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Welcome to the universe of the unusual and obscure.
This site is dedicated to grindhouse, avant-garde, surreal supernatural, American slasher and European horror. Come on in and take a look at some of the more obscure elements of filmmaking from the last 60 years.
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We do not necessarily fear the dark itself, we fear what might be in that darkness. Our minds create things out of that fear, even though there might be nothing there at all, just emptiness. That is how myths are formed, urban legends, not based on fact, but what we believe might be.
The thing that is stalking you, biding its time, watching you outside of your house is not a myth. It is really out there, outside your door, in your garden, in the bushes, waiting until the time is right.
In our realty, that is where the real fear awaits.....
Monkey hands monkey hands, tell me, then we can make movies.
What is Guerrilla Film Making?
Guerrilla filmmaking refers to a form of independent filmmaking characterised by micro budgets, skeleton crews and simple props using whatever is available. Often scenes are shot quickly in real locations without any warning, and without obtaining filming permits or permission to use the location.
Guerrilla filmmaking is usually done by independent filmmakers because they don't have the budget or time to obtain permits, rent out locations, or build expensive sets. Larger and more "mainstream" film studios tend to avoid guerrilla filmmaking tactics because of the risk of being sued, fined or having their reputation damaged due to negative publicity.
Guerrilla filmmaking is driven by passion and with whatever means are at hand. With the advent of the Internet, guerilla filmmakers have gained more control over their product, as they can release and distribute online fairly inexpensively and without a distribution company.
To make guerilla film making practicable and to avoid legal proceedings we suggest-
As small a crew as possible. Big crews draw unwanted attention very easily, it is desirable to have a skeleton crew of 2-3 people maximum consisting of the actor, the director and directors assistant while shooting guerilla style.
Use of small palm fitting digital cameras. The smaller the camera is, the less likely it is that the crew will get caught, so use palm fitting digital cameras (DSLR) instead of bulky movie camera. This is the key to successfully accomplish guerilla filmmaking without attracting attention.
Avoid using boom mics and go wireless if possible. Boom mics are the biggest giveaways of guerilla shoots, as nothing attracts more attention than this while filming. Using lavalier microphones, wireless receivers and recorders can avoid such problems.
No gear in plain sight. It is better not to use even a tripod and go handheld in this type of shoot and if a stable look is absolutely essential for the shots then a monopod, stabilised lens or cameras with built in stabiliser can serve as alternatives.
Pre-planning and quick action. The best way to properly execute a guerilla shoot is to plan as diligently as possible and rehearse in another location if required, as this makes the process more swift and easily executed on the day. Good luck!
No Budget? No problem! How To Make A Film With No Budget
Making a film with no budget can be a stressful venture. If you look at it from a black and white perspective, there are only two ways to do anything, the easy way or the hard way. Overthinking is part is the hard way. Once you stop overthinking everything, making a film with no budget becomes a much easier and enjoyable endeavor.
How to make a film with no budget? Zero budget filmmaking strives towards the use of free resources like actors, crew, and equipment around you and work backwards. Start with writing a script based on the available supply. The easy way is to keep it simple.
Make sure that your idea is simple enough to be explained in a basic synopsis, keep it minimal, pages and pages will only make the project feel more overwhelming and complicated. The audience cares more about the concept and uniqueness of the story, rather than complex action sequences and stereotypical clone characters straight out of drama school. Think out of the box, don't fall into the constraints of industry norms. Make it distinctive, so people sit up and take notice
Write a short script. You want to make sure that you stick to simple scenes and have as little dialogue as possible. You can use any free scriptwriting software to help with the presentation of the script.
Send the script to your actors and other people that may be involved in the production. It is best to keep the production team to a minimum also, 4 or 5 people should be enough. Then you’ll be ready to start shooting. You may have to shoot out of order if you’re working with people who have different schedules. Discuss the shooting schedules with the people you are working with and plan effectively. It is essential to keep time, especially if you plan on using the sun as your light source when filming. Take multiple shots at one scene so that you have more to work with during the editing process, but don't over do it, so that you end up with hours of footage to check further down the line.
Transfer all the recorded footage to your PC or hard drive and start editing. All the hard work you did during the shoot will pay off at this point. Select the best clips from the footage and sequence them in your video editor. Also add sound effects and music to your satisfaction. Remember that it is also good to try various soundtracks and effects. Play around and experiment during the editing process, it can be great fun creating the mood and ambience for your film. Try using multiple layers of sound to enhance your project's mood.
Now you need to get your film in front of some eyeballs. The internet has redefined film distribution. You can upload your film to Vimeo or YouTube to reach an even bigger audience or better still, you can create your own website to promote your films. This can be relatively inexpensive and can reach a big audience if your films are genre specific. Promote your website to the audience it is created for. You will find that if you are more specific in content, that over time people will return when they get to appreciate your style of filmmaking and presentation. Keep it concise and easy for the visitor to navigate. Hundreds of rambling pages about a myriad of subjects and ideas is distracting and is unlikely to hold people's attention. Cater to a specific audience and provide them with the content that they want.
