Blog 2: Creating The Concept

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Oliver S. Milburn

If you’re going to make a micro-budget movie there are three things that you must do:

  1. Write a good script – for me the script is still the most important part of a film.
  2. Write a script within your means – no spaceships or monsters (unless you’re Gareth Edwards and can do that stuff), a very small number of locations and preferably a very small number of cast.
  3. Decide – very broadly, the borders are always blurred – whether you’re making something that is radically different or a commercial product.

The third was the problem. Do you make some enigmatic piece that’ll baffle the general public, turn heads at festivals and make less than your budget? Or do you try to make a solid, stylish genre film with a decent shot at distribution and a steady pace at which to start your career.

For a number of reasons, we chose the latter: I’ll do the crazy stuff later. I’m not saying The Harsh Light of Day is a cynical exercise – from the moment we had the story it was something I loved and cared deeply about, I’m just saying we made a choice to make a film for a public audience to enjoy, not a film for critics to debate (though of course they’re welcome to).

Horror films tend to lend themselves to micro-budget filmmaking. It’s a genre I’ve loved since I first saw – and failed to understand much of – Hellraiser, aged about 13. So I took out this big book of horror and started opening pages at random, seeing if anything stuck me.

I did want to do something different, or at least have a new twist on a familiar idea. At one point I flicked randomly from The Last House on the Left to Martin. There it was; a revenge film, with vampires.

At the time, Let The Right One In had just come out, and Twilight was no more than a glow on the horizon that I had yet to hear anything about… so I thought ‘perhaps doing a modern vampire movie might be a little cool and alternative.’

Oh well.

Useful links:

A. Gareth Edwards interview on making his film Monsters

B.  The Complete Guide to the Cinema of Fear by James Marriott & Kim Newman

Horror - James Marriott ; Kim Newman

One response

  1. Pingback: Blog 4: Script Development « The Harsh Light of Day Movie Blog

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