Stranded, alone and stuck in a forest injured is where East Carolina University alumnus Denver Hollingsworth’s short film, “Deserted,” picks up.
Hollingsworth, the director, screenwriter and producer, set his film at the end of the American Civil War. Two brothers have deserted their post, one of whom is injured, and are stuck in an abandoned cabin in the woods. The two must survive, but the question is, are the threats they seek to escape from external or internal?
“Two soldiers desert and take refuge in an abandoned cabin,” Hollingsworth said. “Soon, they realize it’s not as safe as they originally think. The viewer begins to wonder what they are really in danger from.”
Hollingsworth graduated from ECU in 2015, but still continues to support his fellow students by pulling a majority of his cast and crew from ECU’s School of Theatre and Dance. Donald Sutton, a senior in the SOTD, was cast as the lead in this film, along side junior Grant Vandervoort.
Sutton said the shoot was one of the best experiences he has ever had. Only taking 24 hours to film, on what Sutton referred to as “the coldest day of 2017,” most of the shoot took place at a cabin in Wilmington, North Carolina, which Hollingsworth’s family owns. With a small crew of only eight people, it was an all around fun group that meshed well, according to both Sutton and Hollingsworth. Sutton said his character Robert is more than meets the eye.
“He’s a very troubled confederate soldier,” Sutton said. “He has abandoned his country, per se, and is having to deal with the consequences of that decision. Overall, he’s just a very scared man. As you watch, you begin to understand why he felt like he had to run. Without giving anything away, all I can say is that there are a lot of super unexpected twists and turns.”
Hollingsworth said his inspiration for the film was simple. He always wanted to do a period film, particularly one set during the Civil War, and while he wouldn’t consider himself a history buff, he said he is fascinated by that period of time and is really happy how the portrayal of the era came across.
Currently in post-production, the short film is expected to finish in the next two months with no set release date yet. Two trailers have been released so far, and Hollingsworth said he can already tell it is going to be a great finished product and primed for film festivals.
Hollingsworth hopes when audiences see his film they are entertained and feel transported back to the 1860s. Inspired by the film “The Others,” he said he often finds inspiration in thrillers.
Cinematographer of the film Stephen Brian said working with Hollingsworth was one of the best professional experiences he ever had. Creatively, Hollingsworth came in with a very clear vision of what he wanted, according to Brian.
“Denver is one of the most organized people I’ve met,” Brian said. “He came in with a very clear list of shots that he wanted to get, and it made the process that much smoother to work with him. We got some great shots, and everything I’ve seen so far has looked really good.”