Why Horror? An Indie Filmmaker’s Perspective on the Horror Genre

Every year, hundreds of people enter the world of independent filmmaking. Many focus their attention on short films first, learning their craft over a series of five to fifteen minute long flirtations with the camera. The form and structure of short film gives the would-be director an avenue to pursue his dreams in a relatively low-investment, low-risk environment. Short films are relatively inexpensive to make, and relatively quick to produce. Some can even be completed in a matter of hours. The commitment to a short film is far less encompassing than the commitment to a feature film, and the short film director has the freedom to try out several genres without having to devote their entire life to a single flavor of storytelling.

Of course, while short films can garner attention, win small festival prizes, and help hone a director’s skills, the ultimate aim of every filmmaker is to make feature length films. This is a much more complicated process than making shorts. Where a short film can be planned in as little as a few hours, planning a feature takes months. Production itself takes days, if not weeks, and the post-production process is a months-long investment of time if its given the proper care. Of course, there are exceptions, but generally speaking when a director commits to a feature film, that commitment calls for several months of time spent working on the same story, chaining the director to a single genre.

So why horror?

Why would a filmmaker choose to spend over a year of their life with a horror film? Horror films make for terrible roommates. They’re extremely messy, getting blood and gore all over the place and they very rarely clean up after themselves. Horror films are loud. Shrieks of terror at all hours of the night make sleep difficult, at best, to say nothing of the screeching of blades on metal and bone. The plopping sound of discarded meaty bits flying around can be somewhat unnerving, and let’s be honest, the constant eerie music can twist the simple act of grabbing a beverage from the fridge into a harrowing experience. Who would want to live with THAT for over a year?

Now, to a hardcore fan of horror, such a living arrangement might seem pretty cool. That probably explains why the vast majority of horror directors are, above all, fans. We choose to make movies that we like, because we know that we will be spending time with them. We will get to know them inside and out and we will have every frame burned into our memories until dementia or the decay of the grave drags them into oblivion.

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