USC alumna helms ambitious found-footage horror film

USC alumna Summer Moore wrote, produced and stars in 2015 found-footage horror flick The Warning, a tale of an ambitious young woman who becomes trapped in the dangerous world of the occult.

The plot follows Taylor Skye (Moore), a journalist seeking to get ahead in the competitive business of the TV world. While investigating a local myth surrounding the occult and several missing people, she finds herself becoming the victim at the hands of satanic individuals. Despite the thrilling plot line, the heroine proved close to home for this USC alumna.

For Moore, Skye’s character seemed to be an easy adaptation.

“She’s a strong-willed and opinionated woman — very much like me,” she said.

Moore describes how this found — footage film proved to be very different from other types of filming styles she has worked with before. For actors, found footage presents an elevated challenge since scenes have to be shot from beginning to end with no mistakes, says Moore. In traditional filming, you have more liberty to edit around “mess ups,” but this style doesn’t allow for extensive editing within the scenes without breaking the illusion of the found footage. This means that the actors have to be focused and on their game through every shot.

Not only was the filming different, but the story is based on actual events that happened in “the occult capital of the western world,” according to Moore.

“This was probably my favorite part of the film, that we were working around some very real situations, things that actually happened to people,” she said.

Moore also loved shooting on location in Colorado, where she grew up and a place close to her heart.

Moore not only starred in the film, she also wrote and produced the entire feature on her own, but she said that creating the film was no easy feat.

“I now know never to produce a full feature by myself again,” she said.

She also learned about the importance of budget in filming. The Warning was a micro-budget film that Moore said taught her a lot about being resourceful while under budget constraints. With no funds to pay others to do many of the jobs, Moore took on the responsibility of not only the huge workload of actress, producer and writer, but also sound design, location scouting and casting. This knowledge of finances and production, Moore said, will make her future work in a studio or projects with many people, an easier process, though she admitted she is used to doing everything by herself.

Despite her long career in the entertainment industry, Moore wasn’t always prepared for the challenges.

“Many people don’t understand all the work that goes into being a producer. I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into,” Moore said.

Despite the obvious challenges of such an ambitious endeavor, Moore said she appreciated working on the project. Moore said her knowledge of the difficulty of the entertainment industry has inspired her to help students and unknown talent reach their career goals.

In addition to producing and directing The Warning, she also has extensive experience within the entertainment industry. She has written and produced several other projects such as short films such as the Karma of Happiness and Peace and Quiet. On top of these credits, she is in the process of writing and publishing a book.

As an USC alumna, Moore attributes some of her success to USC and the connections the school provided for her. She said she has landed jobs on commercials simply because she was a USC alumna. Being part of the Trojan family also helped her early on when she took classes through the theater program.

“I remember taking a dialect class and an Auditioning for the Camera class, which was really helpful since auditioning for theater and film is a very different process,” she said.

In May, the USC Alumni Association will host a screening of her film — an event that Moore notes as continued support from the Trojan family.

“USC is an awesome school and I am so proud that I am still a part of it,” she said.