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Why horror?


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#1 james smyth

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 08:58 PM

I keep my eye on the local craig's list crew listing for camera related opportunities. It seems to me that the vast majority of super-low-budget independent films seem to be horror films. Why is this? Maybe it's just that I'm not much for horror, but why do I rarely ever see a drama, or comedy, or anything else?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 09:05 PM

It's a marketable genre that is not as dependent on name casting. If you do a drama or comedy, you better get some name actors if you want a good chance of selling it to a distributor. Plus comedies and dramas tend to have less international appeal since often the humor or situation has culturally specific elements.
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#3 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 10:11 PM

It's a marketable genre that is not as dependent on name casting. If you do a drama or comedy, you better get some name actors if you want a good chance of selling it to a distributor. Plus comedies and dramas tend to have less international appeal since often the humor or situation has culturally specific elements.


Couldn't have said that better myself. Plus, I think allot of beginning movie makers are drawn to the horror genre simply because it's a genre that excites them in one way or another. Also, if horror turns campy, I think it's a little more acceptable.
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#4 Chris Durham

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 06:09 PM

There are a lot of people drawn to sfx, and horror is really budgetable in those terms - makeup and splatter-packs are cheaper than CGI and explosives.

Plus, it's hard not to look at guys like Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi who have great careers that basically started with slasher flicks.
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#5 Jim Keller

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 06:56 PM

There are a lot of people drawn to sfx, and horror is really budgetable in those terms - makeup and splatter-packs are cheaper than CGI and explosives.

Plus, it's hard not to look at guys like Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi who have great careers that basically started with slasher flicks.


Yes, FX films are perenially popular, but the caveat is that the specifics of the market can be very hard to predict. (If it weren't, we wouldn't need distributors.) One of my co-workers has been making his first feature in his spare time, and just discovered that right now the distributors are saturated with low-budget horror films, so they're starting to get choosier about which ones they pick up. Luckily, my co-worker's movie is an old-fashioned sci-fi piece, which is looking very good to the distribution houses simply by virtue of being different. It really wasn't much more expensive for him to make than a horror, because he just rented a leftover set and then did the spaceship shots himself (and if you're not picky about quality, you can do that). I'm told that physical comedy is currently popular again, and that the international market is straying away from single-star pieces. (I say all this with the proviso that I don't do features, so I could be dead wrong in all the trends I'm citing.)

The most important thing is to set your budget based on what you can realistically sell it for, and then make the best film you can make on your budget, regardless of genre.

If you make the film for less money than you sell it for, you make money. If you make the film for more money than you sell it for, you lose money.

If your goal is to get a first film made so you have something to show and you don't necessarily care about selling it, then make whatever film you want, in whatever genre you want, but do your best to spend nothing doing so. I spent less than $5000 when I did my "showcase feature," including the $3500 camera I conned my father into buying so I could shoot it. It's not marketable (and you won't find it in IMDB as a result), but by doing a low-key drama on digital, I could do it for the cost of food, tape, and insurance. I wound up with a nice piece I can show people to prove I know how to direct.

Rather than saying "start with a horror film" I'd suggest a different approach. Start by assessing your own capabilities. Are you good at makeup effects? Then horror is a great place to start. Do you happen to be a decent animator (like my co-worker)? Start with something that uses that. Are you a musical prodigy? Avid ball player? You'll be much better off if you make what you know the first time out.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 10:10 PM

It all boils down to how you can sell it. You need something to market a film with -- and if all it has going for it is that it is a really good movie (it's not a genre movie and it has no name actors), then at least you'll want some famous film critics to write that so you can at least use that in the marketing. A few awards would help too. You need something.
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#7 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 11:37 PM

Horror = the genre is in itself the star = cheap. Goes for any niche market, actually. Horror just happens to have the broadest appeal of the niches.
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