Former SRJC students will star in the upcoming feature film: “The Haunting of Hype House”.
Two former Santa Rosa Junior College film students will begin producing their first feature film on January 15, thanks to crowdfunding, their SRJC education, and their cinema-obsessed childhood.
Mahlon “Zach” Tracy and Brandon Douglas met in elementary school and both developed a passion for filmmaking, but they spent their childhood doing it alone. Tracy recreated scenes from “Indiana Jones” with legos while Douglas began making videos for his family and friends, charging money for his teenage job.
Although they know each other, Tracy, 24, and Douglas, 27, didn’t work together until Santa Rosa Junior College. Their first collaboration was for a short film, “Resume,” which was filmed by Douglas and starred Tracy. They both spent most of their free time creating or acting in short films, and now they are embarking on their first feature film project.
The crowd-funded project, “The Haunting of Hype House,” is about a guy whose friends like him best when he’s possessed by a ghost. Tracy and Douglas plan to start filming in January.
As a child, Tracy was a fan of “Wallace and Gromit”, and this motivated her to create short films based on claymation. “As long as I was strong enough to hold the camera, I did stuff with friends,” Tracy said, “which is pretty funny because it wasn’t until I got to JC that I really understood, ‘Oh, that’s what I’d like to do.’ ”
Tracy also liked to act in front of the camera.
“I was about 7 and I knew okay Rambo is torn so he has to take his shirt off for the show. He’s a strong guy. So I did that at 7am, like. I was hiding in a TV box and jumping shirtless, without any muscles, but I’m as cool as Rambo now. I am Rambo, ”he said.
In high school, Tracy tried to convince his teachers to let him create videos instead of writing homework, and he didn’t back down to present these videos to the class.
“A lot of the reason I wanted to do it on video wasn’t because I was afraid to present in front of people, but it was because I wanted to make different jokes, like cutaways and things like that, stuff that you can just don’t do in person, ”he said.“ I really like that; my classmates didn’t. They hated it a lot, but it was fun.
For Douglas, creating content was both a hobby and a way to earn money. He bought his parents’ mini DV tape recorder when he was 9 and started making movies at 11.
“I started making video recordings for family and friends and everything in between,” said Douglas, who started getting paid for his work around the age of 14. “And then I realized this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I went to school for it.
Douglas saw going to college for a film degree as an excuse to use class time to make the stuff of his dreams, mostly with a camera in hand.
Writing scripts or using the camera behind the lens is Douglas’ passion. He always pushed at the JC to go out as “out-of-the-box” as possible, even if it was not recommended.
Brian Antonson, Douglas film production instructor at SRJC, advises his filmmaking classes to keep it simple. He tells student producers to make films that are poor in special effects and action sequences.
“So what is Brandon doing?” Said Antonson. “He brings a script for a short film called ‘Reset’ with all the action, all the special effects, and his script was picked to be done in his Media 20 class. And I cautioned him against the rate. of failure to make a short film like this.
But Douglas was up to the challenge. Antonson said Douglas returned with an “incredible shootout short with incredible special effects.”
“And I asked him,” Antonson said. “How did you do that?”
Douglas responded frankly. “She was a whore.”
After SRJC, Douglas transferred to Biola University, where his next big short was his main thesis, “Hexit,” which included Tracy as an actor.
In May 2021, at age three from Biola, Douglas teamed up with high school friend, Sonoma County writer and director, Matthew Farren, 23, on a short called “Johnny,” in which Douglas was starred. director of photography and special effects. .
During production, Farren approached Douglas with an idea for a feature film. The principle: what if your friends love you more when you are possessed by a ghost than when you are not?
It was then that the idea for “The Haunting of Hype House” hatched. It had been in Farren’s head since 2019, but he knew it wasn’t doable because it would take a big budget and a lot of time, so he put it aside. Until now.
Farren is not new to the field of short films. He released a plethora of short films, such as “Cannibal Ken” and “Damien”, which had Douglas as cinematographer, and “Caviar” in 2021 to prepare for his first feature film.
“When I was a kid I remember other kids saying they wanted to be superheroes or astronauts, and I always said I wanted to be an actor because an actor can be all,” said Farren.
When it came time for Farren to assemble a cast for “The Haunting of Hype House”, he knew right away that he wanted Tracy to play the character of Mike.
“I wrote the character of Mike as this very straightforward comedic guy that Tracy is so perfect in as an actress. He’s got a natural knack for it,” he said.
However, the project is still finding its way, as Farren and Douglas have launched a social media campaign to draw attention to a Seed & Spark Project, a fundraising campaign specific to the cinema, to centralize their donations.
Farren and Douglas will co-direct “The Haunting of Hype House” with Farren, Sarah Casey and Ben Danielson on production. Douglas will also be director of photography.
“I want this movie to be made anyway, but I know it would be hugely easier if we had the funding to really push our talents behind the camera by having the right gear, feeding the actors, and having the perfect props for it. the sets, ”Farren said.
The trio can’t wait to start filming in Los Angeles and Sonoma County. Their deadline to fund the project is January 9, 2022, and they are expected to start production on January 15.