Editing is a vital component in creating a quality, tense and terrifying horror film. It’s a painstaking process, but worth every millisecond of crack-a-jack timing needed to move a short from being good to great.
WINNER: Andrew Hoffman for Dispossessed
JUDGES: Ben Franklin and Anthony Melton
Unfortunately for all the editors out there, these two judges are perhaps the harshest, most critical judges. Actually, they’re the harshest, most critical people in the WORLD. They once told me my pink onesie made me look like a gigantic hideous pig-baby. Cruel, cruel people.
So they ploughed into judging with the same producer-eyes that helped create the Bloody Cuts canon. Informed, judgemental, critical, insightful and intelligent. Which is useful when judging a film, but less so when viewing someone’s choice on indoor comfort-wear.
Anyway… their decisions took them on a journey through dozens and dozens of entries. Having watched ALL of them in the Roy Franklin Cinema and Eatery, they had already picked a number of potential winners from the cavalcade of entries.
Here’s what they had to say…
“Our shortlist ended up with some great entries. We chose:
Don’t Look At Me
Play Dead With Me
Of note is Don’t Look At Me, which is solely driven by it and I think one of the very few that did this.
I think that Dispossessed had the best flow and each shot was well timed, plus the camera stuff was awesome… I’d choose Dispossessed purely on the premise that it is still a film with a larger story and a believable world.”
Please note that all these shorts did NOT include anyone wearing a onesie. Just sayin’…
This concludes our loveable string of Blog posts focusing on the judges’ decisions for awarding the ‘best’ of everything. Unfortunately we didn’t have a category for “Best Horrible Death” or “Best Use of Masturbation”… but maybe next year?
Thanks to all the judges for taking the time to watch all of these shorts and having the epically-hard task of choosing only one winner for their category. And super-special thanks goes to ALL the entrants into the Bloody Cuts Film Challenge 2013 / 2014 – it’s been a damn wild ride. Thank you.
Will we run this again next year? Who knows! Watch this space.
For now, though – if it’s okay – we’d like to collapse in a heap for a bit. But not actually sleep. Not all more. Thanks to all of you and your terrifying collection of horror shorts, we’ll never sleep properly ever again…
Acting in short films. It’s a hard thing to judge. Not much time. Sometimes no dialogue. Little room for character arcs or emotional journeys.
So we got two pro actors to judge this tough category, and two people accustomed to horror shorts, having both worked on Bloody Cuts films before. Rachel Bright appeared in “Don’t Move” and Robin Berry appeared in both “Suckablood” (as Suckablood himself!) and “Death Scenes”.
They sat down and smashed through the shorts, undoubtedly having to wince at some of the acting on display… but also marvel at the skill and genius in others. Essentially, though, there could on be one winner.
WINNER: Lisa Sumiyoshi for Departure
JUDGES: Rachel Bright and Robin Berry
We never asked them to write any feedback, so their feedback is informal and brief. Don’t like it? Write to your local town councilor.
Robin Berry said “I thought she was the most natural and believable performer by far and really brought a great intensity to the role. Really stood out for me.”
Rachel Bright said “She stood out massively for me and I’ve found it difficult to find someone else that comes close, especially in such a short amount of time!”
High praise indeed, and congratulations and thanks to all the actors who spent their time, skill and talent on the hundreds of entries we received.
Amazing work from everyone involved.
Check out all of the entries including the other winners on the official Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge website.
Shortly after eviscerating an annoying goat and using her innards for divination, Bloody Cuts writer David Scullion decided to contact Ryan Thompson through the crimson-mist.
After dragging Ryan through the manky blood-portal and wiping off the goat intestines, they sat down (on the bones of the innocent) and had a chat about film, horror and winning the first ever Bloody Cuts Film Challenge.
DAVID SCULLION: Hi Ryan, huge congratulations on winning the Bloody Cuts Film Challenge (BCHC) and ALSO the award for Best Sound and Best Grading for your awesome short ‘Play Time’! Also, thanks for agreeing to this short interview, even if we did threaten you with a plague of zombie badgers if you didn’t respond.
Who is Ryan Thompson? How did you get into filmmaking?