Just because you lack funding, doesn't mean you don't have the ability to make your ideas come to life. Believe in yourself, and your own creativity and come up with the best story you can. Use what is readily available. No budget filmmaking requires you to use the resources around you to make a film. It is why no budget filmmaking is also called resource filmmaking. Make a list of all the resources that you have at your disposal. It is typically a list of equipment, locations, or even favours from your friends. The best ideas come from experimenting and improvising. If you think it might work, try it. Some of the best results can come from off the cuff ideas while filming.
A camera should be at the top of your equipment list, It doesn’t matter if it’s a DSLR or just you point and shoot camcorder. Other equipment on the list should include a tripod, gimble, microphone, headphones if your camera has an input jack and a monopod can be useful. Once you make that list, you can assess your limitations and know how to make them work for you.
The next thing you’ll need is a crew. Personally I think the smaller the crew the better. I have made films where I have been the only person involved in a majority of the shoot. However, it is advisable to have one other to help out during filming, as things are always far easier with a second pair of hands on set. My advice would be to have no more then three crew members on a no budget project. This keeps costs down to a minimum and creates a tighter working dynamic. You need to write a script that doesn’t require a big team to actualise. What matters is that you get somebody who can work for free or for expenses.
Also, you should approach people with similar interests in filming, presentation and style. You can always collaborate with other indie filmmakers if you think that you might need more technical help with the project. To keep it simple, just keep it simple!
When you are making a no budget film, you probably can’t afford to make casting calls or hold auditions. Working with the people around you is the next best thing to do. Try and recruit some of your friends to help you in the film. If like me and you only have two friends, you can use online casting forums such as Mandy.com, Backstage and StarNow. I have used all three of these casting platforms over the years and have found them generally very useful for casting my films. Many people are willing to work for expenses and showreel material, which is obviously extremely beneficial if you are working within the restraints of micro or no budget.
You’ll need to make a list of locations that you can access for free. Resource filmmaking means that you have to work backward. Your resources will dictate your script; the locations you write in your scripts must be places over which you have control or access to. It is always advisable that you write up a location agreement with the owners of the location at which you will be shooting. It helps in case there are any damages to property or the owner changes their mind. It also helps to keep everyone who is on set protected. Guerrilla style shooting sometimes is the only option, but this technique can be very unpredictable, as the location is usually in a public area, so the filmmaker has no control over what might happen on the day of the shoot in that particular location. If you are planning this type of shoot always go to the location the evening before the planned day of execution, to make sure nothing has changed, such as locked gates, blocked pathways etc. A guerilla shoot is usually best done in the early hours of the morning, when it is quieter and you are less likely to be disturbed by unwarted onlookers and excessive noise. Guerilla shoots can be stressful, as you never know what you might run into out there, but having done a fair number of these myself, the results can be extremely rewarding and fun.
Power and Light
When you are scouting the locations, take note of the power outlets because your equipment needs power if you are using bigger professional equipment. However, most micro and no budget filmmakers usually favour smaller compact DSLR cameras, as they are lighter to carry and easier to maneuver. Battery packs can be pre charged and with the use of a battery grip, many hours of footage can be acquired with four standard size DSLR batteries. Another thing to check for is the lighting at the location. You need to take note of where the windows are if filming inside and how the place looks at different times of the day. Also light levels when shooting exterior locations need to be monitored, as light levels can vary greatly during different points of the day. I tend to do most of my filming during the spring and summer, as there is more natural daylight and this allows extra time for filming and of course, the weather is more likely to be agreeable for those of us who favour exterior shooting locations.
Armed with a list of equipment, cast, and locations, you are now almost ready to start making your no budget film. A story to glue everything together is what you need next. A good story is what will keep viewers watching. In resource filmmaking you want to have a script that doesn’t have too many characters or involve a lot of movement between locations. It is even better if you can do everything in one place. Remember, the goal is to limit or completely eliminate any costs. Refrain from writing scenes that will require a lot of effects in post production. Remember you have to work within the boundaries of your editing software. Spending a little more money on a good editing software is key to enhancing the quality of your finished project. Sometimes shots that might appear unusable on first review, might still be able to be rescued with some clever and creative post production editing. Review everything carefully before deciding what shots make the final cut. As a recommendation I use the PowerDirector editing suite. Most of the packages work well and have many professional features onboard. Power director 16 and 17 ultimate are both very good editing tools and can be picked up online for around £80. They are relatively easy to navigate for those of us that aren't post graduate film school industry robots, or want to spend hundreds on something that isn't actually that much better. But the choice is yours.
Ready, Set, Boom!
You are now ready to shoot. The most important thing to do is to enjoy the process. If you don’t have fun making it, I’m not sure the audience will enjoy your film. Remember not to take everything too seriously and to have fun. Be open to adapting your script to include some of the off script events that occur during the shoot. Some of the best shot scenes are always accidental and off scrip.
