Summoning Studio 76

Andrew Kyid, Lieb Kuich and Grace Hernandez preparing to shoot a scene. (Lamis Shakh/ Studio 76)

Oct. 1 was the start of production for Studio 76 and their newest short film “Withered.” Excitement was high as the first day began and everyone took their places to record each scene from every angle for the next two days.

Studio 76 planned to submit this film to a film festival, but first, they had to decide which one. Two options were in their minds: The Moab Monster Movie Mash, or Demonchaser.

With this year’s Moab Movie Mash being western-themed and Studio 76 having already produced multiple recent westerns, and planning more, they decided on Demonchaser.

“We’re a tiny bit sick of westerns,” director Andrew Kyed said. “We wanted to kind of go back to some horror roots with Demonchaser.”

Studio 76 was awarded at the Demonchaser film festival for their film “Lambchop” in 2019. The film can be watched on Studio 76’s Youtube channel.

“Withered” follows a young girl named Rose, who inherits her grandmother’s house after her passing. Finding an old necklace, she puts it on. After removing the necklace later, she finds the house is not as quiet and safe as first appeared.

Work for “Withered” began long before filming day, with Studio 76’s inspiration coming from a poem by writer Sara Corless. The artistic style of the poem led to a very non-traditional type of film.

“The poem itself has a lot more descriptive language in it, and not a whole lot of dialogue,” director Emilie Gorham said.

Even as writing was underway, Kyed found himself running into complicated and extensive pre-production. With the location of the film being Ogden’s Browning Mansion, special considerations were made into designing the set for the story.

Already wanting an older house for the setting, the team found themselves in luck, as Corless already had a connection to the owner alongside previous Studio 76 team members.

Kyed said the house was built over 100 years ago, so they wanted to show that age in how they filmed it.

After pre-production is completed, the crew is finally ready to start filming. Before each scene and shot, the placement of the camera is thought out before-hand.

These situations allow for extreme control in every aspect of the film, letting the director and the team create the perfect shot. The actress also has to consider the script in detail while also adapting to the director mid-scene.

Grace Hernandez, leading and only actress, was given two weeks with the script beforehand to truly get to know her character Rose. With this film being her first on-screen performance, she found herself really taking her time with the character and allowed to sit down and understand and connect to Rose and the story.

Hernandez describes Rose as graceful, while also having to suffer through the events with the film, claiming her to be “stupid enough,” as all horror characters ought to be.

Gorham explained how the horror aspect to this film allowed for a very creative approach to the cinematography as opposed to a comedy or drama. This meant color could be emphasized as a main theme while on set.

“Red is really big in this film, so you have the red roses, she wears a red nightgown, red gloves.” Gorham said. Even the carpet of the building is very old and very red.

Even with all this pre-production and pre-plans, there is always space for something to go wrong.

One situation involved an unplugging of important equipment and a scare of lost footage due to corruption. Still finding the footage safe to use, a disaster was narrowly avoided.

One situation was that filming was taking longer than expected due to additional changes in scenes, resulting in another day of filming until 10 p.m. or later.

Studio 76 found themselves getting sick near the end of shooting. Gorham still had to attend due to her role as director, as it was too important to not be present on set.

On the third day, the crew wrapped up filming and began preparing for post-production.

With not a lot of sound being recorded on set, a foley team will be designing and recording all the sounds to edit into the film. After post-production, the film will be ready to submit to Demonchaser.

The Demonchaser festival takes place on Oct. 24. Most awards will be given by a panel of judges, but there is the audience’s favorite award.

To support Studio 76, WSU students can vote for them and watch “Withered” at the festival.