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July 29, 2008

Attack of the Scary Movies!

Joe, Collin, and I got together and watched a number of Horror Films to dissect their shots, use of color and light, stuff like that in preparation for the short we're shooting in a couple of weeks.

We watched the following films in fast forward (except for scenes that really caught our interest):

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (really beautiful cinematography)
Sasquatch (totally stunk)
The Hills Have Eyes (ahhhh terrifying and so messed up but also well shot and effective)
Friday the 13th (such a terrible film, I've always heard so much about it but it does not stand up to the test of time.)
The Descent (we were liking it, but we specifically need to figure out daytime scary shots in a woods or a building and these were all in darkness in a cave.)
The Ruins (again, liking it, but not all that helpful because the terror is the result of a plant or something, we need a large hulking pursuer.)
Wrong Turn (really really scary, nicely shot, mostly in the woods.)

Anyway, none of us are horror movie fans at all, so this was a weird yet kind of fun experience. The interesting thing to me is how much these films have in common. Young hip teens find themselves somehow waylaid (often by spikes meant to pop car tires) in the middle of nowhere where cell phones don't work and are then at the mercy of some creepy horrible rural bumpkins / genetic freaks of nature. That really is the basic storyline for much of the above stories. But hey, it works.

Also, the experience of sourcing actors and a director of photography and an audio engineer has been really fun, but also kind of difficult. First of all, what is it with actors? Why do they have to be so weird sometimes?

Cases in point:

1) I've had 3 different actors ask me to call them so we can "discuss the role." That would be fine at the time when I've cast them, but this is pre-auditions and we're up to 20 potential actors. I just don't have time to chat with all these actors!

2) I've had a mom respond to my ad saying her 15 year old son would be perfect for the role of the hulking chainsaw killer. Uh, no!

3) I've gotten a response from a petite woman saying she wanted the role. When I responded to her saying that I'll keep her in mind for future projects but that I really need a large, intimidating man for this role, she replied "This is the kind of role I need to expand my acting reportoire. Please reconsider your decision." Uh, I cannot cast a petite woman in this role!

4) I've had 3 actors say they are in Philly with no cars and would need rides. One asked me to figure out the best public transportation bus route to get from Philly to the audition. What world do these people live in where this is my responsibility?

For the DPs, we're down to 3. I think I've made my decision. Just for fun, I'll post links for the reels for the three of them and you let me know which you prefer.

Reel A:

Reel B:

Reel C:

Either way I'm psyched because I think the footage is going to look incredible. I really am wondering why I never thought of hiring a DP before. The talent in this area alone is really impressive to me.

Posted by jason on July 29, 2008 12:38 AM


"Scenes that really caught our interest" included about 95% of The Hills Have Eyes. We started out in fast forward like normal but we got hooked a few minutes in and then watched the rest of it. What a horrifyingly twisted piece of work. It felt like watching a train wreck. It was so disturbing, but we just couldn't pry our eyes away from it.

Posted by: Collin on July 29, 2008 01:10 AM


Posted by: jason on July 29, 2008 01:12 AM

hahahaha--gotta love actors!

I couldn't imagine emailing a director and asking him to tell me how to get to an audition! Wow.

Posted by: jessica on July 29, 2008 02:13 AM

I think I like Reel A best, Jase. I have never seen a demo reel before and I was thinking I would be seeing a short movie, you know, one story, but it was not like that. Once I got past that expectation, I was fine with it. I don't exactly know if I can tell you why I like that reel over the other 2, it is very late and my head is going fuzzy, but I thought there was a smoothness to it, if that makes any sense. This is not my area of expertise, so I don't know how helpful my opinion is.

By the way, Jase, for future reference, I would never expect you to find me a ride! ;-)

Posted by: kathiek on July 29, 2008 03:25 AM

I've been on a bit of a horror kick lately, and I've found that the reason that so many American horror movies these days are remakes of Asian horror movies is that some the Asian horror films are damn good. I don't think that the American remake of Shutter was very successful or well received, but I just watched the original, Thai production, and it was fantastic. Like most of us, not much startles me any more when I'm watching a horror flick, but this one really made me jump a couple times, and it managed to maintain that air of suspense and dread throughout the film. Really creepy. No hulking, though.

Posted by: Mike on July 29, 2008 11:21 AM

That is funny that those actors would be demanding like that.. If I was going to offer someone a job, I would never hire someone that wanted me to pick them up for the interview..

Posted by: Jason J on July 29, 2008 12:34 PM

right, cause you wouldn't want to start them off with that kind of expectation...

Posted by: jessica on July 29, 2008 08:00 PM

I think all three reels were weird, but at least the one in the middle had a dead body in it.

Posted by: taylor on July 30, 2008 12:35 AM

I really liked Reel 3. I thought that this one was the most talented. Very good eye. Scenes and view of subjects captured attention. Reel 3!

Posted by: Ruthie Z. on July 30, 2008 01:07 AM

Confession: I have seen all of The Hills Have Eyes series! Very disturbing but I am a horror movie fan! Chris hates horror so I watch a lot of them alone...creapy huh! I just get sucked in and enjoy being scared!

Posted by: Ruthie Z. on July 30, 2008 01:12 AM

ah come on, don't be sexist. To be fair: you would hire a large hulking woman too, right?

Now the only problem is finding that 6'3", 250-lb woman...

Posted by: jasongchu on July 30, 2008 10:57 AM

I thought that reel a and reel c were both very good.

I personally liked reel a the best, but reel c had more outside shots, which I assume you will be using a lot of.

Posted by: Ian on July 30, 2008 01:43 PM

i too narrowed it to A and C.

Posted by: snakeman on August 2, 2008 12:47 AM

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