Australian horror film, Redd Inc. is pioneering a new transmedia approach to filmmaking. In a feature film world-first Redd Inc. is opening up the creative process and inviting actors, directors, musicians and artists to make contributions to the project. Members of the website, www.reddincthemovie.com will determine which contributions make it into the film by rating each others work. Showcasing the talents of horror fans from around the globe, the Redd Inc. website is taking submissions until 31st October, and then there will be a month of rating which will decide which entries are incorporated into the feature film.
Beth Wilson caught up with the film’s producer and co-writer Jonathon Green and transmedia strategist for Redd Inc. Peter Giles at the recent SPAA Fringe (Screen Producer’s Association of Australia’s annual conference) to find out more about the project.
What was the genesis of the idea for Redd Inc., what came first the idea for the horror film, or for the collaborative approach?
Jonathon: I think the idea of making a horror film was the first part for a number of reasons, some practical, some of interest. I’m a fan of horror films. I’m also working with the co-writer, Anthony O’Connor who is truly a horror movie maven – he knows them inside out. We really decided that that was a genre that was best suited to our combined skills- him with the horror magic, me with story and structure, as a collaboration we thought that was a strong area. For the second more practical reason which is with horror movies there is a lower barrier to entry than most other film genres. You don’t need stars in horror movies, you can achieve them with relatively low budgets. Our ideas were in a world where we could particularly make a film for a low budget- that is the world of offices; because offices are horrific places without being in a horror movie.
Peter: So I developed the interactive component with Jonathon. When Jonathon approached me there was already this fantastic feature film script. A good transmedia idea is going to be based around a good story idea really, it’s the story world, and the richness of that and what you can do with it. The call to get people involved is very much built around aspects that were there in the script.
At what point did the idea to get people who are going to be watching the film involved in the creation process?
Jonathon: At the time that I realised making a movie here in Australia isn’t really a commercial enterprise on most occasions. It is a very difficult process because normally the process is to raise a whole lot of money and spend a whole lot of capital, then spend a whole lot more money on marketing and then hope that revenues with flow later. I thought that doesn’t really make any business sense. It doesn’t make sense for the audience either, because they’re not going to actually get to see the film- it is very hard to get to that critical mass. So we thought let’s turn that around, let’s do that in reverse. What happens if we do something that engages the audience from very early on and then build that audience and get a loyal fanbase going, and then build a movie for that audience. And that’s what we’re doing and we’ve decided to do that in a way that is really involving and unleashes people to display their hidden talents, and to have that opportunity to do something that gets them out of their normal space, of maybe being in an ordinary office job, or having an unfulfilled creative life.
Peter: What really attracted me to this is that it is really different to other Australian film projects. I work at the Australian Film, TV and Radio School, have done for quite a while and I want people to push and do things that are a bit different. I’m a bit over the kitchen sink dramas that you see churned out in this country over and over and over. I’m a big genre film fan and that’s what attracted me to the project- that it was different and it seemed to have commercial legs to it. That was really exciting to me.
How did you go about building the website?
Peter: Jonathan gave me the script to start with and then it was a matter of coming back with some strategy of how we could engage people; what aspects of that script we could kind of break out. Something that immediately stood out were all these webcam interviews in the movie and so we could outsource those characters to the audience, and a range of other things throughout, like the artwork and so on.
What has the standard of submissions been like?
Peter: Most of it is surprisingly good actually…just cutting the material it is great to work with, great music and great visuals, it’s quite a rich assortment of material. Some of it doesn’t work but I’ve got to say some of the best stuff is really good. We may end up pulling out some better content than maybe we would have got from going and engaging people.
Jonathon: We’ve got about 600 submissions altogether which is pretty exciting and is certainly a big pool to draw from. We’ve been really strong in the areas of art and then acting and music, but the least submitted area would be directing, because it is actually the biggest ask. We challenge your readers to submit little directing things, have a look at our website and have a look at the directing rules and what we’re asking for in terms of a brief… here’s a scoop for you after we finish the ratings month, there’ll be another challenge.
What has been the strangest submission?
Jonathon: I don’t know if I should divulge that one. We’ve had several submissions that have had to be pulled on the basis of being too rude to publish. There is one that has remained on the website because people don’t notice it. It is extremely rude but it is it not immediately apparent, it’s disguised. No one actually notices, but we know.
Have you had an experience of working for a boss from hell that inspired the script?
Jonathon: I’ve been a boss, more than I’ve been working for a boss now. I did have some experiences early on in my life where I worked for people who were actually quite insane, so I kind of know what that’s like. I’ve got plenty of friends who’ve got stories of bosses from hell and experiences they’ve had with people who are just irrational or are self important or just difficult people to work for. Anthony O’Connor my co-writer has got some very interesting stories about working for bosses who just set unrealistic expectations. Sometime people in positions of authority exploit that authority in a way that is just about their own self-aggrandisement, and not necessarily about achieving a better result in the goals of that office. Politics come into it quite a lot and people are often protecting their own position. It is an interesting area and I think a lot of people really connect with it.
Do you have a cast and a location yet?
Jonathon: We have a director, Daniel Krige, and we have a cast in mind. There aren’t going to be any major stars in the movie, but there will be a very strong cast because we have a director who is highly respected. In terms of location we are looking for locations at the moment. It is financed and ready to go and we’ll be shooting in March.
Now for some Horror Week questions-
What was the first horror film you remember watching?
Peter: The Exorcist
Jonathon: I remember as a kid I would have been probably ten sneaking down at midnight to the TV and watching the Creature Feature. And watching the old Christopher Lee Dracula movies, and the those Peter Cushing movies, and The Blob, and all those terrible terrible Hammer films. Because it was late at night and I didn’t want to wake anybody up, sitting this far away from the TV set (indicating approximately 10 inches) so I could turn the volume down really low and no one would hear. I would scare the shit out of myself watching these movies and then when it was finished turn it off, and in the dark house I’d have to creep back to my room, scared out of my brain.
What horror film has had the biggest impact on your psyche?
Peter: Wolf Creek had quite a big effect on me. To be honest, I’m a bit of a wimp and I avoided watching it for a long while thinking it was going to be too much, give me nightmares or something. But I watched it and I loved it, I thought it was fantastic.
Jonathon: I would say The Omen. I saw it young, and I just remember the power that this child [Damien] had. That this child was so scary was really bizarre to me. It was a really powerful film.
Why do you think people like watching horror films?
Jonathon: I’ve got a strong view on this. Horror movies are particularly interesting to young males, more than any other group, because people are looking for a thrill in a really safe world, where you are not able to drive over a certain speed limit and you’ve got restrictions in terms of drugs and alcohol that test people’s limits in terms of what they are capable of doing. And people are finding that they are coming out of adolescence into adulthood; they are sexual beings and finding out how much pleasure they can have and how much they can push their senses to the limit- and horror movies are a safe way for people to test out their sensory overload and see how scared they can be. It is really about overcoming fear and seeing how much one’s newly found powerful instrument called their human body can endure.
How will you be celebrating Halloween?
Peter: I’ll be Trick or Treating with my children
Jonathon: Trick or Treating with my kids for sure
Want to find out more about Redd Inc. or read the guidelines for submissions- click here