Burlington, Vermont | Film Short

Drama, Horror

Sarah Wisner

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $20,590 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

279 supporters | followers

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In 19th century Vermont, Ruth and her aging parents struggle to survive the harsh winter. They concoct an ancient remedy, a potion that allows her parents to sleep through the winter months in a state of frozen animation, but an early thaw brings horrifying results…

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

THE THAW is a women-driven story that depicts the need to stand up to man’s insatiable hunger for resources. Our commitment to these stories extends behind the camera and we are so excited to bring this story to life with female department heads and crew members at every stage of production.

The Story

The Story

Late 19th century in the challenging Vermont hills. Ruth and her aging parents struggle to subsist on a failing farm after Ruth is abandoned by an unfaithful husband. They turn to a remedy as old as the hills, a potion that allows the elderly and infirm to sleep out the winter months while frozen and packed in snow, to be safely revived in the spring. Ruth faces the prospect of surviving the winter on her own. When a storm blows in an early thaw, the ritual is broken and the sleepers wake too soon, awakening a monstrous appetite in Ruth's father. Will Ruth be able to do what it takes to survive?








This story is inspired by an old Vermont folk legend - widely believed rumors about struggling hill farmers relying on just such a potion to make it through the winter months with too few resources. We are so fascinated by this idea and we want to take it one step further into the world of folk horror.



A Modern-Day Fable

What if the old ways just aren't working anymore?

What are you willing to sacrifice to protect your future?


This might be a period piece, but we think these questions couldn't be more urgent.


THE THAW mirrors our society's current path to potential destruction. We watch helplessly as those in power strip our planet of the resources humanity needs to survive. For us, this is an incredibly important story to tell. When Ruth is faced with death she must choose whether she can stand up to her insatiable father. She represents our need to stand up to the powerful in order to preserve human life.



Black and White to accentuate the stark and barren beauty of true Vermont winter, the deep shadows of the cabin interior and the glowing white of pristine snow


4:3 Aspect Ratio to capture the height of the surrounding woods and the paradoxical claustrophobia of isolation


Wide Shots to emphasize the danger of the environment encompassing and bearing down on Ruth


Static Shots & Slow Dollies as Ruth is stuck in place while the danger grows


Natural Lighting and Historic Locations to preserve and highlight the primitive period setting



Where The Funding Goes

THE THAW is an ambitious short. It will require period-appropriate locations, costumes, and props, as well as large scale transportation, lodging, premier equipment, a 5-day shoot schedule, and extensive post-production work. Our previous two films were self-funded with largely volunteer labor.  This campaign will go towards every stage of production, but most importantly, this funding will compensate our incredible cast and crew for their time, effort, and outstanding skill.


Following production, THE THAW will be expanded into a feature-length screenplay, and down the line we hope to bring you a feature film. This is your chance to be a part of the birth of a story that will hopefully take on a life of its own and continue to grow for years to come.  



How You Can Help

If you’re interested in THE THAW and financially able, you can contribute to our campaign. We have a combination of fun and practical perks at multiple price points, including a competition to see if you’d rather receive creative notes from Sarah or Sean.


Please share THE THAW’s Seed and Spark campaign with anyone you think would be interested through email, social media, or any medium you see fit. We are committed to growing the filmmaking community and we are so excited for you to be part of the team behind THE THAW.



Community & Sustainability

It is our goal to ensure this film has the smallest possible environmental footprint through the following measures:

  • Purchase of carbon credits to offset travel as budget allows
  • Reusable dining service and composting food waste
  • Coordinating with local community to build positive ongoing relationships


Recognition for THE THAW

Screencraft Film Fund Finalist



Recognition for WATER HORSE


Visit for more!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Cast & Crew

Costs $7,800

Compensation for our team’s time & skill!


Costs $5,000

Lights, camera, action!

Production Design

Costs $1,250

19th C props & costumes, practical effects.


Costs $1,000

Our characters go hungry, not our crew!

Post Production

Costs $4,500

Professional color, sound, music, effects.


Costs $500

19th C family homestead.


Costs $600

Help the team rest up & get warm!

Travel & Transport

Costs $1,850

Help bring crew & equipment to rural Vermont!

Film Festival Submissions

Costs $500

Covers ~10 submissions. Help bring the film to audiences across the country!


Costs $2,000

Help us protect every one & every thing.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Sarah Wisner, writer/director, & Sean Temple, director



Sarah Wisner and Sean Temple are a writing and directing team committed to telling character-driven stories with personal and socially-conscious themes within genre filmmaking. They believe that the horror genre is an invaluable entry point to exploring the human psyche and social condition, and that horror is most effective when it achieves high levels of audience engagement and identification.  Wisner and Temple use subtlety and nuance to invite their audiences to derive their own layers of meaning from their thoughtfully composed visuals.

Wisner received her BA with Honors in English Literature from Smith College and her MFA in Film from Boston University. Temple received his BS in Cinema Production from Ithaca College and his MFA in Media Arts from Emerson College. They reside in Los Angeles.


