Calling all aspiring filmmakers! If you’re looking to embark on making your first horror movie, then hopefully this story will help push you off the fence.
Oliver Park is the award-winning director/writer/producer behind 2 brilliant short horror films, Vicious and Still. In his own words, Oliver talks about his journey from self-funding, all the way to getting his work seen by millions of people…
At the end of his article, you’ll find a link to Vicious — we hope you enjoy! So without further ado, it’s over to Oliver…
Making Your First Horror Movie: By Oliver Park
From a very young age I have been fascinated with horror and writing scary stories.
I remember at school, my teacher advised my parents that while I was a good writer, I should stop writing so much horror. Advice, thankfully, I didn’t take to heart.
I was born in the 80’s and grew up with stories by M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.
When I discovered horror, I quickly fell in love with films by Carpenter, Craven, Kubrick, Romero, Cronenberg, Russell, Barker and of course – Hitchcock (to name but a few). I was terrified by those stories and would lie awake at night unable to sleep!
I have always been one to write down ideas – however crazy they seemed. I would sketch, write poems, prose and scripts. I have very vivid dreams and I lift ideas almost beat for beat from my nightmares. Instead of turning over and trying to forget them, I’ll sit up and try to remember every detail.
An obsession for film lead to acting through a drama society in my early teens and in 2015 I decided to produce and direct one of my short scripts – Vicious.
I would say the first and most important step, was surrounding myself with people who were great at what they do. I wanted the best chance of getting what was in my head onto the screen.
I was lucky to have worked with some amazing people over the years, so I wrote to many of them asking for help. I self-funded Vicious and to make sure everyone involved got paid I had to save for a long time.
After I had my full crew, I had to find the two cast members. The only person that wasn’t brought on through people I had already worked with was the lead actress Rachel Winters. I had a very specific vision so I put out a casting call and spent many hours sifting through headshots.
We shot the film in my house over two very long nights. I was so happy with what we had and excited to move on to the edit. We had one extra ‘pick up’ day a few weeks later and while I always wish I had more time and money on set to get every extra little detail, I was ready for post-production.
With feedback from my friends (some filmmakers, some not) I completed the editing process and moved onto entering it into festivals, at which point I realised that would cost more money.
When you’re putting a film budget together, you should probably double it! I was shocked at how many festivals accepted my entry. I couldn’t afford to go to all the festivals with the film but I did manage to go to a few and loved the experience.
Vicious screened at over 50 festivals worldwide and won over ten awards including ‘Best Short Film’ at Toronto After Dark. It got nominated for a further ten awards including the ‘Melis d’Argent’ and gained over one million views on YouTube in under a year of being online. For me, the biggest reward was people enjoying my film.
A month after releasing Vicious, I went into production on my second film Still. This idea came almost beat for beat from a nightmare I had. I wanted it to reflect the disturbing feeling of my dream and make it shorter and darker than Vicious.
I had very little money so I used crowdfunding for half of the budget.
I must thank Emily Best for all her incredible advice on this front! We couldn’t use her crown-funding platform which is US based, but her tips and guidance proved invaluable in enabling us to easily reach our target for the film.
Once again, I wrote, directed and produced. After another difficult six months of pre-production, production and post-production, I was lucky enough to have Still picked up by Eli Roth’s ‘Crypt TV’ to be released on their online channel.
It was released on the 12th December 2017, received just under two million views across Facebook and YouTube in under two months and views continue to grow!
When I started with Vicious I told people that “unless it was going to be great, I didn’t want to do it” – I feel the same about my other ideas. I won’t settle for anything less – if it’s not something that I would enjoy watching then I’m not interested in doing it.
I want to give a massive shout out to everyone who helped make Vicious and Still. Every single person helped to make them possible; the funding, the shimmer of the light in shooting, the way the camera twitches, the props, make-up, costume, sound, editing – literally everything! You guys all know who you are – thank you all so much!
I have so many more ideas to bring to the screen, and intend to make a short film each year until one of my feature film ideas get interest. So bring on the next!
Are you looking at making your first horror movie? Perhaps you need some assistance? If so, The London Horror Society can help.
We have hundreds of members with years of experience in producing, writing, directing, SFX/VFX, and many other crucial skill sets. Become a member for FREE today, and learn how we can make a difference.