LARNED — The Santa Fe Trail Center will be home to a movie shoot directed by a University of Kansas graduate.
Teresa Sutherland will return to Kansas after Thanksgiving to start a two-week trip to produce “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 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.
“Last Winter” takes place in a cabin on the Kansas frontier in the 1860. 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.
“I wanted a fairly flat locale where we could get the landscape frame to show the movie,” she said. “I wanted to showcase how beautiful Kansas is. The sky is different. I wanted to do a movie that had a different look than what we’ve been doing.”
The storyline traces a husband and wife, who must overcome her pyschological fear when she is left alone. A third character is a marshall. The fierce wind is portrayed as a “monster,” in the movie.
“I’m attracted to psychological scary things and I wanted to paint the scene somewhere in the plains or Flinthills,” she said. “I’d love for the wind to be blowing sometime when we’re filming. Everyone is really excited to travel to Kansas because several students have never been there before.”
Sutherland will be joined by cinematographer Ray Langridge and production designer Josh Crute to prepare for the shoot in Larned before the crew arrives. The group must line items necessary for the shoot. The rest of the crew will arrive about Dec. 4. The producer is Kelly Poor. The setup crew will take camera tests and develop the exact places where they will shoot the movie.
Allison Horach has been cast as the wife, but Sutherland is still working on casting her two other characters. She 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.
Students have never traveled several hundred miles to shoot a movie.
“We had to ask for permission from our department at Florida State to go this far away and when we got permission it was like — okay, what’s next?” Sutherland said. “Everything I’m doing is a great learning experience.”
Each FSU graduate student must develop a movie idea as a director and other students serve in other capacities, such as producer, production designer, actors and cinematographer. Students learn other various aspects of filmaking while helping with other projects.
Peter Jasso, director of the Kansas Film Commission, contacted Courtland Holman, Larned Chamber director, about the film project and their potential needs.
“This is a great way to promote rural Kansas communities like Larned,” Holman said.