Not many events foster the creative aspirations of the teenaged filmmaker, which makes the Upper Dublin-based Greenfield Youth Film Festival stand out. On April 27, 2017, this film festival displayed and celebrated short films from all over the state of Pennsylvania. Some of the most clever (and most awarded) films were horror films. After the event, I got the chance to talk with the filmmakers awarded for their work in the horror genre at a private screening on May 7th, or through email correspondence. Below are three films that stood out in the film festival. These expert and passionate films reflect the professionalism and talent of their respective makers.
“Perception” by Graham Burrell
The film “Perception” by Graham Burrell peeks into the world of virtual reality in a terrifying way. This uneasy film chronicles a daring kid at a party, who tries a new virtual reality game in which he is transported to the site of a horror film. The film expertly transitions back and forth through the real and virtual world as both locations become more sinister and threatening. Eventually, the boy becomes so engrossed in the terrifying realm of the virtual horror game, he can find no way out.
The full film is available here:
The director, Graham Burrell, won an award for Professional Film achievement, and his efforts reflect that. Clearly influenced by Hitchcock and Rod Serling, Burrell, through use of ADR, arduous sliding camera techniques, and “jarring differences in color and sound” of the virtual world crafts an engrossing film. He wrote the film himself after being influenced by a “96 hour film fest” prod with the words “video game.”
You can see more of Burrell’s films here.
And you can follow him on Twitter.
“Taxidermy Carnival” by Abigail Nix
Abigail Nix of CAPA (Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts) takes the helm of the short film “Taxidermy Carnival.” No words are spoken, and a perfect ethereal Russian choir music piece provides the only audio for the film. The film chronicles a “badass girl” who invites two unsuspecting classmates over for a lesson in taxidermy. After a drunken party, the film takes a twisted and terrifying turn.
You can see the whole film (and I suggest you do) here:
Nix earned a Professional Film achievement award for her work. This film was the first to reflect entirely her vision. She draws inspiration from home movies, Wes Anderson quirks, and Halloween tones. With an original script, she expertly directs a tense and uncomfortable storyline, as her close friends act with expressive reactions and body language to effectively communicate the plot. Throughout the tense story, she “draws parallels to the uncertainties in real life,” however gruesome.
More of Nix’s work is available on her YouTube channel.
“Spook 2.0” by Rebecca Rose
The experimental film “Spook 2.0” is a short piece that creates a tense landscape using playful audio and demonic scenes. The film displays scenes of decay and naturalistic decline while maintaining a dark and ominous color scheme. Throughout the satanic visual in the film, a found footage-like video displays a woman briefly explaining a concept of spirits and death. The overall tone of the film is quickly conveyed and sustained throughout the entire experience.
The full film is available here:
Director Rebecca Rose enhanced her earlier idea in the series of “Spook” films. She found that the horror genre presented a challenge and wanted to emulate the “beautiful shots and cinematography” that are present in such films as Insidious and Puppet Master (the latter she says with a smirk). In this film, Rose emphasized lighting as a factor that “makes or breaks a shot.” She draws a deeper meaning from the dark speech her main character in the film gives: in a dichotomous society, anything unexpected is interpreted as scary.
You can find Rose on Facebook.
A good short film is comparable to the experience of a Motel 6. The common goal of both a short film and a Motel 6 is to make the audience (guest) forget where they are. Short films accomplish this with masterful camerawork and relatable characters. Motel 6 accomplishes this by surrounding you with items that should remind you of home (although hairy soap bars and stained sheets may not be successful). These horror shorts above all exhibit this immersive quality. They successfully engross us into the story, which is a beautiful thing. The same cannot always be said for a Motel 6.
Roman Smith is a senior at Upper Dublin High School, and a horror enthusiast (probably as a coping method). When he is not writing about horror, he writes a late night comedy webshow, and scientific articles on Data Analytics and Sociology. He is a working actor, and has auditioned for horror and comedy films alike. When he has any spare time left, you can see him playing guitar or running track. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.