How does any low-budget filmmaker get started making his great independent horror movie? The answer is rather simple.
Growing up, my mother used to tell me about the scene in the original B&W silent “Phantom of the Opera” where the audience gasped as Lon Chaney’s mutilated face was first exposed. It's still O.K. to startle your viewers but that's a one shot. Horror has to build in the mind of the audience and that calls for a skillful director.
Yes, the classic formula contains a horrible, ugly monster or a scarred masked man and a beautiful woman, but times have changed. Today, we know the elements of horror can exist with any two actors, real or imagined.
You start with an isolated location (preferably a strange place with lots of rooms) and someone stalking someone else. The audience immediately understands the plight of anyone “lost” in an unfamiliar setting.
A most important element is to have poor lighting and extreme contrast to enhance the drama in the location you choose (think of the dark and dimly lit interior of the Nostromo in the film “Alien”). You want the audience (like the frightened actor in the film) not to be able to see things clearly. The viewers will then empathize with the actor on the screen and feel some of what he must be feeling.
Even more important than the visual element (which is shot first) is the sound design (which normally is constructed when you edit). Great sound can make or break any mood a director wants to create. Great sound design is a like a symphony-it is a string of connected sounds that add up to a lot more than each individual note.
Properly orchestrated, sound design can scare an audience with a sudden jolt or it can put your audience to sleep. If you’re good at editing, you can make an horror trailer that will grab the audience’s attention and make it beg to see more… CLICK HERE to see the trailer- http://fornevermovie.com/BroadAppleTrailer1.html
©2008, Stanley Lozowski. All Rights Reserved.
Labels: Alien, director, horror, Nostromo, phantom, sound design