Friday, May 30, 2008

"Harvest Moon" - A Case Study in Making Indie-Horror

Alright, here's the next case study on how guys are getting their indie-horror's made. This time around we talk to Brent Nowak, director of "Harvest Moon". You can always check out our other case studies in the archived section and, as usual, if you're a filmmaker and would like us to cover you and your film, just let me know.

Film: Harvest Moon
Written By: Tyler Massey
Directed By: Brent Nowak
Released By: Cedar Street Productions

About: Brad Ashten, the guy who plays the lead in the film, was producing and directing theatre and the director, Brent Nowak, had just finished producing a few short films, when they got together and decided to make a feature. They "felt horror had the best possible return on investment (and) in 2004 they were paying upfront money for horror with no names attached." With that, Brad came up with the first idea, "to use human blood to help with a marijuana crop." Tyler Massey, who was the eventual writer of the script, changed it to apples because they had access to an apple orchard. Brent "nominated (himself) director" and they were off... and when it was all said and done, what resulted was a top-notch horror that looks and feels like a film with ten times the budget. The plot revolves around Adam Baldini (played by Brad Ashten), who just inherited his father's prized apple orchard. Unsure if he wants to continue the family business, Adam invites his new girlfriend Alicia and her friends to spend the weekend enjoying the secluded and secret beauty of the orchard and to help bring in the harvest.. But of course a secret location isn't just a good place for an orchard -- it's a good place for murder.

Budget: The budget, which Brent Nowak secured through personal resources, "started at around $15K, but ended up growing to just South of $50K" and he admits, "the hardest part is finding the money".

Getting it made: Harvest Moon was "shot on the DVX 100 with 35mm lenses" and they "found (cinematographer) Matt Boyd on Craigslist", who Brent describes as "an amazing talent and gets better with every project (he) sees him do." The film was "shot 13 days straight at the cabin, one day car scene, one day pickup and one night on the new scene", which was added after the film was shot because "distribution companies were complaining on a slow start to the film." In the end, "not counting ADR and green screen, it was about a 16 day shoot". The location was integral to the film and two of the guys involved, Brad Ashton and Diego Garcia, actually worked there. They almost lost their location when "after investing $5K insurance and equipment the owner wanted to back out... Luckily his wife talked him out of it." In the end, the film turned out great, however there are a few things that Brent would have done differently, such as "more action, a little more fear involved, more jumps, more effects. Those things scared (him) as a filmmaker, but (he's) not afraid of them anymore and the next one will be way more intense."

The effects: The film did deliver on gore and effects and when Brent was asked what his favorite effect was, it was "the throat slashing scene of the character Mel, not because (he) played him, but because the prop knife didn't work as (they) hoped and Lincoln came in and made a really real and cool throat slash."

Distributing the film: I believe they're still in the process of acquiring distribution, but Brent does offer up some advice for other filmmakers. "Be patient and look at non-exclusive deals, they're out there. My fear is giving away the rights to a lower end company for 3 years to watch them stick the profits in the expense account and we never see a dime back. Know your risks before you ever start. Make a good film. Don't think it's going to sell just because it's genre. Take your time and make it great."

What’s next: Since "Harvest Moon", Brent's "directed two more shorts, both (which) have won awards." He's also taken "a 6 month break and (is now) gearing up for the next feature to shoot in Wisconsin. No script in place yet, so (they're) looking. He follows that up with asking, "if (anyone has) anything (they'd) like to option, you could email him at Don't expect anything more than a % of the film, but at least it'll get made!"

For more information or to purchase your copy of "Harvest Moon", you can go to, it's definitely worth the $10. For more information on Brent Nowak, you can go to his site,

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