RYAN THOMPSON: I am a horror fan and a film maker! I have been obsessed with horror since I can remember, and I always tried to replicate the genre growing up, either through drawings, or filming with my dad’s old camcorder. I started making shorts at a young age (mainly horror) and just kept trying to create new things every chance I got. Film making is my life, it allows the opportunity to create whatever ideas you have, and make them flesh, to show everyone else how insane you are. Creating something that takes the audience out of their surroundings for even a split second, and have them immersed in a world and situation you have created, is something I will always strive for.
DS: What drew you to the BCHC and how did it differ from the many other similar film competitions running all year round? Have you entered competitions like this before?
RT: I had seen all of Bloody Cuts shorts and loved them, I actually found out about the competition from FilmRiot and as soon as Bloody Cuts was mentioned, I went and checked it out. I thought it was a great idea and loved how open for interpretation and freedom it was, and the fact that it had to be 3 minutes was a nice time frame to work within. ‘Dare’ definitely helped boost my excitement and I quickly rang up the actors to see if they would be up for it.
DS: Why horror? Have you done much in the genre prior to the BCHC?
RT: I’ve actually created a lot of horror projects ranging from slasher to supernatural and the majority of my work so far would be considered horror. I think the horror genre is great to do as it’s themes can be so varied, and it can allow more freedom than other genres. I love the idea of having the audience on the edge of their seats, so if done correctly you can get a great reaction.
DS: How important to filmmakers do you feel competitions like the BCHC are?
RT: I think film competitions (especially ones like this which allow so much freedom to explore ideas) are very important for filmmakers, both as motivation, and as a chance to try something different/new. Everyone learns something new from each project they work on, and it is an extra thing for the portfolio so I would say filmmakers should always check out competitions, you never know how important the finished project might be for your future.
DS: Onto the film, how did you develop the concept and script of Play Time and how much preparation and pre-production did you do?
RT: I was originally going down to Oxford to shoot with the actors involved for a different project, but the night before I left I found out about the Who’s There challenge. After they told me that they would like to be involved, I quickly wrote the concept and made the shotlist. The only preparation needed was to work on the ghosts costume so when I arrived we put it all together with things the actress already owned.
DS: Please tell us a little about production, what was your crew size, how many days did you shoot for, what equipment and cameras did you use?
RT: Our crew included me, the two actors, and one of their husbands who did a couple things when we needed extra hands. We shot for roughly 4 hours one night and a few pickup shots the next morning so it was one of the quickest shoots I had ever done. It was all shot on the Panasonic SD900 camcorder which was mounted on a cheap steadicam for 99% of the shoot. I only used two cheap little LED lights and the rest were the lights in the actual living room. All of the foley and the dialogue were dubbed afterwards, I recorded them with the Tascam DR-40.
DS: Your use of sound was astounding – and won you the Best Sound Award – so how did you approach the audio on your short?
RT: Thank you very much, obviously sound is incredibly important, especially for horror, so I really wanted to spend a lot of time on it and get it right. I was so happy when I found out I won the Best Sound category as it is something I always try to perfect. I also produce music so coming from that background definitely helps but I would say understanding the beats of a script and trying to reflect that with the audio is what makes it work. Towards the end of Play Time when all of the activity around her increases, I wanted the audio to become overwhelming, there are a lot of tracks going on at that point from the lights flickering to the vinyl playing. Actually one of the songs playing is an original of mine that I put in reverse, and another is an original of the lead actress but they are quite difficult to hear.
Obviously the power of sound can allow someone to create tension for the audience, or completely ruin it, so it is about trying things out and seeing if they work until you find something that reflects the style and mood of the piece.
DS: What did the winning of the BCHC mean to you?
RT: I couldn’t believe it when I saw Play Time as the first place, I really did not expect to see it in the top 3! Getting into the top six was amazing and it felt like that was as far as it was supposed to go. The actors actually found out before me and rang up while I checked out the winners. And my parents were the ones that told me about winning best grading and sound too. This is the first film competition I have won so it means everything, it lets me know that I am doing something right so will always serve as motivation for my next projects.
DS: Did you have a chance to watch many of the other shorts? What did you think of your competition?
RT: Yes I watched all of the top 50 and was blown away, there were some incredible shorts and very unique concepts. I also watched a lot of the submissions that didn’t make it to the top 50 and again there were some truly excellent and creative films which would look great in anyone’s credits! I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to whittle down through all of these amazing shorts but it must be great knowing that your competition was the inspiration and motivation for these films to be created.
DS: What’s next? Following the success of your horror short, do you plan to cut some more slices of horror?
