How to Make a Scary Movie with No Budget


October 31, 2019·7 min learn

An emphasis on story and sensible results helped us create a spooky firm Halloween video on a shoestring price range.

Vidyard has a lengthy historical past of making a Halloween video yearly. They are amongst our favorites right here on the workplace due to the creativity and something goes method that comes with the vacation. Many of our previous movies have been rooted in comedy and parody. But generally, you simply want a good scare.

That’s why this 12 months we determined to make a actually bone-chilling Halloween video. And we have been in a position to do it on virtually no price range. (The solely factor we purchased was a used desk lamp for $three.99.)

If you haven’t seen “Unknown” but, seize a buddy and watch it now, as a result of there are SPOILERS forward.

Our Horror Homage Halloween Video Concept

The video workforce sat down to brainstorm precisely what sort of scary film we wished to create. As a firm tradition video we knew we had free vary and weren’t restricted to explicitly selling our model or demoing our product. We wished to make an entertaining video for the sake of encouraging engagement and providing one thing enjoyable to our present viewers base.

We thought of ghost tales, traditional monsters, and even slasher flicks. In the top, we have been impressed by the Swedish brief movie “Lights Out.” It was made on a shoestring price range and is certifiably terrifying. “Lights Out” was the breakout movie for director David Sandberg who went on to direct “Annabelle” and “Shazam!” in Hollywood.

We all agreed that “Lights Out” had a notably lingering impact as a result of it was based mostly on the universally scary idea of being alone at midnight. In it, a girl notices a darkish determine inside her condominium when she turns off the lights. No matter what she does, she will’t keep away from it—till it’s too late. The brief movie is immediately relatable and will get straight to the purpose, which is to frighten and entertain.

One of probably the most talked-about features of this viral brief movie was that it was created on a shoestring price range. Lighting and sensible results carried the burden of the scare issue. We wished to try this too.

Our second inspiration was “Black Mirror” and the present’s use of know-how to discover a unusual and doubtlessly harmful future. As a video internet hosting software program firm, our technological concern issue was apparent.

If you’ve used Vidyard’s Chrome extension, you recognize that you just obtain a notification as quickly as somebody views your video. We imagined a state of affairs during which our important character (performed by our gifted co-worker Jennette) creates a video that lands within the incorrect fingers. Our software program doesn’t really let this occur, however please indulge us and droop your disbelief.

I took this idea and ran with it to write a sparse script, that relied extra on the quiet house between traces than the dialogue itself.

How to Make a Scary Video: Our Process

Equipment

At Vidyard, we’re lucky sufficient to have an in-house video manufacturing workforce with entry to all the essential gear wanted to flip this nightmare into a actuality.

These are the instruments we had at our disposal:

Camera (Sony A7III Mirrorless digicam, Metabones adapter for Canon Lenses)
Lights (Ikan bi-color dimmable LED lights)
Tripod (Manfrotto)
Lav mic (Sennheiser G3)
Slider (Cinevate Atlas)

As lengthy as you could have a digicam (and that features a smartphone digicam), lights, and a respectable microphone, you may make a video.

Storyboarding

When storyboarding our script, we drew closely on scary film tropes to create suspense and a feeling of unease.

Extreme close-ups punch in on essential particulars just like the alerts on our character’s pc display.

Extreme vast photographs spotlight how alone our character is on this large, darkish house. It additionally creates a feeling of voyeurism. Is she being watched?

The piece de resistance was our dolly zoom shot on the very finish. (This one goes out to all of the movie nerds.)

We knew we wished to attempt a dolly zoom as a result of it’s one of the vital traditional in-camera results used to make audiences really feel unsettled. Popularized by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo, the dolly zoom includes zooming out with your digicam lens to have an effect on the angle of view, whereas concurrently pushing the bodily digicam physique ahead on a dolly (or vice versa). We used a slider as an alternative of a dolly, and in the event you don’t have both, you should use a skateboard or one thing related that may transfer easily whereas supporting your digicam.

The result’s a stomach-turning, field-of-vision warping as seen in Jaws.

Scary motion pictures are a lot enjoyable for filmmakers as a result of they’re a free go to break the foundations of cinema to obtain a desired impact. I’m speaking about dutch angles (off kilter digicam angles), shaky or handheld camerawork (like within the Blair Witch Project), and crossing the axis. That’s the imaginary line that administrators use to orient viewers inside the house of the scene. It’s often a large no-no to cross it, but when used deliberately, it may produce disturbing outcomes.

