Back in the spring we told you about the Shudder Labs program, a workshop for aspiring genre filmmakers, and now they’ve announced the 11 filmmakers (10 projects) who will be participating in the inaugural program as well as receive a $5,000 grant and a yearlong mentorship with a Master-in-Residence.
One of them could be the next Romero, Raimi, or Carpenter so we’ll be keeping an eye out to see where they go from here!
From the Press Release:
Shudder, the horror streaming video service backed by AMC Networks, has announced the 11 fellows selected for the inaugural Shudder Labs, an intimate and immersive workshop for aspiring genre filmmakers. Shudder Labs will provide a one-of-a-kind space for a new generation of horror talent to advance their work through hands-on support and guidance from established horror masters. Shudder Labs will take place next week, from June 13 through June 18, at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York.
The final 11 Shudder Fellows were selected from over 300 applicants across the US and represent a group of filmmakers whose ongoing projects demonstrate unique viewpoints, original concepts, and confident styles. Together, they embody a multitude of perspectives on horror—they are the new voices finding fresh, artful, frightening avenues to explore within the genre.
“The caliber of projects and overall submissions for the first Shudder Labs are beyond what we could have ever imagined when we developed the idea,” said Shudder curator Samuel Zimmerman. “They show the hunger for a genre-focused program and the bold new perspectives of the next generation of horror filmmaking.”
“Like a vampire, I feed off of the enthusiasm of young talent; it is invigorating to encounter new voices in the horror genre and to find out what motivates young minds to explore the art of the macabre,” said director and Master-in-Residence Larry Fessenden. “I’m very happy that Shudder has included me in this rare retreat.”
During Shudder Labs, fellows will work through their latest projects with a distinguished group of Masters-in-Residence, led by Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman, and including: director Larry Fessenden (Habit, No Telling, The Last Winter), CEO of Snowfort Pictures Travis Stevens (We Are Still Here, A Horrible Way to Die), writer Clay McLeod Chapman (The Boy, Late Bloomer), producer Jenn Wexler (Darling, Slumber Party), Kickstarter’s George Schmalz, IFC Films’ Head of Acquisitions and Production Arianna Bocco, Josh & Sierra Russell of Russell FX (Southbound), and the Frontieres International Co-Production Market’s Director Lindsay Peters. Also in attendance will be AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan, who will share insight into AMC’s history with—and long-term commitment to—horror.
Shudder is committed to fostering fresh outlooks and undiscovered new voices from the new wave of horror filmmakers. In the hopes of encouraging this talent, each fellow will receive significant post-Labs support, including a $5,000 grant and a yearlong mentorship with one of Shudder Labs’ Masters-in-Residence, along with generously donated materials from Final Draft.
The projects and fellows selected for the inaugural Shudder Labs are:
As the Dust Settles / Mike Olenick
An asteroid carrying the seeds of alien life crashes down in the neighborhood where a young couple is buying a house from a dishonest realtor. When the couple settles into their new home, they unpack a secret that will change the lives of everyone in the neighborhood: the truth about what happened to the home’s previous owner.
Mike Olenick focuses on forbidden desire, reproduction, transformation, and outer space in his projects. Mike’s films have streamed on MUBI, aired on Dutch television, and won awards at the Slamdance Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. He studied photography at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and has edited films and videos with Guy Maddin, the Quay Brothers, Kelly Reichardt, Sadie Benning, and Jennifer Reeder.
Beyond the Darkness / Shane Wheeler
A modern sorcerer must save his friends from a dark dimension, but to succeed he must
overcome his own suicidal depression.
Trained as a biologist, Shane Wheeler wrote his first screenplay while working on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. Since then, he’s written, directed, and produced a number of award-winning shorts, as well as features Captive of a Death Mask (2012) & Stabbing with Frank (2016). Wheeler is a filmmaker raised in Brownstown, Michigan.
