MFA student’s web series accepted to local film festival


Source: Pat Cavanaugh

Savanna Rae, who plays the lead in the web series “Dear Dark Lord,” talks to the “dark lord.” The series was created by Northwestern MFA student Pat Cavanaugh.

Janea Wilson, Reporter


It’s a classic story: a young girl trying to make it in the big city while worshipping a mysterious dark lord.

Through current Northwestern MFA student Pat Cavanaugh’s new web series, this tale will find its home in a local film festival’s 15th anniversary.

The web series, “Dear Dark Lord,” focuses on one woman’s struggle to navigate her 20s while serving an evil deity, and will be screened at the Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Fest, which takes place on Nov. 9 and 10.

Cavanaugh said the idea for the show came from his longtime friend, Ryan Eakins, who serves as the co-writer, co-director and editor of the piece. After writing elaborate scripts together during a class at The Second City in Chicago, the pair decided to write a screenplay that would be feasible for them to produce. Cavanaugh said he thought the idea of a city girl struggling to thrive in her environment while juggling her dark deeds was amusing, which led to the show’s comedic edge.

Unlike other shows Eakins and Cavanaugh have written in the past, this one had feasible production value, Eakins said. The altar he built for spiritual rituals was arguably the most expensive part.

“We were working on close to no budget and that was a challenge as a producer,” said Sarah Halle Corey, the show’s producer, who also directed four episodes.

Despite the limited financial freedom, Corey said the web series’ independence gave her and the creators more liberty than they would have had otherwise. To maintain this freedom, she said they found creative ways to fund the project.

The majority of the funding was fundraised with a live comedy show featuring Corey’s improv group, among others. Since the show had a low budget, the series was filmed in various apartments, an open office space and a classroom.

This makeshift filming process meant the crew was responsible for a lot more than in a typical production. Since Cavanaugh and Eakins took on many roles, they said during writing they needed to think about filming, and during filming they needed to think about editing. Because of this, Eakins said, many jokes were written with the show’s post-production in mind.

“We made tons of good jokes in the series, but I wanted to make it centered around something I could play with,” Eakins said in reference to an episode he wrote in which the editing creates a comedic effect.

The show pushes past the boundaries of the budget to tell the story of a young woman’s struggle with loneliness as she tries to make it in the big city while looking to the “dark lord” for guidance. To protect her soul from her own deal with the devil, she is driven to find someone to sacrifice.

Cavanaugh said his parents’ appreciation for quirky movies influenced his love for film. This upbringing, mixed with his fascination with dark magic, is what led to the idea for the show.

Cavanaugh assured The Daily he is not a cult member himself, but is simply interested in stories of evil folklore.

“The idea for ‘Dear Dark Lord’ came from Ryan and I being more into cult mythologies and chaos magic,” Cavanaugh said. “Not in a serious way, but in a more fascinating way.”

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