Indie Filmmakers to Watch: Drew Daywalt Talks The Ringbearer, Camera Obscura and More
Drew Daywalt knows fear. After all, he’s the guy regularly giving fans a look into the “School of Fear” on FEARnet.com, and after establishing himself in the world of horror short films with Fewdio, Daywalt has now stepped out on his own with his Daywalt Fear Factory, which releases some of the eeriest short films you’ll find on the Internet.
Even though Daywalt has solidified his place as the premiere short-form horror stortyteller, the writer/director is about to embark on a new adventure as he recently announced that he’s collaborating with Fangoria for an upcoming feature film called The Ringbearer. The writer/director spoke to Dread Central on how he got involved with the legendary horror publication in its new venture into feature filmmaking as well as more on the release of his long-awaited Internet genre series "Camera Obscura" in conjunction with Dread Central and Daily Motion.
“The Ringbearer came about with Fango earlier this year when I was approached by Tom Defeo, who said they were looking to move the brand into indie horror films and relaunch their cinematic identity, going for more story-oriented horror. Tom was a big fan of the horror shorts I'd directed and produced and saw the overwhelming public response I was getting from them online,” said Daywalt.
“He asked if I was interested in doing a feature with Fango and I thought it was a great marriage,” Daywalt added. “The way I looked at it, Fango is like The Rolling Stones of horror. It's a staple, it's been around for over 30 years, and everyone knows the brand. Me, I'm just an opening band at this point, and to get a chance to put my creative stamp on the Fango brand is an honor. I told Tom I'd happily fly the Fangoria flag and relaunch Fango Films.”
Even though Daywalt has worked over the last several years unleashing all sorts of creatures that go bump in the night onto unsuspecting Internet horror fans, The Ringbearer is the first time the writer/director has dipped his creative bucket in the vampire well. And since this is a very vampire-friendly time in entertainment, I asked Daywalt what we can expect from his take on the legendary bloodthirsty creatures of the night.
Daywalt said, “I can safely say you've never seen vampires like this. My inspiration is not sexy, depressed vampires. Mine are hungry, extra-dimensional demonic abominations more akin to something from Hellraiser or Call of Cthulhu than Anne Rice or Stephenie Meyer. Lovecraft and Barker are where I go for my scares, not romance writers.”
“There's a place for sexy, sad faced vampires, just not in my films,” Daywalt jokingly added. “The challenge for me wasn't making vampires different because by accident or architecture I tend to see the world from a heavily skewed point of view anyway. For me the challenge in writing was to communicate how awful it is to encounter one of these unearthly things. We've become so overdosed on seeing vampires that I needed to construct creatures that were not just menacing, but hideous, hard to look at, and even obscene. And being obscene is no easy task these days. I wanted to convey a WRONGNESS to what we were seeing.”
Daywalt spent the first half of 2010 writing and polishing the script for The Ringbearer, and while Fangoria is in the process of securing the rest of the financing on the project, Daywalt is keeping himself busy on the short film front. For him short form storytelling will always be a part of his life no matter how many features he may have the opportunity to helm in the future.
“I will always make short films. Features can take a year or more of your life to create. There’s an insane amount of sitting, thinking, conceptualizing, writing, doubting, team building, collaborating, compromising, crying, raging, rewriting, producing, editing, etc., that goes into it... and then? In two hours you are judged by the public. It's a rough ride no matter what the outcome. It's great when it works and it's heartbreaking when it doesn't. And that's a lot of eggs in one basket,” Daywalt said.
The director added, “Short films, by comparison, are short bursts of creative energy. You can go from concept to final cut in a month or two, post it online or sell it and it's up to be enjoyed by everyone. I love that instant gratification, and I love being able to go from one concept to another that quickly. And the connectivity with an online audience is the greatest thing ever for an artist. I believe that short form horror is one of the greatest art forms in the world. And I've never felt so at home in a genre than I do horror, and in short form, so I'll always make short horror films.”
And since Daywalt isn’t happy unless he’s taking horror fans minds to dark and creepy places, he’s already got an arsenal of short films ready to unleash on fans, including The Kindred, which is centered around a group of immortal criminals; Doppelganger, which explores some psychological horror; a ghost story short called Room 19; and Polydeus, which was recently acquired by FEARnet.com as part of its upcoming online horror line-up. Daywalt gave Dread Central a taste of what sort of mayhem fans can expect when the short debuts.
“Polydeus involves a haunted old video arcade game from 1981 that is unearthed and played by a pair of unlucky guys in present day,” explained Daywalt. “It's sort of Hellraiser meets Tron. You don't want to be pulled into this world. The title character is a hideous mindbending creature, designed and built by physical special effects guru Jeff Farley. And as for creature effects on our shorts, I really believe it's a personal best for Jeff. He really outdid himself on this one.”