Black Bats / Rick Spears
Feeling cast out from society, two teens begin a relationship under the belief that they’re transforming into monsters. What begins as fantasy ends with horrific consequences as they both lose touch with reality.
Rick Spears is mostly known for his comic book writing, having published eleven graphic novels and numerous comics including Teenager from Mars and Dead West. Rick has also written and directed a handful of award-winning short films. BLACK BATS will be his first feature.
In the Night / Joshua Erkman
A 24-year-old running from his past starts a new job picking up the dead for a mortuary and begins to suspect powerful sinister forces are closing in on him.
Joshua Erkman is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, a USC graduate, and drummer for LA punk band LAMPS.
Lovespell / Courtney and Hillary Andujar
A teenage girl in Hawaii casts a dark spell that unlocks something sinister within herself.
Courtney and Hillary Andujar are identical twins who grew up at punk shows and in diners in Texas. Courtney is a writer and designer who has collaborated with artists and activists such as Yoko Ono, Paul Chan, and Julian Assange. Hillary is an art director who has worked internationally with Tim Burton, David Lynch, and The Wachowskis.
Polybius / Hunter Stephenson
It’s the summer of 1984 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The only thing booming louder than the arcades is the aircraft over Fort Bragg. A hip babysitter named Tiffany is determined to show the brothers Carmack the parent-free weekend of their lives. But her reality is bleeped when the younger brother, a vidiot ‘sperger named Palmer, is snatched after encountering a pylon-like arcade cabinet. Joined by a skeleton crüe, it’s up to Tiffany to kick ass, chew bubblegum and forevs destroy this trippy gamer-gateway to hell.
Hunter Stephenson is a Scottish punk. He is also a writer/producer based east of the Rockies. His recent Noisey docu-series Hot Sugar’s Cold World received the Honorable Mention at Hot Docs 2015, and was executive produced by David Gordon Green, Jody Hill, and Danny McBride.
The Eyes / Will Forbes
In 1970’s Upstate New York, there is a local legend of The Eyes, a spirit in the woods of the Catskill Mountains that consumes the souls of the lost and weary. When the favorite uncle of three local kids dies suddenly and under mysterious circumstances at the edge of those woods, the kids set out on a mission to discover the horrifying truth.
Will Forbes has been composing and producing music for visual media for nearly a decade, until he realized the best way to achieve his goal of scoring horror films was to start making them himself. Originally from Upstate New York, he currently lives in Inglewood, CA with a cat and a tortoise.
The Sound of Darkness / Melody Cooper
A blind musician and a deaf sculptor are haunted by a woman only they can see and hear, who leads them to take on an epic battle against a terrifying legacy of racial violence and evil.
Melody Cooper is a screenwriter, director and producer of Horror and Afrofuturism, and Winner of the 2016 Women in Cinema International Screenplay Competition with her horror feature MONSTROUS, which also won Third Place at Slamdance. She is directing the supernatural thriller THE SOUND OF DARKNESS this summer.
Un-Seen / Lucy Cruell
Some things once seen, cannot be unseen.
Lucy Cruell is a graduate with honors from Duke University and Harvard Law School. Lucy has also been a published short story author, film critic for multiple publications, and entrepreneur. Her screenplays and pilots have won over three dozen awards and festivals including Shriekfest. She is now a full time writer, director, and starving artist.
What Happens Next Will Scare You / Chris LaMartina
On the verge of losing their jobs, a group of click-bait journalists struggle to compile their scariest viral videos for a Halloween listicle, but when a cursed entry brings malevolent forces into their reality, our social media junkies must figure out they’re sharing harmful content before they become victims of their own monsters.
Chris LaMartina is a Baltimore filmmaker and has been delivering high concepts on low budgets, blending horror and comedy with such films as “Call Girl of Cthulhu” and “WNUF Halloween Special” since 2007. With a curious knack for finding humor in the weird, LaMartina’s films have been critically acclaimed- playing film festivals across the globe, and garnering coverage by NPR, the New York Times, and MTV.
