How-To Create a Cheap and Cheesy Horror Movie

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How-To Create a Cheap and Cheesy Horror Movie


Dialogue: Wild sound from the mic on your camera or cell phone can be pretty shoddy. You pick up every little piece of sound, from the dog barking down the street to the cement truck that happened to roll on by during your final scene. This can easily ruin your film.


You have two choices to help alleviate the sound problem. You can purchase a boom mic and boom pole or wireless microphones for your film. Of course that takes away from the "cheap and cheesy" aspect of your project. A second option is the voiceover option in iMovie, Final Cut Express, and Final Cut Pro. Have your actors read their lines again into the computer, much like you would for an animated film. For even more fun, have your actors switch voices or create a kung fu horror film complete with bad dubbing.


Clean up your "brains" dialogue


Background noises: Foley is the art of creating sounds that coincide with the action on screen. If you've ever seen a car squeal its tires as it speeds away on a dirt road, that's Foley. Using the voiceover option again, re-create the footsteps, creaks, and clanks from your film and add them to the mix. If stomping around your house doesn't seem like fun, iLife ships with premade Foley sounds.


Music: Use music to heighten the drama of your short film. GarageBand should be adequate in this respect. Horror films use lots of string instruments to create tension. Just try not to overdo it.



iMovie is more than adequate to edit your film. Remember, your aim is to create a cheesy film you would see on late-night TV after the infomercials have ended. Jarring cuts, continuity issues, and crew members wandering into the shot are all part of the authentic experience.


A couple of quick tips:


Day for night: Shooting at night can be extremely difficult. Instead of trying to figure out how to light the entire neighborhood, shoot your scene during the day and adjust the color in editing. Bring up the blue level and darken the image until you have the look you are aiming for.


Zombies are scarier at night


Feed me: Be sure to have plenty of food around while shooting. A fed crew is a happy crew.


Lights: A flashlight makes for quick, cheap lighting in dark rooms. You can use it to create shadows or highlight a character or object. All you need is someone to hold it.


Don't stress: A bossy director will suck all the fun out of the filming. Stay upbeat and don't take yourself too seriously. You're making a horror film, not "Gone with the Wind."


Premiere: Throw a viewing party for your finished piece. No matter how the film turns out, watching it with your cast, crew, and rabid fan base can be a bonding experience. And who knows, maybe you've found your next career.



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Car squeals are NOT Foley. Creaks, clanks, and footsteps, yes. Car squeals would fall into effects editing. Post-production sound is a big field with lots of categories. Foley is pretty much reserved for footsteps, cloth movement, and small props.

Otherwise, this is a nice little guide. Hopefully it'll inspire someone to make a cheapy movie.

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