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Home | Books | Book Reviews | Book Review: Splatter Flicks – How to Make Low Budget Horror Films – Author Sara Caldwell

Book Review: Splatter Flicks – How to Make Low Budget Horror Films – Author Sara Caldwell


Written by Sara Caldwell
Published by Allworth Press
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Black /White – 224 pages
Price: $19.95

If only I read this book back when I was making films…. Splatter flicks is a smart comprehensive read about the art and business of film making. The fact that it’s geared towards horror films is almost a matter of fact, as really its a film makers book in disguise. Sara Caldwell has obviously had her share of wins and losses in the business. From reading, it’s apparent that she had enough of those to put her thoughts down into a read that she wants the world to experience.

The book covers just about everything from craft services, penny pinching, script writing and to marketing just to name a few. The purpose here is to educate all you wanna be film makers on what to expect up front and down the road. Having read through it, I can tell you it’s all true. So the first thing a horror film maker should do before even buying your anticipated expensive state of the art digital camera is give this book a read through. There’s alot of bread to butter along the way and a few life’s lessons to learn that it can only benefit you to know what to expect in the interim.

I especially like the chapters on her explanations into character building, capturing fear on film and theme building. Important aspects like avoiding cliques are highly recommended as well as stretching your plot and suspense building. Many examples in film are provided and the success stories to go along with them. It is important to take note form the proven ventures for what worked and what didn’t. The much heralded digital revolution pros are mentioned in its own chapter. Which we could of expected anyway’s seeing that most films nowadays are created under that option. However, what the book failed to mention are some of the many cons you will run into in the digital field. It still saves you much money, though there are many red flags to be aware of that might leave you a little grayer in the process.

Shooting schedule examples are included which I found helpful to put things into perspective. But how about the direction of fight scenes and sex scenes.! Yep those are here too, which if your planning on any action scenes are worth a look to prepare yourself for.

Budget planning is a highly recommended section of the book. In fact without giving it a thorough plan, you are likely to fail or get yourself in trouble. This goes along with the penny pinching recommendations. As she mentions, even if you are able to get most of your cast an crew on the highly comical deferral arrangements, you still have to feed your people well to keep them around. Never more true with the expected long hours that a production entails.

There is alot of set specific coverage as you make your way further into the book. Lighting setups, blocking your shots, the pains and expectations of pre-production and post production, getting your FX mapped out and hiring the right cinematographer are cited as important piecse of the puzzle that results in your end product.

I do like the fact that the horror genre is the focus of this book, however as noted earlier really the information provided can be applied to “any” film project. The horror aspect is focused on when using examples, cliques, and director recommendations. The book itself could be argued that it “kind” of serves as a self promotional tool with many of the authors projects mentioned throughout. Though I think for the value of what is covered that issue is trivial compared to what you can really learn about orchestrating a professional horror film production. At 216 pages there’s just enough to get you the goods without boring you with too many chapters on contract negotiations. While the creation process will surely be a highlight to readers, they should take great care to give the contract, financial and financial planning sections a good going over. Very enjoyable! – highly informative!

Available at: Allworth Press
Also available at: Amazon

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