I am really getting into the new craze of horror shorts on YouTube, given my short attention span and the lack of “new” horror with actual terrifying appeal. The big studios miss the mark every time and we get watered down PG-13 style garbage instead. Just type in “horror shorts” in your search browser and you’ll be exposed to a whole new world of indie filmmakers and actors/actresses that I feel have more to offer than the prevalent nepotism in commercial Hollywood film. -k.m
What was the inspiration for “Mannequin” in its creepy, surreal, twilight zone, meets sheer terror approach?
( Deric Nunez) You pretty much hit the nail on the head! The surreal nature of the Twilight Zone was a constant source of inspiration when producing Mannequin. There was also a show I would watch as a kid called “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” which too had that blend of surreal meets terror. Throughout production, I kept saying that I wanted Mannequin to feel like an adult version of that show.
I should also credit my overactive imagination. The idea for Mannequin actually came from when I was taking the trash out to that exact dumpster featured in the movie, and wondered to myself what I would do if when I turned the corner to toss the trash, something out of place was standing there.
How long did the writing and filming process take?Mannequin took about a month to write, a 15 hour day to film, and approximately two weeks to edit before it was released on the Cowmaster Studios YouTube Channel on May 3rd, 2013.
The writing process was definitely the most stressing due to the sheer number of rewrites and edits.
Amelia Gotham provides a very convincing and compelling performance, did you discover her or is there a set group of creative individuals you prefer to work with?A bit of both… I have a crew comprised of friends that I have worked with and known for years. Once Mannequin was written up, I had my crew in place, but just needed that perfect actress to bring it to life.
I discovered Amelia through an online casting service called LA Casting, which has been tremendously helpful when trying to lock down great talent. Amelia submitted a video audition for the role and just hit it out of the park, she was perfect. The crew and I were so pleased and grateful to have been able to work with such an amazing talent.
I love the horror-short format, do you plan on full-length features in the future, or to continue the eerie succinctness of the short film, which mimics the fast happening terrors of everyday life?I would love to do a horror feature in the near future, but right now I feel the best course of action is to continue with the horror-shorts in order to build a fan-base that enjoys my work.
The horror-shorts are a lot of fun because they allow me to explore new ideas and techniques at a quicker pace than a feature-film.
What films inspired you to write and create in the world of horror.It was less a single film that inspired me, and more the genre as a whole. I just love being scared, so when it came time to come up with my next film concept, horror just made sense. My first horror film was called Knock. The crew and I had so much fun working on it that I figured the horror genre required further exploration. The great reception it received was tremendously inspiring as well.
I am constantly drawing inspiration from the techniques other horror movies utilize to get reactions from their audience. I’m really big on studying techniques.
What advice could you give to aspiring independent filmmakers and writers to realize their nightmares on the digital screen, the way you have skillfully done?I’ll rattle off a few:
- Study the techniques that other horror films utilize to create tension. Absorb the horror genre because you can’t successfully make a film in a genre you know nothing about.
- Make a film that you believe in, based around a technique or challenge you want to explore.
- K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple Stupid) Make something that is within a reasonable scope based on your budget, team size, and skill level.
- Stop thinking about it and just go for it. You will make mistakes, but that’s part of the process.
How necessary is adequate backing in the making of a quality and terrifying horror short film?
The great thing about horror films is you don’t need much in terms of budget to create a terrifying experience. Horror is about the pacing and setup, both of which are free.
Take the Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity for example. Both of those films are inspiring to me due to how successful they were at building that sense of terror, while staying on a shoestring budget.
There’s a nice flow of isolation, relationship strains, bloodshed, and poetic conclusion to your past films, A New Day and Last Hand, was your writing process in Mannequin deliberately different in the use of minimalism?For Mannequin I just wanted it to be a very simple story about a girl and a random encounter she experiences. The hardest part about writing Mannequin was actually trimming the script down until it both told the story I wanted to tell, and contained no extra fluff weighing it down. Thankfully I had my co-writer, Erika Kotero, to help keep the integrity of the script on track.
I should also point out that Last Hand was my film partners work, his name is Michael Papilla. Though I did lend some consultation work on the set, I was more there to act and help edit. I would really recommend checking out his film, Forgiven Faith. It’s not horror, and it’s a bit low budget, but has really terrific pacing and is entertaining to watch.
What locations do you primarily film in and is it easier to do it local?I stick to local spots or locations that have been thoroughly scouted. I like being able to just set up at a location with no worries of pedestrians or "the law" intervening and ruining a shoot. Plus, it is very important to have a location you are comfortable working in.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, and fans that have contributed to and supported to the continuing growth of Cowmaster Studios.
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