|Directed by||Fred Walton|
|Produced by||Steve Feke|
|Written by||Fred Walton|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The Sitter is a 1977 American short film directed by Fred Walton on which his 1979 feature film When a Stranger Calls is based. It is a suspenseful retelling of the classic urban legend of "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs" about a babysitter (Lucia Stralser) who is menaced by mysterious and frightening phone calls which are finally revealed to be coming from inside the house.
Production and release
In early 1977, Fred Walton and his old college friend Steve Feke were throwing around story ideas for a film and Feke told him the legendary tale of "The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs" which Walton felt had potential for a film. The production of The Sitter was made on a low budget with both Feke and Walton working steadily for the financing, including their friends' contributing $1,000 here and there. The 22-minute film, shot on 35mm in three days in May 1977 on a budget of $12,000, closely prefigures the opening twenty minutes of When a Stranger Calls, now consistently regarded as one of the scariest openings in horror movie history.
Once post-production on The Sitter was completed, Walton and Feke realized that the market for short films wasn't nearly as good as they had both anticipated. Although major studios were not interested in the short film, they were able to land a one-week showing at a theatre for consideration at the 1977 Academy Awards to qualify a nomination for Best Live Action Short. The Sitter had a short theatrical run being screened before Looking for Mr. Goodbar at Mann's Village Theatre in Westwood, California. In spite of its good reception, the film did not get nominated for an Oscar.
Executive producers Barry Krost and Douglas Chapin had gone to the theatre to see Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and both were so impressed by The Sitter that they sold Mel Simon (a businessman and film producer) on the idea of expanding it into a feature-length film, which eventually became When a Stranger Calls.
- Rockoff, Adam. Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986, retrieved June 29, 2016.
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