CMHS graduate, PSU senior set to release feature length horror film in 2022

PHOTO PROVIDED CMHS graduate and Penn State senior Wyatt Bumbarger, center, is pictured with members of the cast and crew of his film “A Deer in the Woods” on set. They are, from left, Lance Joos, Emma Parks, Abbrielle Tuel, Chris Alderfer and Chaney Belle picture slightly off frame on the floor.

STATE COLLEGE — A film, within a film, within a film.

This concept has lead one Central Mountain High School graduate into making a feature length horror film.

Wyatt Bumbarger, a 2017 CMHS graduate and fifth-year senior at Penn State University, has worked since April with a crew of over 20 fellow PSU students to create horror film “A Deer in the Woods.” Bumbarger hopes to release the film in late April or early May of 2022.

“I always had a love for movies. And I already, in my free time, researched them… just facts and whatnot,” he said.

Bumbarger, who initially only majored in business when he started at PSU, said he didn’t feel that career path was right for him.

PHOTO PROVIDED The first theatrical poster for “A Deer in the Woods” is pictured.

“I’m still double majoring in business as well. I started out just in business. I think, in a lot of my intro classes, in big lecture halls I was just not very passionate in what I was learning about,” he said.

A creative writing class shifted his focus and lead to his current path. Then, he was able to secure a scholarship in one of his business classes to start his own production company, Hunter Run Road Production. “Which is the road I grew up on,” he noted.

“That class kind of started it,” he said. “I got a scholarship to fund the film. It started off as a different idea based in Penn State. But as I got a better team, that script had to be canceled dure to COVID.”

Due to these circumstances, the film shifted into the horror genre and to one location.

Bumbarger wrote the script himself and has been directing the film in his family’s home, with the movie taking place over one night.

As a big fan of the horror genre, Bumbarger said he’s adding nods to classic films.

“That has been my biggest inspiration. I’ve gotten more interested in them as I’ve been making this. I had inspirations from some of the classic horror movies working up to today,” he said. “The original ‘Halloween,’ the ‘Evil Dead’ movie and ‘Hereditary’ — which was one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s about people trying to make a horror film, so putting in these little nuggets and homages to old and newer horror films was important,” he said.

The synopsis for the film is:

“A Deer in the Woods is a feature-length horror/thriller/dark comedy which follows a group of amateur film students who set out to make a horror film in a secluded cabin in the woods. Harper, an aspiring actress, has signed on to Director Cyrus Wakefield’s horror project as an understudy. However, when Abby, the lead actress, mysteriously disappears, Harper is given the opportunity of a lifetime to star in her first movie. But, when Harper arrives to the secluded cabin, she begins to notice that Wakefield and members of his crew are hiding something sinister. As Harper tries to survive the night, she slowly starts to uncover the truth: that she may be trapped in a horror film herself.”

Emma Parks stars as Harper along with an ensemble cast of: Theodore Rosenblum as Cyrus Wakefield; Shane Troxell as Eli; Lance Joos as Josh; Carrie Zurliene as Claire; Daniel Tracht as Jesse; and Chaney Belle as Abby.

Helping Bumbarger behind the scenes is quite a large crew that includes: Director of Photography Chris Alderfer; Editor and Gaffer Matt Nickolaus; Assistant Director and Sound Designer Nikolai Sunday; Produce Tusha Pham; Composer Brian Ellis; Lead Production Coordinator Jeff Brady, Jr.; Production coordinators and assistant editor Shawn Coulter, Kyle Raynor and Abbrielle Tuel; Production coordinators Marco Falcucci and Mike O’Brien; and Assistant editors Katie Bagley, Tracy Kerr and Paige Taylor.

“We have a big team with each person filling a different role,” he said.

Bumbarger said growing up in Clinton County played a role in his film, too.

“It takes place in a log cabin, it’s my parents house and we decorated it to look more rustic,” he said. “It’s playing off of this woodland location that’s kind of remote. It deals a lot with that kind of imagery and setting.”

And did Bumbarger see himself creating a feature length film before graduation?

“Oh absolutely not. At some point I thought I would but I’m still kind of in shock that we’re actually doing it,” he said. “I definitely could not say see finishing a feature film before I graduated.”

According to Bumbarger, there’s only a month or less left of time needed to shoot the film.

“We’re only a month or less from finishing shooting which has been difficult. It’s an ensemble cast… it takes place at night… it’s been really hard,” he said. “But it looks like everything is going according to plan.”

Once filming is complete, the production aspect begins. Bumbarger intends to complete production while also completing an internship in Los Angelas.

“Starting in January, I got accepted into a program, the Hollywood Program, where me and 10 to 15 Penn State students are going to study in Los Angelas and take an internship in the entertainment industry,” he said. “I hope to get an intership there and hopefully turn that into a career long term.”

To learn more about Bumbargers project, or to contribute visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-deer-in-the-woods-feature-film/x/26889776#/. There you will find the first teaser trailer of the film as well as information on how you can assist in making the film a reality.


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