I thought it might be interesting to give some insights into Dead Reel Films for the couple of people out there who have interest. If nothing else, its nice to expose the level of work and passion that goes into even something stupid like Horror Hot Tub which to audiences is just a little bit of fun – but to us was a major pain in the backside. Ambition is a tiring thing.
So, last year we decided to market our film FRIGHT SEEKERS at Scare Con – the annual event in the UK which judges horror haunts. We have experience with Horror parks and figured its a unique pitch as no other film companies will be there. We got ourselves a booth, our team manned it like pros and we put out literature and got as much attention as we could – to help this, I went out as Santa to help promote – I don’t actually like acting or confronting people but being I don’t have fear in doing either I keep getting roped into both. And it was damn tiring, I was grabbing random women and spinning them around and making them sit on my lap (it ain’t easy being Santa!)
And while we’re all the way down in the South we figure hey we should shoot something. Why not take advantage of having a different location for a day? We’ve already paid to stay here – let’s shoot something. So instead of booking a hotel, we booked a remote lodge and arranged the schedule around filming. The whole team was excited – poor bastards didn’t know what they were in for! Ha ha.
Here is how it broke down.
10 am. 7 people, 2 cars – Over 250 miles. We arrived around 5pm.
5 pm. Wayne and I went for a walk to check out a lake we’d heard about.
6:30 pm. reunited with the group we hit the hot tub. This was our chill time – the one chance to relax before we got into everything.
7 pm. We ordered a big Chinese and ate as a film family.
9 pm. We begin filming the first Hot Tub scenes. Mostly Susie going into the tub and her possession. We also filmed Chris and her talking inside the lodge.
2 am. Most of the team go to bed. Wayne, Dawn and I stay up to 3 am talking, planning and backing up footage.
10 am. A couple of us went to a store for supplies while the rest of the us stayed and plotted where we’d film.
12 pm. Our camera man Paul filmed us from Wayne’s TRUNK while we filmed ourselves with a go-pro driving around bumpy country roads to get what footage we needed for the intro.
2 pm. We filmed drone footage of the car driving around.
3 pm. We filmed Chris putting the logs into the hot tub. While Wayne painted the LOG.
3:30 pm. I filmed Drone shots of the camera “spaceship POV” going down while everyone else filmed the arriving at the lodge scenes (this is why my character is missing in those scenes)
4 pm. Rose and I filmed the LOG scenes by dragging it with a string as well as doing reverse shots.
4:45 pm. We filmed the “crash” with a road flare and we were all blind.
5 pm. We got ready to go to a networking night for Scare Con.
6 pm. We get to Scare Con en masse and talk up Fright Seekers to everyone we can, giving out cards and flyers.
9 pm. We leave the event to go film.
10 pm. We filmed a few interiors; Susie and Chris both coming onto me and Susie attracting Dawn to the hot tub.
12 am. We intended to film more hot tub scenes, but there was extreme fatigue hitting some of the team – so we decided we’d push all remaining hot tub until the next night, so people could still be fresh for pitching Fright Seekers the next morning – which was the priority obviously.
1 am. Most people went to bed.
3 am. Wayne and I finally went to bed.
8 am. Time to get ready. Grab breakfast, everyone showers, etc. Dye my hair grey.
10 am. Arrive at Scare Con. (Believe it or not Wayne provided the Santa make up job to me on location in 20 minutes in the corner of the plaza) We talked to over 200 people and Rose (My elf) and I got over 150 photos with people as keepsakes and networking. Our team talked to many at the convention. Lots of business cards back and forth, etc. Good stuff.
4 pm. We dash out and head back to the Lodge.
5 pm. I got as clean as I could quickly and we filmed some interiors – Susie and Chris both coming onto me and the “party” scenes. (If you look closely you can see some of my Santa make up still on my forehead and hair!)
6:30 pm. We got ready to go back to the event for the awards ceremony.
7 pm. We took our seats and watched the awards show – the highlight for us, which was very exciting was that our Fright seekers trailer was shown on the big screens to the audience and got a standing ovation. This was very exciting!
10 pm. We left before the after party to go back and film.
10:30 pm. We filmed Susie and Chris’s hot tub scenes. Dawn showering/walking through house and Chris and I walking up to Dawn – scaring her into the tub.
We finished filming at 3 am.
3:30 am. Most people went to sleep.
5 am. Wayne and I finished backing things up and doing some prep and went to sleep.
9 am. Everyone started packing up. We filmed a few pick up shots to be safe from around the inside of the lodge.
10 am. I went out and filmed exteriors looking from the woods into the lodge and also POV shots for the LOG.
11 am. We had to leave the lodge.
12 pm. We were supposed to go see an attraction at Alton Towers, but being everyone was exhausted – instead we made the 5 hour journey back.
So yeah, it was pretty crazy busy and most of the team was pretty destroyed by the speed of which we moved through the shots as well as working the live events. There wasn’t much “relaxation” at the “relaxing” lodge. Maybe next time?! Worst part of the shoot? The hard wood around the tub was actually very sharp. Doing the shoeless/pantsless scenes I cut my feet pretty badly and could barely walk for a week. Always Suffer for your art!
