SHORTCUT is a feature film that is written and produced by Scott Sandler for Happy Madison, a branch of the Adam Sandler companies, and is directed by Nicholaus Goosen, a long-time associate of the company. The film, a teen-horror genre story about a creepy guy living deep in the woods, was written to take place in Scott Sandler’s home state of New Hampshire, with its dense forests and rolling hills, and century-old farmhouses. However, it was shot in and around Regina, Saskatchewan, which is mostly flat, surrounded by wheat fields and lots of big sky.
Finding a cluster of trees that one could believe to be a forest, and a farmhouse with enough character to have a believably creepy history were the primary challenges on this project. With most of the forest scenes playing at night, a government-run tree farm effectively stood in for the dense and scary woods.
As is illustrated in the accompanying photos, our Farmhouse Exterior location was a 1960’s basic bungalow and the film included scenes set from 1940 to 2009. To lend the Farmhouse greater character and credibility for the flashback segments I designed an extensive, 2-sided retrofit shell. This particular location had been chosen because of its surrounding yard with an impressive and old-style Gambrel-roofed barn and a fringe of trees (aka ‘woods’). The interior of this location was small and cramped thus the next challenge was finding a separate Farmhouse Interior that could be retrofitted to believably exist inside our Exterior.The interior Farmhouse scenes also take place in the 40’s and 50’s and the photos illustrate the transformations that we made.
The basement dungeon, which housed the villain and supposedly in the lower depths of said farmhouse became a studio set, built into the corner of a hockey arena close to our Exterior Forest location.
The design prep on The Shortcut was 6 weeks I was fortunate to find a skilled and hard-working local team to help realize the project. There were other locations on the film yet the 2 Farmhouse locations and the Dungeon stand out as by far the most interesting and satisfying design accomplishments on the film, and were central to the story-telling as well.