Emily Bennett, RUTH



Bennett is an Award Winning Actress known for her work on NBC’s “The Blacklist”, “Chicago Fire”, “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Justice” and indie feature films such as KING OF KNIVES, THE GROUNDSKEEPER, and RESURRECTING MCGINNS. Her writing/directing work includes the award winning short films LVRS, CHAT ROOM, and the upcoming horror short SMILE FOR ME. Bennett is head writer for the upcoming horror anthology series SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET. She is currently developing a horror feature screenplay with writing partner Sonny Mallhi at Blumhouse Productions. Bennett studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (3 year program) in London.


Mia Cioffi Henry, cinematographer 



Mia Cioffi Henry is an American cinematographer who lives and works between New York City and Pescara, Italy. She travels all over the world to shoot films, commercials and music videos which have premiered in major film festivals such as Sundance and Berlinale. With a background in dance and still photography, Ms. Cioffi Henry is inspired by Sirkian Melodrama, the world of William Eggleston and fantastical light in everyday life.


Ms. Cioffi Henry received her MFA in Cinematography at NYU Tisch as a Dean’s Fellow and Production Associate. She is the recipient of the Nestor Almendros Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, a finalist for the ARRI Volker Bahnemann Award and winner of the Best Cinematography Award sponsored by Canon at the Fusion Film Festival. She recently won the 2017 Best Cinematography award on Ms. Cioffi Henry is a current faculty member of NYU Tisch's Graduate Film program. Ms. Cioffi Henry is a member of Cinematographers XX, a group of working cinematographers who are women.



Darren Bailey, producer & stunt coordinator



Darren Bailey is no stranger to all areas of entertainment. For the last decade, in addition to acting, he also works regularly in Hollywood as a stuntman, stunt coordinator, writer, producer, filmmaker, performance capture artist, voice actor, acting coach, and runs operations at a VFX and animation studio. His first time working with Sarah and Sean was as a voice-over artist in Aster and Sidney, and most recently as an actor, stuntman, stunt coordinator, special effects artist, and producer of their highly acclaimed short horror, Water Horse. This year, he will also be producing their short dramatic suspense, Thorns.


Nora Unkle & Devin Shepherd, Wild Obscura Films, producers



Wild Obscura Films is a New York-based production company specializing in genre content directed by, written by, or starring women. WOF’s films have earned honors around the world including Gold in Experimental at the Student Academy Awards, Semi-Finalists for The Academy’s Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship program,’s Top 10 Scripts of the Year, 2x winners of Best Producing at the First Run Film Festival, and Producers of the Year at SheRocks. The company has also presented selected projects at IFP Week, the New York Mayor's Office Finance Lab, the Frontieres Film Market in Montréal and Cannes, as well as the French Connection Film Market in Paris in association with IFP and French in Motion. WOF is currently serving a fellowship at the Made in NY Media Center in association with IFP, and at the IFP Narrative Labs with their feature film “A Nightmare Wakes”.



Danielle Rose Hazelton, producer



Vermont-based filmmaker Danielle Rose Hazelton is an experienced director, assistant director, and producer. With over six years of industry experience, Danielle has worked on projects that have been screened at festivals across the country, including Cleveland International Film Festival, SoHo International Film Festival, and Brooklyn Film Festival.


Her films have won a variety of awards, recent awards for The Silence Between including Short Form Fiction at the New England Emmys (NATAS), Original Score at the Global Music Awards, and Award of Recognition for Women Filmmakers at the Accolade Global Film Festival. Additionally her work on Hidden Blueprints won the James Goldstone Award for Vermont Filmmakers at the Vermont International Film Festival.


Danielle has collaborated with a variety of companies nationally and internationally including BBC Three UK, Vice Media, and The Food Network. Additionally, she has worked on projects in Ireland, England, and Wales, including the feature documentary Violet Gibson: The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini.


Currently, Danielle works full time as a Producer for Scout Digital, directing and producing commercials and digital marketing content for clients across the US.


Mattia Maurée, composer



Composer Mattia Maurée (b. 1987) focuses on film, chamber and large-form classical works, and twisted pop. Critically acclaimed short films they've scored have played in thirteen countries. Closer to home, they were a finalist in the Mass Cultural Council 2019 Artistic Fellowships Program in music composition, and have received generous funding from MASS MoCA, the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. Violin, voice, and piano are their primary instruments for teaching, performing, and recording. They hold degrees in composition from New England Conservatory and St. Olaf College. This is their fourth collaboration with Homebody Pictures. 


Ana Frost, costume designer


Ana Frost is a self taught sewist and makeup artist. She works in Vermont and the Hudson Valley on various productions, with roles ranging from camera crew, to makeup, to wardrobe, and occasionally background acting. Her hobbies include knitting, watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition) over and over, and obsessively researching the everyday life of people during the 1940s.


Current Team