Over all though, we got 95% of what we needed and 80% of what we wanted. A few things didn’t go to the plan, partly because of the speed we were shooting and how little time we had. For example: We also had to trim some sections – I was originally taken into the hot tub as well – but we worked out ways that we knew we could make the edit fun or exciting while losing those moments and that meant we had more time on the scenes we were keeping. It’s good to keep flexible. And the original ending was completely reworked. When we first put the idea of the film together because we knew there was a lake at the lodge, we had it end with Dawn being dragged into the lake not the hot tub. However, once we got there we found out the lake was a 40 minute walk away – and while beautiful – there was no way we could give up the time to travel to it to film late at night for the final scenes without access to power to over light the scene.
Also we filmed “clean plates” or empty shots inside the Lodge as we came across the idea of filming the pizza boy at the last minute because the original ending we wanted to film had kind of folded in on itself – see the very original concept – all four of us were naked by the end. Full frontal. And the final shot of the movie was going to be the four of us walking up a country lane into a small village – all buck ass naked – and we each walk into different paths – as the camera pulls back up into the sky to mirror the intro – implying we’re going to keep infecting with our sex appeal. But when some people started getting cold feet (the temperature was actually near 0 when we filmed – so it wasn’t just FEET that were cold…) and it ended up we all wore pants at the end – we didn’t think the image would look as stark if a bunch of people in boxers were walking into a village. Add to that, that we’d been moving non-stop for 3 days plus travel – there just wasn’t enough in the tank to push to spend 2 hours to get that shot with the added complexity of the drone + movement + permission from townsfolk, etc. etc.
And then with the film in the can we were going to release it by Halloween night – but we wanted the right music for it and we couldn’t agree on the tracks – until we heard finally in December Toxic Melons Disco Balls. And we decided to cut the film for a Valentines release. The rest is as it is. Available to view below. This technically 0 budget film, thrown together over a couple of days with a skeleton crew just because we thought it would be cool to shoot in a new place. And we made it how we wanted it; silly and jokey and all about the moment to moment. And you know what? For whatever people feel – I love it, and I am proud of it and my team and when I hear people enjoyed it – it makes every painful minute worth it.
I hope this was informative. I wanted to put it here not just to highlight our work ethic or passion or whatever – though of course I do – but also to remind people when things seem impossible, just keep pushing. Pain and tiredness is temporary. Art is forever.
– Henry Thompson
Feb 18 2020.
What Wayne Thompson has to say on Horror Hot Tub
Who’s idea was it to make a short film whilst promoting ourselves at an event? Geez nice idea!! – seriously though what an experience and what an end product. Something I am super proud of – from being there when the idea was suggested to the script and end product.
I still remember the pre production meetings and warning those who had not experienced this kind of shoot before of what they were letting themselves in for. I dare say they will tell you – no matter how much you warn someone until you have experienced it you will never know just how hard it is.
As well as the hard work though we did get the chance to have some great fun memorable times. some of which you will see in the blooper reel. We were blessed with the location which was amazing. The cast and crew came through brilliantly. Personally I am not sure I will ever catch up on the lack of sleep. As one of the main drivers to producing and being last asleep with Hank and first up to prepare everything – sleep was not in the time sheets!! As Hank says pain and tiredness is temporary (well sleep in my case ) but Art is forever.
HHT is near enough exactly what we aimed to achieve minus one or two shots. Dark Comedy Sci-Fi Horror. Huge thank you to Toxic Melons for the music which fits the films perfectly. I remember Hank, Dawn and myself discussing the choice and as soon as I heard Disco Ball I knew as I believe did Dawn. Not normally my taste in songs but for this film – perfect.
Now onto the next project. See you all soon.
Dawn Crute and her thoughts on the project.
Looking back at what we did during such a short amount of time – a couple days whilst working on ScareCON to ramp up interest in our other project “Frightseekers” – I am amazed at the talented people around me.
I remember sitting in a cafe with Wayne and Sassi chilling and going “You know what would be a crazy fun idea? Lets shoot a short whilst we’re down there!” – I knew going into it it would be a lot of work but it still doesn’t half hit you when its happening. Everything went 150mph with me – from panicking about how we’d look at ScareCON to actually getting the shoot done, being able to function to drive people the journey to and from the event (on little sleep I can tell you, that bit wasn’t fun!)
We also made time to have a little fun on some down time we had – our second morning we came out to check the hot tub to find that Sassi’s hair had actually dyed the water orange! So in went Wayne to clear it out and get some new water put in! Before we would head out to the local shop about a 20min drive away – it was incredibly peaceful where we were – and having some local think that Paul was drinking alcohol on a pavement (he was just nursing some ketchup promise!)
I think for one of my first projects getting back into the swing of things, I couldn’t have asked for better partners to keep me right when I was an mess from the lack of sleep and stress. They kept me up and going throughout. And for that I’m thankful to them.
Seeing the edit really made me proud of what we produced and knowing that we can do something in such a small amount of time, so we missed a shot or two, we live and learn as we go forward.
See you all on the next project!