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Dear Indie Filmmakers

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Drew Daywalt School of FearWho gives a fuck what you’re shooting it on!

As a writer and director, the single best reason to work in the horror genre is because it’s the only genre that can draw an audience without a star attached. That is, to say, you can put asses in seats based solely on the story or the concept alone. You don’t need big names, massive fx budgets, wildly expensive sets, or fancy cameras to make it happen and get it out to the audience.

In short, story is king.

And you can’t say that about any other genre of film.  Sci fi and fantasy require expensive sets and settings (not to mention visual fx). Comedies, dramas, romances etc all need names to draw you in, because, let’s face it, “boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back” needs a little something (usually star power) to get anyone interested.

So here’s a beleaguered genre that takes it on the chin all the time for lacking story, (because so many hacks miss the point of the genre entirely and skip story for gore and cheap scares), when in fact, it is the purest of all the genres in that it can lure you in purely by the seductive call of an original idea.

Horror as a genre has been hijacked for decades by idiots who miss the point and go straight for the exploitation, when they would have fared far better if they’d just gotten their hands on a good story. Something dreadful and terrifying... something that MOVED  them.

But I guess getting your hands on a good story in the horror genre is just as difficult as it is across the board in other genres in Hollywood. It just seems a bigger shame here because story is at the root of what we do, and so many miss the point.

I’ve also found that passion projects led by individuals who have a fever to tell their story are more often than not the best stories in the genre, regardless of budget. So many filmmakers now are so worried about what camera that they’re shooting on that it begs the question, “Who gives a fuck what you’re shooting on?” I’ve seen films in super 8mm and home video that moved me to the point that I never even thought about what the film was shot on. Of course you want the highest quality for your film, but if filmmakers spent half the time on their scripts and with their actors that they spend obsessing over tech, we’d see a huge rise in strong independent films.

In the 1960’s Hollywood was faltering, (as it is now), and some new blood and risk takers came in during the 70’s and changed everything. Made film fresh again. I think those kinds of cinematic voices are out there today, but they’re being distracted by all the noise of the digital camera revolution and getting caught up in all the wrong things, namely bells and whistles.

With that in mind, I thought I’d close out this week’s School of Fear with an open letter to all of them, from you and me:

Dear Indie filmmakers (horror and otherwise),

Stop worrying about the damn camera gear and tell your story.

Love,
your audience

P.S. Gaudium per atrox.

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