Horror – the premier genre for independent film making.

Having spent a weekend of consuming creative, imaginative and boundary pushing horror (FrightFest 2016). It made me realise that the horror genre really does stand on its own when it comes to independent film making. In part this is due to large studios being too nervous to invest but in the main it seems that all types of filmmakers just love making horror.

It’s probably obvious to see why. Horror as an art form offers a range that no other genre can match. It’s the pizza equivalent of the Ultimate Meat Feast. From the classic cinema tropes of cinematography, direction, set design, screen writing etc Horror supplies the ultimate canvas for creativity. From setting the scare, devising the gore, designing the creatures, setting the atmosphere and sprinkling in a bit of humour – the scope is endless. In a way, horror can be the most challenging and demanding genre and a very crowded market to boot. Yet there is little to wonder why film makers don’t take their limited budgets to make a film that doesn’t require buckets of stage blood, piles of latex and huge cleaning bills. It is after all like spending your automobile budget on a classic fix-her-upper when the cheaper Hyundai provides all you need to cover your daily commute. But where is the fun in that? Where is the challenge? After-all it’s the limited budget that fuels the challenge – Isn’t it?  Spend £1000 and gain convenience or spend £1000 to gain reward (via a journey of heavy stress, frustration, arguments and countless sanity checks).  It’s interesting that the bigger the effort the sweeter the reward. It’s also interesting to think that a genre designed to depict all that is horrific is made by people that revel in dealing with the very toughest challenges in film making. For some at least, perhaps life really does imitate art.

Anyway best film of FrightFest 2016 : Broken


Surprise Gem: SiREN





Targeting the right film

Deciding which movie to watch has always been a struggle, of course this isn’t due to the lack of selection, VoD really has revolutionised home viewing after all, the issue in my case is actually quite the opposite – I find the choice overwhelming. But selecting a movie is made doubly hard by the fact that the film I select has to satisfy the particular mood that I am in. Understanding that mood is the hard part. Sometimes I’ll fancy something heartfelt, but with a light and amusing tone. Other times a drama or horror but without cliche. Too often films follow a formulaic pattern so to satisfy both a certain emotion whilst being unique enough to maintain interest really can limit the selection options. I think this a reason why world cinema holds such appeal. The cultural differences picked up on screen bring about something more alien to the movie viewing experience and so casts away that sense of familiarity whilst the lack of budget for CGI, exotic locations etc causes the filmmakers to rely on their canvas being enriched from a palette of original ideas and a deeper exploration of human emotions.

So whilst film selections remain a time absorbing nightmare (much to my Wife’s frustration), the deeper texture of films produced by independent studios means the gamble of just throwing on a film with the vaguest hint of what I’m after is actually a gamble that more often than not pays off.

Introducing ‘West of Hollywood’

Over the past 5 years I have developed an increasing love for world cinema. Having grown up on a diet of mainstream fare from both Hollywood and Pinewood (UK), I have always felt reluctant to break away from the comfort zone of English language films and become dependent on subtitles in order to make sense of the visuals on screen.  Then back in 2009, whilst on a work trip in France, I spent a good hour browsing the tv channels looking for something to help ease the night time boredom. Oddly, I settled on a French language film which featured a married couple under some form of surveillance from an unknown source. Whilst I didn’t understand the language, I found the tone of the film to be unique (when compared to anything I’d seen previously), the characters seemed real and the director appeared to be toying with the viewer ( which seemed interesting and new). I felt a little uneasy by the film, like an otherworldly sense of being dropped somewhere you formerly knew nothing about. I made a note of the film title, went onto Amazon and immediately purchased my first piece of world cinema. The film was Caché by Michael Haneke and it remains today as one of my favorite foreign language films.

Since then I have explored films from all over the world and am constantly amazed by the originality and richness they provide. The next step for me is to find a community with whom I can share thoughts, recommendations etc on all things that relate to world film.

As for the title; I figure that the whole world is west of hollywood – so it kinda works. :-). Anyway keep an eye out for postings, reviews and random thoughts and please feel free to leave comments.