“When you don’t have the money, you really need the time.” The crew from Field Guide To Evil sat down with me to discuss the inner workings of the Horror Anthology.
Field Guide To Evil, a new horror anthology rooted in folklore, tells the most nefarious myths from 8 different countries around the world. Producers Tim League and Ant Timpson, of The ABC’S of Death 1&2, raised $500,000 through the funding portal First Democracy VC, the result of a partnership between Indiegogo and Microventures, and dispersed the money raised to its eclectic team of filmmakers.
Boasting the talents of Goodnight Mommy duo Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, The Lure’s Agnieszka Smoczynska, Berberian Sound Studio’s Peter Strickland, and The Procedure’s (A Sundance Grand Jury Winning short) Calvin Lee Reeder et al., Field Guide has a diverse series of films that’ll frighten and titillate you in their own ways.
I interviewed some of the filmmakers involved on various segments of Field Guide To Evil, and they helped demystify some of the inner workings behind the making of a horror anthology.
WHO I interviewed:
Beware The Melonheads (America)
Calvin Lee Reeder (Director)
A Nocturnal Breath (Germany)
Anke Peterson (Producer)
Cobbler’s Lot (Hungary)
Dora Nedeczky (Producer)
Esther Turan (Producer)
Whatever Happened To Panagas The Pagan? (Greece)
Yannis Veslemes (Director/Producer/Composer)
Where and how does an anthology film begin in pre-production?
Reeder: Ant Timpson and Tim League had the concept and they approached all of the directors separately.
And from there you go off to develop the scripts on your own?
Veslemes: Yes, and they overlook the whole thing. More or less, all of the directors are in touch with Tim and Ant from the beginning.
And the directors are free to tell any myth of their choosing?
Peterson: We had to pitch our stories. For ours we presented two I think.
Reeder: Exactly, yeah. I pitched them a couple of ideas and after we picked one it was pretty free.
Turan: We presented two, too.
Veslemes: I presented one.
Are there any sort of checks & balances or guidance from the overseeing producers Tim & Ant to ensure the films aren’t criss crossing aesthetically? Or is it assumed they’ll be distinct with the directors chosen?
Veslemes: I think they ensured that we weren’t having the same concepts and ideas. But they also wanted to give us the freedom to explore our concept. And they did guide us, in some aspects, with pre-production and post production concerning time and pace.
Reeder: They wanted to make sure we were making a horror film basically. The concept could maybe steer you in another direction. There were some guidelines. but it was pretty free.
Veslemes, Nedezcky: Agreed.
Turan: Our only challenge in terms of approvals was the subtitles. Our film is basically a silent film and has a lot of music in it. Peter Strickland really wanted to have these Hungarian folklore designed plates for the subtitles. After some control screenings it was pretty obvious that people couldn’t really read them so we needed to redo them.
Peterson: The only thing from Ant was that each chapter needed a sort of mini-explanation up front. Because we’re telling a myth, and we’ve only got ten minutes time to tell it. You need a little more information about the origin of the story. So everyone was obliged to write a page in what you now see as the “Field Guide” in the film.
Did you feel you were able to take more risks as producers/directors because of the shorter, condensed format.
Reeder: I think that’s potentially true. Maybe that has more to do with the nature of this particular project. They encouraged us to take risks. But I do think that’s truer of short films in general.
How does financing these films work? Is each film provided a certain amount?
Turan: We were given a certain amount. And we figured “this isn’t going to be enough.” We can’t make it with this money. So how can we execute it? You can come up with ways to do it for not enough money, but in our case we invested money from our production company because we believed in the cause and felt it was worth it. We also have a great tax refund system in Hungary, so we took full advantage of its 25% tax refund. So we have the super limited budget, the 25% refund, our investment, and, as an established production company, we asked for so many favors from the subcontractors we’ve worked with on other projects. So that was the combination of how our segment was able to raise money.
Veslemes: That was more or less the same situation in my case. We invested some of our own money. Some producers, the VFX team, and I spent almost a year on it in post production. So we shot quickly but we really needed the time to make it happen.
Peterson: When you don’t have the money you really need the time.
Peterson: Ant and Tim knew this, which is why they started the crowdfunding two years ago. So far in advance.
Turan: It was around December 2016.
Reeder: As far as I know they reached out to the directors and it was up to us to find our own producers. So we have the Ant and Tim producers who conceived the whole thing, and then we have our boots on the ground creative producers with us. So we created our own teams once we became a part of the project.
Is the order of the films predesigned?
Veslemes: No, no. We witnessed the order for the first time with the audience at the premiere. We didn’t even see the other segments until now.
How does scheduling work for something like this?
Nedeczky: All of the films were shooting parallel. Ant and Tim had their own post-production team. Every segment had their own, of course. But then the whole film got a separate grade, and then there were the animation and the titles which somehow made the whole thing coherent.
Locations are an essential production value to all of your films, and in the case of The Cobblers Lot you shot in a studio, could you talk about each of your film’s use of locations?
Turan: Regarding our segment, the Hungarian segment: The Cobbler’s Lot, we used a very cool medieval backlot and obviously reshaped and redesigned it for our purposes. We also used several elements of this back lot, not just one part. I remember it being very cold, and I remember having problems with the crows. Anyways we had the backlot, and then other days we shot at a studio where we created the forest. We also had reshoots. So in our case we had a backlot and a studio.
Peterson: In our case, although we are telling a German tale, we couldn’t find the appropriate locations in Germany. We don’t have these remote little barns anymore atop the mountains and we wanted to tell the story of an abandoned brother and sister. So we needed to goto Austria, in fact, and it had everything we wanted. We wanted to have these impressive mountains and we had luck with the weather because it was raining the whole time -- which is perfect weather to tell a horror story!
Reeder: For ours it was interesting because we needed woodland, and I live in Los Angeles. So we needed to go find the woods. We found a place called Lake Arrowhead, but specifically we shot in a town called Twin Peaks, and that was purely coincidental.
Veslemes: We shot in an isolated island, with only ten village people living there, and then to an abandoned quarry. It was raining season, so all of the roads that led to the quarry were flooded. We had to open the roads to get 50 people down to the quarry. It was cold and very difficult. When I completed the first version I felt I needed something more. I had an extra day of shooting and we shot in a closed archaeological cove near a Mountain in Athens. So we had another twenty hours of shooting there.