BY HALEY WARMSLEY
AND JEFFREY WATSON
MEDIA WRITING REPORTERS
Face Down takes on the challenge of capturing the thrill, suspense and humor of a comedy-style murder-mystery in 10 minutes.
Over the last year, Director Kayden Vasques, a sophomore from Wichita Falls, and Producer Ryland Mallett, a sophomore from Arlington, and their team have been working on a short film that Mallet calls “deceivingly overdramatic.”
“Face Down, at its core, is just a fun time,” Vasques said.
The film surrounds six characters. The most notable are Dean, played by Carl Kimbrough, senior musical theatre major from Marietta, Georgia; and Oliver, played by Hayden Casey, senior acting and directing major from Grapevine,.
Dean, the new guy in the friend group, narrates for the audience. Oliver serves as a detective of sorts, asking the questions as the group tries to solve the mystery.
Mallet said the most fun character in the film is Xavier, played by Ryan Chu. Jokingly, Xavier’s character was pitched early in the writing process as a character with an odd obsession with birds.
“Somehow he made it into the final thing,” Mallett said.
The other three characters are Kate, Megan and Paige, played by Chloe Munson, Gabriella Lopez and Katelyn Graham.
The biggest challenge for this group was trying to coordinate schedules in the midst of a pandemic.
“We would make plans, then one person would get COVID or thought they had COVID and we had to cancel,” Mallett said.
Eventually, the group decided to shoot the film frame by frame, based on actor availability, which resulted in a lot of editing work and required the actors to pick up scenes at the drop of a hat.
“We’ve learned a ton through the whole thing . . . like it may be easier to not have six characters in a 10-minute short film,” Mallett said.
The team’s leaders also said they have learned to set expectations more clearly manage a project of this scale– a hint back to those complications of scheduling.
Inspiration for Face Down came from parodying social deduction games, such as Werewolf, Coup, and Among Us. The film evolved from there into the comedy-style murder-mystery it is now.
“Taking a wacky offhand joke and figuring out what we can do with this, you know, and it’s actually a lot of fun,” Vasques said.
Vasques and Mallet both said winning the People’s Choice Award and Written By Awards would be a great honor. However, their goal was to create a fun and engaging movie that the audience enjoys watching, and they believe did just that.
“I hope the audience will, you know, have as much appreciation for it as we do,” Vasques said.
Crew/cast: Ryland Mallett, producer, writer, sound designer, production designer; Kaden Vasquez, director, writer, cinematographer, editor, sound designer; J.C. Gambill, composer; Jonah Norcross, sound designer, on-set staff; Isabella Birsinger, production designer, on-set staff; Carl Kimbrough, actor; Hayden Casey, actor; Chloe Munson, actress; Gabriella Lopez, actress; Ryan Chu, actor; Katelyn Graham, actress; Dawson Cate, on-set staff; Rylee Spaulding, on-set staff; Olivia Peters, on-set staff.