Meet Michael Box & Patrick Bertram Hague – the founders of EchoEterna. These two wizards are going to make the next big film right here in Dayton, Ohio. I had a chance to chat with these intelligent and creative people, and between our musings about music and movie trivia, raising kids, and favorite bourbons, we finally got around to the nuts and bolts of our conversation – their film. The movie is a dramatic sci-fi feature in which renegade musicians navigate an illegal underground music scene, set in a near-future society where creative freedom is monitored by a restrictive authority class.
Q: How did you come up with the movie name of SpeakEasy?
Michael: I can’t remember who thought of it, but the way the characters in our story have to play in underground, illegal locations, hiding their equipment, and risking everything reminded us of Prohibition Era bootleggers. The title of SpeakEasy was with us almost as soon as our first words were put on paper.
Q: Speaking of names – what’s the story and significance of the name of your Production Company, EchoEterna?
Patrick: So, EchoEterna is a very very subtle reference to our first project, a sci-fi film. The story contains cryptic references to time travel, linked to a top-secret experiment with the codename “EchoEterna”.
We’ve always loved the phrase, and it only made sense to adopt it as the name of our company. It feels fitting in ways I’m not sure I know how to articulate. Lol. You know– it’s a reference to our humble beginnings, but it also feels like an apt representation of the types of films we want to make.
Q: Where did you two meet?
Michael: We met 20+ years ago at a Springboro church. Pat was a drummer in the adult service and the evening youth service. The band needed a bass player, so I put down my electric guitar and picked up a bass. For the next five years, we played almost every week together.
Patrick: This will sound odd, but we actually met at church. In another lifetime, Mike and I were in a worship band that ended up becoming pretty popular in the Midwest and a few other areas. I was a dumb teenager who happened to be pretty good on the drums, and Mike was a seasoned musician who knew his way around the bass guitar. Together, I can’t help but admit: we made a pretty sick rhythm section. We gigged around quite a bit with the band, playing retreats and youth events on a regular basis.
Q: Did you become interested in filmmaking together or did you each already have an interest?
Michael: I’ve been a music and movie nerd for as long as I can remember. I had dreamed of being a writer for Rolling Stone; traveling with bands and writing about our misadventures. When the movie, Almost Famous, came out, I connected with it instantly. Pat was working on a script and had hit a roadblock. He asked if I’d be interested in helping. I just thought it was a chance to help a friend. I never thought it would spark my interest in filmmaking, but once we started shooting, I was hooked.
Patrick: Before becoming filmmakers, we would always geek out and bond over movies and dystopian sci-fi novels. Separately, we both wrote fictional and sometimes non-fiction pieces in our own time, believing we were potentially capable of writing books or in-depth articles about music and film. Around the fall of 2009, I eventually had a realization that the ‘novel’ I thought I was writing was better suited as a screenplay. Not realizing that you could download software to format a screenplay, I formatted one myself in Word (yes, it was a F-ing nightmare). It was a 250-page, one-hundred million-dollar, bloated disaster of a story, but I wrote it nonetheless. It didn’t take a genius to tell me that I needed help, and Mike was the most obvious candidate to bring on board and fix the mess I made. To this day,
I am super proud of the work we put in (on our own time), and ultimately it became the basis on which we made our first feature film– One that we funded entirely on our own and shot on old-school Kodak 16mm film stock.
Q: You guys are working on literally everything about this movie aren’t you? From producing to directing to raising funds and even to writing the music – yes?
Michael: Yeah, it is ambitious and exhausting, but we’ve always had a DIY way to our process. Sometimes that works well, sometimes we realize we need to ask for help. But in the end, I’m confident in our vision and our skills. So I wouldn’t really want it any other way
Patrick: Yes, to an extent. As for the production, we are the top dogs. And now we actually have ‘employees’ so there’s been a slight learning curve to delegation and being bosses (as much as I hate being a boss). So we’re writing and producing the thing, I’m directing and shooting it, and we are for sure the guys who are venturing out and raising the funds. That being said, we have SO many incredible friends and family members who are getting involved and pulling strings behind the scenes. Maybe even things that will never be accounted for, or credited in the film. It has a become a living, breathing organism at this point; one that Mike and I might not even be able to fully control. And that excites us. As weird as it sounds, that’s kind of the dream, right? As for the music, I would say we’re writing A LOT of the music ourselves, and overseeing some of it. We’ve pulled musicians from old bands, current bands, siblings, cousins– ANYONE who gets what we’re doing who can add to the vibe we’re attempting to cultivate. Similar to the ‘film collective’ we hope to create through EchoEterna, the songs and score for ‘SpeakEasy’ will definitely be a (hopefully) beautiful collage of our ideas mixed with the ideas of genuinely talented folks who we’ve worked with or encountered over the years.
Q: How hard has it been to find actors who actually can play music or musicians who can actually act?
Michael: WEIRDLY, two of our shortlisted actors responded to our casting call almost immediately. That experience set us up to believe it was going to be easy. Excuse me while I laugh my ass off… It’s been VERY. DIFFICULT.
Patrick: Obviously, we don’t have the budget to hire name actors who we can pay to be given lessons on their characters’ respective instruments, and then pay to spend weeks or months of rehearsal time to make sure they operate as a BAND, let alone how they operate as CHARACTERS who need to seem as if they’ve been in a band together for years. Bottom line: casting this project has been an interesting ride, and there were certainly times when we’d stay up late with a bottle of bourbon wondering if it was even possible. Fortunately, we are beyond happy with our shortlisted actors for the main band. Super happy with their dedication and progress so far.
These two are serious, talented, and motivated filmmakers. They are working on funding the project (along with everything else that goes into this) – not to mention they both have families and full-time gigs (Patrick is the drummer in the popular Dream-Pop band MOIRA and Michael is a supervisor at Mary Haven Youth Center, a division of the Warren County Juvenile Court). One question I forgot to ask: do they ever sleep?
For more information on the film, how to get involved, how to invest or just to follow their great journey, check out
FaceBook: EchoEterna Productions, LLC
PS: Coming soon – Casting in Dayton! Follow FB & Instagram for updated information.