Our Skulls Runneth Over…

First of all, thanks to all you new subscribers and welcome to the LooksDark Blog.  I know it’s been a little while between posts, but I’ve been really busy digging up some rotted treasures for your enjoyment.  So let’s get right to it…I promised updates and behind the scenes information regarding what’s being exhumed here at SkullDug Films so here goes…

  • AreaZ – short subject
    • Log line:   A distraught widower, his son and a bungling neighbor embark upon a mission of revenge against a former place of employment only to expose a conspiracy far darker than they ever imagined.
    • In pre-production – research phase complete – currently on 3rd draft of script
    • Will be posting research material sneak peek in a week or so.
  • Dark90 – serial webisodes – A little slice of horror in 90 seconds or less.
    • First episode – “One Man’s Treasure”  – log line:  Criminals unearth a treasure chest in the forest but get more than they bargained for.
    • currently in storyboard phase – hope to post some sneak peeks this month.
DoorRenderTest

Please, stop that knocking, please!

  • Ravens – 2nd Poe re-imagining project
      • Log line:  A man, consumed by grief and books, is tormented by a visitor in a lonely, decayed steampunk apartment.
    • Currently in pre-production/production design phase.
    • Script in 2nd draft.

 

 

 

  • TeamZ:  Web series
    • log line:  Got zombies?  Call TeamZ for all your Living Dead Eradication Services – prices to suite any budget – all members licensed and bonded.
    • In pre-production.
  • Symbol14
    • Sorry, this one’s a secret!  But we are in production research stage – oh yeah, this will have a crowd sourcing component as well as some transmedia storytelling – my skull is humming!

Oh yes, I almost forgot – there’s a new SkullDug short story that I’ve just been putting the finishing touches on.  It’s part of a series called “Tales from the Boschard” and I hope to posting it in the next several days.

Dig The Dark,

JerrySkullDugSmall2PS.  Look for a SkullDug website redesign in the next month or so…

 

The Short Films of Jeremiah Kipp

Jeremiah Kipp and Dominic Sivilli have been busy – and that’s a good thing for fans of horror.  A pair of shorts have surfaced that bear commentary.  Especially in reference to one of my previous posts Fast Horror.

Wow, this pizza sure has a lot of cheese!

Just say no!

CONTACT from Dominick Sivilli on Vimeo.

The first is CONTACT.  Eleven and a half minutes of tension.  A journey into the horrors of drug abuse, the freakish underworld of the drug culture, and the lasting effects of dangerous substances.  Starkly captured in black and white, with just a smattering of dialogue, CONTACT is a well oiled tension machine.  A mother and father, a wayward daughter and her lover, and a healthy dose of freakish substance induced hallucinations, all combine to create an atmosphere that it truly unnerving.  Kipp covers much of the ground previously cornered by David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly, EXistenZ), notably, the horrors of the flesh. More importantly, however, is the fact that this is not cheap horror.  No cats jumping out of cupboards.  It’s real, visceral and horrific.  The treatment is mature and has a lasting psychological chill.  This is your brain on drugs.  Any questions?

Bathtime!

Don’t forget the towel!

Crestfallen (2011) from Dominick Sivilli on Vimeo.

The second film from Mr. Kipp that I had the pleasure of screening is CRESTFALLEN.  At just over 6 minutes, Crestfallen is also a lesson in efficiency.  An engaging story of love, loss and realization, all achieved without a single line of dialogue.  And that’s just fine with me.  When you’ve got imagery and music that work together as well as Dominic Sivilli’s and Harry “Friday The 13th” Manfredini’s,  there’s no need to say a word. While Contact makes wise use of black and white, Crestfallen juxtaposes a rich color pallet of gold and blue to paint the powerful emotions of the characters and the mood cues of the story – Rembrandt and Monet meet Edgar Allen Poe.  It’s all woven into an unpleasant tapestry of love, betrayal, tragedy and hope.