RT: I am currently working on three different projects right now, unfortunately none of them are horror but I will definitely return to the genre again and try something different and new. I started shooting one of the shorts the other week, a sci-fi called Your Future, which luckily I was able to use some of the equipment I won from this competition. Thank you so much for creating this opportunity for the film making community and horror fans alike!
DS: Thanks Ryan! You can go back to your life now…
To read more about Ryan and see some of his other work, stalk him here:
You can watch the film on YouTube or pop on over to the official Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge website, where you can consume it’s terrifying goodness alongside all the other winners including the Judges top 3 choices for 2013/14.
Sound isn’t just music or score. It’s everything. The sinister laugh of a clown. The cackle of a crone. The midnight howl of some otherworldly beast. The slamming of a door or a slicing of a neck. The beat of a heart or the scraping of claws across a wooden floor.
When something sounds wrong it can boot the audience straight out of the movie and back to reality. And no one wants that. Reality? Pah! I’d rather be watching movies.
Bloody Cuts therefore chose two sound experts to judge this category. People who know their stuff and don’t just go “Wow, I like that bit of music. Winner!”
WINNER: Ryan Thompson for Play Time
JUDGES: Phil Lee and Rory Harper
Proving that the Awards Judges weren’t in collusion with the Overall Judges, Phil and Rory chose the overall WINNER of the competition as their Best Sound Award!
What does that say about sound? Like I mentioned above, it can make or break a movie. Having listened to Play Time on my laptop, headphones jammed into my ears and ALSO in the “Roy Franklin Cinema and Popcorn Eatery” it is really apparent that the sound makes Play Time so damn scary.
Phil tells us a little bit more about their decision:
“We have made our decision and we have both agreed on ‘Play Time’ as our Sound Award Winner. This film really stood out in its quality of execution and sonic decisions.
Very well thought-out design, clean, great dynamics, married with the picture and story development perfectly and most of all, had the big scare factor!!
Loved the TV static design with the disturbing screams, could have been really overwhelming and harsh in an annoying way but was shaped and mixed really well.”
A sound judgement.
What do you think when you hear the word ‘Horror’?
Scary noises. Screaming virgins. Ghostly figures flitting past windows. Sentient rocking chairs, having a little rock. Darkness…
… but also blood. And zombies. And clowns. And aliens and monsters and lizardmen and demons and ripped spleens and sliced throats and gunk-spewing possessed children.
This is what this award focuses on. Best Effects.
WINNER: Jennifer Dionne, Rémy Couture & Sébastien Montpetit for Invectum
JUDGES: Kate Walshe and Chris Goodman
Kate and Chris, accustomed to the joys and madness of horror film special effects, had a tough journey ahead of them. Lots of choice. Lots of violence. Lots of blood and prosthetics and FX work. Subtle, unsubtle, beautiful, horrible and deplorable.
Good fun, basically.
This is what they had to say:
“And the FX award, drum roll please, goes to…… Invectum!
The reveal on this nasty little number made me feel physically ill and it took a couple of viewings for us to figure out how it was done. Deceptively simple, really effective and such a great pay off at the end of a successfully tense horror short.
Honourable mentions have to go to the following for being expertly achieved, super clever, really gruesome or just plain fun!
- Clown School
- Lights Out
- Sins of the Father
- The Stranger
- Where Lost Socks Go
To everyone who entered: we had so much fun watching the shorts – thanks for all the amazing effort! Keep up the excellently disturbing work!”
Bloody Cuts would like to reiterate Kate & Chris’s wish here: keep up the excellently disturbing work. The makers of these shorts are the future of Horror cinema, and it gives us a lot of hope.
The second of our Judges’ insights is a category close to the heart of this Blogger.
No, not cheese. Or fish. Or porn. Or cheesy fish porn.
The category is writing.
WINNER: Alistair Quak for Post It
JUDGES: Joel Morgan and David Scullion (me!)
Our words are below. Written together, edited, re-edited, re-written, thrown out, burnt in a ritualistic pile in the garden, given to a script editor, rejected by everyone and finally scrawled down on a napkin and handed in. All done in Starbucks.
Our usual writing process, basically.
Right. Actual words…
“It is fantastically hard to judge writing without actually seeing a script, so what we were looking at is the originality of the idea and concept and how it’s executed.
