A Yale professor will rise from the grave this Halloween, to re-live his “bright college years.”
After a year of filming and production, “Bright College Years,” a 35-minute horror film, came to life at its first premiere Thursday night in the Jonathan Edwards College Theater. The film will also be screened on Friday and Saturday as part of this week’s Halloween festivities.
Directed by Zach Groff ’13 and produced by Katherine Nelson ’13, “Bright College Years” tells the tale of a girl who is being stalked by a dead professor. In her search for help, she and her boyfriend try to find a professor of paranormal psychology to help them escape the menace.
“Part of my vision for the project was to have it make use of Yale’s mythology, to basically take advantage of the ‘Yale as Hogwarts’ notion,” Groff said.
Groff said the idea to produce a scary movie was inspired by “Drag Me to Hell,” a 2009 horror film directed by Sam Raimi. Groff, who has also been involved with theater, said he has been making a movie every year since tenth grade, although they have always been short films. After arriving at Yale, Groff decided to focus on film rather than theater, and began thinking of ideas for a longer piece.
“I thought it would be really fun to work on a movie with some of those ‘gotcha moments,’” he said. “I also saw it as an opportunity to tell a story the way I like to tell it: with black humor, a creepy atmosphere and disturbing the audience at times.”
Before Groff assembled his cast and crew, “Bright College Years” was little more than an idea. Groff did not begin to write the script until just before winter break last year, after he had determined whom he was going to be working with.
Charlie Polinger ’13, one of the cast members, said at the time many of the actors were also busy with other shows, and therefore filming had to be spread out. Nevertheless, some shots were filmed approximately 50 times, he added.
“Zach was particular about how he wants it,” Polinger said. “We had a lot of fun working on it.”
Most of the filming took place at Sterling Memorial Library as well the Haas Arts Library. Groff said he wanted the filming to take place in early spring while the trees were still barren and when it wasn’t too cold, but most of the indoor scenes were filmed during the winter.
“It’s definitely been a long project,” said Laura Tunbridge ’13, the assistant director. ”We all worked really hard.”
Tunbridge said the biggest challenge was the make up. Nelson added that most of the budget went towards make-up products. The make-up designer, Michael Sarnoski ’10, also worked on the Yale Zombie Project, another horror film which came out last semester.
Groff edited the film over the summer before handing it over to Andi Zhou ’13, who added the scores.
“Bright College Years” was awarded a Sudler Grant in order to fund production.