October 16, 2012 by Andrew Bogatek
As the screenwriter for Deadwood Fury, I wanted to make the story as realistic as possible. I considered these four points when developing the script:
1. A good story
2. Well-developed characters
As I wrote the script, I thought about horror movies today. Most horror movies these days are all about the blood, guts, and scares. However, you don’t need all those elements to make a movie scary. We certainly didn’t, but we worked with what we had anyway. Red food colouring for one, was our substitute for blood.
I thought it was best to incorporate scares because they are more psychological in nature. They play at the idea of:
– Not knowing who’s there.
– You don’t know what’s scaring you.
– The antagonist is rarely seen or unveiled.
– Ex. “The Blair Witch Project” (1999). The film is psychologically-horror based because the villain is never seen and plays on the characters’ fear.
A lot of directors who’ve made horror movies have used several techniques to provoke fear, not just for audiences, but also their cast.
“In Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ (1979), for the chestburster sequence John Hurt stuck his head shoulders and arms through a hole in the mess table, linking up with a mechanical torso that was packed with compressed air (to create the forceful exit of the alien) and lots of animal guts. The rest of the cast were not told that real guts were being used so as to provoke genuine reactions of shock and disgust.” – IMDB.
The example of Ridley Scott’s Alien demonstrates the genuine reaction the cast had during the Chestburster sequence. It’s the simple fact that they did not know real guts were being used, which legitimately terrified them, thus evoking a genuine reaction.
Scaring the Deadwood Fury cast
To evoke that same sense of realistic fear and terror embedded in the actors of horror movies, my co-director Trevor and I used a few techniques to get our own cast screaming, running, and jumping. Some of these include:
1. The “Pop-Up” scare: Our ending scene featured our heroine Stepha being dragged into a dark closet by the masked killer. To make it realistic, Trevor and I didn’t tell Stepha when the killer (played by myself) would grab her by the legs and drag her into the closet. When I pulled her in, she screamed at the top of her lungs.
2. Chasing: There’s nothing freakier than having your protagonist being chased by a killer carrying an actual sledgehammer. One of our lead male actors, Michael B. was so terrified when he saw the killer charging towards him with his weapon that he ran like the wind. Ironically, he thought the sledgehammer was fake. (Note: No one was injured with the sledgehammer.)
3. Shooting at Night: Every horror film features the presence of darkness. This can include the film being set at night, or have a scene set in pitch black. When Trevor was filming scenes in a graveyard in Cambridge, ON at night, he didn’t realize how eerily creepy and silent it would be. It got a little scarier when his cousin, Issac was dressed as the killer and constantly jumped out of nowhere to scare Trevor.
After shooting scary scenes all day, you don’t want to scare your cast; you want to make them laugh. I know that every time I watch a movie with my friends, we first get scared at something and then we laugh it off.
In terms of the script and story, you want your cast to like it; you want them to embody their character and appreciate the story. A helpful tip is asking your cast members:
– Are you happy with the script?
– Do you like your character?
– What can I do to make you it easier for you in regards to your role?
The collaboration between myself and the cast taught me that as long as we were both on common ground and had a mutual understanding of the film’s content, then filming would go smoothly.
As always comment, express, or cast your thoughts below!