Today I have welcomed Filmmaker Stephen Biggin into the Cavern Of Chaos to introduce his film WITCHTOWN to the masses. Continue reading if you dare to enter the mind of this mystic of the Black Arts and behold here you have today’s Horror Q&A featuring Stephen the man behind the mayhem of what is WITCHTOWN.
- Thomas Otterman
TO. What type of budget did you have? and did you experience any problems with the location shoots
SB. We started with a budget of about $1000 dollars (quite low, I know) but quickly found that wasn’t going to be enough. After fundraising and purchasing all of the equipment needed, we had spent roughly between $3,000 - $5,000, and currently are well above that ( I’ve stopped counting, but it’s probably closer to $6,000 - $8,000). We had several mishaps that definitely raised our budget including having to purchase a new camera and computer midway through production.
Those two expensive items were very disheartening to have to purchase in the middle of production but we got through it, and the end product honestly benefited from us being forced to buy better equipment. It was really a blessing in disguise.
The only real issues we had shooting honestly was Ohio’s unpredictable weather. Since our shooting ran so far over the deadline, we had to shoot through different seasons and do our best to disguise it. In WITCHTOWN you will see scenes from every season: Winter, spring, summer and fall! One of the more “seasonable tell-tales” are the Christmas lights in background of the opening scene.
We fought really hard during our initial shoot to hide these, and we realized no matter who’s house we filmed this scene at there was no escaping neighborhood Christmas lights unless we waited for the new year to continue filming. Obviously we decided to use the shots with the lights in the background, and if asked, we have all agreed uniformly, that WITCHTOWN is in fact a Christmas movie;) Other than that, the only other issues we had were curious bystanders accidentally getting in our shots while they were trying to figure out exactly we were doing. WITCHTOWN was shot entirely in guerrilla style, so we had to shoot cleverly in public places without permits or permission, which was a lot of fun itself.
TO. I remember you saying that you had used aerial drones for some of WITCHTOWNS filming, so what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using drone technology?
SB. A definite advantage would be that it allows the filmmaker to obtain shots that previously would have cost quite a bit, or would end up just not being practical due to cost. Even 10 years ago the independent filmmaker would be hard pressed to include aerial shots in their film, short of hiring a helicopter pilot or crane operator, so I definitely am a huge fan of drone technology for use in film! Plus, with technology getting better, they now include features like image stabilization, and one button take off/landing, so obtaining great looking aerials has never been easier!
Having said that, my only complaint with the drone we had used was the lifespan of the battery pack, which would last about a full 20 minutes in flight. We found that as long as we had our shot list properly mapped out we could actually complete a lot within a 20 minute span, despite it feeling a little hectic.
TO. What were some of the biggest obstacles you had if any in the production of the film?
SB. The Biggest obstacle I would say for us was scheduling. It seemed like throughout the entire production, we were quite unlucky when it came to our casts availability. We also had some cast members that live out of town which added to the stress of scheduling as well. The scheduling difficulties would affect our shoots also, as we would end up filming way more than we needed out of fear that we would miss something and then be unable to easily re-shoot. The scheduling BY FAR was the most difficult, tedious part of the process.
TO. How did you make the Goon masks? Was there any trial and error involved in the process
TO. Do you have any tips for future film makers that may be reading this?
TO. So what? If anything do yo have lined up in the near future? Is there a sequel to WITCHTOWN in the works? and if so when do you expect to start production
SB. We plan to immediately submit the film to festivals and we plan to hit up as many comic and film conventions as possible... as weird as it sounds, I would love to try and convert WITCHTOWN into some form of performance piece like Rocky Horror, but that could be just a pipe dream haha.. There is a very clever idea for a WITCHTOWN ll which I think will go quite well given the reception to this one.
TO. I know I already know the answer to this one, but for all the fans out there that don’t. When you are watching films what format do you prefer blu-ray, VHS, or DVD ? And why do you prefer it over the other two?
TO. Are you an 1980s Horror fan? What about that decade makes the films so special?
SB. The Biggest! I think those years proved to be the peak of practical effects, and stop motion advancements which will always look the best because there is real principal material being filmed.
By the end of the 80s, moving into the nineties, digital animation had started making an appearance, and it simply doesn’t hold up.
I think there is still a market for the old way of filmmaking, but unfortunately, Hollywood is unwilling to acknowledge it.
TO. What are your top 5 Horror films of all time that you have watched?
5). Evil Dead (1981) 4). Dead and Buried (1981) 3). Re-Animator (1985) 2). Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) 1). Phantasm (1979)
TO. Out of the following slashers (Michael Myers), (Jason Voorhees) or (Freddy Krueger) who is your favorite and why
TO. What was the first film that scared you? If there is one, and how did it affect you?
TO. What film Directors past and present have inspired you? and in what ways were you inspired?
TO. What is your favorite Horror film remake? And which is your least favorite and why?
SB. I think the new Evil Dead Reboot is sort of both for me. I was really shocked by how brutal the effects looked, and they did it right, by keeping both the lighting and blood dark... the scene where the main girl splits her tongue is TRULY horrifying! However despite the impressive level of gore and shock value the film produces, it is missing so much that made the original great.
For example the new one starts off with friends attempting to have a detox session for there drug addict friend in a cabin in the woods, and it’s revealed in the first few minutes that there is a past trauma in her life. Such a serious and dark contrast to the original, which was a light hearted weekend of friends on a camping trip.
The original allows the film from feeling light, to heavy once the deadites arrive, versus the immediate seriousness of the remake. Also the gore in the original was much more “fun” in my opinion in contrast with the gore of the remake, which was meant to be more of a shock. This all sounds sort of contradictory, I know haha. I felt torn while watching it.
TO. Stephen since you have now completed WITCHTOWN , how does it feel to know eventually it will be seen worldwide
SB. Honestly it’s a little scary! Haha I’m sure that sounds kind of stupid, but I do tend to psych myself out a bit from time to time. I used to play in a band years ago, and I would get the same feeling before going on stage. However I will say that the screenings we’ve had have gone over very well so far, so that is a comfort for sure.