A few months ago Jason Armstrong over at SKG Films sent me a treatment for a found footage horror film called The Ghost is a Lie that I found absolutely brilliant. As a critic, I get sent a lot of these pitches on a regular basis and most are flat and boring and I can’t visualize them or get excited for them (especially when I see the words “found footage”). His idea was solid though, and I could see it play out in my head clear as day. As a horror buff I got it and wanted to see it become a reality and jumped on-board to lend a hand. So did stuntman Chris Carnel, who has worked on films such as The Crazies, Friday the 13th, Hatchet, and also played the Miner in the My Bloody Valentine remake, and Melanie Hocking, a Hollywood costumer who did a great job on Piranha 3-D (did you see those bikinis!) and just finished work on the adaptation of On The Road.
Given the film has a fairly low budget, Jason has opted to go the crowd-funding route and needs our help to get the word out about the IndieGoGo campaign (he’s trying to raise
$10,000 $1000 by the end of the month and has some great perks up for grabs, such as access to all the screenings Criticize This! sponsors in Toronto over the next year). We did a short Q&A with him that explains the film and the process he’s taking with it in greater detail. Read it below and feel free to post it on your own site along with a link to the IndieGoGo campaign.
What’s The Ghost is a Lie all about?
The set up is that a hollywood television producer (Alex Graham) decides to jump on the found footage movie train. She hires once-popular horror writer/director Ben Cooper (Rich Piatkowski) to come up with a story and film it on a ridiculously low budget. Ben accepts because now he’s mostly a cult icon and touring the convention circuit is barely keeping his bills paid.
Ben hires former scream queen Becky V (Sandra DaCosta), hollywood stuntman Chris Carnel (as himself), a trio of young actors (Lora Burke, Lindsay Smith, Jake Raymond) and former documentarian Corey Fielden (Colin Price) to join him on a trip into a “haunted forest.”
With various levels of enthusiasm the group whips up a ghost story and they set about filming their faux documentary, collecting new cohorts along the way (Christina Schimmel and Jordan Gray).
Tensions mount, night falls, and one of them decides they’re not interested in pretending anymore. One by one, members of the crew are picked off. They have only their wearable cameras and some DSLR footage to try and piece together what’s happening before they’re all dead… but is their courage playing right into the killer’s hands?
After making a few films the more traditional way, what led you to go the crowd-funding route?
I’ve been part of a few films that go the investor route. That’s ok, but the truth of modest budget filmmaking is that the pay is low and the promise of deferment is hollow because it’s rare for those films to ever pay off their debts, let alone make money.
For my most recent film (Inspiration) which releases this year, we shot a beautiful, creepy film going the co-op route, for about ten thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money for the average person to shell out, but it’s manageable. And when everyone has a stake in the film, everyone works harder, the final product is better, and the deferred payments are a reality, even if all you do is sell DVD’s online and rent a handful of theatres.
Still, that film required a lot of personal sacrifice, especially for the few of us who have been working on it for over a year. And a lot of financial outlay for one person to bear.
Now, I’m not a fan of found-footage films (with a few exceptions, of course). That said, it’s hard to deny their popularity. After writing such a film for a producer friend, I decided it might be fun to do one of my own. With rules.
- It must be a co-operative venture between the filmmakers and actors, from the ground up. Everyone is a producer, invests their talents, and reaps the reward, hefty or modest, when the film is complete.
- The film must be debt free. For the above to be possible, the film can NEVER at any point OWE money. That can only happen if we personally fund it (and then it still owes money, but it’s not a burden to deferred payments) or we crowd-fund it. On Twitter we’re using the hashtags #DebtFreeFilm and #ProducedByThePeople.
- Every investor must reap a benefit. Aside of the $1 perk, every backer will get to see the movie. Who wants to make art unless it’s enjoyed by others? Not me. The concept of holding out for money caused me to hang on to my first film way too long. It’s coming out on VOD, CHEAP, very soon. We make films so they can be seen.
- It must be entertaining. We’re making the Scream of first-person perspective films. Without giving everything away, this film is aware of what it is. You can expect all the tropes (cute girls, suspense, an iconic killer, clever twists, and hilarious self commentary) and you can expect them to be top shelf. We’re horror fans and at the end of the day, this is a classic horror film. With a twist of irony.
Why should someone donate to your film?
Money is hard to get. We know that. It’s not always easy to part with. That’s why we’re not after donations – we want to give every person something for their money. Whether it’s just the chance to see your name on the screen or to actually be IN the movie, we want the backer to feel a sense of involvement and to walk away with something to show for it.
Moreover, we want to steal some of the power from Hollywood and even the “cleverly disguised as indie but not really indie” movie machine. No more actors getting ripped off via deferments that will never exist. No more paying back exorbitant loans to investors, before the film can make money. Time for films to be #ProducedByThePeople. Give us some money, we’ll give you 110% effort and a great, entertaining film.
What will happen if you don’t reach your goal on IndieGoGo?
Well, we decided not to do a flexible funding campaign, so if we don’t meet our goal, we get NONE of the funds raised. So as it stands, there will simply be no film. Just like in real life – if you don’t have the money, you can’t afford the thing. But we’ve got a great team and over two weeks to help folks find out about what we’re up to. The internet reaches people at blazing speeds and it doesn’t take a crazy amount of backers to reach our goal.
If all goes well when will we see the film?
This is definitely a summer movie. We’re targeting an August completion date and hopefully a small theatrical run with VOD and DVD to follow by September.