I think we're all well aware of the fact that the online world is the future of distribution for us indie horror filmmakers. It sounds stupid to say that, actually. I mean, we all know it to be true and people have been saying it for years, but... it hasn't really happened yet. The technology is all there, it's all possible, yet, for some reason, we're just not there. Having said that, there's a few guys out there that are blazing the trail and Douglas A Plomitallo is one of those guys. Check out this great interview about his web based project, "Scared Stiff".
Tell us about your project, what’s it all about?
“Scared Stiff” is an anthology series of short horror films. The show features a variety of stories featuring an assortment of zombies, ghosts, vampires, serial killers and other fun creatures.
If you don’t mind us asking, what’s your budget for each episode and how do you secure financing?
The show is completely self-financed. Our talented cast and crew graciously volunteer their time to help make the show the best it can be. Over the course of the past three and a half years, I have been slowly purchasing higher-end equipment to help achieve the high production value that we strive for. As far as budget for each episode goes, not counting the cost of the equipment purchases, the cost of each show is actually quite minimal. It is actually rare for the cost of each production to go over 100 dollars. On some of our productions, the only cost will be food and refreshments for the cast and crew.
As of right now, what are your goals for the project and what kinds of things are you doing to make sure you reach your goals?
As the show goes on we aim to continue to raise the production values and to reach a much larger audience. On top of investing money in new gear, we’ve continued to gel as a team and strengthen our talents to help improve the product. We’ve been trying to do some new stuff with the show and add different kinds of content to attract different audiences. We try to give a little something for everyone on the show and I’m confident that with our high quality entertainment and original stories, fans are bound to come across “Scared Stiff” at one point and share with other horror fans. On top of that, we’ve been more active in the social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try to spread the news of our product.
You’ve chosen to distribute your project online in webisodes. How’s that going and what are your goals now that it’s out there?
On top of creating new content, our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to our existing episodes. “Scared Stiff” is available to watch for free on many sites including YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip and can be downloaded for free on our own website, ScaredStiff.tv. We are confident that by allowing the viewers free access to the content, they will like what they see and want to watch more. We hope to grow our fan base to the point where we can show investors that we have a big enough following where they can help fund our future films with little gamble.
Where can people find out more about the project and watch it?
People can watch and download our shows for free on our website, www.ScaredStiff.tv or they can watch the shows in high-definition on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/scaredstifftv.
Talk about the production. How did it go? Tell us one good or funny story that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of being an indie filmmaker.
Well one story from last summer I won’t forget anytime soon. We were shooting in an old girl scout camp in Kent, CT that had been abandoned for the last 20 years. (The camp is less than a mile way from the location used as Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th Part 2!) To avoid any possible interference, I always kept the gate to the camp locked whether we were in there or not. One afternoon, I was coming back to the camp from lunch and there was a state trooper’s car blocking the gate. I got out of my car and slowly walked up to the patrol car to find out what the deal was. As I approached the car, a trooper immediately jumped out, pointed his gun at me, and yelled “Hold it right there”! He questioned who I was and why I was there. He wouldn’t tell me what was going on but told me to open the gate so he and another trooper could check the premises. The whole time I had no idea what was going on and thought that the production was going to be shut down! To make a long story short, there had been two guys who had been pool hopping around Kent and decided to go skinny-dipping in one of the pools. Little did they know that they had jumped into former speaker of the house Henry Kissinger’s pool and it had now become national security! One thing I am glad I did was before the Patrolman left to go into the camp I warned him that we had a prop gun on set and that one of the actors might have it on him. It turns out that at the time we were driving down to the set, they were testing out the prop gun. The thing looks and sounds like a real gun. I could only imagine what would have happened if the patrolman happened to arrive on set as that gun went off without warning!
What about you? Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into indie horror.
I had always been a big horror fan and always wanted to make horror films since I was a kid. A few years ago, I was working a job that regularly had me there for 60 to 70 hours a week. As a creative outlet, I decided to start writing a book of short horror stories to keep myself sane during the demanding schedule. Always being more of a film guy, I couldn’t help but visualize them as movies. I had always being a fan of anthology horror shows such as “Tales from the Darkside” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” so I was excited about the idea of actually shooting these stories. I wouldn’t have time to shoot full-length television episodes, and at the time there were no other horror shows on the web so I figured short mini-horror movies would be a novel idea.
Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?
There are so many different options for distribution now than there were just 5 or 6 years ago. The Internet has completely changed the game. Now with YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites, people can share their work all over the world. It is now possible for even low budget indie films to get a distribution deal with Netflix and Hulu. And with niche market message boards and with the influx of social media sites, it is much easier to introduce your film to an audience. Although the other side to it is, with so much material out there, it is easier to have your films get lost in the shuffle so filmmakers need to use that as motivation to try harder to make their films stand out.
Do you have any more projects in the works? What’s next for you?
In addition to “Scared Stiff”, I am constantly working on new projects. Last summer, I produced a feature length zombie film that we hope to have in film festivals this summer. I am also currently editing “The Housesitter” which is the first in a planned trilogy of horror films. Also, very recently I started shooting a documentary that will be released next year. When I am not making movies, I run a production company, D2 Media, which produces television commercials and corporate videos. On top of my film work, I also have several web projects I am working on and am currently writing a book that I hope to have out next year.