Interview: Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson Discuss Upcoming Body Horror Comic Come Into Me
Recently, the folk over at Paste Magazine revealed a new body horror comic series titled Come Into Me. Written by The Dregs‘ Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, the new mini-series will feature art from Piotr Kowalski (SEX) and will be published by Black Mask Studios in early 2018. Described as The Fly meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Come Into Me is a comic that immediately jumped to the top of our most anticipated titles of 2018, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to reach out to both Nadler and Thompson to discuss their upcoming project.
So, join me below to learn more about Come Into Me, the duo’s obsession with body horror, and what else they’ve got brewing their minds!
Dread Central: You and Zac Thompson burst onto the scene with The Dregs. What were some lessons you learned during that creation process that helped you with Come Into Me?
Lonnie Nadler: We actually conceived of Come Into Me before The Dregs. I’m really glad we got to do the latter first though because in many ways it’s a more self-contained story that follows a single character, and as such we learned a lot about how the medium works, both creatively and from a business perspective. Come Into Me is a far more ambitious story so I think if we’d done it first it would have been a horrible failure. It still might be, but I’m somewhat more prepared for that now. With The Dregs, the most important thing I learned was to trust my instincts as a storyteller. If something doesn’t feel right, even if it’s hard to pinpoint why, chances are it needs to change. The second most important thing was learning to play with tropes. Zac and I never want to be writers that rely on convention, but rather we want to be writers that break them to offer something new, to push storytelling in novel directions. We took a lot of risks with The Dregs to tell a story we wanted to tell, and for us at least, it paid off because we’re so proud of the final outcome. So we’re taking even more risks this time around and really trying to experiment with the unique format of the comic book medium. We’re still coming at this from the perspective of, “What do we want to see in a book?”, and trying to tread new ground while still paying homage to the works that inspired us.
Zac Thompson: As Lonnie said, Come Into Me was something we came with about a year before we even started working on The Dregs. This was the story we came together to tell. As we continued to toy with the concept we realized it was a lot more complex than we initially thought and most places we pitched it couldn’t get behind the concept. However, now that we’ve released The Dregs there seems to be a lot more trust in our abilities as storytellers.
The Dregs was a really interesting experiment in terms of taking a core idea and leaning into (or away from) genre conventions. In a lot of ways this taught me to take risks on every single page and to focus on storytelling from a visual perspective. Lonnie and I went out of our way to ensure we didn’t take any narrative shortcuts. The Dregs taught us to be economic in our approach but to also take risks. Every time we put out an issue and thought “what the fuck are we doing?” we had the best response. It led to the realization that we’re not here to hold people’s hands. Come Into Me is the culmination of that.
DC: What can you tell us about Come Into Me and what readers should expect from it?
ZT: Come Into Me is our love letter to the works of David Cronenberg and body horror in general. From the comic’s inception we set out to blend some of the conventions of the genre with a more “current” twist. That is to say, we’re trying to bring body horror to the social media generation. Exploring the concept of “how much sharing is too much sharing?” That idea is something that Lonnie and I kept coming back to as we started talking about the series. We want to really explore the harmful effects of sharing without really showing social media in its most conventional sense. You’re not going to see people on Facebook or Twitter. Instead you’re going to see people become literally entwined within one another’s memories, identities, and lives. We’re more interested in twisting and tangling our characters in a situation that slowly becomes more complicated and haunting before unraveling it all in an insane finale.
LN: Yeah, we’re really looking to explore contemporary American culture and the things that so many people around us seem infatuated by on a daily basis, but without being so on-the-nose about it all. Nobody wants a morality lesson, so we’re not trying to go down that path so much as one that asks a lot of questions. We want to explore the way we engage with technology, its effect on us and our minds, and what it means to cross the line between flesh and media. It’s also a lot about how our memories define us and our experiences, and trying to find the horror in that aspect of human life. It’s a slow burn to start, but we promise it gets crazy by the end of the series.
