Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › Help! Whats wrong with my Horror short-film? › Shanil, Having made a coup
Having made a couple of horror flicks, here’s a breakdown of why your’s doesn’t deliver;
Right off, you get props for the work put in so be proud of getting your film made. Most folks with far greater skill and resources don’t get that far.
Character Development – Who are these guys? Why were they in the graveyard other than drinking? What’s out there in the graveyard? Why should we in the audience care about these dudes or the monster being there? If you can’t answer these questions when you’re writing your script, the audience sure as hell can’t.
Visual / Audio Manipulation – Horror films are all about what is seen or unseen. You build audience anxiety an anticipation by how you frame your shots and use your audio cues (i.e. silence, sfx or music.) You set up a claustrophobic feel to the piece much to early without establishing a reason for it to look that way. If they’d been in a tunnel, small room or a van, all those medium close-ups and close-ups would have worked. Your characters were outside in the dark. What’s scary is that open unseen space. You made no effort to take advantage of it.
Editing – How you cut your piece is also a factor on how your audience is affected by what they see and hear. Your editor went through your clips with a hatchet. There was no ‘feel’ or ‘rhythm’ in the cuts and it looked like you were just trying to get to the next shot. Take a look at some horror films. The best ones use long empty pauses in addition to staccato cuts. These set up a rhythm so when you suddenly change it, you get the payoff of a good audience scare even when nothing actually happens.
Bottom line. Like I said, you and your team definitely get high marks for effort. It’s obvious this was your first time doing it and I’ll say that I’ve seen pro’s with way more time, money and resources make rather underwhelming pieces. So to not knock it out the park on your very first film project is no disaster (unless your distributor wants their money back!) My suggestion is to make more films. Learn about composition, lighting, sequence creation and camera movement. One thing that would have helped believe it or not would have been some good hand-held footage. Few horror films (good ones anyway) stay on sticks throughout the entire production.
Lastly, before you shoot a single frame or field of video, get your story tight. Even for a 5-minute one-off like this, know who your characters are, why they are there, what their motivations are and how they’re going to get in/and out of their predicament. Most important, know your monster/villain. If you don’t have time to develop the ‘heavy’, then when he, she or it shows up the audience gets it right away. Never have an ‘oh, by the way Villain’ in your movie. Audiences hate that and you’ll lose them immediately.
So, in my overall opinion I’d say this was a ‘Foul Ball’. It’s not a strike and you’re not out, so keep swinging!