A nail-biting adventure tale that begs you to ask yourself, “what would I do?”, Tim Hyten’s Snake Bite is much more than a dramatic thriller. A cocktail for disaster, Hyten’s film follows four boys in the woods as they attempt to catch poisonous snakes and in-so-doing, naively put themselves in danger.
But what is more dangerous remains to be seen: the fast-working venom of the Black Widowmaker or the extreme measures they would take to save their friend. When friendships are tested and the stakes are high, a life or death decision must be made, so get ready for an intense 8-minute-ride.
While this film may star children, the themes that Hyten explores are anything but childish. Central to the plot is the notion that decisions can be shaped by emotions more than logic and that people can convince themselves to do or say anything if the right buttons are pushed.
As the boys respond to their friend’s potential impending doom, two voices provide their leadership. The youngest, gives a compelling argument to reasonably doubt their friend’s peril, while the oldest and loudest, belittles those doubts and furthermore holds a pretty big machete like a boss. A testament to the human psyche, bravado trumps all. For better or for worse.
To both the credit of Hyten’s directing and the performances by his young actors, the onscreen chemistry of characters catapults the story’s sincerity. We have to believe this boy is going to die and that his friends are willing to go to extreme lengths to save him to which Snake Bite nails it.
In making this film, Hyten had a number of challenges to overcome and ironically working with child actors for the first time was one of them. Even for the most seasoned of directors, it’s a tough job and Hyten lets us in on what that experience was like:
“We did a four day shoot in Portland Oregon but when you’re shooting with kids you only get about half days (legally and also mentally.) You need to know when they’re starting to lose focus, when they’re starting to get antsy, when they’re basically done for the day.” He also employed the help of child actor coaches, but admits he’s not sure how much it helped.
Comically, Hyten also had to deal with a snake handler bringing the wrong colored snake, some missed flights, test audiences hating the film, and parents belittling him when their child wasn’t casted. A filmmaker’s nightmare? Maybe not. “It was super fun”, the director reveals, “and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way. I enjoyed it all.”
Winning Best International Short, Audience Award at Fantasia Film Festival, Best Short, Audience Award at Dances With Films, and Best Ensemble Cast at Breckenridge Film Festival, Snake Bite is a hit. Hyten is currently working on a TV pilot about three kids who live in a crappy dessert town and need to devise an escape plan that may have disastrous consequences. If it’s anything like Snake Bite, we can expect quite a ride.