Three years later Requiem is finally finished and has been released into the world for new and old fans to see! Paradise interviewed Gareth in 2015 to talk a little about Requiem and now it's here, it only seems right to catch up with Gareth to find out even more about Requiem, what's next from the town of Silent Hill and his overall reaction to it's release.
What is Silent Hill Requiem?
Silent Hill Requiem is a fan made feature length film made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign back in 2014 which raised the modest sum of $5k. The synopsis is as follow; 'The year is 2015 and Heather Mason, James Sunderland and Henry Townshend find themselves back in Silent Hill to deal with the nightmare once again. Can they survive the fog and monsters long enough to stop the Otherworld's influence from infecting the entire planet? '
Short answer, yes I believe I did accomplish that goal with this movie! But don't just take my word for it, this is some of the feedback I received from fans of the film;
"I kept feeling like I needed to get ready to grab my controller as I felt like I was watching a cut scene"
"Requiem is like a lost Silent Hill game, I wish I could play it",
"Omg this is a masterpiece of it's on rite .Better than Hollywood... I am excited for the next one !!!!... I loved this film so much I may watch on repeat !!!! This needs to get on crackle or screambox. Omg I just saw some of Lazarus !!!!! This is so awesome !!!!"
"Jesus Fucking Christ....Your ability to tell a completely fresh narrative while paying homage and reference to the whole series AND Zenithfilms Easter eggs were so well crafted. I'm going to watch this several times just to catch everything. Fucking bravo man. As a fan I love it, as a fellow filmmaker I cry for your eyes and years spent to create that seamless film... You're incredible, my friend"
Let me try to explain. At the end of the day we all know that art is subjective and how I feel about it isn't how others will and that flows through every aspect of my work. I am a true indie film maker in the sense that it's just me making it, though I have a team of excellent actors performing my script in front of the camera, all pre and post production is down to me. Due to working with limited or sometimes no budget, I use a very specific art style with my work to help raise its production value. This choice always leads to a 'love it' or 'hate it' response, it appears that there is no middle ground to my art style choice, and I'm fine with that.
In designing Requiem I did make a very specific choice to use the cinematography from the original SH games and to find music that invoked that Yamaoka feeling. Those choices are what initially helps ground Requiem within the original franchise for me and for those that have enjoyed the film thus far.
If it's not obvious, Silent Hill 2 was the main influence for Requiem, in regards to its pace, narrative choices, monsters and landmarks used. With Silent Hill 2 there is much more attention to human horror, many of the monsters resemble people twisted and tortured, unlike the other games that focus more on grotesque monsters and denizens from the Otherworld. As much as I would have loved to use some of these monsters, especially ones from SH3, the budget we raised would never have covered the cost of their inclusions, so people are just going to have to forgive me on that one, $5k only goes so far.
Though Requiem starts with a bang or 'hits the ground running' as it were, (which is a personal choice for me with all the stories I tell, its most probably due to my affinity with Anime that more often than not starts in the middle and only concludes the characters story never the world its set in. Also with Requiem I am using characters whose backstories are already well known, this is a film for fans initially, although as the film progresses there is enough information on the characters backstories for those that don't know who they are to catch up) Requiem quickly moves back into the spirit of Silent Hill, with its long moments of movement and tension, leading to build ups for reveals and Asian horror crescendos.
One thing that needs to understood regarding the narrative of Requiem, I had to choose specific endings from SH1 through 4 to establish its narrative cannon. To die hard SH fans those endings will be obvious when watching the film for the first time but just to clarify, to decide on which endings to use, I went with whatever ending I achieved the first time I completed the first 4 SH games. Those being; SH1 Good Ending, SH2 Leave Ending, SH3 Normal Ending, SH4 Eileen's Death.
As Requiem is set in the year 2015 these endings establish the respective timeline for Cheryl, James and Henry. As these are older versions of the characters you know and love, they now have their own scars and traumas taken from their first experiences in Silent Hill, this is what grounds who they are in Requiem's story, including how they interact with each other. To make sure I was never going off script, I worked with a Silent Hill consultant. AJ, also know as thegamingmuse (you may have seen her Silent Hill Symbolism videos on youtube) really helped keep my ideas grounded and helped with my approach to characters speech and the language they used. AJ is an incredibly knowledgeable person with regards to Silent Hill and I am very lucky that she chose to give me what little free time she had in developing the Requiem script. All of these aspects is what allowed me to make a Silent Hill film that is a part of the Silent Hill Universe, rather than a mere adaption of it.
It has received Critical Acclaim, which is more than I could have ever imagined it would achieve. Reviews have all been positive and fans have been very very passionate towards it, contacting me personally to share how much the film means to them and that I have done the job they were hoping for. Even some of those that have viewed it with disdain and have decided to get into civil conversations with me about it and have changed their opinions towards it and helped with promoting it. As with all art a small percentage of those that have seen it have not enjoyed my efforts, but it's a passionate fandom, a reaction is a reaction none the less.
If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
No not really, I stand by everything I did in this movie. Also I tend to look forward, retreading or reworking isn't something that interests me. We have a finite time in this life and I need to use it as best as I can to make as much as I can. End of the day I did my best with this film and that's all I could ever do. Of course I have learnt so much from this experience in all aspects of film and story creation, and these lessons will help with the next project and so on.
What would you say is your favourite scene and why?
Unfortunately to say what it is would be a massive spoiler for those that have not watched the film yet. But what I can say is that's it's my favourite scene because of the actors that are involved with it, they brought it to life in a way that still gives me chills when I watch it now.
Your next project is Silent Hill Lazarus, tell us more about Lazarus and what the fans can expect?
Silent Hill Lazarus is set 16 years after the events of Requiem and follows a British Psychology Student who has come to Silent Hill for more research on her Thesis, but she soon discovers her own personal connection to the town. The basic premise for Lazarus is taken from the cancelled Wii game Silent Hill Cold Heart. Lazarus is designed to be a 12 part show rather than another feature length film, there's a few reasons for this. First I want to be able to get content out at a faster rate, I don't want to have people holding on for another 3 years for the final result. Having it as a show also allows me to use audience feedback to help with future episodes. Secondly I like the show format as it will allow me to explore smaller ideas rather than one longer narrative. There will be a continuing story throughout the show as most shows have, but it will also have 'freak of the week' style episodes that are self contained stories, but will also add to character develop and world building.
There is an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign running at the moment which ends on the 17 of Jan 2018 (though I admit it's timing is pretty poor with it being this time of the year, but Requiem was finished and I just wanted it out the door y'know?) After the Indiegogo Campaign finishes there will be a paypal donations page on my website and I will be start a Patreon account for people to still get involved in Lazarus if they so wish.
Will Lazarus be your final walk into the town of Silent Hill or do you have any future plans to make something else?
I think so. Since Silent Hill Lazarus is designed as an episodic show, I believe that all of the ideas I have for the Silent Hill universe will be realised within it.
Finally what has been the most rewarding aspect of making Requiem over the past 3 years?
Finishing such a large project by myself and then for it to be accepted by a large majority of the Silent Hill fandom .
Check out the first 13 minutes of Silent Hill Requiem on Youtube and if you would like to donate to see the full film and help to make Silent Hill Lazarus you can check out the Indiegogo page right here. Also don't forget to like Zenithfilms on Facebook.
Also keep checking back for Paradise's review of Silent Hill Requiem in the very near future!