A Boy and His Robot

TRG’s Bridget Rehner was recently listening to Studio 360 on WNYC (an affiliate of PRI) during their segment called “Extra Credit.” On this particular episode, she serendipitously heard them talking about their newest contest called “Wes Craven Presents Studio 360’s Scary Short-Film Fest.” The premise: create a 30-second horror film containing the theme “young genius” that will dazzle Wes Craven (of Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream Fame), the head judge of the contest. Rehner decided to present the idea to the TRG team, and before long a plan was created to submit their own short thriller.

Fast forward a couple of days to the brainstorming session where Rehner, who would be taking on the roll of Producer, met with Tim Smith (Director/Camera Operator), Thomas Cook (Director of Photography), Adam Wilde (Assistant DP) and Bobby Dorrance (Editor/Colorist). They each presented their ideas, and in a truly collaborative effort, took bits and pieces from everyone’s suggestions to solidify the final concept. Within days, storyboards were drawn up and the cast was set. The crew was working on a tight schedule, so there was no time delay.

They spent only two days filming their brief scenes. TRG Marketing Specialist Mandy Ferrato played the roll of the tortured babysitter whose scene was shot in the empty (and creepy) construction site in the CGI section of the studio that is being remodeled. After having red-dyed Karo syrup poured all over her, Ferrato screamed and clawed her way into her acting debut. “I said I would help; little did I know what that would involve,” laughed Ferrato. Director Smith had to fess up: “We sort of volunteered her.” “But I did have fun!” said Ferrato.

A scene from TRG Reality's short horror film "A Boy and His Robot."

Just two days later the scene for the “young genius” himself was shot, starring 7-year old Catcher Sawyer. The part of the troubled boy was hardly any trouble for this young veteran who also starred in Great Lakes Theatre’s A Christmas Carol this past holiday season playing the roll ofTinyTim. For his roll in the short, Sawyer created his own character name, Steve. “He only wanted to be called by his character’s name the entire time we were shooting,” Smith commented. Playing the voice of Steve’s mother was Susan Sivic.

From the planning and the casting, to the building of robot arms and the purchasing pantyhose (both courtesy of Cook), to the editing and the submission, the crew spent roughly 20 hours putting together a 30-second film. And though they were one of over 300 submissions to the contest, Wes Craven chose “A Boy and His Robot” as top 3. Craven commented on the show that the film was “Chilling, economical, and well done.” Studio 360 host Kurt Anderson chose the film as his top pick, and the Studio 360 staff pegged it as one of their choices for their own Top 10. “It was really cool to hear them talking about it on the radio,” said Cook. “Yeah,” agreed Rehner, “it was really awesome hearing Wes Craven talk about it!”

Smith and the entire cast and crew would like to congratulate all of the filmmakers on their frighteningly excellent work. To listen to Wes Craven and Kurt Anderson discuss their favorites and announce the winners, click here.