred deep enough in my youth that I don’t really remember it correctly. Among the small circle of people whose lives were effected by the events that unfolded those summer days in the mid 70’s, the story remains legendary.

It is odd the way in which fiction intrudes on a recollection, and while writing the script, I was surprised by the digressions from truth that sprang to the page as if they were facts of the case. In the end, I was more influenced by the moods of fictionalized recollections like STAND BY ME, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and the writings of Algernon Blackwood than my own life. My interest in storytelling is to fuse the very mundane rhythms of life with the creeping dread of classic horror to suggest how the mind gropes for meaning in an unknowable reality.

My approach to the audio format was to put the listener in the position of the eavesdropper on the one hand, with naturalistic stretches, and on the other hand to jolt the ear with hard cuts and bold volume leaps to create perspective shifts like a film. And I tried to allow patches of time where the dialogue slips away leaving just the soundscape to transport the listener.

I recorded some of the effects on location in Cape Cod, and my cohort John Moros recorded a number of things live on long Island. My agenda was to have sounds that were truly accurate to the place, and to build a rhythm with the soundscape so that what was lacking in traditional radio melodrama was made up for in a feeling of off-kilter immediacy. We added to this brew a score composed free-style by cello maestro Dave Eggar.

My thanks to the actors who found humour and pathos in the lines, and to you the listener for joining me on the ride.”

Scene of the crime — Fessenden returns to the location of the true-life"hole" Thanksgiving 2010

Owen Campbell & Tobias Campbell play Nicky and Tommy

James Le Gros

Heather Robb with Kevin Corrigan

Tobias Campbell with Joel Garland and Robb

The cast of THE HOLE DIGGER between takes

composer Dave Eggar

VIDEO: Production Diary (3 Minutes)

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