Now that i’ve got Jeremiah Kipp on my SkullDug radar, I’m not likely to let him go any time soon.  He’s producing amazing short form tales and proving that he’s up to just about any task.  Keep the fast horror flowing!  I would love to see how he handles 2 minutes or less – there, Mr. Kipp, I’ve tossed down the gauntlet!  Are you just mad enough to accept the challenge?  I certainly hope so!

Yes, I am blushing...

Yes, I am blushing…

Fast Horror

The Speed of Terror

Everything today is fast, instant.  Is it possible to create horror content to match this pace?  Is 30 seconds enough to put a real scare into an audience?  How about 15 seconds?  I believe it CAN be done – but it won’t be easy  The main issue is audience empathy.  In order to really feel terror, the audience MUST put themselves in the place of the main character.

Fragments of Fright

I think the key is individual shorts that ultimately add up to something terrifying. 30 seconds of terror or creepiness that are part of something larger.  30 seconds to pique the curiosity regarding the rest of the story.  It’s ultimately a challenge of efficiency regarding story and character.  Movie trailers are masters of the short form and work extraordinarily well on the internet.

A Web of Horror

Then there’s the web – a distribution platform that offers a staggering amount of cross pollination opportunities.  It’s new art form – blended entertainment – video and social media working together to achieve a larger experience – complete with audience participation and contribution – UGC, man UGC.  Trent Reznor did it beautifully with his Year Zero project.  One big, dark, evil rabbit hole to disappear into.   Mmmmmm –  a delightfully wicked way to spend one’s time…

Yes, I am blushing...

Yes, I am blushing…

The Gory Red Carpet…

Valuable lessons in interviewee etiquette

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first film festival, the Clifton Film Festival in July 2012, as a filmmaker.  The experience was one that I have been waiting 20 years to have and it was truly inspiring.  That said, the organizers had set up a makeshift “red carpet” complete with interview area. I was asked, like all the other participants, to be interviewed. Unfortunately, the results of my first interview as a filmmaker were less than award winning.  See for yourself at the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYSQ3Z_FRTA&list=PL75CEBFD19539622A&index=3&feature=plpp_video

Talk about dorky!  Goofy grin, not opening up to the camera, profile of a criminal – and not once did I mention my hero filmmaker, Roger Corman!  No mention of my basic filmmaking philosophy, web distribution, my film company brand, etc.  Oh yeah, and the interviewer called me “Jeremy”!  Oh the humanity!  Had I been filled with hydrogen, I would have burst into flames and fried all the curious onlookers.

Mistakes are the best learning devices

I believe that it’s exactly these types of experiences that make us better.  Failure is the only way to learn how to do something more effectively next time.  There is no chance for progress if one never makes a mistake and hence no chance to learn.  I happen to be the type of person who dives right in and as such I often end up doing things three times before I get a successful result.  Other people I know plan and plan and plan and then, finally, begin.  By the time they’ve begun, I’ve already tried 3 different ways to do the same task and successfully achieved my goal.  The important thing, however, is all the knowledge that I gained along the way – and that brings me precisely to my point.

Getting lemons and making lemonade

Because of this genetic defect in my personality, I’ve been fortunate to learn a great deal along the way – and because of this I’ve been the go-to guy when it comes to rescuing production disasters.  I’ve saved hundreds of horrible corporate and industrial nightmares from complete failure.   Without the experience of working through failures, I would have never had the ability to fix those situations.  Generally, I believe, these failures have given me the confidence in my abilities to think on my feet.  Unfortunately, the “red carpet” situation knocked me on my ass!  But boy, oh boy did learn a ton!  So the next time everything goes to hell and a hand basket, just remember how much you are learning while Rome burns – and start planning how to rebuild it!  It takes courage to try something unique and creative, especially something that others are afraid to attempt – of course, we all know that Nietzsche says “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

Here’s some film festival links for those courageous moments in your creative life:

 http://www.festivalfocus.org/

 http://www.festivaltrek.com/festivals-category/film-arts/

http://www.badlit.com/?page_id=887

Yes, I am blushing...