DC: Your love of body horror is abundantly clear to anyone who follows you on Twitter! What is it about that particular breed of horror that holds such a strong appeal for you?
LN: There’s a number of things as it relates to the body horror as a subgenre first of all, and second of all is the appeal of David Cronenberg’s work in particular. Horror at large, to me, is a genre that functions best when its employed as a means to question human existence, the very essence of it, and to unearth hidden truths by going through our most primal of emotions – fear. Body horror is specifically appealing to me because it boils that philosophy down to our most human aspects – that we exist in an inescapable physical form, and that said form is intimately linked with the mind or consciousness or whatever label you care to apply. It explores the unique and mysterious connection between mind and body, but also how bodies, and thus how we, relate to one another. It’s about trying to understand who we are and how we inhabit this world. It’s about how bizarre our bodies are and the idea that we sometimes feel like stranger in our own skin. To me, those have always been worthy subjects because they help me to understand myself and these vessels that carry us through life. This probably all sounds pretty lofty and metaphysical, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s about more than just making monsters out of our bodies and having a gore fest. It’s about the fear being something we cannot escape because it is inherent within all of us.
David Cronenberg is the master of body horror, and aside from the fact that he’s a fellow Canadian, his work is so inspiring because he was always so ahead of his time. Videodrome is more relevant now than ever. ExistenZ as well. That movie pre-dates Nintendo 64 and he’s predicted our obsession with virtual reality and started the “are videogames art?” debate. He used body horror as way to explore the physical relationship between humans and technology, and the implications of progress, and he did so in a very cerebral and completely original way. That’s what I strive for in my work, particularly with Come Into Me, to have horrors that are intimately connected to a socially relevant theme so that the fear lingers long after the experience of watching/reading is over.
ZT: For me body horror is about taking the central ideas of horror and turning them inward. Growing up I always felt a little divided from the idea of a slasher running through the woods with a machete. It didn’t do anything for me. When I saw David Cronenberg’s Videodrome for the first time I think my mind was irreparably damaged. The film took all these strange themes of violence in media and put them in a narrative where a man pulls a videotape from a vagina lodged inside his chest. I know that sounds like a strange way to have a revelation but for me body horror has always been about the ability to make horror physically manifest in the one place its inescapable: our our body, our own sense of identity. It’s about a fate that’s worse than death. It’s about losing your sense of self, your relationship to your own mind, and becoming alien in your own skin. It’s something that I explored in my novel, Weaponized and will continue to explore in Come Into Me.
Take Clive Barker’s Hellraiser for example. The film explores the dangerous intersection between being and non-being but most people just see it as a vehicle for the cenobites. It’s actually a really beautiful analysis of the delicate line between pleasure and pain. About the things we’re willing to do to our bodies in order to achieve pleasure. The delicate line is what I strive for every time we sit down to write Come Into Me. The intimate relationship between our remembered selves and our perceived selves seems like the perfect line to explore next.
DC: Tell me a bit about working with Piotr and what that’s done for your creative process.
ZT: We’re incredibly fortunate to be working with Piotr Kowalski on this series. We’ve been big fans of his since we spotted his work on the Nightbreed comic series. Piotr loves horror and is a phenomenal sequential storyteller. He’s brought a level of detail and craft to every single page and seems to really enjoy our incredibly dense scripts. Every time he turns in a new page he’s approaches it in a way that elevates our descriptions and brings his years of experience to really craft the narrative in new and interesting ways. Honestly, we’re learning things from Piotr on a daily basis. We’re still pretty new to this process and having an industry vet like Piotr is a huge asset.
LN: Like Zac said we feel so lucky to be working with a veteran like Piotr. He’s the kind of artist we love because he puts so much detail in every single panel, and a lot of other artists leave that stuff out. It’s a dream come true, really. We’re also working with Niko Guardia who is coloring Piotr’s art and Niko is a tremendous artist in his own right and his work on Come Into Me is really essential for the tone and mood we’re trying to set. He’s just a gem to work with as well.
