Private Project


Two rugged cowboys, stranded in a barren wasteland, play chess on a chest full of gold. Winner gets the last bullet in a revolver, for all the gold in the world is meaningless when you're stranded in a scorching desert with no water.

  • Michael Muchnij
    Sweet Tooth
  • Michael Muchnij
    Sweet Tooth, Shutter [Shudder]
  • Michael Muchnij
  • Ryan Johnston
  • Robyn Sturgies
  • Alex Spiess
  • Michael Harrelson
    Key Cast
    "White Hat"
  • James Brunhuber Sr
    Key Cast
    "Black Hat"
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 25, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Michael Muchnij

"Michael Muchnij is a writer, director and composer who employs the cinematic toolbox of classic genre film to create parables for the modern age. A Phoenix-born Brooklynite, Muchnij was originally incubated as a storyteller writing musical scores for short films. Hybridizing his passion for composition with his love of writing and photography, Muchnij soon stepped into directorial roles.

His formal debuts as a filmmaker were award-winning short films “Shutter” - a taut, time-bending study on voyeurism - and “Sweet Tooth” - a sugar-coated fable on one man’s stunted growth. Hosted on respected online horror outlet ALTER, the two films collectively aggregated 4 million views, receiving 55K viewer “upvotes” in less than a year. Boosting ALTER’s viewership considerably, both films ultimately merited Muchnij two top-ten “most viewed” slots - “Shutter” ranking eighth and “Sweet Tooth” fourth - in the platform’s history.

While his influences are wide-ranging, Muchnij cites the complex, challenging work of David Cronenberg, Gaspar Noe and Lars Von Trier as influential pillars of his visual and narrative approach. Prioritizing narrative nuance and thematic duality, Muchnij refuses both the tropes and “truisms” of traditional horror in his commitment to fresh, vital storytelling."

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Wasteland is a parable about death and greed. It's lesson being that worldly riches mean nothing if you find yourself living in a wasteland. It comments on the exploitation of our planet by modern day corporate prospectors and foreshadows impending droughts around the world.

On a more personal note, beyond paying homage to the classic spaghetti westerns of the 1960s, Wasteland is a love letter to my hometown, a suburb on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. The blistering heat and isolation I felt as a kid bred an angsty youth, but having since made my daring escape to NYC, I've grown to look back fondly and see the stark beauty of the desert where I spent my foremost years.