Screen Inserts

An essential piece of the puzzle to making “Unknown” plausible was the Photoshopped display views of Slack, Zoom, electronic mail, and cellphone notifications. It’s attainable to add display inserts to your video in post-production, however on this case, we selected to have them on display for the precise shoot. Our artistic director Blake Smith explains, “I chose to create the inserts and have them [on device screens] during the filming was to avoid breaking the reality of the story. It also helped our talent during the acting process.”

Lighting

Light, and sometimes lack of sunshine, can be utilized in some very artistic methods inside the thriller and horror style. For instance, The Blair Witch Project is thought for its distinct lack of sunshine. The darkness limits visibility for the viewer, placing them in a related place to the characters. Missing info places individuals on edge. On the opposite hand, 2019’s Midsommar takes place on a vivid sunny day. The vivid gentle and use of shade reinforces the theme that one thing actually evil can lurk beneath a cheery facade.

We wished to preserve our set as darkish as attainable to promote our theme. We had three dimmable LED panel lights out there, however in most photographs, we solely used one or two of them. Otherwise, we relied on sensible lights. The desk lamp (the place our full price range of $three.99 was spent), was essential to set a stark distinction between the nice and cozy tungsten glow and the darkness of the room. The stairwell gentle represents an escape from the darkness which will get closed when our important character chooses to examine these mysterious video views (don’t do it!). And after all the pc display itself offered a blue gentle that went with our chosen darkish shade pallette.

Sound

Imagine Psycho with out the screeching music within the bathe scene. Or Jaws with out the ominous “da-dum, da-dum.” They simply wouldn’t be the identical.

And it’s not solely background music that units the tone when making a scary film. The Shining could be a lot much less disturbing with out the click-click of Jack’s typewriter or the rumble of the tricycle passing over ground and carpet. Video is nothing with out sound.

Vidyard’s Video Production Manager (and editor of “Unknown”) Mat King explains that creating a customized soundscape will increase the emotion and drive of a scene. This consists of fundamental foley, recorded sound to emphasize minor actions like typing, strolling on gravel, and different actions that may produce a noise in a regular setting. In truth, Mat says, “Almost all of the noises that we as viewers just naturally attribute with being a part of that sequence weren’t actually captured during the production.” Mat makes use of a inventory library (like Artlist.io) to discover his fundamental foley results. You can document your personal or buy sound packs on-line the place greater sound high quality comes at a greater value.

The foley alongside with music drives the scene ahead, particularly in a scene with minimal dialogue. Mat created a droning noise with deep bass notes and high-frequency strings to create an uneasy feeling of pressure.

Color

Colour is one other component that units the tone of any video and will be particularly noticeable inside a horror film. Cold blue is commonly used to denote an eerie or somber temper. Red is usually used to foreshadow violence (Red Rum! Red Rum!).

The authentic 1977 model of Suspiria makes use of good main shade tones to utterly take away the story from actuality. Master of horror John Carpenter is thought for his strategic use of shade. His 1982 movie The Thing begins constructing pressure with a muted palette of snow and ice, that turns into increasingly saturated with rain because the motion will increase.

For “Unknown” Mat wished blue to be the dominant shade to implement the chilly feeling that matches moonlight and pc screens. He shot the video in-camera with a right white steadiness figuring out that he may refine the colours in put up.

Make Your Own Scary Video

Halloween is the proper alternative to get your toes moist with video creation. Whether you go for comedy or horror, embrace your limitations and deal with crafting a nice story.

Feel free to borrow strategies and tropes from motion pictures you want and use them inside your authentic story. Often a acquainted trope can act as a shorthand between you and your viewers. For instance, a very vast, voyeuristic shot helps viewers shortly perceive that your characters are being watched.

Before you go off and begin creating your personal superior scary movies, I’ve to ask—did you notice see the darkish determine within the background of “Unknown”?

a screenshot from "Unknown" with a shadowy figure in the background

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Rebecca Whitaker

Rebecca Whitaker

Rebecca is a content material advertising and marketing specialist at Vidyard. With a background in screenwriting, she is obsessed with storytelling with video. Besides observing screens, Rebecca enjoys using her bike and studying new dance strikes.



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