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Writer/Director Matt Newton and Frank Blackwell of Frank Blackwell Productions prepare to shoot Hide/Seek, a short horror film, in Guilford.

Writer/Director Matt Newton and Frank Blackwell of Frank Blackwell Productions prepare to shoot Hide/Seek, a short horror film, in Guilford. (Photo courtesy of Matt Newton )

Guilford Woods Provide Perfect Set for Horror Film

Published March 22, 2016

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To anyone who finds the woods around your house a bit eerie, the new horror film being shot in Guilford next month is not going to do anything to calm your fears. In the film, Hide/Seek, an outdoor version of the beloved childhood game hide and seek quickly becomes a pulse-pounding nightmare.

The film is the brainchild of acclaimed acting coach Matt Newton, who grew up in Guilford. The project is scheduled to shoot in town from April 4 to 8, and Newton said he is excited to get started.

“I am a big fan of horror films,” he said. “It is a 25-minute short horror film about a young couple who’s innocent fun game of hide and seek turns into an absolute nightmare on the anniversary of the mother’s accidental death.”

Newton, who is the founder of MN Acting studio, has been a professional actor for 15 years and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows including Criminal Minds, Ugly Betty, and Gilmore Girls. As a successful acting coach, Newton has instructed Aziz Ansari on the Netflix show Masters of None and is currently the on-set coach for the CBS series Blue Bloods.

With a long history in the industry under his belt, Newton said he realized he was in the perfect position to tackle a new project.

“I thought to myself, I have this huge network of actors and I know all of these producers and agents and managers and what if I created my own project through my own acting studio in New York City and shot it in my hometown?” he said.

The short film will be Newton’s first project as a writer/director. He said he is ready for the new challenge.

“While yes, I am a little nervous about it, I have essentially been directing actors for five years, pulling performances out of them, so on my end I’m less worried about getting a great performance out of them and more worried about the logistics of a film production,” he said. “But as on-set coach for Blue Bloods, I am able to be right behind the director, the writers, the producer, the show runner, and really get into the details and minutia of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to camera angles and shot set ups.”

When considering locations for the film, Newton said immediately knew Guilford was the right place to shoot the film.

“When this project was coming to fruition, you could either shoot it in New York City and try to find five trees to film around, which is very rare, or we can film in this property that my mom has, which has acres and acres of woods and is the perfect setting for this film,” he said.

Beyond the physical advantages of a Guilford-based set, Newton said he really like the idea of shooting where he grew up.

“I wanted to film in my home town and I wanted it to be in my back yard and I wanted to use people from the community,” he said. “It ended up combining the best of both worlds and seemed like an ideal setting for this horror film.”

Filming is scheduled to being in April, but Newton has been working to bring this project together for a while.

“I got 3,500 actor submissions and I needed to cast four actors, so I went through the entire process,” he said. “It is a small crew. We have about 15 people, so I think we are probably going to bring in two production assistants or interns from the high school. In addition to all this we have launched an [indiegogo.com campaign], a crowd funding campaign, to raise awareness and funds for the film so we are putting that out in the Guilford community.”

Newton said he has been documenting the process of making he film, from the casting to the production to help actors understand the whole process. He said his whole career is based on helping actors and that it is important to shine a light on all aspects of the project.

“This is a project for actors by actors,” he said. “A big part of what I do is educating actors about the business, getting agents, getting their demo reels together, so this is an all encompassing project that is really geared toward helping actors understand what goes into this type of project.”

To learn more about the film or to donate to the project, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hide-seek--5.

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