What scares you? This was the first question asked at the start of our horror project, a project we’ve just finished. In this project we were tasked to think about our own fears, the fears of other people, and societal issues, in order to create a meaningful short horror film. Our driving question was “why is horror and effective way to reflect and comment on our society?” I’ll be honest I wasn’t too excited about this project, I’ve made a movie with my class before and it is chaotic to say the least. I’m also a horror hater. It’s probably my least favourite genre of film, and I really, really, don’t like being scared. But through this project I’d like to say I’ve learned a lot, not only about horror movies, filmmaking, and literary analysis, but also about myself and some of the things that scare me.

Clean up crew

To start off with some of the biggest lessons from this film project, boy does making a film require a lot of teamwork, organization, and planning. I think we did a lot of good work in certain forms of planning. For example we did a great job at organizing, costumes, props, and equipment. The method we used where we gave each category of items a leader, and had them to organize everything in their category, and then report back to an overall head. Allowed us to have everything ready faster, and with no confusion. However, there were also some pretty big lessons to be learned from the failures of this project. I think our biggest flaw in making this movie was people management. We absolutely wasted people in this project, there were people doubling up on pointless tasks, or sitting around doing nothing at the same time other people needed to be in three places at once. Now I think that some of the blame in this error goes to our head movie management, but I also think it should’ve been a much bigger class effort to try to solve this problem before we went and filmed our movie. Instead of complaining while filming, there should’ve been more initiative, suggestions, and volunteering to solve this problem when we were planning. I think our other big flaw was a little bit of lack of communication from our movie management (director + producer). I think they were a little unsure of the creative direction of the movie, and it made us completely lost. There is no proper sharing of creative ideas from the Director in the form of a story board or any kind of real mood board. This meant we were completely lost and we couldn’t even film a short scene without the Director there from start to finish. We couldn’t stage sets or set up cameras without the Director there for every part, because we had no idea what it was supposed to look like. And with such a tight time budget to film this movie (3 days!!!). This really slowed us down and prevented things like valuable retakes from happening. I think if we were to do this again, we would need more communication in the start of what the creative vision was, and then proper delegation of the task to a group of people so they could create the story board.

A killer being filmed…

I think this project also managed to teach me a lot about myself. I’m not really a person who likes being scared, or even really thinking about what scares me, and this project forced me to think about it. Through watching horror movies, I was honestly pushed out of my comfort zone, I can’t say I had even seen more than one or two before this project. And through watching them I’ve begin to understand not only my fears, but also why I didn’t like watching horror movies in the first place. I, like most others (I assume), I have a terrible fear of being out of control. Not knowing what’s going to happen, and therefore not being able to affect it is the reason I hate horror movies so much. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the film but I do. know it’ll scare me. So I can’t do anything to prepare myself for when I’ll be scared, and it makes me feel out of control. Watching these horror movies has actually helped me put my fears into better words, and start to understand how they affect the rest of my life. This is something I find really useful is it helps me understand myself and why I do things. It also helps me understand some other possible reasons why people would watch horror movies, outside of watching them for entertainment. Another Thing I’m proud of in this project personally is choosing a role that requires a lot more creativity. I usually don’t think of myself as a creative person, so taking the role of costume design and working on character design was not only challenging, but really fun. I put a lot of work in even making Pinterest boards and mood boards for all of the characters, but I’m glad I took a creative role and showed that I could be successful doing it.

Film crew!

As for the driving question of this project, I think it was one I really struggled to answer. I think I learned a ton from making this film, particularly in the way of planning and teamwork. As well as a lot about myself. But the driving question feels like there’s a lot less of a definite answer or lesson. I think this was because our movie didn’t really have an answer to this question. We kind of had a social issue, but no real commentary. Our movie was about cancel culture and polarization. Big topics for sure, but we had nothing really to say about them, outside of “that’s bad!” Still, I think I had to give an answer to the driving question. It would be something simple along the lines of – Horror is an effective way to reflect, and comment on our society as fear is a universal feeling. It’s wired into us through survival mechanisms like fight or flight. This makes fear a very effective tool to reach large audiences and share important, social commentary. Something that I wrote down that has resonated with me throughout this entire project, and I believe is the evidence that supports my answer is from the MoPOP horror exhibit video “The Power of Horror”. What it said was that horror movies work because we are all afraid, we are born afraid, our biology makes us scared. Fear is also spiritual as it humanizes you down to your most basic level, and when we are afraid, we believe things we would usually not. This makes it the perfect device to reflect and allow social commentary to reach the largest number of people, who are scared enough to believe you. 

Thank you as always,