Writing about film news and reviews is just as fun as you would think, but it’s a lot more work than you would believe. During Comic-Con 2013, influential higher ups of the online movie world got together to discuss their thoughts on the industry, fandom, writing online, and much more. This year was a special year for the Masters of the Web panel because it was all about the horror genre. Special guests included Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the creative minds behind You’re Next and the V/H/S franchise, with moderation by John Campea, editor-in-chief of AMC Movie News. See what the panelists had to say about the ever evolving world of horror and managing their websites.
It’s not everyday you get to see respectable competitive websites sit together in a room and talk strategy. Along with Wingard and Barrett, panelists of today’s panel included Ryan Turek (managing editor of ShockTillYouDrop.com), Evan Dickson (co-editor of Bloody-Disgusting.Com), Grae Drake (senior editor of RottenTomatoes.Com), Heather Wixson (writer for DreadCentral.Com), Lawrence Raffel (editor of FearNet.com), James “Jimmy O” Oster (critic for JoBlo.com).
The panel began with a little introduction behind the making of You’re Next because many horror fans got a special advanced screening. When asked about what their inspiration was, Wingard jokingly claimed Event Horizon. In truth, Wingard admits when he made A Horrible Way to Die, it was a bummer of a movie so both him and Barrett decided to change up the tone. (Keep in mind Youre Next hit Fantastic Fest in 2011 and has not seen the light of day until this year.)
Barrett added on that they didn’t want to pander or wink at the audience, but to acknowledge them as fans of the genre; setting their sights on how they could surprise them since found footage and extreme horror has been a bit exhausted. What Barrett was looking for was a story based on the anxiety of losing your home and the feeling of being threatened. Describing You’re Next, Barrett states, “A horror movie that doesn’t completely insult your intelligence.”
After the discussion about You’re Next, the panel moved into the main topic of discussion, online film journalism in the horror film industry. Ryan Turek took the lead stating that film publicity these days has felt a bit irrelevant and outdated. He feels that editors and writers want something that is fun, something that the publicist can be excited about too. To add to the conversation Grae Drake comments that she’d like to see campaigns that have some effort involved; not just clips of the movie. That’s when the panelists praised Wingard and Barrett stating, “We consider them renegade filmmakers that bring something new to the table.”
Raffel made a good point about horror fans in general claiming, “Horror fans are not just about horror films, they are adventurous and go to festivals. We’re the ones who love cinema.” And I’d have to agree with him. Horror fanatics tend to be a bit more open minded when it comes to type of movies they invest their time in. If we’re willing to sit through 90 minutes of blood and gore, by golly we Singin’ in the Rain is a breeze.
The panelists proceeded to move on to the state of the horror genre, expressing that there are many challenges ahead. The one huge hurdle all parties firmly agreed that filmmakers in the horror industry are facing is tailoring to specific budgets. The micro versus middle budget. Rarely do we see horror films with a nice cushiony budget allowing a little more freedom; most fall under $10-15 million. James Oster includes, “I wish studios would treat horror fans with respect. We want to see good movies, we don’t want to see crap thrown together.”
Moving on to the Q&A portion, questions were directed more toward publicizing and breaking into the film industry via online film journalists. A point to keep in mind is that if you know your film may not be liked by certain critics, don’t send it out to be reviewed before you have distribution. To break through, it takes patience, and more than one email to get through the clutter. Heather Wixson says, “Make sure you spellcheck your emails and present yourself in a thoughtful manner. And don’t harass people on Twitter.”
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You’re Next opens August 23, 2013 and will be distributed by Lionsgate.