Spooky and suspenseful fit the bill for our first Halloween Video Contest
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 07, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 02:39 a.m. HST, Sep 08, 2012
Some people really love a good scare. How else to explain movie theaters full of audiences eager for a paranormal fright, a monster created by a mad scientist, or a space alien with rows of shiny, sharp teeth?
But even better is being the person who’s doing the scaring.
So this year, in connection with our annual Halloween Fiction Contest (see Sunday’s Today section for details), we want you to take control of the terror and create the scariest short movie you can imagine for our inaugural Halloween Video Contest, offering a $300 cash prize.
|HORROR FILMMAKING TIPS
>> Have a distinct beginning, middle and end.
>>?Introduce the crux of the story quickly.
>> Less is more: Don’t show everything; let the viewer imagine the horror.
>> Create suspense by foreshadowing the horror so viewers know what is coming before the character does.
>> Every story has already been told, so find a twist or hook to make yours unique.
>> Research cultural history to ground your story in authentic details.
>> Watch a few trailers from successful horror films and see what scare techniques worked best.
>> Good sound is vital and can help overcome bad visuals.
Entries must be five minutes or less and can be a complete story, a single scene or even your version of a movie trailer. And they should be rated a mild PG-13 — no gratuitous gore fests or sadistic slashers. Just good old-fashioned spookiness or eerie suspense.
To help you craft a horror masterpiece, we consulted some of Hawaii’s best filmmakers for advice. They said it was important to thoroughly imagine your story, be unpredictable and find ways to let the viewer’s imagination create the horrific details.
The success of your film will depend on the quality of your story.
Chris McKinney, the novelist whose dark vision of Waikiki became the indie film “Paradise Broken,” said a lot of novice screenwriters take too long to introduce the crux of their story.
“They don’t truly understand how limited the space is that they have to work with,” said McKinney, author of the novel “Mililani Mauka.” “They feel they have time to build up. Watch a movie and you find that the main character’s problem is introduced quickly.”
For a short film like those for our contest, McKinney suggests doing this on the first page of your screenplay.
Director Gerard Elmore said films must have a strong beginning, middle and end, which is something too many directors forget.
“Most of the thought and the process should be put into the story and also the hook: How will you engage the audience?” said Elmore, who directed “One Evening at the Blue Light Bar & Grill” for the locally made anthology “The Short List.”
“You bait the hook and once you got them, you reel them in.”
And less is more.
“‘Jaws’ made people scared of the water just by having a camera in the water floating near dangling legs,” Elmore said. “The original ‘Halloween’ had a vision of Michael Myers and then, chop, chop, chop. Try to hold off the reveal of the murderer or monster as long as possible. Once you give up the monster, it’s almost always a letdown.”
James Sereno, who directed “Paradise Broken,” said it’s scarier to know there’s a knife-wielding killer loose in your house — somewhere, but where? — than it is to have him suddenly leap into your scene in a surprise moment of violence.
“The audience’s imagination to create these situations is better than yours,” said Sereno, a fan of horror films like “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street.” “Good scary suspense is when the audience knows something more than the characters know.”
One way to address this, said young director Thomas Takemoto-Chock, is to think of what questions you want audiences to be asking instead of asking yourself what solution you want to show them.
“We find stories boring if we are given everything,” said Takemoto-Chock, who just earned a graduate degree in directing from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
“If one thing is missing, we unconsciously add in some little bit of information,” he said. “It’s unconscious but it is so crucial in terms of making something engaging and it is so effective to do that in horror.”
Finally, be surprising, said Joel Moffett, an assistant professor who teaches directing and screenwriting at the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media.
“You want the audience to be begging the question, ‘What is going to happen next?’ because the storyteller is constantly throwing curveballs to them,” he said. “They are constantly surprised by various plot twists. That is extremely important in horror.”
Or, to pin it more squarely on the genre: “If the horror film becomes predictable, you’re dead.”
Oct. 15 is the deadline to enter the Star-Advertiser’s Halloween Video Contest. See rules for details.
HALLOWEEN VIDEO CONTEST RULES
Make your own scary movie in the inaugural Halloween Video Contest.
>> Entries should not exceed 5 minutes and must comprise original content that has not appeared elsewhere. Videos with excessive gore or violence will not be considered.
>> The deadline to enter is Oct. 15. Upload entries to YouTube and email the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with information on the video and the filmmakers. Multiple entries will not be accepted.
>> The winner, chosen by a panel of judges, will receive a $300 cash prize. Finalists will be shown on Hawaii News Now "Sunrise" starting Oct. 29, with the winner announced Oct. 31.
>> Finalists for a People’s Choice award will be announced Oct 19, with the winner determined by the highest number of YouTube views between noon Oct. 19 and noon Oct. 23. Video links will be provided at honolulupulse.com.
>> Open to Hawaii residents only, Oahu Publications Inc. and Hawaii News Now contributors, employees and their family are not eligible.
>> By entering the contests, you grant the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now a royalty-free license to display and otherwise use your story or video.