Don’t we all love watching movies? My oldest son is now in college studying writing and plans to go to film school for screen-writing next. Recently I learned about a new movie created by a homeschool dad with a cast of college grads who were homeschooled. Read below to read an interview with the creator, learn more about the movie, find ways to support homeschool movie-making, and discover where to buy or rent Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for the movie rental, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post contains affiliate links.
The Creator of Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Brett Monk
Brett Monk is a movie director and homeschool dad. He wrote and directed Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s, which is a family-friendly mystery movie that incorporates homeschooling in the plot of the movie in a positive way. The movie was produced by a team of homeschool grads.
Brett got a degree in Radio / TV / Film in 1983 and has worked in media for over 30 years. His experiences include directing live TV news and working on some of the great Billy Graham international satellite crusades of the nineties. Much of his career has involved producing training and industrial films in the Washington, D.C. area.
One thing that Brett did that makes its way into the Mount Hideaway Mysteries is work that involved having security clearance and making classified media for government agencies. So some of the “spy stuff” in the movie is based on real experiences!
Brett and his wife adopted their daughter from the foster care system when she was thirteen. They were sitting in church one morning, in their mid-fifties, with no thoughts whatsoever about becoming parents. A lady did a presentation on “older child adoption” which changed their lives forever.
After 2 ½ years of classes, paperwork, and waiting, they were matched with a beautiful 13-year-old girl who is now the joy of their lives. They were legally required to keep their daughter in public school until the adoption was finalized. During that time the teachers and staff went to great efforts to help her. The individuals in the system were wonderful, but the system itself was designed to push kids through to the next grade, whether they learned anything or not.
Most of the Monk family’s close friends were homeschooling parents, and Brett and his wife Leigh Anne are both self-employed, so the decision to homeschool her was a pretty easy one. Brett does most of the teaching in their daughter’s homeschool experience and LOVES being a homeschool dad.
Brett is a full-time filmmaker and digital marketing strategist. His wife, Leigh Anne is a successful real estate agent in the Northern Virginia area. So, in addition to her homeschool curriculum. Their daughter receives lots of real-life vocational training both in the film and real estate industries.
How Mount Hideaway Mysteries started:
Brett met Mikayla Leybovich (Mikayla Mulgrew at the time) on a film set. The two of them really hit it off and started working together. Mikayla plays the main character of Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s.
Brett and his wife Leigh Anne also hired Mikayla to work for their real estate company. Brett and Mikayla started out doing short films just to build their demo reels. Those projects grew in scope to the point that they produced the full-length movie, Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s.
The goals of Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s:
- To create a fun movie that was truly for the WHOLE family. It’s clean and family-friendly, avoids profanity, graphic violence, and sexual situations, but is also filled with enough action, conflict, and romance that it isn’t … well … lame.
- To take advantage of the current market conditions in the film industry that make it possible for a small, independent film company to produce a movie on a tiny budget, but make it profitable through streaming distribution (Amazon, Apple TV, iTunes) and social media marketing.
The plot synopsis of Mount Hideaway Mysteries:
Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s is a cute, family-friendly indie mystery/romance movie with strong female characters. A beautiful young spy moves back home and solves mysteries with her formerly homeschooled childhood friends.
To investigate murders that threaten her hometown and the nearby secret government facility, she must confront the enemies of the town, her own past, and her ex-boyfriend.
They shot the movie with a tiny crew and a tiny budget. Sometimes there were a dozen people on set, and sometimes it was just Brett with the camera and Mikayla in front of it. Many of the cast and crew came from homeschooling backgrounds.
Brett loves working with homeschoolers because:
- Their schedules are flexible.
- They often have an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Location of Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s
Much of the film was shot in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in the towns of Winchester and Front Royal, with some scenes done in Fairfax and Alexandria as well. Many local businesses opened their doors to them and allowed them to use their family business as a film location. That’s one of the things Brett loves about filming in a small town, and one of the things that he encourages other community-based filmmakers to take advantage of.
