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School of Fear: 'Silverwood'

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Meeting people in the horror community is a funny thing. Good, but funny. And I still maintain that my horror loving/creating friends are some of the kindest, coolest people I know. 

The reason I'm thinking about it is that I recently directed a couple episodes of the BlackBox TV horror anthology series Silverwood for my friend (and fellow short-horror maven) Tony Valenzeula. The end result is an incredibly gratifying collaboration that resulted in a big YouTube splash for Tony's channel. 

I'll start at the beginning.

I've only known Tony for a year, but I've known about him for much longer than that. And the reason we know each other at all is because we do the same thing. Make horror shorts online. And when you do something as specific as we do, it doesn't take long before you know about each other. 

About two years ago when I'd just started my youtube channel for Daywalt Fear Factory, I started to see the occasional comment under my films about BBTV (Black Box TV - another channel on Youtube). And the comments spanned the entire gamut of online commentary. I got everything from the usual trolling "you suck, Tony V kicks your ass" and "BBTV blows you out of the water, kill yourself" to the "I love your films, you need to work with Tony V of Black Box" and "Why don't you and Tony direct something for Fear Factory?"

And needless to say, since there aren't a lot of people outputting short horror content online the way I do,  I was intrigued about who Tony was and what was this BBTV everyone was talking about. 

So I checked out his work and I loved it. I like to think of him as the internet film version of R.L. Stine by way of Stephen King. He's got a great grasp of the uncanny, the weird, the strange and the horrifying. And he can really craft a scare and a twist ending. 

Sidebar - I used to think writing comedy was hard, until I started writing horror. Seems like every schmuck who's mastered sarcasm feels like they can grab a mic and stand in front of the brick wall. But crafting a scare... it's infinitely more dificult than crafting a laugh. And while I knew a ton of funny guys who were hysterical when I was writing comedy, I know very few horror guys who can REALLY scare me. 

Tony's one of them. 

So here's a guy out there making effective horror shorts online with no money, just a keen sense of story, character and fear. I admired his work but at the time I was too caught up in what I was doing to reach out, so on I went, on my merry way, making my own films and enjoying what Tony was putting out every week. 

And then about a year ago, the phone rang. 

"Hello, is this Drew Daywalt?"

"Yes it is. Who's this?"

"Hi, my name's Tony Valenzuela. I'm a big fan of your work." 

A big smile spread across my face and I was like, "Holy shit. Well, I'm a fan of yours too, man."

And from there, things just got better. We met and it was like meeting that super cool cousin for the first time and discovering that you're both into all the same things, thought you were the only person in the world with your interests, and realized that you're not the only one out there doing what you do.

Collaboration quickly became the topic of discussion, because he had just been funded by Youtube to create a horror anthology series, and graciously invited me to be involved. Unfortunately at the time, I was heading off to Louisiana to do a feature for Syfy and couldn't be involved in the development, but we both agreed that when I got back from the feature, if he was still in production, I'd love to do a couple episodes.

Cut to six months later, I'm back from the feature and Tony, good to his word, had saved me a couple Silverwood episodes to direct. Both of them incredibly well written. One, "The Hunger," penned by Dirk Manning and Eric J. Stolze. And the other, "Kidnapped," written by Paul Solet and Jackson Stewart. I was honored to be included in those names. 

"The Hunger" is done now and you can see it below. It's in two parts, so make sure to hit both, and if you wanna see me and the DFF and BBTV team in action, there's also a cool Behind the Scenes video as well.  

At the end of the day, I'm finding, it's just as much about the people you meet and work with, as it is the final film. Sometimes, more so.

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