By Danya Hooker
Keep an eye out for David Turvey.
The 19-year-old college sophomore from Bolingbrook has high hopes to become a successful filmmaker and is looking to break into the industry with a full-length documentary about the search for Stacy Peterson.
“I followed the media, interviewed a lot of reporters, how they come on to a huge story like this and they take a town over … how they convey their message,” Turvey explained. “And also it’s about the search for a missing person, the friends and family.”
On Oct. 28, Turvey’s sleepy corner of Bolingbrook became the epicenter of a national media storm when Peterson, the young wife of a police sergeant, went missing. Drew and Stacy Peterson lived just three blocks from Turvey.
“It was surprising,” Turvey said. “I thought, ‘how could you pass up an opportunity like this.’”
Shortly after the media frenzy began, Turvey woke before 5 a.m. and began filming search crews as they searched a pond outside of Peterson’s home.
More than two months later, he has shot more than 40 hours of film and has landed behind-the-scenes footage even some veteran news crews would envy.
His footage includes everything from backstage looks at national media names like Greta Van Susteren and Geraldo Rivera to the raw emotions of Stacy Peterson’s friends and family as they desperately searched for answers.
“I have a lot of inside footage you don’t see,” Turvey said. “I have footage of people being interviewed and how they act when they’re not being interviewed. I have both these two different kinds of personalities. It’s really interesting how media can change someone.”
Turvey also has promises from Illinois State Police and Drew Peterson to sit down for interviews. When he’s finished filming, he expects to spend more than a year editing and putting the film together while going to school full time and making smaller films to earn some extra cash on the side.
The middle of three children, Turvey started making home videos 10 years ago. In high school he began turning the hobby into a career move, eventually winning first place in Chicago’s Future Filmmakers Festival for his anti-smoking public service announcement “Second Chance.” The award helped him land a $20,000 Presidential Scholarship Award from Columbia College.
Sean Jourdan, a graduate student at Columbia College, said Turvey stood out among his peers when he taught a Production I class last year.
“He was one of the more ambitious students I had,” Jourdan said. “He came into the class pretty much knowing he wanted to be a filmmaker, specifically a documentarian.”
Although Jourdan hasn’t seen any of Turvey’s Peterson footage, he said Turvey’s ability to gain the trust of key sources in the case shows he has the talent to do well in the film industry.
“The guy’s a hustler,” Jourdan said. “That kind of stuff, it’s hard to teach. I think he’s going to do all right.”
Turvey’s parents, Mark and Lori, said they were apprehensive about their son taking on a large project while still in school.
“We didn’t want him to lose his focus on school,” Lori Turvey said. “We know how focused he gets on projects. He’ll latch onto a project and he lives and breathes it.”
But Turvey’s ability to juggle school, work and a rigorous filming schedule surprised them and, sometimes, even himself. His busy schedule forced him to make sacrifices and even led him to a certain, dreaded rite of passage into adulthood — the daily planner — which he said is constantly filled.
“On the weekends, I don’t go out, I don’t hang out with my friends,” Turvey said. “I’d rather hang out by myself and film than be out partying.”
His ambition has taken him far away from the quiet, comfortable serenity of the winding roads of his Bolingbrook subdivision and into the gritty streets of Chicago. He’s made a film about a 22-year-old man addicted to marijuana and sometimes spends his days filming homeless people in Chicago, lending his time and ear to gather their stories.
“It’s the real raw emotions, sometimes you just can’t script that,” Turvey said. “The characters that come out of it are just so powerful.”