When Mike Fox decided to help his daughter with her acting portfolio, he had no idea the routine project would blossom into a movie.
“Basically, this was originally created to be just some extra show reel, for our daughter, Arianna,” said Fox. “Within an extremely short amount of time, the timeline grew.”
Arianna, 15, is a professional voiceover artist who has worked for places like Old Navy and Taco Bell, is a best-selling author on Amazon and has acting experience.
The Milford family, who has lived in Delaware since 2004, owns the design company Splash DesignWorks and is familiar with video production, such as making commercials for clients. Fox has done short films in the past, but the start of the pandemic is what spun him into a “deep dive” of filmmaking.
“The film side just hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s a drive,” he said. “I just had a feeling, like a burst out of nowhere, to create this character of Avery who is going through a hard time and has temptation from this box.”
The main character, Avery, has a difficult time coping with these issues until she finds a mysterious box containing a cube that can transport her to her own future. Stuck between her challenges in the present and the potential of a future where all is fixed, she must decide what to do. A decision that will affect her, and everyone around her.
The film premiered at the Westown Movie Theater in Middletown on Nov. 20, complete with a red carpet and Hollywood-style reception following the private showing.
“It was sold out. It was like 110 people which was massive for a Delaware premiere,” said Fox.
The film has garnered over 20 film festival awards for the trailer and movie combined, including best actress for the lead of Avery, best director for Fox and best sci-fi film.
Some of the film’s accolades include best trailer at the Robinson Film Awards and the International Symbolic Art Film Festival, and best sci-fi movie winner at the Golden Wheat Awards, the Creation International Film Festival and the Bright International Film Festival.
The crew also took home best narrative feature at the Beyond the Curve International Film Festival and the best first time filmmaker of September, awarded to Mike Fox, at the 4th Dimension International Film Festival.
The film was shot entirely in Delaware, with help from local talent and businesses who donated their resources to the crew.
Bibi’s Restaurant in Milford and bed-and-breakfast spot Causey Mansion, which serves as the basement for the film, were the settings for a few scenes. A school bus and a school were also donated to the crew for film use.
“There are so many places here that are amazing to shoot,” said Fox. “I was surprised to find so much talent within Delaware.”
Fox opened a casting call to get extra people for the reel, and within five days, he had about 85 submissions.
His filmmaker friends urged him to turn the project into a longer feature film, an idea he originally brushed off but soon adopted.
“And so it just kept growing, like exponentially growing,” he said. “In the back of my head, it’s not hitting me that ‘dude, you created this from nothing. It has impacted a lot of people and it’s not even out yet.”
As for what’s next, the journey of “the Box of in the Basement” is only just beginning.
The family’s production company, Crystal Fox Films, is currently trying to push the movie through distribution and expose it to a wider audience on streaming platforms such as Amazon and Tubi.
With some mysteries still left in the plot, cast members are already buzzing about theories for a potential sequel to the movie. Although nothing is set in stone, Fox is already on the lookout for investors and funding to make a potential part two even bigger and better than the first, he said.
Fox wants his work to help put the First State on the map for filmmaking and bring more creatives to the area, he said.
“I’m hoping that this film would change and impact a lot of lives and a lot of youth,” said Fox. “I’m really excited we can do it for, and in, Delaware. There’s a lot of talent out here, it’s just nobody knows.”
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