Indie Horror has exploded.
A multi-million pound budget and excessive marketing is no longer a primary catalyst of popularity. More and more, be it in film, books or video games, we have seen a huge influx of new horror experiences, created by people purely for the love of this captivating genre.
It’s what we love at New Rising Media, and Bloody Cuts is a perfect personification of this paradigm shift in horror. I talked to Ben Franklin, Creator, Producer and Editor of this series about how he got started, the technology used to produce these amazing short films, and what is needed to replicate his (and the entire team’s) success.
NRM: For those uninitiated about your work, tell us a little bit about Bloody Cuts.
Ben Franklin: Bloody Cuts is a 13 part horror series, which we make on low budgets and release for free online. Our films are hosted online at www.bloodycuts.co.uk, and we've gained much popularity online through the many different films released so far.
We're made up of a team of talented filmmakers led by myself, Anthony Melton and Jonny Franklin. In addition to the main team we also work with Millennium FX, one of the leading special FX companies in Europe, hence the reason why we're able to produce such amazing monsters and gory death scenes!
How did you get started with the project?
The series came about after a Sci-Fi 48hr Film Competition in 2011. It suddenly dawned on myself and a few others that it actually wasn't very difficult to make short films if you really want to do it. You just need to motivate yourself and find a bunch of likeminded individuals to work with.
So I came up with the idea of making a series of horror films that would sit on YouTube, and hopefully find an audience of horror fans who were looking for something short and scary to watch online. 13 seemed like a logical number, and then Anthony Melton, Jonny Franklin and I went about branding the series and getting the wheels in motion for our first film "Lock Up". Fortunately that went really well - so armed with a fantastic website and a real drive to continue making more of this stuff, the series continued.
What/who inspired you to create this series of horror short films?
I'm a great fan of classic anthology film and TV, as I believe are Jonny and Anthony. From Creepshow to Tales from the Crypt, and The Outer Limits to The Twilight Zone - there's something quite brilliant and unpredictable about those shows. Horror is also a relatively easy genre to work in to some extent. It's a lot of fun to film on-set, and has a huge built-in audience to play with.
I think we also recognised a lack of good horror films in recent times, and wanted to try and address that albeit in shorter form. Finally, the icing on the cake was seeing what Drew Deywalt was doing with his own web series (and with the Fewdio series). They were producing low budget films, which were gaining a big audience, only we were confident we could one-up all of those. So that's what we set about doing!
Did you expect the huge response you have received for your work?
Not really. We didn't know what to expect - I think we were just pleased to see that a handful of people even wanted to watch it in the first place! To get reviewed by a few sites, and to start receiving tweets from complete strangers who were finding our work, was brilliant to see. What's more they liked it too!
It's been fantastic as filmmakers to see the way our 'fan base' has grown so organically, and has also probably taught us a lot of social networking - so as a marketing exercise it's been really educational. It's also made us feel more responsible (and proud) about the films we're putting out, because we know there's high expectation with everything we do now. We aren't happy to put out anything substandard, and I think people who traversed the 8 episodes in our series have hopefully recognised that.
Through all media I reckon we've had around 500,000 views, which is kind of crazy. And it keeps growing, as we see the demand for more from us. Exciting times!
Let's talk about the tech you use. What cameras/recording equipment do you use in the production of your films?
We've shot on 5D mk2, 7D, Arri Alexa, Sony F3 and also RED Epic. "Don't Move" was the fourth time we'd shot on the RED, with equipment borrowed from Andrew Martin (who was our 2nd Unit Camera Operator). It's a tough format to work with in Post Production, especially if you're working from consumer edit machines, but it's definitely doable. It was trickier for us as we had 64 VFX shots to complete, with a 6 strong team dotted all over the UK. We managed of course, thanks to Dropbox, and we managed to get the film done in time for it's Bootleg Film Festival (Edinburgh) premiere.
Some of the film was on Steadicam, some of it on (sponsored) Kessler gear, and most of it was shot with 2 cameras at at the same time. In Post we edited in Premiere Pro CS6, and our VFX guys nearly all unanimously worked in After Effects. Our colourist, Patrick Inhofer graded the film in New York in DaVinci Resolve.
Generally speaking, how much does it cost to produce something of this quality? Do you think its accessible/possible by anyone inspired by your work to do so?
"Don't Move" is our most expensive film yet, and cost us just over £3000 to make (and was funded by some awesome Kickstarters). So pretty cheap! And yes, I 100% believe it's possible to do what we've done.
Much of it has been down to sheer perseverance and hard work to be honest. We work our arses off and fight to get the support we do. It's not like we started with a crew of 30+, we've expanded because people want to get on board with us, and that's been a testament to our success .
I think other people can and will do what we've done, and that it's totally in their hands to do as much (or as little) as they want with it. Bloody Cuts has been a film school for us, and that's plain to see if you look at the first film "Lock Up" and look at our most recent "Don't Move". We've all improved, and that's because we're always filming and trying to learn more.
What are your future plans for the series?
We obviously want to get to episode 13, and see what happens off the back of that. We'd actually really like to get a series sponsor on board, who would help us cover the production costs. Our films cost very little in the grand scheme of things, but still more than we have in our back pockets! So securing finances is the first plan of action, post "Don't Move". In terms of episodes themselves… You'll have to wait and see!
In general we'd also like to move onto features, and are actively pursuing a co-production with a bunch of UK studios so we hope something will come of that.
And finally, for the budding filmmakers out there, do you have any words of advice?
Yes - keep filming, keep editing, keep learning. Work hard at it, and you'll reap the benefits. There's a lot of extremely average filmmakers all over the world, and a small number of very good ones.
It takes a lot to stand out, but it's totally within your hands. We've found success through perseverance, passion and many many hours spent working at it. There's no reason other people can't do the same and go even further than we have.