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HORROR REIMAGINED

CRAFTING NEW TALES IN HALLOWEEN SERIES

By Steve LongPublished 5 months ago 11 min read
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Steve Long Director of Global Film Exhibition in conversation with Filmmaker Wyatt Edgin

Can you tell us what inspired you to create fan-made films for the Halloween franchise?

I love the franchise, I felt I had enough to say about the franchise to take the time to put my own stamp on it on a small scale. I wanted to tell a Halloween story in an inspired style to that of “The Strangers.” In the first chapter of my series (Halloween Trespasser: INVASION), I wanted to put some story on the back burner and focus on the traumatic event that was occurring. Seeing only the home invasions as an opening to the series leaves the rest of the series to explore the reactions to those events from our main characters in a more realistic and raw tone of film that I prefer over some of the styles and choices that were made in the David Gordon Green films while keeping our series canon (to us) within and in between the events of his films.

The Halloween series has a dedicated fan base and a very specific tone. How do you balance staying true to the original while also infusing your unique creative vision?

Mostly in keeping “The Shape” mysterious and not explaining what he is and rather providing ideas of what he could be but never settling on one. He’s not a character but rather an object that moves and has one job. Michael’s form and movement in our series is a mix of the original 1978 “Shape” and what’s seen in the DDG films. His physical build is closer to that of the 78’ film which I personally like to blend the different films while giving him the strength, brutality, and aggressiveness he displays in the most recent trilogy allowing us to go heavy on gore when we can. I’d like to go even further into his roots and get back to longer stalking scenes and building up to attacks a little more which we do a bit in our newest HALLOWEEN chapter “Halloween Trespasser: DELIRIUM” I and my team am currently working on and hope to have out in or by January. Other than that I like to be a bit different and do some different things from the movies that exist without being drastically different it becomes something other than a Halloween movie but still being different enough to keep me interested in the project and to give people a reason to watch otherwise if you want the same Halloween film you can watch the official ones by the studios that have better cameras and budgets than we do.

Can you walk us through your process of conceptualizing a fan film? From the initial idea to the finished product, what steps do you take?

To do a fan film there has to be something that hasn’t been done or said in the franchise that I think I’d like to say or do. Firstly I think about the story in my head for a long while before ever putting anything to paper to get a grasp of what I want the film to be in its tone and characters. I think about what’s been done or what I'd like to do differently from the franchise or other horror films. When making costumes for pre-existing characters from franchises I’m careful to get details as perfect as I can with the resources I have or can achieve. Music is also a big deal in fan films to me so it matches the tone of the original franchise while sometimes branching off the idea of their soundtrack to make something better fitted to your new original characters and tone that you create. In the filming process, it's just making sure everything looks right. With Halloween, we try to make sure “The Shape’s” eyes are never seen or if they are very rarely or dimly. We also take lengths to have “The Shape” move like he does in the films as closely as we can. In editing, it comes back around to find a balance of an original tone, color grading, and cutting that match the franchise and your tone.

What has been the biggest challenge in producing fan films that resonate with both die-hard Halloween enthusiasts and newcomers to the series?

Probably the biggest challenge is balancing the fans who want just Gore and Michael and then those who want more stories. What I personally want to do in not just this but all slasher-type projects is to merge loveable characters you can cry, laugh, succeed, and fail with along with the gore and the horror so when something horrific happens it's that much more impactful. I don’t have much interest in making a slasher film without substance to the characters. I love the gore and the classic slasher elements but I also love character development in exploring the effects of attacks like these taking inspiration from real cases and injecting some of the real world into the fictional one. I want to make a character study on my characters and have Michael be the brutal force of nature he is and maintain both in every episode we create.

Fan films often operate on a tight budget. How do you manage the financial constraints and still deliver a film that meets your standards for quality and storytelling?

When writing I think about how far I can go with what I have and am able to create. I’ve taught myself a lot of things independently and work in most aspects of my films ranging from the special effects, writing, cinematography, directing, editing, and more. I don’t like bragging about myself but I do a lot in these projects. Thankfully recently our team has grown and I can rely on some other people to do some of those jobs for me but I still like to be heavily involved which helps our financial situation to be able to see how far we can push it. I don’t have too many restraints in making the story we want to make except for locations sometimes. Gore, we’re pretty confident without a large budget even if that means it takes a month to make one extreme effect. Our quality should come from the story itself and the time we take on our effects, filming, and actors. Those come from talent not money with the exception of what some of those things initially cost but nothing absurdly expensive for us and the product we’re getting. It is important though not to overestimate yourself and what you can do when writing. I try to stray away from big “world-ending” events in my movies because those get expensive and I also don’t have as much of an interest in that type of story personally unless there is an emotional root in it.

