Eddie O’KEEFE's DIY Short 'The GHOSTS' Does Retro Right

Eddie O'KEEFE's no-budget short "The GHOSTS" was shot in a small town west of Chicago this year, but manages to effectively evoke a bygone American era. One kid takes a baseball bat to a mailbox in the film, which I'm pointing out only to launch into a personal anecdote: growing up in North Carolina, some neighborhood ruffians were busting up mailboxes with bats, and so our neighbor filled his mailbox with bricks. A kid hit the box, broke his hand, sued the neighbor, and won. True story. I think. Anyway, check out Eddie's skillful, atmospheric, playful short:

Here's Eddie with the behind-the-scenes story of the shoot:

The film was shot in my hometown, Elmhurst Illinois, just a few miles west of Chicago. We shot it for little money and took advantage of our families and friends to use their businesses or old cars or anything really. When you're not shooting in Los Angeles people really want to help you make a movie, it's pretty incredible. Our cast and crew was made up of mostly friends. My parents are in it like six times.

We were going for a lo-fi kind of approach. We wanted a no-nonsense, straight forward, gut punch kind of movie. Something that was loud and fast and youthful. Most of the influences for the movie came from garage music and the cover's of old paperback, not so much other films.

We couldn't afford 16mm film and to be honest even if we could we'd still have to degrade it in post. Unfortunately 16mm doesn't look like it did in the 50's and 60's anymore. We wound up shooting on a buddy's HPX-170 for free and spent a lot of time in pre-production shooting test footage and creating the "look" in post. In the end the "look" is simply some stock FCP filters fussed with till no end. I did it myself and to be honest I have no idea what the hell I'm doing when it comes to color grading so if I can do it, anyone can.

Link: The GHOSTS (Facebook, Twitter)

Your Comment


I would love to know what the filters used were.

March 28, 2011 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Really enjoyed it. Reminded me of The Wanderers (love that movie). You gave it such a good look. Congratulations.

March 29, 2011 at 8:15AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Will GIlbey

That just blew me away completely. Probably the best shoestring budget live action shortfilm I've seen in ages. And I want that soundtrack!

March 30, 2011 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Wow, thanks for sharing this, Koo. One of the coolest, hippest, most happening shorts I've seen in a long time. In all fairness, though, I do have to wonder how you qualified it as "DIY"? The end credits went on for over a minute, and credited over 100 people. I associate DIY with filmmakers like Joe Swanberg and early Robert Rodriguez, who quite literally do (most of) it all themselves. The fact that "The Ghosts" is self-produced and self-funded outside of LA would not seem to automatically qualify it as DIY, defined by Urban Dictionary as a "job done by one man using one tool and a bag of nuts." Maybe I'm just getting old an the term's been expanded to simply be synonymous with "indie".

How do you even accommodate the logistics of tending to the needs of 100 people on no budget, unless you refuse to provide or pay for them, their equipment, materials, services and expertise (which has its own set of ethical dilemmas)?

Anyway, either way, a monumental achievement.

April 1, 2011 at 2:26PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


If I was one of a hundred who put my time, energy and talents into helping Eddie O'Keefe make his beautiful film, only to see it being blogged that he made it all by himself, I might be just a bit rankled. Just looking out for the little people is all.

April 1, 2011 at 2:31PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Hey everyone,

Eddie O'Keefe here. Thanks for the kind words! I just wanted to say that I do indeed appreciate everyone on the crew and cast. Not sure where the DIY description came from but I couldn't have done it without the amazing, insanely talented people I had working along with me on the film.

I'm glad you guys dig it. I really appreciate the support I've found online.



April 1, 2011 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Hey guys,

I meant "DIY" in the do-it-yourself-without-large-amounts-of-funding sense, not "DIY" in the "no crew" sense. If you look back at the history of videos posted to this site, I usually credit the director and leave the rest of the credits up to the film itself (which, as you pointed out, Mark, includes lots of other folks). I also link to the film's web site, where the full credits are listed.

When someone says "a film by" they are not claiming they had no crew. Nor does "DIY" mean there was no crew. If I somehow implied that, my apologies.

April 1, 2011 at 11:32PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

Straight Death to a Tin Man rip job, but a good one

December 6, 2012 at 1:10AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Wow this is great!!! It reminded me of the movie cry baby with Johnny Depp when he was about 18 or 19. This was a great short movie and I loved it as well as the cast.

August 13, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM