Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Horror Film Fest Season

Dead Harvey Global Headquarters is in the process of being moved to a new location... which, simply, means that I'm moving. Why do you care? Because my internet connection will be down later tonight and Lord knows when I'll get it back up again. That means that this will, most likely, be my last post of the week. I'm hoping to have everything back in place and operational by Monday, so... we should be back at it then. I have to mention Shriekfest this week, as it's this weekend, so I'll do that and talk about another festival that was brought to our attention.

Like I said, Shriekfest is this weekend, September 30 - October 3, and it takes place at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. It's one of the big ones of the year, recently voted LA's best horror film festival by LA Weekly magazine, and it's an international festival and screenplay competition that gets submissions from all over the world. That and they sort of kick-off the horror festival season. They're in their 10th year and they've always been dedicated to getting horror, thriller, sci-fi and fantasy filmmakers and screenwriters the recognition they deserve. They're screening a pile of shorts and features and, if you're in the area, you should really check them out. You can check out the schedule here. If you're interested in knowing more about how the festival works, you can read the interview that we did with Shriekfest founder and festival director, Denise Gossett by clicking here. By the way, I can't believe that was two years ago... I'm going to have to get her to do another interview with us soon. Either way, support indie horror - support the festivals!

I'm a little late on this one, but I also wanted to mention Splatterfest, which was last weekend. Now, they do something a little different. It's more like a film competition... you enter a filmmaking team and you must provide your own equipment, cast and crew and, of course, creativity. Then, you meet up, get your mission, then off you go. All films get screened, with press and all that. It started last weekend, but hopefully they do it next year and maybe we can get a peak and some of the films that get made this year. I'll be reaching out to them soon.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Weekend Box Office and a Good Week for Horror on DVD

To be honest, I'm not terribly intrigued by anything that went on at the box office over the weekend. Not only was there nothing related to horror out, there were no real stories emerging. I think we all knew that "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" would win the weekend... the original is a classic and the return of Gordon Gekko couldn't be more timely. The financial crisis was basically a long marketing campaign for the original, as I can't count how many times I heard the line, "Greed is Good" over the last 2 years. That and I really like the idea of reviving the character, after he gets out of jail, to alert the financial community of a global economic disaster. Not sure how I feel about Shia LaBeouf, but it's not this film... it's LaBeouf in general. Other than that, "Legend of the Guardians" was a bit of a let down and "The Virginity Hit" had one of the worst opening of all time... fourth lowest grossing for a nationwide release on record. As for the week in horror on DVD, it's pretty good. As usual, you can check out the trailers on our Youtube Page and you can click on the title to be taken to their Amazon Page, where you can read more and/or buy them.

I guess the biggest thing(s) coming out this week are the Fangoria FrightFest films. Fangoria FrightFest is where Fangoria partnered with Blockbuster and Lightning Entertainment to begin a "unique, multi-tiered summer film distribution program". It consists of eight new films; "Pig Hunt", "Fragile", "Grimm Love", "Dark House", "Hunger", "Road Kill", "The Haunting" and "The Tomb". Now, I'm not sure what they mean by multi-tiered and they really couldn't have picked a worse partner than Blockbuster, but... here they are, in any case. Available on Amazon. I never saw these promoted much before this, they weren't in the theaters and I don't recall them having any online presence, so... what the hell are they talking about when they say multi-tiered film distribution? Maybe it was limited releases and, possibly, they were premiered on cable somewhere, I don't know. Really, I have no idea if any of these are any good. For more info, click on each individual title.

When I first heard of the idea behind "Frozen", I wasn't sure it would work. Three skiers get stranded on a chair lift? Could that really hold a whole movie? It's definitely out of the box for Adam Green, who did "Hatchet", "Spiral" and "Hatchet II". Then again, I remember an interview he did after "Hatchet", where he said he wanted to stick with horror, but didn't want to get pigeon-holed as a slasher director. In any case, this isn't a slasher film and this sub-genre seems to be in right now. What would you call it? Isolation horror? "Buried" has a lot of hype and this seems to be in the same vein. What I like about it is that it's tailor made for indie horror filmmakers. Very few actors, very few locations... easy to do.

I'm very intrigued by "Suck"... it's a rock-horror about a loser band that turns into vampires and then takes the world by storm. It's got a decent budget, looks great and has a wicked cast, including Dave Foley, Iggy Pop, Moby, Alice Cooper and Malcolm McDowell. Chances are it's not going to have a lot of gore or anything, but it could have great camp/cult qualities.

Now, "Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film" could be a pretty cool documentary. I love horror docs and I don't think I've seen one that concentrates just on American horror. Lance Henriksen hosts and takes you through a history of American horror, from the earliest monster movies to modern-day slashers.

On paper, "Death Kappa" should be everything I'm looking for. It's from the producers of "Machine Girl" and "Tokyo Gore Police", two of my favorite recent Asian horror flicks, and, if you're a regular reader, you should know that I think monster movies are coming back and this is, without question, a monster movie. Having said that, it's a campy, "dudes in rubber monster suits" monster movie, but there's nothing wrong with that. There was actually a bunch of coverage on it in the latest Fangoria, I think. In any case, I'm going to be checking it out.

I can't find much about "Wake the Witch" because, believe it or not, there's various films called the same thing... or something similar. Anyhow, it's apparently inspired by J-horror and is a psychological horror/suspense. Cover art is awesome, wish I knew more about it.

"Late Fee" came out last year, but it's getting a DVD/Blu-ray release this week. It's sort of a low-budget "Tales From The Crypt", as it's an anthology of sorts... only two films, though, with a third story holding the other two together. The main story revolves around how the couple has to return the two films by midnight, as they don't want to know what the late fee's are... I like the idea and I'm always a fan anthologies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interview with Will Higo, writer/director of the Superhero Horror Short, "Nemesis"

There are a few sub-genres that I think are prime to explode on the market or are currently under served... like vampire films. What ever happened to them? You see no vampires anymore. I miss them. That and monster films... after "Cloverfield", I was sure that monster films of all sorts were going to emerge - from little ghoulies like, well, "Ghoulies" and "Gremlins", to human-sized beasties like C.H.U.D.'s to huge monsters like the Blob or Godzilla. Did it happen? No. There's been a few, yes, but not nearly as many I thought... and hoped. Mark my words, monsters will be back. Aliens have been fairly vacant for a while, too. However, I know there's a LOT of alien films in the hopper right now, so the next few years will be filled with them. You want to catch lightening in a bottle? Write a good alien script now, that sub-genre will be hot in a year or so. Having said that, don't do it because I said it. I really have no idea of what I'm talking about - it's all theoretical. Another sub-genre that I wondered about was superhero horror. I actually mentioned it in a post a while back. To me, it seems like a natural fit. Yet, where is it? Superhero films are all PG-13. You'd think that not all superhero's are good, right? Some have to be evil and slaughter people, right? I want to see that! Well, apparently so does Will Higo.

After I wrote a post saying that I wanted to see more superhero horror, Higo got right back to me. Guess what he went out and made? That's right, a superhero horror short called "Nemesis". My first thought was, I loved Albert Pyun's 1992 film of the same name... the second, I need to check Higo's film out and I did. He successfully created the look and feel of Hollywood superhero film, but sprinkled in some serious horror elements. It's shot well, it's acted well and it looks great. Now, I want to see it as a feature.

We had the chance to discuss the film with the writer/director, Will Higo.

Tell our readers about your short film, “Nemesis”

Nemesis is my attempt at a super hero slasher movie (a fusion of two genres that I absolutely adore). It follows a cynical tabloid journalist named Jess Jackson as she becomes embroiled in the struggle between a gang of youths and a masked vigilante whilst investigating a murder. Taken hostage, she is used as bait by the increasingly desperate criminals to lure out their Nemesis and take him down for good. Naturally, nothing goes to plan…It’s a sort of role reversal of the standard super hero story with the focus on the criminals – a sorted twisted version. Lois Lane is a bit of a bitch and Batman enacts violent justice with cold indifference.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget and how did you secure financing?

The budget was just under a grand (about £900 I think…) and it came from a lot of overtime. I’m always a bit unsure about funding as it’s hard to pitch something like this which is seemingly quite commercial. In Britain there is a predilection for social realist dramas set on Council estates not for something which is unashamedly populist and, on paper at least, more than a little daft. Luckily in my job as an editor for a production company I have a few contacts which means I can raid various kit rooms and the like, so I could do something relatively big for little money.

The short looked fantastic. What did you shoot on and how big of a crew did you have?

I think all in all there was nine people (including make-up) with a few friends popping in on various days and helping out with extra work and driving people around (Thanks very much if you’re reading this  ) Everybody really mucked in. I was producer, writer, director and editor – my First AD, Ric Forster, also did some great Graphics work for me, my DOP came in and helped with the grade, my sound op did the sound design so we were wearing a lot of hats.

We shot on the RED ONE camera – a great bit of kit. You get film quality images for relatively little cost. We managed to hire one for £150 a day and seeing as we only had a two day shoot we could keep the cost down but really get a great look going. It’s the next level up from the various DV shorts I’ve been shooting.
Lighting wise we used HMI’s and practicals for the outside scenes – it was really important for Andy (the DOP) and I that we get a lot of texture in the background, so we had work lights hired in for the crime scene, a police siren balanced on one of the crew members cars. It’s those little touches that really bring everything alive and make it seem like the film is much bigger than it actually is.
You can dress practical lights in anywhere. We watched a bunch of David Fincher movies and you wouldn’t notice it, but there are all kinds of odd lights littered around. In the scene in Fight club where they leave the bar to have their first fight, you can see a fluorescent light hung over a bin. Completely illogical,. It shouldn’t be there but you don’t notice it and it really gives the scene a lot of texture.

So when we were doing the warehouse and car scenes we brought along these cheap little fluorescents and hung them off light stands, throw them out of focus and it gives you something interesting to look at as opposed to complete darkness which makes it look like the scene has been shot in a garage.
When you’re competing with major Hollywood productions you need to really put the time into the look, once you’ve done that you’ll find that making people accept different and challenging narratives is much easier. You want them concentrating on the story, not squinting and tutting about how it doesn’t look as posh as Transformers…

The concept is great – superhero meets slasher. Talk about where the idea came from and how you developed it.

I’ve always wanted to make a Super hero movie, but seeing as there is so many of the moment I couldn’t justify it. I love the Spider-man movies and the Batman movies, but didn’t want to turn in a pale imitation of those. It’s hard to find a unique angle especially when you’ve got such a dearth of super hero movies – they’ve been played straight, made into comedies and deconstructed by much better film makers than I.

I was watching Jason X (underrated) and it hit me that there are a lot of similarities between super heroes and slasher movie monsters. Both operate out of a sense of morality (though more often than not the movie slashers do so unknowingly) taking out people that contravene a moral code. They wear masks. They are often unstoppable. Combining that with my liberal sensibilities, I decided to come up with a movie idea where instead of cheerleaders you have criminals and instead of Jason you had Batman stalking them.

I wanted to look at blind uncaring justice. Justice completely without compassion, without due process and look at how terrifying that can be and the slasher elements just seemed to really bring that out in the super hero ones.

I couldn’t help but notice that the short really looks like a set up for a bigger project. Was that your intention with putting it together?

It started out as a feature script I was writing but as I went on I worried that I was losing sight of the concept. To allay my fears I thought I’d make a short side story that explored the same themes and get back to the purity of the original idea. Plus, though I’d made several short DV movies – it had been a while since I’d really tackled something of scale – I didn’t want to flounder on an idea I really believed in.

Hopefully the finished short stands on its own, but if nothing else I can use it as a proof of concept should I start pitching on a feature length version (I imagine walking into a room full of money men and saying Batman meets Friday the 13th prompts a few raised eyebrows)

Since completing the short, what are you doing with it and/or what are your plans for it?

I’m currently shopping it around festivals, but I won’t be hearing on those for a couple of weeks. There is a lot of enthusiasm for HD shorts at the moment with quite a few distributors (a friend of mine that works with me on a lot of my movies has managed to get his online web series and short distributed) looking to get their hands on them for their websites, foreign TV stations and mobile devices. His experiences have encouraged me that there are people out there that still have an appetite for shorts.

Failing that I’ll have a very pretty (and expensive) holiday movie and the conviction to get on with the feature length version

Did you enter it into any festivals and, if so, how did it do and what’s the response been like?

So far it’s gone into a few festivals, mostly British ones at the moment and I’m taking it to an open mic showcase at the end of September to try and drum up some interest for the website and the facebook page. I’m still waiting for the festival response, we’ve had a knock back already amongst the positive responses. I had to stop myself making a load of changes when I got the feedback back as they were a little disappointed with the Nemesis at the end, which nearly lead to a re-titling and reinstating of some cut dialogue. It occurred to me that I was the only person who knew about the super hero angle and seeing as there were no explicit references to it, people could be expecting an elaborate monster. It was then I realized that if I did make it more explicit (there was a line early on that made reference to a guy in a costume which I cut) I would undercut the tension in the final sequence as you would be very much aware of the nature of the ‘Nemesis’. So, I made the call that I’d rather people be a little disappointed at the end than puncture the atmosphere of the entire movie. Time will tell if it was the right one.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself, what are your influences and what got you in to indie film?

I always loved movies, ever since I was little. In Britain we have a history of banned movies (video nasties they were called) and a friend and I made it our mission to watch all these extreme horror movies like Evil Dead and I Spit on Your Grave that the big man on the podium was telling us we couldn’t watch. We couldn’t get enough of them.

I’d always written stories and comic book stuff when I was growing up (often of debatable quality) but I never really saw film making as an option growing up in an armpit of a city in North England. But growing up in the nineties there was the whole Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Danny Boyle stuff that was really hip and edgy coming out made for little to no money but powered by sheer talent and enthusiasm. I loved it and suddenly realized that it wasn’t an entirely alien possibility that I could make stuff too. Thus I made a point of learning as much as I could and working my arse off at school so I could head to uni and learn how to actually make one of my own.

Stylistically, I was always massively influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien.
It’s perfect.

Script? Perfect/ Camera Directio? Perfect. Lighting? Acting? Effects? Perfect. It has one problem and that’s a slightly dodgy edit when Ash’s head is on the table. That is it. There are elements of it in everything I’ve done – particularly Nemesis with a monster all of my own!

Also, Sam Raimi and Robert Rodriguez were people I idolized because they took the fight to the majors and created thrilling movies that felt fresh but were cheap as chips and twice as inventive. It’s those elements of indie cinema that I love. You have nothing, so go and make a movie with whatever you can lay your hands on. It’s working with those limitations that get you thinking in creative ways.

Film school: yes or no?

Yes. No-one will give you the opportunity to make movies so you need every advantage you can get. I got a BA (hons) in TV production and now work full time as an editor making behind the scene documentaries on big Hollywood movies (Fantastic Mr Fox, Quantum of Solace) and no-one would have let me near an edit without my degree. It’s this day job that gives me the opportunity to make shorts like Nemesis, I get access to the equipment to steal away for my own personal use and more so I use it every day so at the very least I’m proficient through repetition.

Uni gave me the technical know how to edit, record sound and shoot. A lot of indie cinema suffers technically and at least with this know how all I have to worry about are whether my ideas are shit (no uni can teach you how to get ideas I’m afraid). It opened a lot of doors for me and definitely helped shape me as a filmmaker.
I’ve said it before, but if you want to go toe to toe with Hollywood you can’t slack on the technical stuff. Your average audience expects to be able to see and hear the movie. Get this wrong and you’ll struggle to keep them hooked into the story and characters.

Talk about the indie horror scene. Where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

Because of the recession I think it’s in a bit of a decline, which is rather worrying. There was a bit of a boom where distributors were buying anything they could lay their grubby hands on and slapping a fancy cover on it. People got burned when they picked up crap from Blockbuster based on a swish cover and lurid titling and I think that Indie Horror has a bad reputation as a result. To your lay oerson indie horror has negative connotations because of the dirge of zombie movies with ketchup effects and no real innovation. Annoyingly these things have become synonymous with the movement and it simply isn’t true!

A friend of mine recently directed a movie, shot for 10,000 on a z1. He’s struggled to find distribution – despite it being a great movie because the buyers are tightening their belts as the outlets they depended on aren’t there anymore, the Blockbsters and the video rental shops are all gone. The sort of movies that got a free pass previously have closed the doors for everyone else.

The sad fact is it will take a new hot Hollywood property to open the gates again and get the distributors buying carbon copies of them. Then Zombies will be replaced with found footage movies and we’ll cry ‘Where are the Hellraisers? The Aliens? The Martyrs? Where is the innovation?’ People forget that Indie Horror has the power to eschew Hollywood trends and give people something different. It’s sad that a lot of people don’t make the most of that opportunity or are forced to play this ridiculous game of Simon Says.

That said I’ve just seen Monsters and I see a little bit of hope. Made for 15,000 and it’s every bit as innovative and exciting as the best of Indie horror. Hopefully it’ll get everyone to up their game a little.
Ahem, sorry rant over.

Where can people see this and any other film you’ve made?

I have a vimeo channel ( with my shorts available for viewing there. Nemesis isn’t going to be online just yet – but you can see a clip of it. We have a facebook page, which will keep everyone up to date with upcoming festival dates and screenings – plus it has a load of stills from the shoot too!

The facebook page can be found here.

And for up dates on my projects you can visit my blog at

What’s next for you?

I’m in the final four to receive a grant to make a £100,000 movie. The project I’ve been developing for the last six months is called Stay Awake and is a science fiction horror movie. It would be great to get it and the script, written by The Fallow Field director Leigh Dovey, is really something. So fingers crossed. Failing that, I’ve got a slightly whacky monster short to film about pest exterminators that come up against something bigger than your average rat called “Vermin’– so if I don’t get the grant I’ll have something to wipe my tears away with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Weekend At The Box Office, A Dead Harvey Weekend and Not Much Going On On DVD

So, here I am, my last few hours in LA... waiting for a shuttle bus to come pick me up and take me to LAX. If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything in a few days, that's why - been too busy down here. I came down for a wedding, but stayed at the Dead Harvey Compound while I was here and we managed to meet up with a few like-minded folks over the last few days and have been shooting a lot of shit about the indie horror scene. I have two things to report. (1.) After one particular meeting, we have renewed vigor for what we're trying to do here at Dead Harvey and, hopefully, we'll have something new to report on that soon. I'm not sure what that something new is, honestly, but let's just say there's some cool things going on and I hope we're a part of it... even if it's just a small part. (2.) Don't fret, folks, indie horror is alive and well, it's just a difficult scene to be in. After a lot of talk, the same conclusion comes up over and over again... This industry is just tough, but I think we all know that. However, there are beacons of hope... Technology is changing a lot... and it's changing things for the better. Social networking is allowing us to find and get in touch with each other easier, the web is making marketing and promoting more accessible and new distributions models will give power back to the filmmakers... It's happening and you need to be up on all of it. So, stay tuned!

Let's turn to the Box Office. So, in a somewhat shocking turn of events, Ben Affleck's "The Town" won the weekend. I say 'shocking' because I don't think anyone expected it to do as well as it did. I thought the marketing made it look like an unofficial sequel to "The Departed", the Scorsese film from four years ago, and it ended up pulling in almost $25Million, which puts it on pace with what "The Departed" did when it came out. Also, Affleck's last foray into writing and directing, "Gone Baby Gone", wasn't that great. In any case, the word on the street is that it's good and the Box Office numbers prove it. As for horror related films at the Box Office, "Devil" proved to be a bit of a let down. It came in third, barely edging out "Resident Evil: Afterlife", which came in first last weekend and fell over 60% this weekend. "Devil" was written and produced by M Night Shyamalan and directed by Drew Dowdle, who was also Executive Producer on the film. Dowdle is probably best known for writing and producing the US version of "Quarantine". I believe that "Devil" is supposed to be the first film in an unofficial trilogy from Shayamalan, but... his track record just sucks. Who knows if they'll move forward with the next one.

As for the week in horror, according to Amazon, there's absolutely no new horror films coming out this week. I think that Fangoria may be releasing their Frightfest films, but they're not available for purchase yet, maybe only for rent - there's "Hunger", "The Haunting", "Dark House" and "Fragile". I'll talk about them when they pop up on Amazon...

Now, I need to get a bite to eat before this shuttle bus gets here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Interview with Scott Phillips, director of "Meadowoods"

Okay, you've made a few short films and you have a few ideas for features rolling around in your head. Finally, you make the decision... I'm going to make a feature. However, as most Dead Harvey readers, you have limited funds and you can't afford much more than a standard DV camera. Well, one way to go would be to completely disregard your lack of funds and the format you're going to shoot on... make the film that's in your head, come hell or high water - a move that a lot of filmmakers do. Another way to go would be to realize and understand your limitations, then cater an idea around your lack of funds and format... make a film that fits the medium and is, therefore, believable. Obviously, either route could succeed or fail, but I think it's safe to assume that you're going to increase your odds of success when you truly understand your limitations. Oren Peli understood his limitations with "Paranormal Activity", Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez and the guys behind "Blair Witch" knew their limitations... and Scott Phillips, writer/director of "Meadowoods" knew his limitations.

"Meadowoods" is one of those films that I watched and thought to myself, "Damn, why hasn't this been done before?" I don't mean the concept. I mean, why didn't someone think of doing this concept, in this style, on this medium? It's a good thing that no one else did it, too... because, as far as I'm concerned, there's no way that it could've been done better than "Meadowoods". The film is creepy, dramatic, suspenseful and, most importantly, believable. If you want to know how to stretch a low budget and make something that works, while shooting on DV, watch this film... and, of course, read this interview. "Meadowoods" is as good as low-budget filmmaking gets and if that's your wheelhouse, this is a must-see film.

First off, I recently saw “Meadowoods” and thought it was unreal. Great job. For our readers that haven’t seen it yet, please tell us what it’s all about.

In a sleepy and uneventful small town, three college students, bored and desperate to make their mark, plot a savage and merciless murder. Electing to keep a video journal to memorialize their bizarre pact, they plot in secret, devising a homemade death chamber that will allow them to see, hear, feel, and linger over their intended victim's torment and final moments of life. Then, chosen at random, a fellow student becomes this victim when she is to receive perhaps the most brutal and horrifying of all fates. The default leader of this macabre trio directs the physical and psychological terror, even as contention and hostility within the group threatens to jeopardize their twisted plan, culminating in a violent and chilling conclusion.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget for “Meadowoods” and how did you secure the financing?

Budget was $15000, not including deferred costs, and the producers financed it with their own money.

We’ve always preached to filmmakers that if they want to shoot on DV, they need to come up with a concept that fits the medium. Otherwise, it’s going to have a tough time selling. Not only was your concept awesome, it fit the medium perfectly. Talk about developing the idea. What came first, the story or the idea to shoot something low-budget on DV?

We started with the concept that we were going to shoot on DV. I have seen too many films where it was obvious the producer/director wanted to make a movie using DV that they hoped would look like they spent a million dollars on. In the end they have a poor looking film that never fools Hollywood. We also knew we did not have the money to "out special affects" films like "SAW". Attempts to do this on small budget like ours always look terrible and cheesy. We also did not want to make another Blair Witch. So based on all of this, we decided we need to make film that took advantage of the DV format, required no real special affects and yet made the audience uncomfortable and where the terror was in the concept rather than effects. We also knew it had to be different if a studio was going to consider it. It could not be another film about a bunch of kids scared in the woods. We then began researching for ideas and came upon the concept of Meadowoods.

To pull a film like this off, you need to have great actors and you certainly had some great actors. Talk about the casting process, where did you find your actors?
Casting is key to making a film work or not, especially with this type of film. Not to pick on small budget films, but again, I have seen so many that take actors with little experience or talent, give them a script and the whole acting on the film seems forced and poorly delivered. Often what unskilled actors will do is not understand the normal beat of dialogue and the process of reacting and listening. If the rhythm is not correct something seems off. As you will read below, we tried to overcome this issue by providing a script that was only an outline for each scene with the thoughts and ideas the actors need to get across. All dialogue was to be improvised. So the key in casting was finding people that could do that very naturally. Beginning actors always feel they must be doing something or reacting (acting) at all times. What they loose is the art of listening and thinking. If you watch people when they are listening, there is often no movement in the eyes or eyebrows. Body motion is slowed, then they process what they heard and react. The timing of reaction can be instant or delayed depending on what the natural response calls for. We had to find people who would listen and react normally given different scenarios. We also needed to make sure the actors were consistent, not one great performance but then could not do it again. We had tons of people audition. We would give them different scenarios and have them adlib it. We found most people would do the scene like they saw in a movie or over act it. It was very frustrating trying to find people for the parts. We kept having certain people come back again and again. We would tape them and then play it back on a Movie screen I had in my house to make sure the acting played on a big screen. Often someone is ok on a small screen put when projected bigger the flaws in their acting shows up. Once we had it down to our top 10 or so people , we had them pair up to see what the chemistry was like between them. After several weeks we had our main cast. The same thinking went into casting even the day players. In this type of film every person has to come off as believable or the whole thing falls apart.

Let’s talk about the story and the script. The film came across as very real and ad-lib at times. Did you write out a full script and, if so, how closely did you follow it?

As mentioned above there was no dialogue written. In addition to the reasons above, we wanted the dialogue to be real as students their age would say it. We did not want to project our concepts of dialogue into what they say. As the director, I perceived my main task with the actors was to make sure the concepts came across and spot any moments when they start over-acting or seem to know what the person is going to say before they say it. The challenge in shooting a scene, was that we would do it a couple of times and after the first attempt they would start to know where each person was going to go with their dialogue. The normal reactions would then start to come across fake (they would almost step on each others lines). When I would see this happening I would make changes to the scene so they would have new reactions and would have no idea what each person is going to say. It also seems that every inexperienced actor has acting quirks that make them come across less then real. One actress wanted to over express her eyebrows, and another looked like she was acting when she would laugh. So I made sure those things were under control throughout the shooting.

Let’s talk about the finale and how you shot that. Never once did I not believe what I was watching, my suspension of disbelief was never broken. How did you shoot that and ensure that it all looked authentic?

We worked hard with the actors to make sure they played the scene as they would if they were really in that situation, not how an "actor" would play it. Any time they started thinking about "how would I react in this situation" while shooting it came across fake. I remember telling Kayla to get out of her head. She was thinking to much about how to play it rather than just being in it. When it came time to shoot her in the box in the dark, we turned all the lights out and I would leave her in the box for a couple hours at a time. I needed her to get frustrated, angry and claustrophobic. It usually took her about 10 minutes just to get emotionally dark enough to start shooting. I would then talk her through different scenarios. through talking, I could lead her down to even a darker place in her psyche. We did this for 3 days to get the 6 minutes of darkness.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. What are your influences and what got you in to film?

I have always loved movies but never really thought about directly a film. Several years ago, I had written a couple high concept TV commercials that I wanted to shoot and sell. I had a director lined up to do it and at the last minute he dropped out. I already had everything booked so I had to move forward. I ended up directing it myself. It was in the middle of summer, it was hot out and it took two full days to shoot it. The final scene involved working with a ton of mud. We were racing to get the final shot before the sun went down. We got it. I remember sitting on the curb covered in mud, sun burnt, cracked lips from the sun, completely worn out and I thought to myself, "that is the most fun I have ever had". I loved the entire creative process. From that point I was hooked on wanting to do more. My producing partner Stuart Ball and I made short films to play at film festivals. We had tried to finance a film back in the 80s but the process of chasing money wore us out. So short films was a way to practice our craft without the hassle of fund raising. Last year the cost of HD and making films became reasonable enough that we decide to do our own feature.

Film school: yes or no?

I did not attend film school. My job did not give me the time to go through formal training. I had taken seminars and did a lot of reading. I wish I had taken film classes as I am sure it would have saved me some time and mistakes during the process.

What was your goal for “Meadowoods”? Was it for accolades? Were you looking to make money? Either way, did you achieve your goals? Any lessons learned that you would pass on to other filmmakers?

Our first goal was to find a distributor that saw the potential in the film. Next we were hoping horror critics might think it was ok. Beyond that we hoped to get our money back and then make some money at it. The most important one was to get a distributor. Without that you made an expensive film for yourself. We got a distributor pretty quick by today's standards, it only took a couple of months. The reaction by the horror film critics was more than we could have hoped for. As for the audience reaction, we have only just begun the distribution of the film so time will tell. We expect the public reaction to be mixed. This is the kind of film that some will love and others will hate. As for advise or lessons, learn what are hot buttons for distributors. If your film does not have those it is most likely not going anywhere. I was once told and I believe to be very true, start with marketing and work back from there. It will dictate everything you do, from story to casting to shooting.

Talk about the indie horror film fest circuit. What did you learn from it and is it something that you would recommend to other filmmakers?

The key when your film is made is to be very careful about what festival you send it to first, second, third and so on. Each festival has rules regarding if the film can be shown anywhere else first. You want to start with the top tier festivals first and then work your way down from there. Even with horror films. A lot of the big festivals, like Sundance, have horror as part of the festival but generally you have to be a premier to be accepted. Do not plan on a run at the festivals to be a few month process. It can take a couple of years. year one you go after the top festivals, year two the secondary and so on.

Talk about the process of finding distribution. If you could pass on one piece of advice to other indie filmmakers on distribution, what would that be?

The good old days where you can submit your film directly to distributors is for the most part gone (especially if you hope to see any money for it). There is so much crap out there that the distributors just do not even want to waste their time. Also they are so worried about being sued because a film they have is similar to yours, they just wont accept any unsolicited submissions. We tried that first and just kept getting the packages back saying they will not even look at it. Despite what people might say, you really do need to be represented by someone the studios and distributors have a relationship with. Especially if you want to actually see any money. But research any representatives. There are a lot out there that make money by taking on your film regardless if it ever gets distributed. The single most important advise I can give, if a Film Maker wants to get distributed is have a truly original concept that is well put together. That is truly the toughest part. Distributors do not need a low budget concept like Twilight or the next Blair Witch or Saw. I would also suggest, develop a concept that you can easily reshoot large chunks of. I have seen to many films where they get every thing put together only to find out it is all crap or big parts of it are terrible. Having spent all the money and shot it a certain way there is no way to fix it and now you just have a very expensive home movie for yourself. We kept this in mind when we decided each scene would be a continuous shot. Then if any scene did not look good on screen as I might have thought it did on the set or the story line does not read like I thought it would, I can reshoot the whole scene or even take it in a different direction. I would rewrite and add or remove scenes overnight after shooting depending on what happened that day. I also negotiated crew with extra reshoot days so I would not be cash strapped. One more thing. The bigger the distributor the more important it will be to have added features for the DVD. It is becoming expected now. Save the outtakes. We also shot two different endings just for the DVD.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

It is a tough scene right now, for independent film makers in general. Video rental stores are closing and the ones left are less willing to stock those unknown films. There has to be a lot of buzz about your film to get them to buy it. They have to know or believe people will come in and want to rent it. In developing the concept of Meadowoods, we spent as much time on how the film can be marketed as we did on how we are going to make it. No one really cares how great your film is, they want to know why would anyone without seeing your movie want to rent or buy it. You may have a great looking film with an awesome story but unless it has some great way to generate a ton of buzz before anyone actually rents it, it is of no use to a distributor. A film maker really needs to learn how a distributor thinks to get any success. Monterey became interested in Meadowoods because of the many different ways buzz could be generated with it. Because we were thinking the same way, it was a great fit. They key was finding out if horror magazines and website would take to the film. Without good reviews we are dead in the water. We got incredible reviews and that with an orchestrated online campaign Meadowoods was able to get Buzz.

Where can people find out more about “Meadowoods” and/or get their hands on a copy?

What’s next for you?

A lot depends on what happens with Meadowoods. If the film gets enough reaction, a second may be in order. Otherwise we are actively searching for the next cool concept

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Resident Evil Takes The Box Office and Some Good, New Horror on DVD

Quite frankly, I've never really liked Milla Jovovich. Well, she wasn't bad in "Dazed and Confused", but everything from, and including, "The Fifth Element" on, sucked ass. I should mention that the ending of "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" was okay, but only because she burned at the stake. Anyhow, as a horror loyalist, of course I've seen all the "Resident Evil" films and, despite Jovovich's best attempts to steer me otherwise, I find them mildly entertaining. I mean, what's not to like? Zombies get slaughtered. Good enough. The fourth installment, "Resident Evil: Afterlife", was the only new film to come out this last weekend and it won the box office with ease... it was the highest grossing yet for the franchise, but was the least attended. Why's that, you ask? Because it was in 3D and 84% of the theater-goers paid the premium to see it in that format. This Friday, we get "Devil", which was written by another person that I've grown to loathe, M. Night Shyamalan. It's directed by someone else, Drew and John Erick Dowdle, which is great... but it's PG-13, which isn't so great. Anyhow, let's check out the new horror that's out on DVD this week. As usual, you can see the trailers for these films on our Youtube Page and you can click on the titles to be taken to their Amazon Page, where you can read more about them and/or buy them.

"Mad Ron's Prevues From Hell" is a classic horror movie compilation and it's hosted by ventriloquist Nick Pawlow and his zombie pal, Happy Goldsplatt. They drape a loose idea around the compilation, as they're entertaining a theater that's filled with Happy's zombie buddies, with the trailers being presented by a drooling, half-wit, cannibal projectionist named Mad Ron. In any case, it's definitely one for the horror enthusiast, as it goes through 47 classic horror trailers.

Holy crap, the trailer for "Necromentia" makes it my pick of the week, for sure. Directed by Pearry Teo, the acclaimed director of "The Gene Generation", the film has been called "Saw" meets "Hellraiser", but better than both... it appears to be filled with gore and erotic tortures, as three desperate men attempt to open the gates of hell and transcend the boundaries of death. Check out the trailer - I'll be picking this one up today.

Very rarely can Bill Cosby be tied to a horror film, but it can be done with "Within". Hanelle M. Culpepper is an award winning writer/director whose career was started after her first screenplay earned her admission into Bill and Camille Cosby's prestigious screenwriting program for African-American writers. The film was meant for the Family Network or something like that, but the trailer looks okay... if you're into PG-13 ghost stories.

"Bloodwood Cannibals" is a feature film that's based on the "Hunting the Unknown" web series. "Hunting the Unknown" is, or was, a web series that's based around the exploits of Nigel Thorne, an adventurer that leads a crew to search for mythical creatures, such as the Yeti, Chupacabra or The Mothman. There's a group of characters, including a producer, an associate producer, a videographer, a sound operator and an editor. In "Bloodwood", they come to find a monster in the Bloodwood Forest, but end up fighting a group of feral cannibals. If you get the DVD, it includes the entire "Hunting the Unknown" web series.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Interview with Todd Miro, writer/director of the short film "Enter The Dark"

I'm going to reiterate and clarify something that we, at Dead Harvey, preach to lots of indie filmmakers... and that is, make your film fit the medium. What I mean is, if you're shooting on 35mm or HD with great lenses and light kits, the world is your oyster. Do what you want, you paid for it. However, as you move down the trough, as far as equipment, budget and cameras... you need to be a bit more creative when it comes to telling your story. The best example of what I mean is features being shot on basic DV. When you're shooting on a basic digital video camera, you really need to make the concept fit the medium. "Paranormal Activity", "Blair Witch Project" and, recently, "Meadowoods". (By the way, watch for an interview with the "Meadowoods" guys soon!) are all examples of great, successful films that shot on basic digital video. They're generally shot in 1st person style and justify the footage being shot on low-budget DV by claiming that it's found footage or a home video that's edited by one of the characters. What that does is create a suspension of disbelief that engages the viewer and makes what they're watching believable. Now, imagine the opposite... how effective would your suspension of disbelief be if you, say, tried to shoot "Laurence of Arabia" on a handicam in your backyard? Not good. Moral of the story? Think about your concept and how you want to shoot it, make sure it all matches up.

Todd Miro, the writer/director of the short film "Enter the Dark", did exactly what I'm talking about. However, he twists it around a bit by expertly weaving back and forth between two mediums. One, an HD camera with great lenses that gives a polished, professional look and, two, a handicam that gives that gritty, creepy 1st person feel. The story evolves from a guy that's invited his friend over to help him film some of the paranormal activity that's going on in his house. The film then takes a few dark and creepy turns, all before it's twisted and surprising ending. All I can say is, the 1st person, shot on DV stuff is as creepy as anything in "Paranormal Activity" and the rest helps craft the story perfectly. It's a great short, engaging until the end and the twist ending really will catch you off guard. We had the chance to talk with Miro about the film...

Tell us about “Enter the Dark”, what’s it all about?

Enter the Dark is a short horror movie that I wrote, directed and edited that tells the story of two good friends who are led on a paranormal adventure of EVPs, apparitions and a mysterious talking children's book. By the end of the evening it becomes clear that things were not what they had expected. It took about six months to shoot in my own house (much to my wife's great displeasure).

One thing I found out quickly is how complex it is to produce even a simple short movie such as this. We all have full-time jobs and families, so the scheduling was a nightmare. I had a small crew, only two actors and had one location (my house), and it still took six months to find the nights when we could all get together. Having backup crew was a must, so when my DP, Rob Weiner couldn't shoot, I had my buddy Eduardo Silva step in. Both did an amazing job. The best thing about this experience was being able to work with a cast and crew made up of my friends - my actors, Rob Sandusky and Charles Yoakum were absolute troopers - I've known those guys since the 7th grade. Having people like Kristin Nelder there doing whatever was necessary - from rigging lights to making script suggestions made all the difference - everyone pitched in. Seeing Rob Weiner working alongside his son Ben, and watching him hand down his expert knowledge of sound recording - those kinds of things make all the hassles worthwhile.

If you don’t mind us asking, what was the budget and how did you secure financing?

The budget was roughly $2,000 - mostly for pizza, beer, Oreos and lens rentals. I own my own edit suite, my DP, Rob Weiner, donated all his gear and everyone worked for free so those were our only expenses. I financed the movie myself - with the help of my wife of course!

You flipped between two different cameras – one for the 1st person shots and one for the rest. Both looked great, what cameras were you using?

The main camera was a Canon 7D with fast lenses - a 50mm 1.4 prime and a 17-55mm 2.8 zoom. This incredible camera allows you to shoot full HD video (1920x1080) at 24fps with beautiful 35mm lenses and depth of field for around $2,000. This allows for a very convincing film-look at a bargain price. The second camera, our POV cam, was a Sony HDR-CX12 with the infrared NightShot turned on. The camera was setup with a wide-angle lens, and an additional IR light.

The amazing thing about this shoot was that the entire movie (except for the opening scene) was lit with only a flashlight. Ben Weiner, our sound recordist had this high-powered LED flashlight and it gave off so much light we quickly realized that was all we needed. I wanted to have a very naturalistic look and also wanted the blacks to drop off to absolute darkness and this one flashlight gave us that look - depending on where you bounced the light you could have a wash of light, rim light, harsh shadows or silhouettes.

The other thing to consider is that my actors, Rob & Charles, actually lit most of the movie, since they were carrying the flashlight in each scene. So, not only were they delivering their lines and worrying about blocking for each take, but they had to remember to bounce the light where it looked the best. Otherwise, the image was just mud. Oh yeah, and they also shot the majority of the POV shots as well. Geez, those guys deserve a friggin medal!

Most of your effects were practical effects, but it did look like you used a bit of cgi. What program did you use and how were they created? I’m thinking of the ghost in the doorway, mostly.

Yes, I wanted to try to do physical effects as much as possible. I just felt that the organic nature of them lent themselves better to the style of this movie. Plus it was fun to do all the rigging and run around like a stunt coordinator or something. The only CGI in the movie is in the hallway scene where they see the apparition. For that, first I shot Rob doing a bunch of different takes of walking across the camera's field of view. Then I picked the best one, brought that into After Effects, rotoscoped it and added some filters to break up the shape a bit.

The film was genuinely creepy. Talk about creating that creepy tone.

Thanks - that is definitely what I was going for! My writing process was pretty simple - I would lay in bed at night and think about the scariest thing that could happen to me right at that moment. Obviously, this led to many sleepless nights! Then I looked at those ideas and picked the ones that I thought I could actually pull off. I also watched tons and tons of scary movies, trying to analyze what made each scene work. There are obvious homages to famous scenes in my movie - I'll leave it for the viewers to pick them out.

One issue I had with writing these scenes was that I actually had to reign myself in. If I made them too scary then my character Rob, who's there to help his buddy out, would just naturally say, "Eff this... I'm outta here!" And then my movie would just end. I kept thinking about that old Eddie Murphy joke:

In the Amityville Horror the ghost told them to get out of the house. White people stayed in there. Now that's a hint and a half for your ass. A ghost say get the f*&# out, I would just tip the f&*% out the door.

I would've been in the house saying: "Oh baby this is beautiful. We got a chandelier hanging up here, kids outside playing. Its a beautiful neighborhood. We ain't got nuttin to worry, I really love it this is really nice."


"Too bad we can't stay, baby !"

You obviously pulled from “Paranormal Activity” a lot, however you throw all similarities out the window with your ending. Now, did you start with the ending in mind or did that twist come to you later?

Actually, the idea for this movie came to me way before PA was produced. I always loved Blair Witch Project and wondered why no one had ever done another POV horror film - it seemed so obvious. So, I started tinkering with an idea of a guy videotaping mysterious things going on in his house. Of course, I never actually did anything with this idea. Then REC and Cloverfield and PA all came out and I thought, "You doofus! You sat on a good idea and now it's too late - it's already been done." After I picked my shattered soul off the ground I decided to pursue my idea anyway. During the final writing process, I intentionally avoided watching PA because I didn't want to be influenced by it. I only saw it once my script had been written. Then I tweaked it a bit to avoid comparisons, but I knew they would be inevitable.

As for the ending, I knew all along that the paranormal activities would only be one element to this movie. I myself am not particularly scared by conventional ghost stories - they usually unfold more like mysteries than horror films - if you can discover the mystery of who died here, and why, then you can send the entity on its way and all will be well. For me, true horror has to say something more - something about the state of mankind, or the nature of true evil. Movies like Se7en and The Ring do this for me, and that was more the tone I wanted at the end of my movie.

Now, tell us a bit about yourself. What are your influences and what got you in to film?

I have been making movies since I was ten years old - my buddies and I running around with my Super-8 camera doing Monty Python ripoffs, and me making stop-motion claymation epics in the tradition of Ray Harryhausen. The movies that influenced me the most are Alien, The Shining and the Excorcist - those for me are the Big Three. My literary influences would be Stephen King, Clive Barker, and especially, H.P. Lovecraft.

Film school: yes or no?

Yes. I pretty much knew I wanted to work in the biz since I was ten or so, so it was an obvious choice for me. I attended San Francisco State University and got my film degree and then got into the real world and got my first job...

In a bookstore.

I quickly realized that this business had little to do with a degree and hustled my way into internships and eventually became a partner in a video editing facility. From there I became a freelance editor working on documentaries, corporate videos, commercials and eventually, back to independent filmmaking. My first foray into indie filmmaking was editing Elisabeth Fies' cult-thriller, The Commune, which has received lots of great buzz and recently got onto Netflix. This gave me the confidence to write and direct my first short movie - and that's where Enter the Dark came in.

Even though my film degree did not lead directly to any work, I know I rely on the depth of knowledge it gave my every single day. To be able to think critically about cinema, and understand the language of film is invaluable.

Talk about your goals behind making “Enter the Dark”. Is it for accolades, for a reel, for festivals?

To be honest, I really just wanted to finally finish something of my own. As an online editor, I have overseen so many other people's projects to fruition. It is my job to take their fragile visions, give them final form, and send them off into the world. That is rewarding in and of itself, but I knew it was time for me to step up and see if I could do the same.

Hopefully, Enter the Dark will run in the festival circuit for a while and then it will be available for download.

Talk about the indie horror scene, where do you think it is now and where do you see it going?

The indie horror scene is very vibrant right now. There are so many festivals, blogs, websites and dedicated fans. With the availability of such great equipment at such a low cost, anyone who wants to, can now make a movie. That is both a blessing and a curse. Just because anyone can have access to Microsoft Word, that does not make them a writer. And just because anyone can have access to a camera and Final Cut Pro, that does not make them a filmmaker. There will be a tremendous glut of bad stuff out there and a few hidden gems. Finding those gems will be more and more difficult. Hopefully more and more beginners will focus less on the latest cool gear, or trying to copy the latest Saw movie and will strive to learn their craft - especially story. Those who understand how to tell an engaging story in new and exciting ways will succeed and lead a new vision of horror into the future.

Where can people check your film out?

Enter the Dark premieres at the Chicago Horror Film Festival, Sunday, Sept. 26 at 9:20pm. We are excited to screen on closing night, right before the final feature. Actor Charles Yoakum and I will be attending so we hope to see you there.

It has also been entered into many other film festivals including Screamfest, New York City Horror Film Festival, Sacramento Horror Film Festival and SXSW, so please visit for updates and for more info on the movie.

What’s next?

Well, I love the short story, Smoke Ghost by Fritz Leiber and would love to adapt that for the screen. I'm also working on a script influenced by Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness which updates it while keeping the core themes.

