Written By Emily Peacock
“Out In The Woods” is an independent short film that is a fantasy/horror genre made in 2018, by French filmmaker Simon Doutreleau. The film was inspired by the world- renowned novel, “Pet Sematary,” (1983) by Stephen King. It follows the lives of two parents (Louise and Anna Spencer) after the death of their son, Thomas. Both parents are struck by grief after their son’s passing and are desperate to fill the void they are feeling in their hearts. The father is tempted by an ever-present darkness that is pushing him to take extreme measures to bring his son back. The film is exciting, eerie, and enchanting.
The screenplay took over one year to write by Doutreleau, who was a student at the time. The goal was to produce “Out In The Woods” with his university, ESRA in collab with Stonestreet Studio, but, “it got rejected by the school, they said it was ‘too ambitious’ of a film for a student,” relays Doutreleau. So, he waited until he graduated to put his film into motion. It took almost two months for Doutreleau and his team (a mix of French exchange students and American production professionals) to get everything together to start filming. They managed to find an isolated house in Connecticut that had the right spooky surrounding forest to shoot at. Quickly after finding the perfect location, actors were gathered by Doutreleau via backstage.com with the help of his casting director, Marvin Zana and line producer, Nicholas Thau. Props were homemade by Nahema Hafiane (art director) and rented from State Supply.
After renting the equipment from ARRI Rental, shooting began. Included in their equipment was one ARRI Amira camera, one jib arm, tracks, SkyPanels, and a lot of other lighting materials. They had the house they were filming in and the neighboring house where they got to sleep during the ten days that they were filming. The locations included a cemetery, a church and its basement, the Connecticut house, and the surrounding forest, all of which reside in the small town of Sharon, Connecticut. The director of photography, Julien Grandjean, is spoken highly of by Doutreleau, who says the picture would not have been the same without Julien. The team of 25 would average a good 12 hours of work each day, sometimes they worked “way more than 12 hours” if they had a particularly difficult scene, says Doutreleau. The special FX were a big part of production, as there had to be the illusion of rotting skin and demonized hands in the film.
These looks were achieved by Evilise Martinez.
Finally, after all the scenes were recorded and equipment had been returned, post-production could begin. Many scenes incorporated special effects. The music was carefully chosen. The abundance of shots was reduced to 130 scenes, which make up a total of 24 minutes and 59 seconds. The editing began in May of 2018 and was finished in November of 2018. The post-production was the most difficult part of the making of this film, as part of the team had to return to France and others stayed in New York. One of those editors being Yann Brogard, who oversaw communications between the people in France and America. I got to speak to Brogard, he says, “finding the balance between doing what was best artistically for the project and getting it done in time was quite an achievement for everyone involved in post-production.” Files were sent back and forth to be looked over and changed for months, but the end product was worth it. Doutreleau says that the team became a family on set, and they all enjoyed the work so much that it was almost as though it wasn’t even work at all.
“Out In The Woods” is an exceptional short film with a stellar storyline. The scenes flow smoothly. The special effects are incredibly well done. (The demon hands look exceedingly life-like!) I was on the edge of my seat watching this movie play out, and I am sure the people that will be seeing its debut at the Chile Film Festival (FIXION Fest, Fantastic & Horror Film Fest, Santiago, Chile) will be at the edges of the theirs, too. You can watch the trailer for “Out In The Woods” here (see below).
Written and Directed by Simon Doutreleau
Producer Olivier Doutreleau Valérie Doutreleau
Line Producer Nicolas Thau
Unit Production Manager Joseph Gonzalez
Location Manager Diana Benson
Director of Photography Julien Grandjean
Camera Operators Julien Grandjean / Thomas Desmedt
First Assistant Operator Agathe Denis
Second Assistant Operator Yann Brogard
Gaffer Richard Ducros
Key Grip Léo Galtier
Art Director Nahéma Hafiane
Assistant to the Art Director Jean Charles Gaignant
Props Master Nahéma Hafiane
Props Assistant Jean Charles Gaignant
Script Girl Eva Breysse
First Assistant Director Paloma Amadeï
Second Assistant Director Harry Georges Walters
Sound Engineer Adrien Halfon
Boom Operator Julien Laborie
Makeup Artist Evilise Martinez
Editor Yann Brogard
Music by Alexandre Méaux
Sound Editor Fabien Lagarrigue
Sound Designer Damien Drouillard
Sound Mixer Fabien Lagarrigue / Damien Drouillard
Sound Recorder Julien Laborie
Color Grading Tristan Westeel / Julien Grandjean
Title Paul Jouchet
Poster Designer Kévin Mokhovski
Special Effects Yann Brogard
Mastering Yann Brogard
Emily Peacock is a student at the New York Institute of Technology, studying global and electronic journalism with a minor in culture and literature. She has a passion for traveling and the arts, as well as spreading information. Her dream job is writing about intercultural communications across the globe. (www.toreadwithcoffee.com)