Noah Bessey, who grew up in Skowhegan and now lives in Portland, is being hired to write screenplays. Photo by Garrick Hoffman Photography

The last time I talked to Portland filmmaker Noah Bessey in May of last year, he’d just wrapped on his second, Maine-made short film. Our second phone interview, less than a year later, sees Bessey telling me all about writing his first-ever feature film, which has just hit streaming services everywhere.

It’s the sort of feel-good Maine moviemaker tale you’ll want to hear.

“Honestly, it’s kind of wild I got a chance to do it,” said Skowhegan native Bessey of “The Fearway,” the feature-length psychological horror film now available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Tubi, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube and pretty much anywhere else you get your movies. “It’s definitely a surreal experience, the sort of thing where you think, ‘Oh, this isn’t real, this is a dream.’ Well, sometimes dreams come true.”

Talking with young and aspiring Maine filmmakers as I have for more than a decade now, I can tell you Bessey’s story is, indeed, an inspiring one. Nobody’s path to success is the same, but Bessey’s is something like a template for a Maine moviemaker’s best-case scenario.

A scene from “Dirigo,” the short film representing Maine in The United States of Horror anthology. Photo courtesy of Noah Bessey

After completing “Dirigo,” Bessey’s 2021 short horror film about a cabin in the very spooky Maine woods, that film was picked for inclusion in “The United States of Horror,” a Canadian anthology horror series from Dystopian Films that tasked 50 American filmmakers with encapsulating their home state’s scariest qualities on screen. The first volume of “The United States of Horror,” which includes “Dirigo,” is available to stream everywhere. For Bessey, that honor was confidence-boosting enough, especially since each film was introduced by a particular horror icon.

“Doug Bradley (the imperious demon Pinhead from the ‘Hellraiser’ horror franchise) narrated the intros for all the movies,” said a still-excited Bessey. “It was wild to hear Pinhead himself talking about my movie – honestly, it was insane.”


Then Simon Phillips, producer of “The United States of Horror,” went looking for a screenwriter for a horror film he was planning to make – right away. He picked Bessey. “Honestly, I saw the ad a couple days late,” laughed Bessey, “and I thought, there’s no way. But for some reason, they picked me.”

Tasked with turning Phillips’ idea into a finished screenplay in just two weeks, Bessey threw himself into his big break. “It was really stressful, but the good kind of stressful,” Bessey said of his whirlwind creative endeavor. “I ate, breathed and slept it.”

As for the unique challenge of fleshing out another person’s concept into a full screenplay, Bessey said, “I really enjoyed it. It was like problem solving, which I love. Simon had an idea for a story, with characters and the setting. I had free rein with the story itself, as long as the characters got from A to B in the end.”

Poster for “The Fearway,” written by Bessey and now streaming. Photo courtesy of Reel 2 Reel Films

“The Fearway” is the story of a married couple whose drive on a seemingly endless desert highway sees them tormented by a mysterious figure in black, their every attempt to escape their pursuer thwarted by events that begin to suggest an even greater menace at work against them.

“It was a psychological thriller, and I like delving into the psychological side,” Bessey said of the film, for which he receives sole screenwriting credit. “What’s real, what’s not – I like playing with the viewer’s mind. ‘The Fearway’ isn’t a movie that spoon-feeds you answers, and that’s the feeling I want to evoke. Movies that are talked about last longer.”

The film, directed by Robert Gajic, translates Bessey’s vision into an evocative, deceptively sun-drenched thriller, a result that Bessey says is quite satisfying. “I happy with how it came out,” he said, “even though it is very surreal to see my name pop up on the screen. Watching the whole movie, seeing those words I wrote bounce from page to screen filled me with joy.”


Apparently Simon Phillips, a prolific actor as well as producer, was similarly happy, since Bessey is now working on two feature screenplays for Phillips. As Bessey notes, the low-budget indie world moves fast, with the first of Bessey’s scripts, “Dead Heist,” slated to go into production this year. And so the whirlwind success story continues.

Still, Bessey says his plans are to continue working on his own, Maine-made, original films. “I’m hoping to stick with shorts,” explained the suddenly busy Bessey. “I like to draw from myself when I write, and there are a lot of my own personal experiences still out there. You have to really want to own your own craft, or you’ll lose it.”

Like I said, Noah Bessey’s the sort of feel-good Maine moviemaking tale that can buoy a Maine filmmaker looking to make it, something the grateful Bessey knows all too well.

“‘Dirigo’ was the first major thing I ever did. I know I sort of got plucked out of the crowd, and that’s something I really didn’t expect. Now I’m writing a couple more films and I feel like it shows that it’s really possible to make it as a Maine filmmaker. It’s possible, and you can do it, too.”

“The Fearway” is available for rent or purchase at all your better streaming services. Same goes for “The United States of Horror: Volume 1,” which includes Bessey’s Maine-made short, “Dirigo.” Find out more about what this up-and-coming Maine filmmaker is up to at his Facebook page.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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