Poker Night (2020)
After going to a weekend poker night following the homecoming dance, five friends receive the news that a classmate has been murdered. With the only evidence being a thread from one of their green ties, they soon realize the murderer is in the same room.
A story initially created by Caden Brooks, Poker Night was turned into a short and became one of our most well known films.
Caden Brooks pitched the idea to Tyler Beckwith and Jeremy Byers, who quickly jumped on it and got to work on their second project together. This would also be the second project that Beckwith, Byers, and Brent McNeel would all collaborate on, sealing the trio as a solid work force. Beckwith headed up the writing of the screenplay with Byers writing just the ending monologue, and Byers would go on to direct the film with assistance from Beckwith.
Brent McNeel's performance is often sighted as a major highlight in the film, with inspiration being taken from 'American Psycho's' Patrick Bateman. "I watched American Psycho about ten times, and I kind of did it off the cuff a little bit. I didn't really read the lines before that night, Tyler [Beckwith] gave me the script and I just went with it." McNeel states. McNeel wasn't originally casted as the antagonist in the film, the original actor casted couldn't make it to set. Byers and Beckwith replaced him with McNeel, and McNeel's character was written out on set by Byers and Beckwith moments before shooting. This brought the total number of characters from six to five, which in turn helped the film anyway because it allowed Byers to place the camera at the space where the sixth character would have sat.
Beckwith and Brooks give credit to the 1957 film '12 Angry Men' for much of the inspiration for Poker Night. Some of these inspirations are: The entire film takes place in one room, heavily dialogue driven, and a conversation to find out who is guilty. The entirety of this film was shot in three nights in the garage of actor Cody Harpster, who also has a supporting role in the film.
Jeremy Byers incorporates a lot of slow camera movements until intense scenes arise, in which he then relies on many hand held whips to go back and forth between characters. Byers also only uses one singular light throughout the entire duration of the film when the characters are at the poker table to light the scenes. This caused a very dramatic (and intentional) shadow on every character's face.
The actors who play in this film are all ironically high school friends. Every cast and crew member graduated from the same high school. Poker Night was released on November 20th, 2020.