Hooked: Be careful what you fish for…

We’ve just started submitting The Halloween Kid to festivals around the world, and while we wait for their replies (it could take a while…), I thought I’d put some pics from my previous shorts online.

The short film I shot before The Halloween Kid, Hooked, was a goofy 1-minute twist on the slasher film, which I filmed with a bunch of friends, purely for fun, on a beach in Los Angeles last June. I was spending a few weeks there, and thought it’d be fun to shoot something with some of the fantastic technicians and producers I knew there.

Our budget was around $200. We thought of a place where we could film for free – a beach – and an idea that wouldn’t require any major SFX, costumes, or large numbers of actors or extras, and could be shot in a couple of hours.

And since we would be shooting in a public place without a permit (think Ed Wood…), our DP Will Barratt (who shoots all of Adam Green’s films) decided to limit camera equipment to the Canon 5D, a portable monitor and a small box of lenses. Unit base was a bunch of towels in the sand.

DIY at its finest. We even had to give up on the monitor at some point, because we couldn’t risk getting the batteries wet once we started filming in the water.

Of course, things didn’t go smoothly. The first problem we encountered was that by complete chance, we’d chosen to film on the one day of the week the El Segundo Junior Lifeguards train on this usually deserted stretch of beach.

So our menacing fisherman, RA Mihailoff (Leatherface), suddenly found himself surrounded with dozens of kids. You can see a few of them in the background of this pic:

Thinking on your feet and solving unexpected problems is one of the best parts of filmmaking… So for a full hour, we shot close-ups, and we didn’t waste any time.

Things got tougher still when time came to film our mermaid (Clare Grant, of Team Unicorn fame). The waves had started to grow stronger by that point, and Clare found it extremely hard to stand waist-deep in the sea. On several occasions, we had to jump in the water and go rescue her before she got swept away.

This is why the film doesn’t exactly have the epic aquatic battle I’d originally envisioned, or long, lingering shots of our beautiful mermaid…

Needless to say, we were all drenched by the end of the shoot. And sunburnt!

Left to right: costume designer Oakley Stevenson, producer Theresa Eastman Schifrin, Clare Grant, RA Mihailoff, Axelle Carolyn, editor/runner/partner-in-crime Neil Marshall, lighting and sound marvel Annette Slomka and director of photography Will Barratt.

Missing here are music composer Joseph Bishara, and VFX artist Jamison Goei. We’d originally hoped we could do the effect practically and create a really cool monster, but decided that in the very few hours we’d have to shoot and in the windy and wet conditions we’d have to work, it’d be madness.

At the end of the day, we rewarded ourselves and the cast and crew with a Mexican meal. Hurray!

The film can be seen on the FearNet website. It’s pretty funny, if you keep in mind the guerilla conditions we filmed it in…

Merry Christmas!

And so…¬†The Halloween Kid post-production is finished. We screened the film for the cast and crew last night at a plush central London screening room, and it looked great on the big screen. The adventure is far from over though, as we start approaching film festivals and submitting the film around the world!

Thanks again to everybody who invested, spread the word, took an interest or worked on the film this year. May your Christmas be merry, and 2012 bring you success and spookiness.

And our Halloween Kid narrator is…

I’m incredibly proud and happy to announce that legendary actor Sir Derek Jacobi has joined the Halloween Kid team! Sir Derek recorded the narration for the film today, and he was such a joy to work with. As a kid, I’d seen him in a Channel 4 miniseries, Mister Pye, which had absolutely terrified me – an idea which ties in nicely with the themes of the film.

I truly cannot wait for you all to hear it!

To celebrate the nearing end of post-production, here are a couple of new stills from the film!

Be good, for goodness’s sake!

In my previous post, I mentioned that Saint Nicholas was traditionally accompanied by a man or creature whose identity varies, and whose role is to punish naughty children.

In the Alps, that companion is the Krampus, a particularly nasty and terrifying devil. Below are a few traditional postcards. See for yourselves…

So tonight, Dec. 5th… don’t let the Krampus get you!

Saint Nicholas

Growing up in Belgium, Halloween was pretty much unknown to most, and Christmas was secondary to another children’s holiday: Saint Nicholas (December 6).

In the evening of Dec. 5, we’d put our slippers by the fireplace and sing songs to invite Saint Nicholas to leave us presents. Nice children would be rewarded with chocolates, speculoos cookies and toys. Naughty children would be visited by the less amenable Pere Fouettard (Zwarte Piet), who for us was basically a man in blackface (scary!), or in other regions, an old bearded man, or a devil (more on that later). Whichever the version, they all are handy with a whip.

 

The legend of Saint Nicholas varies from one region to another, but the version I learned as a kid was awesomely gruesome. Here’s the English translation of a popular song we learned in school…

Three little children sought the plain
Gleaners of the golden grain.
They lingered past the angel-song,
And dewy shadows swept along.

‘Mid the silence of the wood
The butcher’s lonely cottage stood,
“Butcher! lodge us for the night,
Lodge us till the morning light.”
“Enter in, ye children small,
I can find a place for all.”

The butcher seized a knife straitway,
And did the little creatures slay.
He put them in a tub of brine,
In pieces small as they were swine.

St. Nicholas, at seven years end,
His way did to the forest wend.
He sought the butcher’s cottage drear:
“Butcher! I would rest me here!”

“Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
You are welcome, St. Nicholas!
Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
There’s place for you the night to pass.”
Scarce had the Saint his entrance made,
He would the supper board was laid.

“Will you have of ham a slice?”
“I will not, for it is not nice!”
“Of this veal you’ll take a bit?”
“No! I do not relish it.”

“Give me of the little swine,
For seven long years have laid in brine!”
The butcher caught the words he said,
And forthwith from the portal fled.

“Butcher! butcher! do not flee,
Repent and God will pardon thee!”

St. Nicholas the tub drew near,
And lo! he placed three fingers there.
The first one said, “I sweetly rest!”
The second said, “I too am blest!”
The third replied, “Tis well with me,
In Paradise I seem to be!”

So yeah, good old Saint Nicholas brought back three slaughtered children from the dead.

A fun Saint Nick slasher film by Dutch director Dick Maas came out last year, by the way, and although it was based on a different version of the legend, it was pretty good: Sint. Seek it out!