Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Alumni Arts

File under spooky

Winchester Mystery House headed for the big screen


Brett Tomberlin ’03 admits he didn’t pay much attention to the Winchester Mystery House during his four years at Santa Clara. It was only when he came back to SCU to accompany former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander to the 2006 Golden Circle Theatre Party that Tomberlin visited the famous haunted house that lies just a stone’s throw from the Mission Campus.

Alexander had a few hours to kill before performing and wanted to visit the house. But it was Tomberlin who was blown away by the mysterious feel of the place. As they exited the tour, Tomberlin says he knew he wanted to make a movie there.

Nearly five years later, Tomberlin stands on the verge of fulfilling that goal. His company, Imagination Design Works, has exclusive film rights to use the Winchester name and property. He is partnered on the project with Andrew Trapani, who attended SCU in the 1990s and produced the 2009 horror film The Haunting in Connecticut.

Naturally—or perhaps it’s better to say, supernaturally—Winchester will be a horror movie. The 160-room mansion was, after all, built by Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, who was convinced that ceaseless building was the only way she could appease the angry spirits of people whose lives were cut short courtesy of the family rifles. A seer told her the spirits had already claimed the lives of her husband and infant daughter. By the time Sarah Winchester died in 1922, the house had been under night-and-day construction for 38 years.

While scary is a given for a Winchester movie, Tomberlin says it will be more in the eerie vein of Sixth Sense than the splatter of Saw. As of press time, a date isn’t yet set for filming. But Tomberlin speculates that a Winchester clothing line and video game are also lurking in the wings.

Tomberlin’s first foray into show business was working as a production coordinator for Andy Ackerman ’78, who is famed for his work on comedy shows Seinfeld, Cheers, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and, most recent, The New Adventures of Old Christine. Not long after making his way to Tinseltown, Tomberlin started his own production company. In Hollywood, he says, the only way to make sure the train leaves with you on board is to own a piece of the action.
Sam Scott ’96

Coping with miscarriage

Daniel Osorio ’00 and wife Katrina Jasso-Osorio suffered the devastation of a miscarriage when they were newly married. With their most recent film, Miracle, which premiered last year, they hope to “raise awareness, compassion, and understanding about miscarriage, a very taboo topic.” Daniel Osorio’s first film, Lowriding in Aztlan (2005), chronicled low-rider culture. For Miracle, Bronco collaborators included editor Jovan Bell ’00 and artwork/website designer Cecilia Osorio ’08. Produced by Daniel Osorio and directed by Jasso-Osorio, Miracle has been nominated for best film in a number of international film festivals, including the Heart of England International Film Festival, and in recent months it was screened from Ohio to Thailand.
Christine Cole