Sutton’s program, “Welcome to the Blumhouse Live,” was an interactive experience in the fall of 2020. The program incorporated four Blumhouse films, including “Nocturne,” “Black Box,” “Evil Eye,” and “The Lie.”
“This was an odd show because it lived somewhere between an immersive theatre piece, a TV show or film, an escape room or video game, and a living breathing advertisement,” Sutton said. “While we were tasked with writing an original narrative, we also had to pay homage to all four films that “Welcome to the Blumhouse” was premiering while also adding nods to other classic or new classic horror films, like ‘Suspiria.’”
The show allowed audience members to play the role of a detective looking for a missing college woman. The audience begins to expose the secrets of the Blumhouse. It’s up to the spectators to gather as many clues to solve a code that grants access to the attic where the last thrill takes place.
Creating and adding a new level of detail to the films through an immersive world was a collaborative process with the creative agency Little Cinema. Sutton worked alongside co-director Lisa Sanaye Dring and showrunner and co-director Matt Hill on the main storyline, the flow of the live event, and the characters.
“The whole piece was really a collection of many different ways to tell and absorb stories. We had to think about different levels of audience. Some were coming only to see the musical guest and click around a bit, in which case we needed things to be just weird enough or visually interesting enough to entertain,” said Sutton. “But then on the opposite side of the spectrum, there were people who were there to figure out the mystery and really engage with the story. So we had to somehow satisfy both.”
And just like any other show, it had a script; however, the live element in which the audience participated by asking the actors questions had the team approach it differently.
“The scripts are unique in that because the actor is interacting with questions from the audience, they are mostly improvising. But we have to give them a voice and a set of bullet points they are allowed to or should hit and at what time during the evening. So, the scripts would often look like maybe 2-minute establishing moments of who they are, what their voice is, and how they are interacting with other actors who come into the room,” Sutton said.
Along with working closely with the graphics team to design SWAG bags, Sutton also worked on creating and developing other objects within the live show that helped tell the story.
“I ended up doing a lot of the clues and non-actor pieces, things like the journal three of the characters wrote within their world, the newspaper articles, the police reports, all that ephemera that build out the world and backstory,” said Sutton.
The innovation, creativity, and details paid off, and the “Welcome to the Blumhouse Live” Emmy nomination still does not feel real to Sutton.
“It is amazing to me that our team can be recognized like this,” she said. “Little Cinema managed to create innovative ways to engage with a live performance during the pandemic, and this project really valued and celebrated a new, original story.”
The Emmy nomination is only fuel to her fire. Sutton plans to continue writing and collaborating with Hill and Sanaye Dring on other efforts, including the “Kaidan Project: Alone,” ghost story app, a screenplay, and a play. She is also working on a novel and a collection of short stories.
The live show experience may have passed, but you can still view pieces of the rooms and photos from the event on the “Welcome to the Blumhouse Live” website.