We Are Indie Horror opened the Blood Bank a little under a year ago. Slasher films can be argued as to going back to the 1960’s with Psycho but really gained popularity in the 1970’s. And horror as a genre is centuries old. Never in these time periods had an idea been pitched in this vein with such bluntness. Director and Writer Jim Rothman is out to prove an interesting point. He wants to create a horror film with no horror film cliches leading to what is being billed as a “smart slasher” film. This week’s Blood Bank dives into Rothman’s upcoming project which is being funded currently through Kickstarter, a smart slasher film erasing all the stereotypes and cliches of all horror films – Scythe.
WAIH reviewed Scythe not too long ago and when we saw the short film we were unsure as to what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised. With our staff being incredibly well verse in horror films, every turn had us “knowing” where this character would go just to be thrown into the opposite direction. The short film itself was creative and fun. It truly felt like a unique slasher. Read our review HERE. The synopsis for the feature reads as follows:
It’s the week of prom and RONALD WADE, known as The Grim Reaper Killer, escaped prison. After the news breaks out and the death of high school student Emily Johnson, prom is cancelled. Megan Miller and her friends travel to an abandoned pool to party anyway unbeknownst to them the Grim Reaper Killer lurks nearby. When FBI Angent Chris Gibbon teams with US Marshal John Decker, they discover a huge mistake on Emily’s body, telling them this is not the work of the Grim Reaper Killer, but someone else…
Part ensemble, part horror, part slasher, but promises to be 100% original. Scythe will be a psychological slasher/thriller in a similar style to classic and modern horror films alike. Jim Rothman is being influenced from Halloween (1978), Saw (2004), and iconic thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. By using these iconic films Rothman plans to focus on the suspense, drama, fear, terror, and intensity rather than gore and blood.
Scythe will star writer and director Jim Rothman, Andrea Muller who had a role in the original short, and Robert B. Silver who worked with Rothman before in his award winning shorts Going Down There and Minutes. Jose Alvarez will be helping Rothman produce while Alex Simon is taking over the eye behind the camera.
WAIH had an opportunity to speak with the mastermind behind the short and feature, Jim Rothman. With our seasoned minds, we had some mighty tough inquires for the director with a bold statement.
WAIH: You state time and time again that this is a realistic slasher film. Can you please elaborate into detail about the traits of the characters that you wish to showoff and not show with these characters?
JR: The best way to answer that is to pose a question: you see a figure in the night, he looks like he is intend to do you harm, or is he? What do you do? What would you realistically do? Would you let your paranoia get the better of you, or would you assess as a normal person if there is real danger? Would you really hide in a place you can’t get out of, would you really trip over something as you ran, would you really call out in the dark asking “who is it?” Would you wait to be rescued? Would you fight back? Or would you be your own hero? These are the things I am putting into my characters, these realistic attributes and asking them to find their own way to survive. My characters will not believe they are invulnerable or close their eyes or be oblivious to the situation at hand. All too often the script are written as characters not realizing their friends have been killed so they walk into their won certain deaths. Instead, let’s make it more fun. Let’s make them aware, alert, and ready to fight and then see what kind of drama or conflict we can create.
WAIH: What films were your base of inspiration for Scythe and how will that affect your story and look of the entire feature?
JR: The biggest influence of course was Halloween. And to bring the genre back to its roots in an old fashioned slasher film, but, updated to modern times, is the foundation of the film. The one thing I’ll say for Halloween is that it did what so many films never quite accomplished as a slasher film: It emphasized fear, and intensity, and susses over gore. Gore was utilized so much more for all the copycats that followed but Halloween focused on scaring you, making your heart race, not grossing you out. That’s what I loved about it. Saw is another influence. Like Halloween, it focuses on getting to know the characters. And created a film with limited locations and sets. It used creativity and innovation and story to drive the film forward, not a bunch of gore. Those were the sequels. The story will be driven forward with characters and plot, but with characters you actually root for, characters that you actually care about, but most importantly strong and flawed characters. A detective that is failing and feels it. Women that fight back, that rely on themselves to beat The Grim Reaper Killer. The look of the feature will mirror that of the short. We are going for real dark as opposed to studio dark. If it is dark out, it is pitch dark out and you will feel the isolation and the terror that character feels. Scenes lit with practical lights, candles, minimal lights used.
WAIH: Where did the idea for the look of your killer originate?
JR: Well the Grim Reaper Killer, surprisingly, has not been used much in the films over the years. And since he seems ideal to play a masked villain, not to mention of course being the personification of Death it made sense. I’m looking forward to unleashing him on the big screen. With any luck, he will become an iconic character in the cinematic sense.
WAIH: When creating your short film, what was the biggest challenge faced? And what came first the short or the feature idea?
JR: The feature came first actually. The script was long written before we shot any footage. The footage was meant to be served and used to attract investors. It was a happy accident that the footage we shot could be utilized as a short and tested out on the film festival circuit. Because budget and having little money is always the issue, the biggest challenge was maximizing my time and money in order to get the most production value I could, with what little time I had to get it. The scenes in the house had to be accomplished in one night and we were seriously pressed for time. Not having control of the environment on the streets outside what with traffic zooming by at 3am, which was surprising, was another factor. But that is indie filmmaking. You roll with it.
WAIH: When turning your short film into a feature film, what challenges besides financing were presented?
JR: Since we are still the money raising phase, the only thing I can say is manipulating my vision to what the money we will be able to raise. This is another piece of advice I would give to writers. Try and consider your budget when writing your film. There are some that would say write your film first then figure out how to rewrite it later. I simply say if you know that you can’t afford to shoot a scene as written, and you intend to shoot indie, then you might as well write a film you have the capacity to film with the limited resources you have. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
WAIH: If you hit that $100,000 mark – what name actor are you going to go for?
JR: High on my list is Ron Perlman. He is still into the indie scene and he has the absolute presence to play a season, gruff US Marshall. It would be a dream to get him.
WAIH: Do you have any advice for up and coming horror artists?
JR: Prepare and study. Don’t be in a hurry to shoot something massive with borrowed money. If I could I’d tell my younger self to learn the cinematic traits of setting shots, lighting and editing before I ever pulled money out of my pocket to shoot something major. Experiment with the camera though. Learn shit angles, depth of focus, movement, watch a lot of movie, study. Use the time you have verse the money you don’t. Then one day you’ll be ready to shoot, and you’ll begin that epic journey. You will make mistakes. You just will. But learn from them and do not quit. If you don’t quit, you’ll make it.
Scythe is currently having a fruitful campaign through Kickstarter. They are attempting to raise the last half of their funds and have awesome perks just for you. For just contributing only $5, you can receive a commemorative postcard while other perks tend to grow in value. The standard digital download is there, movie posters, blu-rays, etc. Where the perks become interesting are the higher priced packages. You could earn yourself an actual authentic Grim Reaper costume which was used in the film, with blood and all. If you are an up and coming filmmaker, award winning writer and director Jim Rothman is offering consultation packages where you can discuss your script idea and the fundamental steps that are needed to make the script a reality among many other aspects of filmmaking. This weekend only (April 22, 2016 – April 24, 2016) the Scythe campaign is offering a special priced package which includes a Blu-Ray 3 pack of Rothman‘s past films, a digital download of Scythe the short, commemorative postcard, an autographed script all for $40!
Jump on the sale while you can, and remember this is We Are Indie Horror’s Blood Bank Where Every Drop Counts!