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Student-Made Film Celebrates Passion For Horror Films

Happy Valley cinema fans will soon have a new must-watch added to their lists — one that was made by Penn State students.

Wyatt Bumbarger is the writer and director of “A Deer In The Woods,” a student-made horror film that is currently in development. Bumbarger is a fifth-year at Penn State who has taken an interesting path to get where he is today.

“I started out as a business major, but I’ve always had a passion for film and loved doing creative writing,” Bumbarger said. “I decided it was time for me to double major incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship and film production because it got to a point where I started enjoying my communications classes more than my business ones.”

Bumbarger says that while he has always enjoyed films from all eras and genres, that he wasn’t a big horror movie fan.

“At a certain age, I was scared of horror movies. But I grew to love how suspenseful, thrilling, and comedic they were,” Bumbarger said. “Some members of our cast still don’t watch horror movies.”

The film draws on inspiration from three of Bumbarger’s favorite horror movies of all time.

“Definitely ‘Evil Dead’ from 1981 and ‘Scream.’ I liked ‘Scream’ because it has such a good mix of satire and dark comedy that I tried to put in our movie,” Bumbarger said. “I think the scariest movie I’ve ever watched is ‘Hereditary.’ I was like, traumatized, the first time that I watched it, but I like how it has that effect on people.”

Bumbarger heads a cast and crew consisting of 20 Penn State students. He already had a cast from a short film that he had hoped to produce last spring but couldn’t due to the ongoing pandemic.

“I really wanted to still make a movie, so I started writing a new 120-page script just to show everyone that I was committed to the project,” Bumbarger said. “For about a week, I was writing and editing it for about four hours every night.”

The film is about a group of amateur film students who are trying to make a horror movie but soon come to realize that they are in one.

“It’s a layered story, and I thought it would be neat to draw upon what we are already doing for inspiration,” Bumbarger said.

The film is being shot at Bumbarger’s parents’ cabin outside of State College. The crew has to rush during production because they film only at night.

“It’s a lot of work and late nights but it’s so worth it to see everyone have fun and do great work,” Bumbarger said. “There has been plenty of cast and crew parties and laughs. You know, when someone breaks character and can’t stop laughing.”

The crew hopes to get the film screened at local places and film festivals in and around State College. Bumbarger says that the hardest part about making the film is funding it.

“My biggest goal is to get it showcased and get the crew rewarded with some recognition for all of their hard work,” Bumbarger said. “We’ve recently set up a crowd-fund page to try and offset some of the costs.”

The unofficial release date for “A Deer In The Woods” is in either late April or early May. Those wishing to contribute to the film can do so here. J

ust Tuesday, the crew released the first teaser trailer for the film. You can stay updated on the film and meet different cast and crew members on their Instagram page.

As for Bumbarger, he says that he plans to pursue a career in the film industry upon graduation.

“I was accepted to the Hollywood Program in the College of Communications, and I’m really excited to learn. I think there are so many opportunities in film that I will pursue,” he said.

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About the Author

Jordan Mansberger

Jordan Mansberger is a senior at Penn State majoring in broadcast journalism. He is from Cassville, Pennsylvania. He is a huge Pittsburgh sports fan as well as his Denver Nuggets. When he's not working, he can be found instigating Twitter beef with Padres fans and Antonio Brown or practicing his sub-par golf game.

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