First and foremost, you are a storyteller. Use smooth and creative camera movements and unusual angles to make your shots enjoyable. If you have a tripod, you can still achieve this even if you don’t have access to a gimbal, slider, dolly and a steadicam or other pieces of expensive equipment that might be out of your budget range. The idea is to eliminate shaky footage and always make sure that you have your frame rate set correctly. There is nothing worse than reviewing your footage and finding that people are juddering like broken androids when you process through your editing software. I tend to prefer the frame rate of 25 fps rather than the usual industry standard of 24fps for filmmaking. Here in the UK we use the PAL system, so 25 fps corresponds better with this operating system. If you are over in the States you will find 30 fps is better for the NTSC encoding system. Also make sure that you set your editing software to the same fps setting as what you recorded the original footage in, or else the final result will not look very good at all.
Use Sound Wisely
If there are parts in your script that prove challenging to shoot, you can move from trying to show the actions to imply them. Use sound, effects, and shots of the reactions from other actors to imply the parts of the story you can’t show. Sound and music can completely transform the scene. As said earlier, remember to experiment and multi layer tracks. This will bring your film to life and enhance the viewers experience. A good example of this is Steven Spielberg's 1975 film Jaws. Try watching the opening sequence without the music, it's as flat as a pancake. Remember this when working on the soundtrack for your film. Never use the set automatic recording levels pre-programmed into your camera. You will find the hiss levels excessively high and reducing it in post production can be a nightmare. I had this problem with my first feature. Use the manual settings via the P or manual mode on your camera settings dial and bring the volume levels down. You will ideally need a headphone jack socket and headphones to adjust the sound to the right levels in order to minimise the background hiss.
Enhancing the Aesthetics
When you are making a no budget film, the locations may not look that great. To make your film look more professional, you can lower your camera’s aperture to blur the background so that the focus is kept on your actors and items in the foreground. You can also look for items that will enhance your set and make it more vibrant. Adding elements that improve the colour coordination of your set will make the shot look more cinematic.
Have a Backup
Create a backup system just in case anything happens, such as a light fingered thief walking off with your hard drive or something happening to your computer's drive. Its not nice loosing hours of footage, so it should be the first thing you do, back it up, preferably with more than one copy.
You can use social media to build some hype for your release. Get your friends and crew to talk about the project online. Also, you can create a small preview or a behind the scenes video to share online. You can take it further and open social media profiles for your film and continuously release content relating to your movie. You can upload your film to Vimeo or YouTube. In these distribution mediums, a majority of the viewers watch content on their mobile devices.
Making a no budget film can be enjoyable. Give it a try, try anything and see what works for you. Don't let the industry darlings tell you that it has to be done in a certain way. Do it your way and you cannot go wrong. Have fun!
The Left Hand Path. It Will Feed On Your Fear.
The idea came from a lucid dream after watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre multiple times as well as other classic horrors like The Exorcist, Halloween, The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. The film was self-financed and filmed on a Canon Legria HF G30. The budget was around £3000 and provided mostly by the benefactor and writer/director of the story, Michael Fenton Crenshaw. All the cast and crew worked free during the spring and summer of 2014. The refreshments and food were provided by the Assistant Producer/Director, Clive Curtis, who also provided many of the locations. Curtis played a key role in the film's production too. Most of the props, costumes and dead animals were provided by Kenton and Crenshaw. You will see various dead animals in the film that were found near the locations and used. They were then humanely disposed of. These include a cow, cat, badger, rabbit and a horse. The filming commenced in March and was completed in September of 2014. By that time Crenshaw was working on the project alone and struggling with the demons of mental health illness. He was helped by myself and Kenton and he finally beat the demons. It was almost as if the demon in the film had manifested itself into reality, but mental illness affects most of us at some point in varying degrees.
The film was shot entirely on location in Kent and Greater London, making the most of the beautiful Kent countryside. It was filmed in Eynsford, Farningham, Shoreham, West Kingsdown, Darenth Valley, Hartley, Longfield, Bromley and Orpington.
The project was completed in October of 2017 after problems with the post production and it was finally released through commonsensefilms.uk. The whereabouts of Michael Fenton Crenshaw is uncertain but films are still being uploaded to the Demogorgon YouTube Channel.
Film brief synopsis:
When a group of friends take a long weekend break in the remote English countryside, the idyllic landscape that surrounds them triggers a sinister chain of events that tests their friendship and humanity itself. Their presence awakens an ancient demon curse that is slumbering in the shadows and seeks to take revenge on the souls of the innocent. Is one amongst the friends not as innocent as they might first appear? Can the friends escape the curse?
Dare you take The Left Hand Path? It will feed on your fear.......
Our ambition is for the film to inspire others by showing that despite whatever personal issues one has and mental illness one may have, there is always hope on the other side, never give up on your dreams.
We hope some viewers may watch it over and over again. Some may say it is so terrible and badly acted, but this may lead to a cult following.
All the best.
Nat and Kenton. Demogorgon Productions. 2018.