We’re back with the fourth of five installments of Dread Central’s exclusive on-the-set coverage from Atlanta for Spirit World Films’ Creature Feature, and this week we tackle “Always stay one step ahead of your competition,” and the creation of the “Scarecrow.”
Spirit World is the brainchild of three talented indie trendsetters: Chase Smith, Lance Paul and Edward Boss. These Southerners are turning the game upside down on what the true meaning of indie global films is.
With films budgeted at less than $20k, their combined multi “hat-wearing” skills are proving that you don’t need a giant budget nor a Hollywood soundstage to create cult classics.
Creature Feature is comprised of four short vignettes and one overall story that connects them all, similar to classics such as Creepshow and Trick ‘r Treat.
Do clowns scare you? Have you ever looked at a scarecrow and wondered, “What if?” Are zombies or naked witches your thing? Or what about a good ole classic such as a werewolf? Have you ever heard of Gentleman “Springed Heel” Jack? If not, you will come October 2015!
Always Stay One Step Ahead of Your Competition!
The field of indie filmmaking is littered with the could’ves and the should’ves. The movies that were too good to fail, and the projects meant to return mom’s home loan that they spent way too much making it with. But in actuality, the amount of indie films that do in fact make any return on investment or even get finished and seen are very slim. Everyone has the idea that will revolutionize the film market, or the script that will make them the next Wes Craven. Very few indie horror films get seen outside of the cast and immediate friends, which can give the independent horror world a bad rap.
According to Chase, Lance and Edward, there is no secret or clear path to making a movie that gets seen. It just takes staying ahead of the competition, and that doesn’t mean buying the newest Epic Red Camera or aerial robotic flyer.
“Give a man the best camera equipment on the market and you will still only be a man and his camera. Knowing what to do with it is what makes the difference,” Chase Smith (Creator, Partner, Director, Writer)
Their approach to staying prominent in the game has always been about hiring the best cast, taking chances on camera angles, and above all else having fun with the craft they love. For example, during one of their films they were in need of dolly tracks that would allow them to pull off a scene where the main actor had a heroes run as he attempted to save a damsel. With a budget barely feeding their cast and splurging for fake blood they built 70 yards of dolly track out of nothing more than PVC pipe and particle board. This allowed them to pull off an epic chase scene that helped them land their first distribution deal.
“The goal to making movies isn’t about being the best. It’s about stealing ideas from the best and making them work on your budget.” Lance Paul (Creator, Producer, Artist, Actor)
Though their budgets have gotten bigger, their work ethic and do anything mentality stays in tact. With Creature Feature they wanted to do the same thing. One thing they wanted to add to it was more lengthy steady cam shots used similarly in The Conjuring. The opening scene in The Conjuring when the family first moves into the new home has a steady cam shot that follows them from outside, under furniture, through rooms and ending out back. All done while dialogue is spoken and action happens. It was this shot that grabbed Chase’s attention when planning out shots for the new film. When Creature Feature hits theaters next October you will see just as creative a shot during a rave party that sets up the main story. Stay tuned for it.
Growing up in rural Georgia as a child a young Chase Smith was introduced to his biggest fear, Scarecrows. The “Whicker Man” crucified on stakes has been the bane of crows and children’s imaginations for centuries. Originally used by farmers to scare away vegetable stealing Avians, over the Halloween years and through movie magic the friendly Mr. Crow has taken on many different appearances. Be it the watchful guide just looking for a brain or the killer demonic Jeepers Creepers terrorizing over sexed-teenagers.
In Spirit World Film’s newest horror movie, Creature Feature, the boys from the South decided to reimagine the corn watchman as one of their creature vignettes but still pay homage to the classic interpretation of him. Once Chase had finished the script and Lance Paul started playing with character designs, their Scarecrow was born.
While on a cabin trip during Halloween two couples decide to stay at the wrong mountain home under the eyes of leftover Scarecrows. All is peaceful until one of the hothead guys in the group decides to trash the pumpkin headed people enveloped in a mysterious fog. Brought to life by this enveloping fog that has traveled through all the vignettes, the Scarecrow breathes new life.
When character designs started for the Scarecrow, Lance wanted to make it seem like a mummified corpse under the burlap influenced by the Scarecrow from “Batman: The Animated Series” of the 90’s. Less demonic and more the result of happenstance that brings him to life. Originally the burlap was designed be more molded to his contours giving the impression of skin mixing with burlap. But like everything in film, the original ideas don’t always transfer over to the finished product especially when time and budget plays a part.
With over five creatures to create and over two dozen plus blood gags to develop and with very little time to design, the next step of the Scarecrow’s journey landed on Alex-Michael Revel’s trained team of MUA’s. Using an original mold Alex had designed for SCI-FI’s TV show “Face-Off,” the Scarecrow was designed to be molded around this full foam prosthetic design with burlap then covering the face and blending with the prosthetic. Using very earthy tones for his wardrobe and an organic paint pallet really helped bring him to life.
The Scarecrow was also given even more life by Alex, literally with hours to spare before the Crows initial appearance the original actor had to be replaced, stepping up and being over joyed to finally play a movie monster. Alex really stepped into the role with gusto, going as far as being tied to a Wooden “T” through numerous takes, and slaughtering four unwilling vacationers through numerous blood-covered scenes.
Speaking of blood and killing — that is one reason we watch horror movies is it not? For their final vignette in the movie, Chase and Lance really wanted to go all out before the finally slaughter tying everything together at the end. Leaning on Alex’s teams to bring to life the most gruesome deaths in the movie, the most noticeable being the head stomping scene. The Scarecrow angered by the smashing of his pumpkin headed friends, goes all out in vengeance.
Taking out the most anger on the culprit that started his rampage. Pulling off a head stomping scene on an indie budget is one of the hardest deaths to pull off without actually creating a prosthetic head. Thankfully through some ingenious shooting ideas on Chase’s part and enough blood to drown a moose, the head stomping scene may be one of the most memorable kills in Creature Feature.
Enjoy these first glimpses of the Scarecrow on camera and his development stages from Lance Paul’s own sketchbook. Stay tuned for next week final article covering the final scene with all the monsters and the creation of the mysterious Jack. As we also include more in-depth expo on behind the camera true indie horror style with Atlanta’s Spirit World Films!
Chase Smith directs. Libby Blanton, Tenille Houston, Lance Paul, Stephanie Davis, Michael Maponga and Jason Vail star.
Creature Feature is comprised of five interwoven tales of terror that occur one foggy Halloween night in Georgia. A babysitter learns a new appreciation for fine art and a hard lesson about the consequences of being irresponsible… and naughty! A group of college kids stumble on the mother of all scarecrows. Two teenagers are forced to steal from the wrong cantankerous old hermit who has been known to occasionally howl at the moon. A murdered father comes back for vengeance against his gold-digging wife and traitorous children. All of this Halloween fun is made possible by a London gentleman known only as… “Jack.”
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