Four years after graduating from Ithaca College, Sam Patton ’12 returned to the Roy H. Park School of Communications to screen his upcoming horror film and hold a workshop for students.
Patton produced and directed the micro-budget film “Desolation,” which intertwines horror with family drama and grief. The film follows a woman, her son and her best friend as they journey into a remote forest to spread her late husband’s ashes. There, they encounter a hiker with bad intentions. They have to stand their ground to strengthen their relationships and realize that their fears aren’t as big as they once thought.
“Desolation” was shot in 14 days in Utica, N.Y. Patton says he wanted to keep the film small and simple.
“We picked a script with four people in one location — the woods,” said Patton.
Patton’s first foray into professional filmmaking came when he participated in the Golden Doorknob Awards, an annual film competition held by the Park School. He was able to collaborate with some classmates while competing against others, and in the end he took home first prize.
“The particular sense of comradery coupled with competition was a peek at what the real world would be,” Patton said.
Patton got his start working in the film industry during a semester studying at Ithaca College’s Los Angeles program, where he interned at Blumhouse Productions, a company that produces low-budget horror movies. He continued with the company after graduation and worked on films including “The Purge,” “Sinister 2” and “The Call.” He has also worked on the Amazon series “Transparent.” Patton’s short film, “Terms of Service,” won the award for best short film at the 2015 Omaha Film Festival.
In his workshop with students, one of Patton’s biggest pieces of advice was that in filmmaking they need to set tangible goals for their movie in order to measure success. He said that the only way to grow as a filmmaker is to hold yourself accountable, quantify the success of your movie and set your own deadlines.
Patton says he wants students to understand that their life has to revolve around films in order for them to be a successful filmmaker, and that they should never be scared that it’s more than necessary.
“Your job needs to be film, your hobbies need to be film, your social life needs to be film, and you have to put 10,000 hours in,” Patton said. “Don’t be afraid to learn what you don’t know; it can never be too much.”