LOS ANGELES -- Mattoon native Damien LeVeck is preparing to direct a short horror film, “The Cleansing Hour,” and is raising funds via Kickstarter to help bring this project to fruition.

LeVeck reported in a press release that principal photography is set to begin in November, pending successful fundraising, The film stars Sam Jaeger ("Inherent Vice”) and Heather Morris ("Spring Breakers").

Jaeger plays a failed actor who has found success appearing as a fake priest on a popular webcast that streams exorcisms staged to look real. The charlatan unknowingly hires an actress, Morris, who is actually possessed and he must reckon with his online charade in front of millions of viewers.

“I am very passionate about making movies with a message, and this one is no exception,” LeVeck said, adding that screenwriter Aaron Horwitz’s story takes on the excesses of reality TV. “A good horror movie should have some kind of subtext, no matter how subtle.”

The Mattoon native, 33, has lived for 15 years now in Los Angeles, where he studied at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

His film work has included serving as an editor and a producer for the 2009 documentary, “Corso: The Last Beat; and editing the 2011 feature, “Take Me Home,” that was written and directed by his friend Jaeger.

LeVeck also has accumulated editing and producing credits for TV shows on ABC Family, Fox, VH1, SyFy, MTV, TBS, OWN, TruTV and Oxygen during his time in Hollywood.

Still, LeVeck said he attributes his drive to succeed in Hollywood to the support and inspiration he received in Central Illinois.

“I really want people to know, especially in Mattoon where I am from, how important their support is to me,” LeVeck said. “I have never forgotten it and I don’t take it for granted.”

For example, LeVeck said he was able to create short films for the history class of teacher Bill Harshbarger at Mattoon High School and worked on a Civil War film while in the advanced placement history class of teacher Ron Davis.

LeVeck ended up directing this Civil War film, “From Cows to Calvary,” in 2000 while he was a high school senior. He funded the film by selling tickets to the premiere at the Showplace theater in Mattoon and by going door to door asking his neighbors for donations.

Since launching his Kickstarter campaign on Aug. 25th, LeVeck said he has been honored to see supporters who knew him from his Mattoon days pledge to donate funds to “The Cleansing Hour” production. LeVeck said he has raised about $15,000 so far toward his $30,000 goal.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding website that enables people to pledge money to filmmaking and other efforts in exchange for a gift of some kind for their participation in the project.

“Kickstarter does not take anything (from the donors) unless we meet our goal. Your card does not get charged unless we meet our goal,” LeVeck said, adding that he is confident that enough money will be raised to produce the film. He noted that the production has garnered a higher profile since Morris was interviewed recently for a top story on E! online.

Some of the gifts that “The Cleansing Hour” is offering in exchange for contributions include props signed by cast members, Skype calls with Jaeger and Morris, an opportunity to visit the set, LeVeck’s prized motorcycle, and a special edition “Tales of the Crypt” pinball machine.

LeVeck said “The Cleansing Hour” will be a proof of concept film that will show possible producers the potential for a feature-length version. He said this film also will serve as a “calling card” for the quality of work created by him and his fellow collaborators.

“I am very confident that I can make this into something that will really blow people’s socks off,” LeVeck said.

For information aboutLeVeck’s film andthe fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, visit http://www.cleansinghourmovie.com/. Updates are also available via https://www.facebook.com/cleansinghourmovie, https://instagram.com/cleansinghourmovie or https://twitter.com/cleansinghour.

Contact Stroud at rstroud@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6861.

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