There were dozens of entries that were eligible for Best Writing and a few of our favourites were:
- Devil Woods
- Fear, INC
- Love Me Again!
- Play Dead With Me
- Suckin’ Face
Each had something unique to them. Some – like Samaritan and Emerentia – managed to pack a huge amount of story, information and character into a tiny space of time. They certainly didn’t feel 3 minutes long!
However, there can only be one winner…
…and that goes to ALISTAIR QUAK for POST IT.
“Post It” does a very good job at telling a short story without dialogue whilst maintaining some good suspense.
To have zero dialogue and maximum intrigue is a skill often lost of many writers, who often replace silence / tension with reams of dialogue. Less is more, and this is certainly the case with dialogue (although not with cake. More is definitely more with cake).
Congratulations to all the writers who worked on the shorts – there was truly some spectacular stuff, some awesome lines of dialogue and a lot of surprises.
We certainly won’t be stealing any of these ideas for future projects. Definitely not. Honest guv’nor…”
Thanks Joel and Me – insightful and brilliant stuff, as always, you two geniuses. Love those guys. So smart, yet equally as sexy and approachably masculine. Hire them.
The Who’s There Horror Short Challenge 2013 is over. The winners have been announced. The awards given. The prizes sent out to the deserving winners.
In the next week we will be doing something unique for a competition of this kind…
…we will be giving you a tiny insight into the ‘Awards’ judges thoughts, opinions and reasons for choosing the winner. Some will be brief, some insightful, some less insightful, some a waffling, baffled mess. All relatively entertaining (am I selling this to you yet?!).
Kicking off today, we thought we’d start with BEST DIRECTOR.
WINNER: David Sandberg for Lights Out
JUDGES: Ben Tillet and Jake Cuddihy
The words below are Ben and Jake’s, and in no way representative of Bloody Cuts as a whole, mostly because it’s articulately written and makes sense, which – if anyone follows this Blog knows – just isn’t Bloody Cuts’ style.
Incidentally, they actually made us dictate this as they stood at the foot of our bed, staring and speaking in unison. It was both terrifying and sexy.
“As we sat down to watch these awesome pieces of dark art, happy as leeches in tankfuls of blood, we suddenly remembered we had to pick a winner for the directing category.
How? By what criteria?
Is it the film-maker who best achieves what they set out to?
Is it our personal favourite story?
Our personal favourite execution? (hanging, by the way. Every time).
Did they finish filming the damned thing without a break down?
We didn’t really decide.
We had a number of favourites:
- Behind Closed Doors
- Book vs Antiquarian
- The Rat
- Suckin’ Face
- Where Lost Socks Go
Then halfway through one particular film, I realised I had stopped breathing…
…and so had the rest of the room.
We were under the spell.
I heard someone bleating the word ‘no, no, no’.
It was me.
By the end of this little gem, we were shouting at each other, laughing at ourselves and trying to block out the images in our heads as we went to the toilet alone.
I remember someone saying “it’s the audience’s experience that counts”, and directors are responsible for conducting that experience.
As well as everything else they must do, the director must also travel into the future, sit down and watch their own film with their audience; imagining what they’re going to see, what they will hear, and how that will feel.
So we’ve chosen as our winner the director who gave us the most powerful personal experience. Who most effectively climbed inside our heads and raped our minds.
So please turn the ‘Lights Out’ and find a cushion to hide behind for 3 minutes, with our choice for your best director; David Sandberg.”
Congratulations to David Sandberg and to Ben-Jake for using the phrase “trying to block out the images in our heads as we went to the toilet alone”.
The time is almost upon us. The votes are in. The ballots have been counted. The awards have been chosen. It is almost time to reveal… the winner.
The competition that began 4 months ago is finally coming to a close. Which of the Top 6 films will snatch that coveted top spot, alongside the huge stack of prizes (over $9500!!)?
The Top 6 have been watched by Joe Dante, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, Drew Daywalt, Gale Anne Hurd, Soska Sisters, Sam McCurdy, Ryan Connolly, Neill Gorton and Scott Beggs.
Watched. Judged. Voted for.
The awards categories have been damn tough to judge too. The awards judges have watched ALL the short films, trying to find that very-best actor, cinematographer, director, editor, effects person, grader, sound designer and writer…
Not an easy task, considering the huge wealth of talent, genius and quality on display.
But these have also been chosen… and will be revealed VERY SOON.
