WonderCon 2015: Blumhouse Productions With Two Exciting Projects
We wrapped up our day at WonderCon 2015 by getting some previews of what’s to come from Blumhouse Productions. They gave us a sneak peak at three of their upcoming horror movies, including two small budget films: Unfriended and The Shallows. We were treated to panels feature key contributors from both films, and you can check out some of the highlights below. We will start with The Shallows.
The panel opened up with a chilling teaser trailer of the film. In it, one of the girls is seen audibly sobbing, rocking back and forth on the floor. Eventually, a shadowy figure emerged behind her, but before it can do anything, we flash to a close up on her face. There, you can see horrible markings on her neck, along with a noose wrapped around it. Before long, the noose is snatched, and she is seen being dragged away….and end scene.
The film is shot through found footage, but head of Blumhouse Production Jason Blum said that this film, though shot through a common horror theme, is truly unique.
“I’m alittle bit cautious about found footage. Now people are alittle tired of it. It has to be really good. This movie felt unbelievable authentic and unlike any found footage movie I’ve seen in a long time. The funny thing about found footage is that to make it believable it is much harder than traditional movie. People in jeopardy don’t tend to hold cameras butthese guys figured out an organic way to scare people.”
Directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff were also at the panel to discuss their film, which takes place at night at a high school. Travis discussed how the setting for the film helped add to the tension and ambiance.
“The movie takes place at a high school at night. If you look back at high school it’s pretty scary as it is. The thought of going at night to break in and what it would be like. It’s a pretty frightening experience.”
The two directors met in Los Angeles while Chris was working on his thesis. From there, Travis convinced Chris to move up to Fresno to live with him so that they could work on their movies together.
“I convinced him to move up to Fresno from LA to make movies. We worked out of the bedroom as our office when we started the process. We just got enough money to get a film shot. Part of our sales pitch was to have an original adventure. We felt at the time that we could compete with the Paranormal Activity movies. Perhaps our biggest strength was our naivety,” said Travis.
The last thing the two talked about was casting the four main actors in their movie. They auditioned over 200 people in LA before eventually finding their final four. In the end, their main concern was to keep the movie as realistic as possible.
Chris said, “We wanted people to be themselves so we used the actor’s real names in the movie. This created that very natural feeling throughout the process.” Travis added, “We did film at the #1 most haunted place in Fresno. The characters really are relatable to folks. Anyone who’s been in high school, they had a friend like them.”
Now let’s move on to Unfriended, a truly unique movie going experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen. This film is presented solely on a computer screen, with a large portion of it being displayed through a group Skype chat. After a friend kills herself following the release of a video of her drunk at a party, her group of friends is haunted by a mysterious chat ID a year after her death. Blum talked about the film, and how it’s storytelling caught the audience’s eye.
“We showed it at South by Southwest, and people just went crazy. It falls into the same category as The Shallows in that it was done off the grid. The budget and feel of both movies have a similar trait.”
We were joined by the main cast of the film, as well as writer and producer Nelson Grieves. They discussed the challenges of filming such an ambitious project.
“We started out by doing 10 minute takes and then Shelly Hennig came up to us to see if we can do everything in a single take. So from there, we decided to do lengthy takes to make sure we caught everything organically.”
Nelson elaborated, “Each actor was locked away in their room and we just did it for 85 minutes and the longest take that we did is the one in the movie. Everyone came out of their rooms and everyone was exaughsted.”
Despite the challenges of the lengthy takes, the actors said they actually enjoyed it.
Moses Jacob Storm: The long takes actually help that process. It’s rare to start in one place and end in the same place in the same take when you are making a movie. Just feeding off the other cast members really help: for example, in Box 3 Adam is going crazy. Feeding off each other’s energy made it alot of fun and really great.”
Well known director and producer Timur Bekmambetov was the original mastermind of the project. Nelson told the audience that Timur had approached many filmmakers about creating such a project, and finally found a home with Brimhouse Productions.
Nelson said about Timur: “He’s the smartest man I’ve ever met and he has ideas about everything. He had this idea forever and pitched it to so many movie makers. Everywhere he was inspired. He’d be in the middle of a take and he’ll paint me a picture of a cell phone extension cable. His mind is always racing.”
The actors revealed that Nelson and Timur would do things to keep them on their toes and make the scares much more authentic.
Shelley Hennig: “Nelson and Leo would do stuff without telling us like they would turn off the lights. He would always have new ideas so we would have a rehearsal it was very organic in that way it was not challenging. Between all of us you just want to come off as real as possible and with this amazing crew it was a great process. ” Moses added, “They would surprise us. A lot of the reveals we wouldn’t see them until we were live and we didn’t know what was coming up.”
Well that wraps up our preview of the two projects coming up for Blumhouse Productions: The Shallows and Unfriended. Unfriended comes out on April 17th, while The Shallows hits theaters in July!
*Editor’s Note: The article originally referred to the film as The Gallows. It has been corrected to reflect the actual name of the film, The Shallows.