That’s not paint…

ps. Please don’t share my red carpet interview with too many people unless you plan on making a drinking game out of how many times I look goofy.

All The World’s a Drive-in

Kings of Content

The internet and social networks have created an unprecedented need for content.  In particular, video content is poised as the future “king” of all content in the next 5 years.  Current predictions estimate that 75% of all content on the internet will be video by 2015. So what does this have to do with drive-in movie theaters?  Plenty, if you know your film history…

Original Drive-in Establishment

Cheap flix in the stix

Richard Hollingshead

The H-man himself

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hollingshead and Pennsauken NJ

In 1933, Camden resident Richard Hollingshead Jr. opened the first drive-in movie theater in Pennsauken New Jersey. It could accommodate 400 patrons and sported a 40 x 50 foot screen.  Hollingshead charged $.25 per car and an additional $.25 per person.  The effort lasted only three years, but spawned a slew of other similar operations across the nation.  The second of which was Shankweiler’s Drive-in Theater in Orefield Pennsylvania.

The second drive-in theater in America

Please, no kids in the trunk!

No Budget, No Problem

I grew up near this establishment and had the pleasure of viewing lots and lots of cheap, fun, low budget fare here.  Which brings me to my point.  By the 1950’s, these venues generated an unprecedented demand for low cost content.  Horror, comedy, exploitation and cult films became the main fare of drive-in theaters across the nation.  Small studios and independent productions rose to the occasion – producing a wide array of wild, fun, creepy, and entertaining content at a very low cost – a new genre to fill the void that Hollywood could not possibly keep up with due to the relatively slow process of development and production required within the big studio system.

http://www.skulldugfilms.com

Respect The Skull!

SkullDug Films to the Rescue

This is where Skulldug Films comes in – we’re planning on taking advantage of the huge need for low-cost content that the internet distribution networks have created.  Just like the drive-in theaters of the 1950’s and 60’s, the web is a vast new venue, thirsting for content – low cost or free content – to fulfill a world-wide audience’s needs for entertainment.  Disruptive technologies like new, high resolution cameras (RED, BlackMagic Design), DSLRs, and a host of desktop production tools whose price tags have become affordable enough to fit modest budgets, have made it possible to produce relatively high quality content with a very low budget threshold.  Additionally, low-cost computing offers the horsepower to process higher resolution imagery than ever before.  Quality productions can be achieved with little financial risk to investors for less than $100K.  Big studios can’t produce content quick enough to hit emerging audience preferences before they fade.  Only a small operation like SkullDug can react and move quickly enough to address the speed with which the internet and associated audiences are moving.

Small, Fast and Funky

SkullDug is well versed in the language of B movies. Hell, Roger Corman is my hero – campy and fun for the whole family, this type of content is the stuff I grew up with.  I believe that  a good story can withstand compromises in technical achievement.  SkullDug prefers clever filmmaking to big budgets.  We find it far more fulfilling to create engaging content on a shoestring.  We’re happy to go where the big studios fear to tread – fast, funky, campy and above all else – fun!  Stay tuned – we’re planning some fun projects – just give us some time to wring some innovative ideas from our skulls!

Thanks for reading,

Yes, I am blushing...

I think I have a fever…

 

 

 

 

 

ps. While we’re working, we’d like to pick your skulls regarding your favorite B movies from the 50s and 60s – share your top 5 low budget classics in the horror genre – here’s my list:

  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Directed by George Romero – creepy, zombie genre pioneer.
  2. Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) -Directed by Edwin L. Cahn -Campy, funny teenage exploitation at it’s best!
  3. The Monster from Piedras Blancas (1959) – Directed by Irvin Berwick – Creepy, low budget, cool monster in the basement of a lighthouse.
  4. Bucket of Blood (1959) – Directed by Roger Corman – great fun, whacked concept, campy over-the-top beatnik poetry horror.
  5. The Haunting (1963) – Directed by Robert Wise – Cold, creepy, haunted house favorite