DC: Horror has been evolving across mediums for a while now. Video games are entering VR, movies attempted a return to 3D, TV shows are being released en masse for people to binge, etc… What are ways that you think horror comics can evolve into something new and interesting?
LN: Yeah, it’s a really exciting time for horror. Just this year we had massive hits like IT and hugely important films like Get Out that are paving the way for bigger and more intelligent genre movies. But like you said, there are so many avenues out there and the potential is almost limitless. I think that’s what it comes down to for us, with Come Into Me, is understanding that there are many ways to tell a story, but trying to figure out how to tell it within the comic book medium. I mean, how can we use sequential art to tell this story in a way that film or VR never could? Horror comics come with a disadvantage because you don’t have the tools you can rely on in film or VR like audio queues, soundtrack, forcing tension through time manipulation, and all of those things are what really go toward creating scares and atmosphere in audio-visual storytelling. So to us it’s about trying to create unique page layouts and utilizing page design in a way people haven’t seen before to evoke certain moods. It’s about figuring out how the words and images work in tandem rather than seeing them as separate. There are plenty of things out there like soundtracks you’re supposed to listen to while reading a comic, or motion comics, but to me those are different mediums, not very effective, and at that point you might as well just make a movie. I think a lot of people working in comics don’t try hard enough to experiment and I’d like to see more of that. I don’t want to see something that really wants to be a movie or a novel. I want something that does its best to be a comic first and foremost.
ZT: Lonnie and I always treat our comics like comics first. We’re not worried about how “adaptable” they are. So in keeping with that we try to experiment with visual storytelling on every page. I think horror comics are incredibly unique because they are the one medium in which the reader controls the pacing. If they don’t want to turn a page they can pause and catch their breath before getting the reveal on the next page. They can really hold the thing in their hands and move it around as the experience the page. So we try to ensure that the actual process of reading Come Into Me is engaging and keeps the reader active as they descend into madness with us.
DC: Again, anyone who follows you on Twitter knows that you’re always keeping busy. Even though Come Into Me hasn’t released its first issue, I have a sneaking suspicion that you already have ideas for what’s to come after that story ends its run. Is this true and, if so, can you tell us what’s going through your mind?
ZT: Lonnie and I have a lot of projects we’re developing at the moment. Most of the stuff we can’t talk about. After you see how Come Into Me ends, you’ll understand why I’ll downplay the idea of anything continuing out of this story. I think we’re pretty dead set on exploring genre right now and want to continue to experiment in new arenas. I imagine we’ll dabble in body horror again, eventually, but next I think we’re setting our eyes on a weird literary fiction like The Dregs. Following that we’ve got a strange revisionist Western we’re pretty eager to start and a few other things that I’ll let Lonnie speak to.
LN: I mean, we’re always looking to tell more stories and to explore different genres. It’s what we grew up with and where we feel most at home. Zac and I are big genre nerds at the end of the day so I think it’s an arena we will always be part of. Other than the Western we’ve got a weird Kafkaesque book about office life we’re dying to write, but it will be a while before we get to that. Expect more announcements from us soon though!
DC: Last question for you: who are the artists and writers in the comic book world these days that inspire you?
LN: To this day my biggest influence in comics is, and always will be, Alan Moore. It’s kind of trite and cliche, but there really isn’t anyone who comes close to his understanding and command over the medium as far as writers go. Even his most recent work in books like Providence is unprecedented and his dedication to the craft is so admirable. In terms of more contemporary people in the industry I think David Mack does wonderful with with his Kabuki series. Tom King is doing very admirable work with superhero books at the moment. I really admire his strict use of page layouts. Curt Pires is always pushing himself to new places. Eric Zawadzki, our artist on The Dregs, is always looking to experiment and his next projects look killer. Vita Ayala has some amazing stuff coming out from Black Mask. I’m also a dedicated Charles Burns fanatic. His Last Look trilogy was just the kind of thing for me that while reading it I wished I’d made it. There’s so many more, but I’ll save some for Zac.
