AUBURN, Maine — Filming had not gone as expected. Directors got a permit to shoot in the wrong Western Maine town. They couldn’t do anything about the noisy zebra in the back of one shot, and they joked at the end of long, hard days that they hoped the cast came back in the morning.
Inside Community Little Theatre on Saturday, more than 200 people whooped and applauded as credits rolled.
The world premiere of “You Can’t Kill Stephen King” went off as hoped.
“We’re thrilled,” said Monroe Mann, one of the film’s directors. “People laughed, and not just once.”
The horror film in which college friends run into a killer doling out Stephen King-inspired ends won the People’s Choice award for feature film at the second annual Lewiston Auburn Film Festival.
“It was a good, campy horror movie, the way they used to be,” said Adam Eldridge, one of several friends who drove to the festival from Champlain College in Vermont.
Ashley Toma, of New York, said she could have done without the clowns — “My brother accidentally left me in the room with ‘IT’ playing when I was 6 . . .”
But, “I really liked the ending,” she said.
Festival Director Joshua Shea said that based on Saturday’s roughly 750 tickets, he was expecting twice the number of people to come to the three-day festival as last year, when it was a one-day event. “American Pie” singer Don McLean played to a nearly full house Friday at the Franco-American Heritage Center and at 5 p.m. the Saturday evening awards gala was on its way to a sell-out.
Aside from a few technical glitches, showings at the nine film spots around Lewiston and Auburn had gone smoothly, Shea said. He spent the morning at DaVinci’s Eatery showing Maine-made films.
“They can’t believe films that good were made right here,” he said. “One lady was, ‘Oh, the filmmaker’s here? Where’s he from?’ Auburn.”
The festival included more than 75 films, long and short, funny and deadly serious. A number of films made their world premiere, among them “Among Trees” and “Colony Collapse.”
“You Can’t Kill Stephen King” drew the largest crowd of the day.
It was filmed over 19 days around Western Maine. Mann and Ronnie Khalil took the stage for an audience Q&A after the screening. Khalil and Jorge Valdes-Iga directed with Mann.
Mann, an actor, and Khalil, a stand-up comedian, wrote the screenplay on a lark, during a rainy weekend at Mann’s family camp five years ago. The pair also co-starred and produced.
In real life, “I’m creepy but not that creepy,” Khalil said.
Mann saw Stephen King twice during filming. The famous author declined a cameo in the movie. The directors are talking now to sales agents and fielding distribution offers.
“It was magically cheesy, which is what I was hoping for,” said Justin Brown, a New York actor who played Lamont and came up for the premiere.
Two memories from filming: “I like looking up and seeing stars as opposed to two stars and smog,” he said. Shooting a scene at the Wicked Good Store, he was asked for his autograph for the first time. He’s been acting since 2007.
Damian Horan, director of “Children of the Air,” named LAFF’s Best Film in Festival and Best Director, also held a Q&A after his film’s screening at Community Little Theatre. He shot the 20-minute short as a senior thesis project at the University of Southern California. It’s a somber story of a couple’s love, and pain, wrapped around the tale of “The Little Mermaid,” a fairy tale Horan said his mom used to read to him.
“It just started at an early age,” he said. “I thought it was horribly depressing but in the most beautiful way possible.”
Award-winning films will be re-shown from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Public Theatre in Lewiston, with a filmmaker panel mid-afternoon. Tickets are available for $34 on LAFF’s website.

© 2012 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
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