Film editor Thomas Elkins is about to see his dream come true.
The Pullman native took the director’s chair for a new horror film, “The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia.” The movie will be released to video-on-demand and to several theaters across the country Friday.
Elkins’ film career began at the age of nine, when he and his friends made movies using an 8mm camera his parents bought him. He would edit the movies using tape, piecing together bits of film. Inspired by the likes of Stephen King, Elkins produced horror movies using his sisters as actresses.
“I read Stephen King when I was in junior high school, and things like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Halloween,’” Elkins said. “On TV there was ‘Night Stalker,’ which was a terrifying television series. I was influenced by a lot of that."
Years later, after his parents’ divorce brought Elkins to the Palouse, he joined the film club at Pullman High School. There, he finally had access to professional equipment.
During summers with his dad, Elkins would bring a stack of his films. His dad would set up screenings of his films and invite friends over for a viewing party.
One of those films, “Killer Trike,” was a story about a killer bike with the personality of the devil. Although Elkins said he took the story seriously, his father and his friends thought the movie was hysterical.
“I learned a really good lesson in comedy,” Elkins said. “That was when I had my first experience with 'Oh, so that's what tongue in cheek means'. Of course, I acted like it was very deliberate.”
Throughout high school, he and his friends continued working on films. The film crew shot in downtown Pullman, trying to film complicated scenes while driving down Main Street. Sometimes they even broke traffic laws to get their shots.
“I don’t remember the specific incident,” Elkins said, “but we were probably filming a chase scene downtown and I remember because I wanted to get a tracking shot of the guy running down the sidewalk and driving alongside of him.”
After high school, Elkins moved to Spokane to attend college. Elkins worked as a pizza delivery man for Godfather’s Pizza, where he made a film about the company. They showed it to the other employees and news of the film made its way to Herman Cain, the company president. Cain asked to see the film.
Cain loved it and hired Elkins to make comedy training films for the company. At 22, Elkins left Spokane and headed to Omaha to pursue a career in film in 1987.
By 1995, Elkins left Nebraska for the big time. He left his job to move to Los Angeles and try his luck in Hollywood. There, he worked as a production assistant and networked as often as possible. He worked his way up to production coordinator and worked on several films, including the cult classic “The Big Lebowski.”
But Elkins’ big break didn’t come until 2003, when a friend asked him to work as his production assistant on Ron Howard’s team for “The Missing.”
From there, Elkins pursued several editing jobs until he landed on the set of “The Haunting in Connecticut,” a story based on The Discovery Channel’s series of various hauntings around the world. Elkins’ film is the second in that series.
Elkins is currently living in Omaha with his family, but he’s looking for his next break.
“It’s a lot of luck and you really have to want to be in the business because it’s a lot of hard work,” he said. “Everyone wants to get their foot in the door so it’s very hard to get in and stay in.”
Correction, Jan. 30, 11:41 a.m.: In a prior version of this story, the name of Tom Elkins' childhood film was incorrect. The movie was called"Killer Trike."