Could you share a memorable moment from behind the scenes that encapsulates your experience as a filmmaker in this genre?

The first chapter we made “Halloween Trespasser: INVASION” was a wonderfully collaborative experience the whole night. We shot the entire movie in 12 hours starting at about 5pm and ending at 4am the next morning. Everyone chipped in ideas and the entire ending changed over time but I’m happy with how it ended and still extremely proud of what we were able to create. The ending that’s in the film now is from the mind of Stacy Misenheimer, Karsyn Elizabeth, and myself. We reworked and made the ending in a couple hours and it came out great, especially for a decently drastic change from the original ending. Overall the ending we made actually proved better for the story I want to tell. It was my first real time directing on that scale of the crew and people I couldn’t have done that film without them, my friends, and my family who have all supported this since I was eight or nine and expressed an interest in film. Before then I always loved making my own stories and that was supported too.

Music is a key element in the Halloween series, with John Carpenter's score being iconic. How do you approach the sound design and score for your films?

I love Carpenter's score and like to mix his sound and style with the music of either other artists or our current original composer Riley Preast who’s been trying to score something of mine for a while and has recently gotten quite good so I’m letting him have a shot at scoring segments of “DELIRIUM.” Music is very important to me on how to use it and when to use it. Sometimes scenes are better without it and then there are scenes that need it, it's important to me that the music is right because it can make or break the tone of the movie.

Engaging with the fan community is a big part of creating fan-made content. How has the response from the Halloween community influenced your filmmaking?

For the most part, it's been very positive, I can count on two hands how many ignorant comments we’ve gotten that can’t be avoided. That's a part of putting yourself out there online for the wolves. Besides a few, we’ve only gotten very complimentary comments and or constructive criticism which we love hearing. We’ve had a couple other fan films watch our content and be very complementary, especially “Halloween Stalks.” They were extremely positive, hyping us up in their review of our first film. If you haven’t seen their film I highly recommend it especially since they’re currently in the works on their second film as well. We’ve also had conversations with them one-on-one and they couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive which is what I believe fan films should be. There’s a weird competition that happens between fan films sometimes when in reality we are all fans and nowhere near a celebrity. We’re all just fans coming together to show love for a franchise and we should uplift and support each other through it. We’ve made a lot of friends and a couple fans through this process and we can only hope to continue to do so.

In your opinion, what elements are essential to a Halloween film, and how do you creatively approach these in your work?

The music, atmosphere, and getting Michael right. Even though the original film didn’t have many decorations or pumpkins except a couple it really helps your theme and atmosphere to take a couple hours or even 15 minutes to throw up some Halloween decorations when they’re appropriate. That classic Halloween music by Carpenter or covers of the soundtracks can immediately transcend a scene from being good to great. Finding similar music or new music to fit your tone is also good while incorporating some Carpenter themes throughout your film. I like to mix Carpenter with other artists and sounds. Lastly, if you're not doing an anthology idea like “Halloween III” and your film features Michael Myers I think it's important to get the look and movement of him down. Whichever mask or version you're going for, try your best to nail it and take time with it. The costume doesn’t come together overnight if you're making it yourself or if anyone is really making it. Spend time picking your actor for Michael as well so they appreciate and notice the movement he does. He walks a very specific way in the movies and when it's wrong Halloween fans will notice. I play Michael in my own films only because I am the only person I know who studies the way he moves and acts. If I had someone else to get in that hot, sweaty, and itchy costume I would’ve cast them but as of now people have responded well to the way I move and play him so it's very rewarding after all the hard work I put into the character.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who want to pay homage to their favorite films or series through their own fan-made projects?

My advice to filmmakers wanting to make a fan film or any movie is to just do it. Do not wait around for an opportunity to direct, act, write, or do anything. Just get out there and do it yourself and give it your absolute all. Plan it out and either buy a camera or use whatever camera is available to you even if it's a phone. Put your own taste and style into it as well. Make it yours and be happy with it, if you're not happy with it keep trying. You won’t always get it on the first film and especially sometimes on the first take. Don’t let anyone discourage you but be open to constructive criticism. It’s all possible you just have to try hard and keep at it.

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About the Creator

Steve Long

I am the Director of http://www.globalfilmexhibiton.com 🌍 I Bring stories to life on the big screen across continents. I am passionate about cinematic excellence and fostering global connections.

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