Member Blog Post
So here I am at 4 AM, A Sunday morning at the beginning of january, and the beginning of a new year and i find myself sleepless. Why? Partly because I fell asleep during the afternoon yesterday and also because I have a million things in my head right now. You see, this first post in my blog begins a sort of film journal for me. I am about to embark on a feature length horror film (my second, though no one will ever see the first I made due to many reasons, mostly legal issues) later this month. It keeps me awake at night.... it truly does, as there are so many aspects of this film that are yet unresolved. The challenges that it presents are challenges that I have faced before, yet there is something much different this time around. I am not dealing with a script that was written hastily and feeling rushed. I am not dealing with strangers with whom I have never worked before. I am not heading into this with the expectations of making a tremendously difficult film. Yet there are still concerns. I suspect that even the biggest names in film experience similar things.... at least I hope they do. But will all of this said, I will begin to unfold this all in this blog. Hold on tight, here comes the ride.....
I began this idea as I started a totally different script just a few months ago. I was looking for a story that people could relate to that was scary but that was also realistic. Let's all face one simple reality right now.... we live in a sick world and finding things that scare other people is getting harder and harder these days. Most of us have become kind of naturalized and desensitized to the reality that what scared us 20 years ago in horror films has basically been outshined by the modern news stories that hit us on television and in the morning paper. So how do we make films that present something frightening and still maintain some sort of edge that isn't in the remakes that everyone in Hollywood seems to be pumping out these days? We dig deep and we find that little piece of ourselves that hides from the dark. The place deeep down that makes us all wonder why someone would do things that they do. We rumage through that little space and we come up with the answer to many questions and when we are done, we find a pen and paper and start to create the people and the places of our film. And we find that if we're very careful, they come to life in front of our eyes, they come to us in our dreams, and for those of us that can get it together, on a screen.
The working title of this film is "The Dead of Winter". I was orignally thinking zombies as the title was what came to me first and then I had a vision of someone being given the choice of being left in the woods and possibly freezing to death while someone went for help, or being carried through the woods while a madman tracked the two of them and prepared to kill them. This was the first scene that worked out in my head. And as it seemed like it might be from any other horror movie I'd seen in my lifetime, I had to build on it. The questions of "how did they get there" "why were they being hunted""who are they" all came to mind and that is where my story took shape. This important scene suddenly shrank into something that amounted to little more than filler once the real story unravelled itself. And so, things progressed.
I wrote the script in about a month, contacting people I'd worked with before, sending emails with little snipets from the script and asking if they would like to come out and become this character. With every yes, the characters grew and gained personalities, eventually growing until I could hear their voices and see their faces. I dreamed them as actors and actresses from some of my favorite movies. I watched them act out the scenes that i was writing as I wrote them. And on New Years Day, I made a few calls, sent my well wishes, and informed my friends that we were, indeed, ready to put the next steps into motion on making this movie.
I spent time (I work at a job that affords me the ability to location scout all day long) looking at places that would fit into this film. I found most of what I was looking for right in public spaces. I asked a friend to let me use his house and wound up with his basement and another house (one perfect for the film) at my disposal. I sat down and projected a shooting schedule and cost effectiveness chart that works with the film and eases production time. I even enlisted help for things that won't come into play for weeks after shooting begins. But this was important to me. And with it done, its less I have to do and more time to focus on what needs to be done.
So now, having all of this stuff out of the way, I can enjoy my excitement and prepare for production. I am used to being way more spontaneous and less planned, but for this, I knew there should be a different approach. This was going to require me to devlope different strategies and better planning skills. This is, after all, a chance to shed the old and introduce the world to my skills as a filmmaker. This is an opportunity to let people who have seen some of the short films that I've floated onto the internet, what I can really do. This is a golden ticket to the chocolate factory and the candy is mine to devour.
And as I close this first entry in what I view as a project journal, I realize that the best parts are yet to come. So for now, I will bit thee all a fine farewell, and end in the hopes that this will become as exciting for everyone else as it has been and will still be, for me. Please check back soon and feel free to comment or ask questions about this project. I will be sure to keep everyone updated as thigns develope further.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
J. James/Recluse Pictures