Madison, Wisconsin | Film Short

Horror, Thriller

Natalie Pohorski

1 Campaigns | Wisconsin, United States

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This campaign raised $1,152 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Dearest explores the experience of a young woman who is married, isolated, and expecting her first child. She fears what’s growing inside of her, and when strange things begin happening in their home, she has to examine who she is, what her child is, and the nature of her life, in order to survive.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Our crew is 100% made up of women, and our lead actress and multiple crew members are women of color. Our writer/director is a single mom and survivor of relational abuse. Together we're telling an important story of an experience many women face - through a new lens.

The Story

Dearest tells the story of Abby, a young married woman who is expecting her first child. Abby lives an isolated life, writing from home, with a distant relationship with her family. She loves her husband, but she's nervous about the pregnancy and the idea of becoming a mother - unsure about the alien thing living inside of her, and who she will be once it emerges.


Frightening and disturbing events begin happening around Abby in their home as she prepares for the baby, and at the same time, her husband grows distant. Abby is left desperately looking for answers, not knowing where to turn, as her due date rapidly approaches. 


The scariest things that happen in life are the things we do to each other. That's why we want to tell this story through a horror lens - with which many women will be able to relate. Film is at its most powerful when it can tell you something true and meaningful in an unusual way. And while so many of our real-life stories remain bound in isolation by the feeling that no one else can relate, it is crucial that our darkest experiences and thoughts are shared. 

As a team, we value the experiences and voices of women, and in particular Black women, so we made the choice to find a dark-skinned Black woman as our lead actor, and to seek out diverse women for behind the camera as well, with a completely female crew.


The people who tell our stories and who we see on film has begun to change, but it still has a long way to go. Dearest is the latest in Braindead Productions' efforts, and Sudden Gale Films' maiden voyage, in focusing on inclusivity and diversity in the stories that we tell. 

We believe that the art we make should always improve the world in some way. Join us on this journey.



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Film Festival Submissions

Costs $100

There are 4 festivals in we would like to submit to.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $250

A well-fed crew is a happy crew!

SFX Makeup

Costs $250

- Creature makeup - Gallons of fake blood FX are all practical. This money will go towards supplies!

Location Rental

Costs $100

We are able to use our main location for free, but will likely need to rent an additional space.


Costs $200

Several props are needed including a pregnant belly and all kinds of baby items.

Travel Expenses

Costs $250

Our actors are both traveling and we would like to give them something for travel.

About This Team

Megan Mercier, writer and director of Dearest, lives and is raising her two daughters in Madison, Wisconsin. Her experience is in writing horror, fantasy, and non-fiction, practicing holistic trauma healing, and speaking and advocating on issues surrounding abusive relationships. Her favorite horror film is The Ritual.


Natalie Pohorski, producer of Dearest, is a freelance film producer and film advocate in Madison, Wisconsin. She has produced several short films and feature films; horror being her genre of choice. She is excited to be working on her first project entirely created by women. Her favorite horror movies are the Friday the 13th franchise and Giallo films.


Emma Siewert is the DP and editor of Dearest and is also based in Madison. She signed onto this project because she loves collaborating with other local filmmakers. When she heard Megan was striving for an all female crew, she couldn't pass on the opportunity. Her experience includes working in promotions, video/film production and post production. Her favorite horror movie is IT. 


Autumn Maria Reed is a composer from Madison. She has composed music Milwaukee's The License Lab and Madison's Kathie Rasmussen Women's Theatre. She's hoping to compose more for film and television and wants to incorporate music, comedy, and mental health education in her future career endeavors. Her favorite horror/thriller film is Us (2019) by Jordan Peele.


Jay Winters (Abby) is an actress and filmmaker. She has studied acting for stage and on camera at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and actors craft. Her previous film/on camera performances include “A Lark and a swallow” and “Fundamentals of Art." She's excited to be in front of the screen again, but for the first time playing in a thriller. Her favorite Thriller/horror movies are Alien and The Exorcist.


Lauren Barker is a writer and director from Madison. After earning a B.A. in English (with a Theatre minor) from Winona State University, she attended Vancouver Film School's screenwriting program and graduated with honors. Lauren's films have screened around the world. She enjoys stories that inspire social change or character-driven pieces about exploring and facing one's own emotions. When not creating her own projects, Lauren works as a camera assistant. She also enjoys yoga and will read pretty much anything.


Maya Weatherall, production assistant, is based in Madison. She signed onto this film to enhance her resume with more film content. Her end goal is to be a film director and screenwriter. Maya created her own short documentary and has her own YouTube channel. Her favorite horror movies are the Grudge 1-3. 

Erica Engebreth is an artist/production designer based in Madison. Erica loves a creative challenge and supporting others in their craft so this project was right her alley. She has worked on TV commercials, dramatic shorts, documentaries and other horror films in the past. When she's not on set you can catch her creating and selling paintings and epoxy art or doing production design for events. She enjoys making horror films more than watching them, but her favorite is probably The Evil Dead.


Co-owner of Madison, WI based recording studio, Audio for the Arts, Audrey Martinovich is excited to be the Sound Designer for Dearest! A lover of both horror movies and female empowerment projects, Audrey didn't think twice before jumping at the chance to be involved. Her experience ranges from recording classical ensembles to producing podcasts and creating sound effects. Audrey's favorite horror film is Cabin in the Woods for it's blend of horror and humor, her two favorite genres. Audrey is a Warm Audio artist.


Current Team