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Jennifer Belander, center, works on a scene during the filming of "By Blood and By Water," a 16-minute thriller she directed and starred in.
Jennifer Belander, center, works on a scene during the filming of "By Blood and By Water," a 16-minute thriller she directed and starred in. (Courtesy of Jennifer Belander)

RAF ALCONBURY — What would you do if you woke up to find the government had classified you as a terrorist? If, overnight, outside of your control, it defined the things you do and the beliefs you hold as a threat, and came after you?

It’s by posing questions like these that Jennifer Belander hopes her new film, “By Blood and By Water,” gets people talking.

“What happens if the government just decides that certain people are a threat?” she said recently, sipping coffee at an RAF Alconbury cafe.

An actress and wife of an analyst for Alconbury’s Joint Analysis Center, Belander is in a unique position for a military community member in the United Kingdom. With the forthcoming completion of post-production work on the movie, she’s on the cusp of releasing a 16-minute thriller she directed and starred in.

Shot mainly in her home in Huntingdon, the film revolves around an average English couple who are visited by a pair of shadowy government special agents who accuse them of nefarious deeds and intentions.

“Just who defines ‘crime’ as the War on Terror is widened and old fears of Witchcraft are revived?” reads a promotional card for the film.

It was a concept Belander said intrigued her as soon as she read the script, penned by a Scottish friend she reconnected with a little over a year ago.

“By Blood,” is Belander’s first outing behind the camera, but she has plenty of experience in front of audiences. She starred in the 2005 short film “Interference,” which earned a screening at Cannes, and has been part of many stage productions, including community theater plays at Alconbury, she said.

The fledgling director is on a comeback of sorts to theater and film, after taking an almost five-year break to take care of her young son. But Belander said when she read George Elder’s script, then called “The Audit,” she knew she wanted to be involved with it, and asked the writer if she could work with it.

“I said, ‘George, can I have your script?’ ” she said. Elder agreed, and Belander dug into the project, setting up a crew and contacting people she wanted to cast, including actors Julian Nest, Johnny Hansler and Diana Hedley.

“I had never directed a film before,” she said. But with a capable director of photography on board, she said, she was free to give it a try.

Working on a minuscule budget of about $10,000, Belander shot the movie over four days in February 2006 on digital video, converting parts of her home into a movie set and jamming spare corners with lights and equipment.

Though filming wrapped more than a year ago, she’s still working on the final cut of the movie after having some artistic differences with her original editor, she said.

The extra time and effort, however, has been beneficial for the film and made it more effective, she said, and she’s happier with it now than she was last year.

“One of the things I’ve been hearing is that it’s very Hitchcock-esque,” Belander said. Though she’s reluctant to reveal too much about the movie, she isn’t afraid to divulge that it includes violence once it gets rolling.

Indeed, the trailer for the film posted on the Web that includes the bloodied visage of one of the performers prompted Yahoo.com to send a warning to Belander that the content was borderline. Additionally, Belander said directing was often hard to do because her character is often tied up, preventing her from getting behind the lens.

“I’m tied to the chair and at one point I’m gagged,” she said.

Pending the final edit of the film, Belander said she plans to get it on the festival circuit and is considering a future screening at Alconbury. In the end, Belander said, she hopes it has the power to generate conversation.

“I made the film to be seen,” she said. “I want people to think.”

For more information, visit: www.bee-movies-presents.com

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