Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ask JKM a Question #24: What kind of movie would I direct?

A reader, Trent, writes:

“You have undoubtedly seen thousands of horror and sci-fi films, you understand the genre, you love the genre. Do you think you could direct a genre film? If so, horror or sci-fi?

And if horror, what sub-genre of horror, slasher, haunted house, found-footage, etc? Or considering your love of both sci-fi and horror, possibly a hybrid of the both such as 'Alien’?

Thank you for that excellent question, Trent.  

I know from my experience directing episodes of my zero-budget sci-fi/horror web series, The House Between (2007 – 2009), just how difficult directing in those genres can be. 

Also, I have interviewed folks in the movie industry who compared directing movies to being stung by a thousand mosquitoes simultaneously, or, alternatively going to war as an infantryman. 

It’s not a cake walk. Thus, I have the utmost respect for directors, because in the filmmaking process -- as I’ve witnessed first-hand -- there are approximately one million-and-one ways that something can go wrong.  Having experienced the process myself, I’m constantly amazed and impressed that movies so often do turn out brilliant.

Those facts established, I really loved the directing process, and miss it very much, since it’s been about three years since I undertook the challenge.  If I were a rich man, I’d be making more seasons of The House Between right now, but it’s an expensive proposition.

Still, I have written several scripts for low-budget films, including one called The Dead Side of the Street, which is a kind of 1980s rubber reality horror film…along the lines of Hellraiser or A Nightmare on Elm Street

But if I had the opportunity to direct any kind of movie at all, I strongly suspect I would gravitate towards your last option there: the horror/sci-fi hybrid.  I feel that this was very much what The House Between was (or wanted to be): a production that kind of skirted the limits of each genre, and could go either way (into pure sci-fi, or deep into horror).

I truly love sci-fi/horror hybrid films such as Alien (1979), Event Horizon (1997), Pandorum (2009) and Prometheus (2012), as well as TV shows that walk the same line, like Space: 1999 (1975 – 1977) and Sapphire and Steel (1978 – 1981). 

For some reason, I just really groove on the combination of high-tech environs and terrifying mystery/horror.  I also really love the found-footage genre, but, honestly, I haven’t found an inventive found-footage genre hook yet.  In that sub-genre, you must have a really great and original “hook,” and then kind of re-invent the form each time up at bat. 

I recently began writing a horror web series called The Eclipse that presents my “unified theory” regarding all the supernatural events/sightings in the world.  I have spoken with my composer and producer on The House Between, as well as a few others, about crafting a four-episode first season, but right now it just depends on timing, expense and a few other issues.  For one, I’m still in a Masters program (until next July…), and for another, I am still trying to produce the DVD edition of The House Between, which requires the total re-editing of all twenty-one episodes.

But I have no doubt that one day I’ll try my hand at directing again, and a horror/sci-fi combo would indeed be my preference.


  1. That was a fun question and I really love the films and Space:1999 that you reference for the sci-fi/ horror category. It's funny you mention those films. They ALL stay with you. Prometheus as has been discussed recently. But Event Horizon remains a personal favorite and continues to hold up as probably Anderson's best work.

    Lately, I have been thinking of watching Pandorum again. I like dit a lot and I suspect will continue to enjoy that picture with repeat viewing.

    The sci-fi/ horror genre is indeed a thrilling and rewarding category indeed. Cheers, sff

  2. Anonymous2:24 PM

    John it seems that your natural evolution is to be a writer-director of sci-fi/horror hybrid films. Like you, I was a boy in the ’70s and first experiencing Space:1999(1975-77) it alone is a catalyst for your need. If that was not enough the arrival of ALIEN(1979) closed the decade and forever planted the desire of the science-fiction horror hybrid.