Posted 2 years ago

By Post Staff

Dave Janetta

Dave Janetta

An independent film maker has turned to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise the last $30,000 he needs to complete a documentary dealing with both the mysterious disappearance and death of a Chadron State College professor and a Chadron author’s book on the case.

Film maker Dave Jannetta has been working on the 2006 death of professor Steve Haataja…still an open case…for nearly 2 years, but expanded it to include the other aspects of the book Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere by Chadron resident Ed Hughes, who writes under the name Poe Ballentine,

In fact, Janetta’s named his film “Love and Terror, the documentary” and it, like the book, tells not only the story of Haataja’s disappearance, the search that followed, and the follow-up after the professor’s bound and burned body was found only about a mile from the CSC campus, but also a personal recounting by Hughes – Ballentine- of his own life.

Steven Haataja

Steven Haataja

Jannetta’s Kickstarter posting on his film says it “deepens the perspective on Chadron and its inhabitants, the disappearance and death of Dr. Haataja, and the life and philosophies of Poe Ballantine.” Nearly 2 dozen Chadron residents are interviewed about Haataja and the community.

The Kickstarter campaign began June 26 and Jannetta has a month…until July 27…to draw online pledges to the site to meet or exceed his $30,000 goal. It’s an all-or-nothing operation; he gets the total amount pledged if it tops $30,000 but nothing if it falls short. As of last night, 80 donors had pledged $18,836.

The money will go for “post-production” work including sound, composing and recording the score, color correction, graphics, and the rights to use archival clips in the film. It will also be used for website and marketing expenses, including the costs of promoting it at festivals to try to convince a distributor to step forward.

Janetta spent about 2 months filming in Chadron in two segments about a year apart and has a roughly 100-minute rough cut of the documentary. He’s also prepared one that can be viewed on the Kickstarter site at

Poe Ballentine poster       Among those included in that trailer are Hughes under his pen name, Dawes County Sheriff Carl Dailey, CSC professors Kathy Bahr, Phil Carey, and Dean Tucker, former professor and retired Los Angeles homicide detective Loren Zimmerman.

Donors to Janetta’s project through Kickstarter earn “rewards” for certain levels of pledges. A $20 pledge, for example, brings a Digital HD download of the film, a digital download of the soundtrack, an exclusive track by musician Peter Tramo, updates on progress, and exclusive video clips.

$500 brings the “Love and Terror Package” which includes among other things autographed works by Poe Ballantine, a limited edition silk screen film poster, autographed DVD of the film, and a “Thank You” credit in the actual film and on IMDB under “Special Thanks”

A $5,000 donor receives that package, Executive Producer credit in the film, invitations to all festival screenings and after-parties.