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Old January 15th, 2014, 12:10 PM   #1
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Looking for tips: short horror film

Hey guys, I'm pretty new at filming and I'm entering a contest where we have to shoot a short horror film. It needs to be from 2 to 5 minutes and we have some challenges ahead of us.

We've just decided on our script, but it's not final yet. What I am looking for here is technical tips on how to use lighting and such. (I won't be posting the script but if you have questions about it I can answer in private.)

Here is our equipment:

Camera: Sony EX-1 or Sony EX-3 (we will only know which one when we arrive)
1 Manfrotto tripod

Sound: 1 Sennheiser MKH60 (shotgun)

Lighting: Kit Arri Fresnel (2x650W, 1x300W) "1x100W to be confirmed" - 3 Manfrotto 004B "+1 to confirm" -

We need to build our own rigs apart from that. We plan to build a slider, a stabilizer and a crane.

We want to use the lights of phones, tablets and laptops in our story and we need tips to be sure it lights enough and it comes out well on screen. (lighting tips or after effects ?)

We also need tips on realizing the gore effects. There will be probably be just one final scene where everything blows out. Any tips on how to frame it, mount it or regarding visual effects ?

We only have 10 hours to shoot and edit. Exporting is not included in that time.

We willl be shooting from 3 am to 1pm.

Thanks !
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Old January 15th, 2014, 12:50 PM   #2
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Re: Looking for tips: short horror film

With any lighting, as humans we find the most unsettling things that which we can not see so shadow and darkness are usually your friend in horror.

For framing and other technical elements, go Google 'best horror movie scenes' and note what they do. I'd take a long look at that famous chest-bursting scene in the original Alien movie. For lighting, go check out any character introductions, like the original Nightmare on Elm Street and how they keep him in the shadow a lot.
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Old January 15th, 2014, 03:57 PM   #3
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Re: Looking for tips: short horror film

To tag onto Robert Brenda's comment, given the short time available, I'd really go with his opening paragraph. The human imagination and the story-teller in your group is your friend. The old radio programs like "The Shadow Knows", for example, were very good at getting the listener to visualize what was happening. The creaking door, the footsteps, etc.

Unfortunately, because the radio programs were from the earlier half of the last century, they were not nearly as gruesome as the videos are of today. Back then, the sound of a gunshot might cause goosebumps but today that has about the same effect of a firecracker. But take your cue from the storyline of yesteryear, have the narrator and the video work together, Alfred Hitchcock style, and get the viewer to use their imagination.

One doesn't have to show every detail. In fact, in this case, less might just be more.

If they're grading or judging based on how you can show blood, then that's a different story.

Last edited by John Nantz; January 15th, 2014 at 04:00 PM. Reason: re-phrasing a sentence.
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Old January 15th, 2014, 07:04 PM   #4
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Re: Looking for tips: short horror film

Talking of blood, I did a couple of days as an extra on the Guy Pearce film "The Hard Word". It was the beginning scenes including the robbery where someone was shot. They used corn syrup with cochineal for the blood. It was very sticky and anyone who got it on their clothes as a result of the shoot was given an extra "dry cleaning fee" as part of the compensation.

The guys from FX had pieces of foam cut up in it for the "guts" part of the equation. This was all ejected from a receptacle on the actors back by compressed air, the camera was set up for the shooter's viewpoint so none of the gear was visible in shot. The timing of the shot and the blood spatter was controlled by the FX guys, even though the actor held the shot gun.

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Old January 15th, 2014, 07:14 PM   #5
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Re: Looking for tips: short horror film

Spend some time looking through Film Riot's YouTube channel. Their whole purpose is how-to and they've shot some horror.
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Old January 17th, 2014, 08:14 AM   #6
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Re: Looking for tips: short horror film

Thanks, do you have specific tips on how to use the EX1 or EX3 in low lighting environment ?
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