Kimberly Taylor Fagan has suffered from sleep paralysis all her life.
The Hattiesburg filmmaker says the condition is a literal nightmare.
“I feel like people get in the bed with me,” she said. “It’s very monster oriented.
“I feel like if I don’t wake up, I’ll die. It’s like demons. I can’t move. I get paralyzed.”
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Fagan, 53, is exorcising those demons with a new horror film, “F5 Teraphobia” — teraphobia being the fear of monsters. The filmed-in-Hattiesburg movie is loosely based on her experiences as a victim of sleep paralysis.
The movie features a good son who suffers from the same nightmares as his mother — played by Fagan. There are also five evil children, (the F5 of the title), one very nasty therapist and a lot of killing.
“The script is about your worst fears and kids’ worst fears,” Fagan said. “The main character — Townsend — is a therapist who comes back to get revenge on the kids who bullied him.”
Fagan, a 1983 Hattiesburg High graduate and a resident of Sumrall, has been involved with the movie and television industry for years. Before going the Hollywood route, she got her bachelor’s in exercise science in 1987 from the University of Southern Mississippi. Later, she earned a Master’s in Business Administration from William Carey University.
But the world of talent and film is where her heart has always been. After graduating from Southern Miss, Fagan moved to New York where she modeled and did commercial print work. She returned to Hattiesburg off and on for the next 10 years, before heading to Los Angeles, where she managed her son’s and daughter’s acting careers.
Her son starred in Kerry Washington’s Facebook series “Five Points” and also in the Sundance Channel’s “Rectify,” playing Jared Talbot. Fagan accompanied her son to Atlanta, where the Sundance series was filmed, and they stayed there for four years.
Fagan returned to Hattiesburg in 2015. Since then, she’s also found herself picking up work managing other actors and has opened up her own talent agency, “KTA Talent Group.”
Fagan wrote, directed and executive produced “F5 Teraphobia.” It’s her first movie.
“This film touches on bullying, relationships, horror,” she said. “It pushes the boundaries of kids doing bad things.
“I chose a child cast because I think it really pushes the boundaries when children do things they’re not supposed to do.”
Fagan compares “F5 Teraphobia” to the movies “Sinister” and “Strangers.” “Sinister” is a 2012 Ethan Hawke film that was based on a nightmare the co-writer had. The 2008 film “Strangers” is about a peaceful family weekend that turns deadly.
Much of “F5 Terraphobia” is filmed at the house of Fagan’s mother, located in the Lakeshore subdivison of Oak Grove.
“Location is key in this,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing to do when making a film.
“You have to learn what to do and use movie magic and post production to bring it all together.”
Other locations included the interior of a Hattiesburg apartment, outside shots in Kamper Park, a scene with the therapist at Hattiesburg’s Exit Southern Realty and a drone filming of historic downtown Hattiesburg.
Miles Doleac, executive director of FestivalSouth Film Expo, and a movie writer, producer, director, actor in his own right, said Mississippi offers a wealth of locations for movie making.
“Mississippi has an incredible amount of potential in terms of film production,” he said. “What most impresses me is the geographic diversity, the architectural diversity.
“Mississippi is capable of being most anywhere. We’ve got piney woods, red hills, beaches, swamp land and urban places.”
Doleac said it’s also easy to find capable actors in the South.
“I’ve shot three features and three shorts in Mississippi,” he said. ‘There is a wealth of talented people who are willing to put themselves out there.”
Fagan said her reason for choosing Hattiesburg as her location was simple.
“I grew up in Hattiesburg and I just love it,” she said. “I love the hometown feeling of it.
“I’ve lived all over the world and I always come back to Hattiesburg.”
Hattiesburg served Fagan well when casting her movie. She was able to offer more than 40 local actors principal roles and about 10 local actors feature roles.
She didn’t have to look far when casting one of her main characters. Her husband Jeff Fagan Jr., 43, plays the father in the movie. An Army vet, he comes home from Iraq to find his son has been suffering from nightmares.
“It’s an all-American, positive family, who, when scared, leans on (their) spiritual beliefs,” Jeff Fagan said. “It’ll definitely make you look over your shoulder. It’ll mess with your head.
“Make you question — are you safe with your kids?”
Fagan wants to continue in filmmaking. She has plans for a short film about bullying and teen suicide that she hopes will be shown in local schools. And, of course, there’s “F5 Teraphobia 2.”
Distribution of the movie is set for July, with a premiere in Hattiesburg. Fagan knows what reaction she’d like to see from the audience.
“I hope they’re scared to death,” she said. “I hope they’re on the edge of their seats.
“And I hope they’ll be interested in seeing part two.”
Read more at HattiesburgAmerican.com
At a glance
What: Feature-length film about an evil therapist who hypnotizes children
Who: Written, directed, executive produced by Hattiesburg native Kimberly Taylor Fagan
Release date: July
Rating: Hoping for PG-13