There it is. The Top 6.
These awesome pieces of work will now be judged by our panel of industry experts; Joe Dante, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton, Drew Daywalt, Gale Anne Hurd, Soska Sisters, Sam McCurdy, Ryan Connolly, Neill Gorton and Scott Beggs.
Then the First, Second and Third place shorts will be revealed on FEBRUARY 23RD 2014 at 6pm, GMT.
It’s going to be a long month for some people…
Those who didn’t make the Top 6, don’t despair! We also have individual AWARDS that can be won by ANY of the shorts entered (not just the Top 50), which focus on:
These will be judged by members of the Bloody Cuts team, alongside other industry experts from these fields. Not only do these awards represent a solid piece of prestige for the filmmakers, they also come with individual prizes…which is nice.
Check out the Awards details in full on the competition website – http://www.bchorrorchallenge.com/
Once again, we need to thank everyone that entered the Who’s There Horror Film Challenge. We watched your shorts, reviewed them, ‘judged’ them and re-watched them.
The toughest thing we’ve ever done, and we’ve done some very tough things…
We hope you agree with our Top 6 and understand why we’ve chosen them, but if not please send over your Top 6’s to our Twitter and Facebook pages – we’d love to see what you all think!
So, for 6 filmmakers the long wait begins again.
Until then, keep on making awesome films.
The consideration was simple. We had to watch all the shorts in order to choose the Top 6. All the shorts. All the way through.
Rather than watching the 280+ shorts individually across a number of days, we decided to convene at Bloody Cuts Towers to watch them as a group, as a whole, in one epic day of horror awesomeness.
At 11am we plonked ourselves down in the Bloody Cuts Cinema in Norfolk. Ready. Unsure how mentally capable we all were at handling this kind of experience,…
Those present for voting duties were: Anthony Melton, Ben Franklin, Jonny Franklin and David Scullion (me!). We also had Roy Franklin and Jessica Taylor joining us, so we had a full range of opinions – old, young, sane, mad, open-minded, cynical, jaded, optimistic, male and female. You can decide who represents what yourselves…
This also ensured the range of opinion from all different filmmaking perspectives: producing, directing, writing, cinematography, sound design, lighting, SFX and production design. All bases covered.
During the screenings there were a number of open discussions regarding some of the shorts, often about scares, themes, grading-fails, acting and consumer units. Consumer what? Look it up. We all learned a few interesting facts about buildings yesterday (thanks Roy!).
The range of work on offer was astounding, from witches, demons, zombies, ghosts, vampires, serial killers and chestwyrms all the way to evil books, ear-shattering soundscapes, blood-splurging taps, creepy messages from beyond, two charming giant-puppet-monsters and a possessed forklift truck (seriously).
There was the occasional film that might actually be a snuff film shot by a serial killer and one or two that broke our brains through the complex metaphysical and allegorical contextualisation of their imagery and sound, yet none of the shorts screamed “no effort applied”.
Everything had time taken behind it. Passion. Thought. Maybe a little lunacy…
…and we loved it. Knowing what it takes to make even the most barely-competent horror short (!) we are utterly honoured to have to many filmmakers enter this competition with such inventive work.
But there can be only one winner. Only six finalists can be judged by our panel of industry experts. 6 out of 280+ entrants. Not an easy task.
As a super-special treat, we are going to announce our TOP 50 shorts as decided through our voting process. This will be announced next Saturday at 6pm GMT.
Having sat down after watching ALL the shorts, we totted-up our scores and collated the findings. We argued about semantics, scares, themes, copyright infringement and consumer units.
Finally, after an hour of late-night debating, we came up with a short list. This will need rectifying. Tweaking. Re-watching. More arguments. Possibly some death threats.
But next week all will be revealed.
Well, the Top 50 will…
You’ll have to wait until January 26th for the Top 6 finalists to be revealed!
Today the survivors of the ‘Who’s There Film Marathon’ have all stumbled back to their respective dungeons, swamps, cells, castles and hovels, exhausted and awed by the talent, effort and ingenuity of filmmakers all over the world. Some of the images, stories and scares are still bouncing around our brains like creepy, evil pinballs. Probably will be for some time.
Congratulations to all that entered. We watched your shorts. And some of you are clearly insane.
Please pop on by the the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge website and check out the amazing prizes, super talented judges and superbly generous sponsors. STAT.