Join the new movement: Community-Based Filmmaking:
For many years, the film industry has been tightly controlled by a very small group of people. But that is totally falling apart now and it’s gone from being the “Roman Empire” to the “Wild West”. You can now get a movie-quality camera, along with sound and lighting gear for just a few thousand dollars, and you can distribute your movie worldwide, for profit, on streaming platforms from YouTube, to Amazon, Apple TV / iTunes, and others.
And you can market your film to profitability (the hardest part) through targeted social media advertising. Anybody with the right skill set can do this… from ANYWHERE. These streaming platforms give you a percentage (often 50%) of the money that your film makes.
So if someone rents it for $4.99 or buys it for $10.99 on Apple TV or Amazon, the filmmaker gets between two and five dollars. That’s not much, but FaceBook targeting shows over 5 million homeschoolers, and many homeschool bloggers have an established audience of tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. Just getting twenty thousand people to give you five dollars each is a hundred thousand dollars. That’s a business model.
Also, the content that Hollywood puts out is almost never compatible with the lifestyles of Christians and Homeschoolers. Profanity, nudity, sexual situations, and portrayal of unhealthy habits and lifestyles are portrayed as “normal” while things like faith, abstinence, and homeschooling are portrayed as “extreme”.
Even Disney and other “children’s programming” portrays parents and incompetent and out of touch, and comes with a number of agendas that many of us find offensive. People from our worldview have complained about the situation … and every once in a while we’ll rally around an exceptional movie that breaks that mold.
But now there’s a grass-roots opportunity for thousands of smaller filmmakers to create the content that we’ve all been calling for. Brett has talked to THOUSANDS of people who have expressed the desire for more “clean” movies and TV shows. We now have the opportunity to make them ourselves from our hometowns, distribute them to the world, and make a really good living while doing so. Within the “family-friendly” marketplace, there are literally tens of millions of people who are looking for this type of programming and could provide a profitable audience base. Brett believes that this is a brilliant opportunity for homeschoolers to create a “cottage industry” of making movies.
Making an enjoyable feature film is hard work that requires talents from a wide variety of disciplines, from writing, acting, and filming, to sewing, logistics, and accounting. But what it DOESN’T require any more is “Hollywood Connections”.
What You Can Do to Support Homeschool Movie-Making:
Please consider buying or renting the movie on one of the streaming platforms and please consider giving it the most positive review that you can. The reviews mean a lot, both to encourage the filmmakers and to give the movie a better position on the streaming platforms. The proceeds from this movie will help us to make more movies like this and will be a HUGE encouragement to community-based filmmakers everywhere.
If you’re a filmmaker (or the parent of one) there’s a lot of great information out there. There are even some online film schools just for homeschoolers. Brett’s friend Justus McCrainie has one called “Tomorrows Filmmakers”.
But the most important thing is to pursue your craft with excellence. Learn all you can. Make short films for practice and to pull your crew together. If you’re creative, be sure to partner with someone who understands that this is a business. Network with like-minded filmmakers. Follow the calling that God places in your heart.
Gena’s Review of Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s
For a movie with a tiny budget and crew, I was amazed at what this movie had to offer. Of course, I had started off with expectations of the types of movies I usually watch but quickly changed from looking at what the movie didn’t have to what it did have.
Mount Hideaway Mysteries: Exes and Oh No’s has an excellent actress in the main character. The story-line was really fun. (I love mystery stories.) The setting was beautiful and varied–different buildings, outdoors and indoors. The direction and camera-angles were high quality. And, there was even a twist at the end of the story!
And, if you have an animal-lover, they will find some special surprises in the movie!
I truly hope there will be enough sales so that another Mount Hideaway Mysteries can be filmed. It would be awesome to have this be a staple on all the streaming services!
Please head here to rent or buy it so you can have your own family movie night.
Also, you’ll enjoy this There’s a DVD with Special Bonus Features available on Amazon in most countries (NTSC format). The DVD includes the feature film (of course) plus the following additional video features …
- The Movie Trailer
- Special Effects Breakdown and Explanation
- Cast and Crew Reactions to Seeing the Movie for the First Time
- The mini-documentary, “A Homeschool Dad’s Perspective on Movie-Making”
- A Behind the Scenes Musical Montage set to the original bluegrass tune “Mount Hideaway Blues”