Interview: Michael Ballif Talks The Witching Season and They Live Inside Us Feature
Recently I watched an indie horror anthology series online called “The Witching Season.” The series was created by Michael Ballif and consists of 5 separate short films centered around the most beloved holiday of Halloween.
Being a fan of anthology series like “Tales from the Crypt” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” I took to Ballif’s indie-series immediately. And I think you will too.
While all 5 of the short films are f*cking fantastic in their own ways, the best of the bunch is a short called “They Live Inside Us”. This short focuses on a screenwriter locking himself within a (possibly) haunted house in the endless search for inspiration. The short got me on multiple levels and is a must-watch.
In researching the series I came across the fact that the filmmakers involved are currently planning to produce a feature film based on the anthology’s best entry The Live Inside Us.
As quickly as I could, I contacted the filmmakers and asked them if they would answer a few questions on behalf a fan of the series, such as myself. Creator Michael Ballif was kind enough to accept my request and what follows is our quick back and forth on the upcoming They Live Inside Us feature film.
Dread Central: Tell us a bit about your series The Witching Season.
Michael Ballif: It’s an anthology of short horror films, all set during the spookiest time of year—the Halloween season. It was designed as a bit of an homage to classics shows like Tales From The Crypt and Are You Afraid of the Dark? but with its own original flare. One of the main things I tried to do with the series was capture the feeling and atmosphere of the Halloween season in each episode.
DC: How did the series come about?
MB: I had been in a bit of a creative lull prior to launching the series. I had just finished a short zombie film called 2 Hours that took me nearly two years to complete (yes, probably longer than anyone should spend working on a short film). Ultimately, I was stuck trying to figure out what story I wanted to tell next. I knew that whatever it was, it needed to mean something to me personally. I found that I was most creatively engaged when I began recalling experiences of my childhood. Two key ingredients continued to emerge—horror anthologies and Halloween. I decided to pair the two together and The Witching Season was born.
DC: Tell us about They Live Inside Us.
MB: They Live Inside Us is the fourth episode of The Witching Season. It follows the story of a struggling writer who breaks and enters into a notorious haunted house in hope of finding inspiration for a new project. Haunted by his past, he soon begins to realize that he is living in his own horror story. It’s an idea that I had been working on, off and on, for a few years. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get it to work right. It took a lot of time and finding the correct group of people until it finally clicked and I managed to get it made. The film was by far the longest and most complex episode of the series, clocking in at a whopping 31 minutes.
DC: What made you decide it was time to move from shorts to features?
MB: I always knew that eventually, I wanted to make features, but I didn’t want to dive into that world until I felt I was capable of making something truly good. Short films offer a great opportunity to gain experience in the process of filmmaking with minimal investment. They are also a fantastic way to test concepts and hone your creative style. After working on The Witching Season with an incredibly talented group of hungry, creative, passionate individuals, I feel we are ready to take that next step.
DC: What can we expect from the feature-length version of They Live Inside Us?
MB: Just like the short, the feature will blend elements of classic horror with psychological, mind-bending storytelling. It takes my favorite aspects of the genre; what I consider “fun”, entertaining horror and meshes that with more serious, thought-provoking and psychological ideas. The feature will tackle the same general premise, but with some new elements tied in. I have some new characters in mind and different ways of visualizing some of the ideas we explored in the short. I’d also like to expand and enhance the stories the writer is constructing. You should also expect a return of Choppy The Clown, the Scarecrow, and the Slasher, all more fully realized than we were capable of in the short.
DC: They Live Inside Us comes from a quote by Stephen King. If you could adapt one King story for the screen, what would it be?
MB: IT, for sure. Although now is probably the worst time ever to say that, haha. The newest adaptation was obviously a major hit that most everybody loved, including myself. The story just ticks all the boxes for me; coming of age horror with darker tones, humor, and psychological elements. I absolutely love the 90s IT Miniseries, too. Maybe we’ll be ready for another reboot 27 years from now. Pennywise is due to return, after all.
You can check out all 5 episodes of Michael Ballif’s “The Witching Season” right HERE, including of course the short film “They Live Inside Us”.
After looking through all of that, make sure to hit us up and let us know which short was YOUR favorite in the comments below!
Michael Ballif and his team are currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to secure the final bits of financing for the They Live Inside Us feature film. As of today, they have extended the deadline another week. Help them out if you can!
You can contribute right HERE.
Thanks for chatting with us, Michael!
Fueled by nostalgia, this anthology of short horror films tells original tales of terror set during the Halloween season.