By Jim Misunas
LARNED — The preliminary work by a trio of film students at Florida State University has gone well.
Teresa Sutherland is directing “Last Winter,” a thesis movie that is being produced by students from the Florida State University film department. Sutherland, a native of Diamond, Mo., graduated from the University of Kansas in 2009 before entering the two-year graduate program at Florida State. Her husband, Elliott Sutherland graduated from Kansas State University and worked for The Ottawa Herald.
Sutherland was joined by cinematographer Ray Langridge and production designer Josh Crute on the preparation that started Friday and ended Monday. They drove more than 1,200 miles from Florida to Kansas City en route to Larned.
“Our time here setting up has been valuable,” Sutherland said. “It’s important to get things set up properly when everyone else arrives in December. You want to be well organized.”
Langridge prepared camera tests and developed the exact places where he will shoot the movie.
“I’ve looked at which angles work best and what direction we need to shoot,” he said. “It’s important to look at sunsets and sunrises and see what looks the best.”
A sodhouse at the Santa Fe Trail Center will be the backdrop for “Last Winter,” which takes place in a cabin on the Kansas frontier in the 1860. The sodhouse was chosen over a recently-completed log cabin at the Santa Fe Trail Center.
“The sodhouse has more space,” Sutherland said. “Once we saw it, we knew it would work perfectly with what we’re planning to do.”
Crute’s job has been contacting local antique shops to gather up background items for the movie. It’s requires time on the phone and trading contact information through e-mail.
“The people in Kansas have been extremely helpful,” Crute said. “Everyone we’ve met has been very friendly and willing to help us.”
The storyline traces a husband and wife, who must overcome her psychological fear when she is left alone. A third character is a marshall. The fierce wind is portrayed as a “monster,” in the movie.
Sutherland has received auditions through various means, including contact through theater groups in Great Bend and Dodge City and interviews on Skype. Several people have sent auditions tapes.
Sutherland has chosen Rick Tamblyn of Kansas City, Mo., to be the marshall in “Last Winter.” Sutherland said Tamblyn has a wide range of experience. He sent an audition video that Sutherland liked. Allison Horach has been cast as the wife.
Filming is scheduled to take place from Dec. 6 to 12. Sutherland did research on various locations before a contact with Ruth Peters of the Sante Fe Trail Center convinced her to film in Pawnee County. Sutherland wanted a landscape that fit with the movie.
Each FSU graduate student must develop a movie idea as a director and other students serve in other capacities to learn various aspects of film making.