ZT: Lately I’ve been learning a lot from the work of Warren Ellis. That man has a really unique approach to comic book storytelling that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. His work routinely experiments with the conventions of the medium and really pushes to exist on its own. His run on Moon Knight with Declan Shalvey is a masterwork and Planetary completely changed the way I look at superhero books. As for others in the medium, I think Matthew Rosenberg brings a particular heart and sincerity to comics that is missing from most books on the shelves. He loves the medium with everything he has and you can feel it in his work for Marvel and his creator owned books. Eric Zawadzki holds a special place for me because he was our first creative partner and The Dregs would have not been what is was without him on the book. His new work at Black Mask, Eternal, is going to blow people’s minds. He’s doing that with an Australian writer, Ryan Lindsay who is one of the best writers in the business. Ram V and Devmalya Pramanik are doing insane things on Paradiso at Image. Everyone should be reading that book. I could go on… but we’d be here all day.
New Dev Diary From The Sinking City Goes Into Supernatural Urban Planning
Yesterday, we brought you an update about Frogwares The Sinking City, the open world investigation game set in H.P. Lovecraft’s universe. That post went over how the game used clever programming to create the actual world the game takes place in as well as the 3D creation of one of the game’s creatures. Today, the developer has released their third major dev diary, this one going into the urban and architechural feel of Oakmont, the setting of the game.
The video includes interviews with Katerina Frolova, an architect and city planner, and Lead Level Artist Aleksey Yurkin, both of whom discuss how they came to the various styles they are implementing. This includes the general layout of the city, for which they opted for a curvilinear approach to create a more indirect means of travel. Additionally, the architecture changes from one section to another, each designed to establish a certain atmosphere.
You can see the video for yourself below!
Taking place in the 1920s, The Sinking City is a game of adventure and investigation set in an open world inspired by the works of the famous American horror author H.P. Lovecraft. The player steps into the shoes of a private investigator who arrives in the city of Oakmont, Massachusetts – a city suffering from unprecedented floods of supernatural origins. The player must uncover the source of whatever has taken possession of the city, and the minds of its inhabitants.
The Sinking City will be coming to PC and consoles at some point in 2018.
Exclusive: Watch Gremlins: Recall With Director Ryan Patrick’s Commentary
Last week, we posted a story about Gremlins: Recall, a magnificent short film from director Ryan Patrick that used practical puppets for the Gremlins and Mogwai. The end result was a short that I stated felt like it was made, “…by someone who loved, and still loves, the original films but wanted to create something new that would appeal to their adult nature.”
In a filmmaker’s statement, Patrick states, “The original Gremlins is a classic, but it was a constant discussion of how do we update the tone and feel of the movie while hopefully doing the original some justice. Ultimately, I just wanted this movie to be a stylized and fun escape. I hope it leaves people wanting more… and gives the studios a kick to bring a some kind of Gremlins feature to life again.”
Considering how much the short blew up over the past several days, we didn’t want that interest to be a flash-in-the-pan situation. Patrick put his time and energy into making something that is truly special, so it deserves to have legs, especially in these days of the internet when something that goes viral can be forgotten a mere few days later.
To that end, we’ve got something really special in store for all of you! We got our hands on an exclusive version of Gremlins: Recall that features Patrick offering a director’s commentary where he discusses multiple aspects of the short, including the use of lighting techniques, scenes that were ultimately cut out from the film, and even discussing places where he could be seen operating a puppet only to be digitally removed in post-production. It’s a wonderful chance to go into the mind of an indie filmmaker to see how something like Gremlins: Recall could go from inception to release.
Check it out below and make sure to support Patrick by following his work on his official website.
Interview: Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson Discuss Upcoming Body Horror Comic Come Into Me
New Dev Diary From The Sinking City Goes Into Supernatural Urban Planning
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