If I can get the financing, I also have a couple of ideas of how to turn Enter the Dark into a feature-length film.

I also plan on getting some well-needed sleep. In my house. Without thinking about scary scenes anymore.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Weekend at the Box Office, What to Look Forward To and the week in Horror on DVD

Is the Labor Day long weekend traditionally bad for the box office? You wouldn't think it is, but "The American", which looks very uninspired and average to me, won the weekend with, what I would think, is a soft $16.4Million. However, that's the fourth highest grossing Labor Day launch EVER. So, my two questions are... how could that win the weekend and, is it me, or does Clooney just seem to be mailing his films in? "The American" looks like something that I'd watch on a plane, if I really couldn't get to sleep. As long as they keep making money, I guess he'll keep making them... "Machete" managed to beat out "The American" on Friday, but it sunk like a rock and fell to second, grossing $11.4Million. That's less than the film that spawned it, which was the box office disaster, "Grindhouse". Tame opening for Rodriguez, but I'm thinking that this was more a labor of love than a box office, money grab. "The Last Exorcism" took a huge stumble and made under $9Million, coming in 4th. The other new release was "Going The Distance", with Justin Long and Drew Barrymore... and it was an unmitigated disaster, grossing a paltry $6.9Million. Some good news, horror storms back to the big screen over the next few weeks. This Friday, "Resident Evil: Afterlife (In 3D)"; the next Friday, "Devil"; the Friday after that, in limited release, "Buried"... and that takes you through September. Now, let's look at the week in horror on DVD. As usual, you can go to our Youtube Page and see all the trailers (well, in this week's case, two of the trailers) and you can click on the titles to be taken to their Amazon Page, where you can read more and/or buy them.

"Ghosts Don't Exist" is from writer/director Eric Espejo and they're selling it a great price, $6.99. The film is low-budget by Hollywood standards, $250K, but definitely looks and feels like it has a bigger budget than that. It's about a ghost hunter that's looking to retire from his paranormal TV show, so he looks for a phenomenal show to wrap it all up. What he ends up taking on is a bizarre case that quickly turns personal and deadly.

I'm not sure it's a horror, but how can I not mention "Absolution", staring Mario Lopez as the hero, Jaime Pressly and Richard Grieco as the villain, which is about a post-apocalyptic earth that's been destroyed by an asteroid? Greico is the tyrannical leader of New America, a military colony in the Arctic, and Lopez is sent in by the authorities... whoever they may be. I'm not sure how Jaime Pressly fits in. Once again, they're selling it for $6.99. With plot, it just may be worth it.

Now, jumping in to the Dead Harvey realm, we have "Braincell", which was written and directed by Alex Birrell. It had a budget of approximately $20,000 and it's about a wave of violence at a university in Liverpool that's due to the strange experiments of Dr. Joseph Cornwall. His estranged niece heads to the US to live with her uncle, then uncovers a horrifying mystery. There's lots of familiar faces here, including Raine Brown, Billy Garberina and Joe Zaso.

I know nothing more about "Convict 762" than the product description, but it's enough to make me mention it. An all-female crew in a spaceship is forced to stop and re-fuel at a penal colony, where they run into a terrified captain that's rambling on about convict #762... who managed to slaughter everyone and is looking for a way off the planet.

Lastly, I need to mention "The 16-Film Midnight Horror Collection" that Echo Bridge is releasing for $39.99. It has 16 lower budget horror films and, having seen most them, I'm telling you this is a good deal. From "The Craving" to "I Am Omega" to "Secrets of the Clown" to "Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned", there's a lot of good entertainment in here... 1,453 minutes of entertainment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scholarship Available from Star Costumes, plus an interview with Star Costumes President, Mike Cairl

Here, at Dead Harvey, we do our best to bring you posts that are informative, educational, insightful and, in rare cases, lucrative... or, should I say, potentially lucrative. Today, for the first time, we'll be bringing you a post that is all of the above.

Today, we're going to talk with Mike Cairl, the president of Star Costumes. You can find them on the web here. They're one of the biggest online retailers of costumes, masks, props, make-up and supplies... and they're offering YOU a chance at a horror scholarship. Read on to find out more about the scholarship and what Star Costumes is all about...

Tell us a bit about this scholarship. Who’s eligible, who should apply and why?

The Star Costumes Horror Scholarship is open to anyone 18 or older who's studying full-time to work in the horror industry (see our site for more details). They could studying to be a special effects makeup artist, costume designer, screenwriter, director, or just about any other job related to horror cinema. What's important to us is that the student can demonstrate (via their essay) a passion for horror and show us they have the potential to make an interesting contribution to the field.

Will you be offering this scholarship every year?

We've been really excited about the response we've received so far, and plan to offer the scholarship again in 2011. It's a bit tough to predict at this point, but we hope to make the scholarship a regular thing.

What made you decide to do a scholarship? And why a horror scholarship, in particular?

We've been planning to set up a scholarship program for awhile, and horror seemed like a natural fit. As far as we know, there's never been a scholarship designed specifically for students who want to work in the horror industry, even though horror cinema is a huge business.

Costuming is a very cinema-focused industry -- the hot movie that year tends to determine the most popular costumes, and characters from that year's top horror flicks have always been a big seller for us. So it really benefits us as a company to encourage the creation of great horror movies.

Tell us about Star Costumes.

Star Costumes is based in Toledo, Ohio, and has been selling costumes since 1980, and online since 1997. That makes us one of the oldest costume sites online.

What kinds of things do you sell that horror filmmakers may be interested in?

Besides our costumes, we sell a large assortment of theatrical makeup, special effects makeup, fake blood, fake skin, adhesives, and latex appliances.

Out of interest, what are your top selling costumes or items and why do you think that is?

As mentioned, the top movies that year tend to drive the costumes people are looking for. This year, our Deluxe Predator Mask has been popular, since the movie Predators came out not too far back. Clive Barker also recently launched his own line of Halloween masks and costumes called Dark Bazaar that we expect to be popular.

You, obviously, see the horror industry from a different angle. Talk about what you think makes a good horror character.

As a costume company, we love to see really defined characters -- both in appearance and personality. Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Jigsaw, Pinhead -- those are all perennial best sellers in the costume industry. Great characters don't always equal great films, but it does mean a lot of people will want to dress up as them.

Do you have any favorite horror films?

I actually lean towards movies that use a strong story and a sense of ambiance and tension/resolution to achieve their desired effect, as opposed to the more hard-core gore-nography that's also popular. I really liked Paranormal Activity recently, and the original Japanese version of Ju-On scared the wits out of me. Sometimes, what you don't see is actually a lot scarier than blood spilling everywhere.