What is Silent Hill Requiem?
Silent Hill Requiem is a feature film that was made possible via an Indiegogo crowd funding pitch. The pitch raised $5k, the highest budget I have ever had to work with. The plot to Silent Hill Requiem is that in the year 2015 the Otherworld has broke free of its boundaries and is now infecting the entire world. So an unknown force has brought back those that have faced Silent Hill before to try and stop it.
What made you want to work on a Silent Hill film?
I have always wanted to work on a Silent Hill story ever since playing the first game, back then I was mainly writing and acting, so I designed a concept but I didn't have the means to take it any further.
Throughout my career I have worked in a variety of different art mediums until finally becoming the film maker I am now. During that time I have always been heavily influenced by the metaphysical, the darker and stranger the better. So my plays, dance pieces, art works and writings are always reflective of that aesthetic. Thus when I began working in film my stories where generally horror or science fiction with dark, strange plots and characters.
My most successful film prior to Requiem was a short film called EPiSODE which took heavy influences from Deadly Premonition, Twin Peaks and Silent Hill. This film premiered at the Raindance Film Festival, did far better than I anticipated and solidified the style I could use for a Silent Hill film.
I had joined a Silent Hill group on Facebook when I was designing EPiSODE as I wanted to get other peoples interpretations on what made Silent Hill tense and scary. One morning I'm on that group page, Silent Hill Heaven, and see a post about Silent Hill 'Lost Days' a short film that was crowd funding its budget and at that point had raised near enough its goal. I had no plans to crowd fund my idea, I had tried crowd funding twice in the past for two other projects and both times it had failed to generate anything. But seeing that project gave me the push to move forward with my own. So I took a very small section of my original idea and turned that into a 2 minute micro film project.
It took me a few days to adapt a script and then storyboard it and with my friend Del (Olwen who plays Heather in the final film wasn't available at the time) we filmed the short in an evening. After filming I took one of the shots that didn't require any backgrounds to be made and played around with it until I set upon the colour palette I liked, Del saw it moments later and said she loved the look, so I went back to Silent Hill Heaven and posted the still to get some feedback. Within an hour that still had gone viral like nothing I had ever done before. Suggestions then came to me to develop the short version into a pitching tool for a crowd funder. So after a few hours of thought and releasing some new stills from the short, that went viral the instant they hit the net, I figured why the hell not. I had always planned Requiem as a feature and to do so I'd need a budget, also if the crowd funder failed I wouldn't lose anything as the short version would still exist.
How did the idea of Requiem come about?
A lot of people asked me 'why don't you make the film of SH1/2/3/4?' and I simply replied, because why do they need to be made? Those games are already movies in their own right, they are highly cinematic games and tell the story they want to tell beautifully. Besides we have seen what happens when those games get adapted into major motion pictures; they have to go for mass appeal i.e. profit, and thus lose what made the original storylines great to begin with, Silent Hill is certainly not for everyone.
As a story teller what interests me is what comes next; after the ordeal of being encapsulated in that town you don't just skip off into the sun. Also what does the town do once it has judged its prey? Feet up, cup of Joe, see you bright and early Monday morning?
These questions drove me to create the plot of Requiem; what would happen if the Town decided to judge the World? How would the survivors react to being forcibly returned to the place of their greatest torment? Who are they now because of this Town, and how would they interact with each other?
For me to get to these conclusions meant I had to take specific endings of the games as Requiems cannon and then use their back stories to develop their futures. The way I decided on this was simple, whatever ending I got when I first played SH1-4 was the cannon I would use for the story, those endings where SH1 - Good Ending, SH2 - Leave Ending, SH3 - Normal Ending, SH4 - Eileen's Death.
I have also used information from the other Silent Hill games, minus Shattered Memories since that is a retelling, in fleshing out the plot to Requiem. I also worked with a consultant who is very much into her theories and concepts of Silent Hill, AJ from The Fourth Floor, so I have done my upmost to make sure everything that happens in Requiem has grounding in the original ideas and concepts of Silent Hill 1-4, without going off on some unfounded tangent because that will make a wider appealing story. To be honest with you, screw the wider appeal, I'm a fan of what Silent Hill is and I have no illusions that I could make it better, or that I am trying to show how a Silent Hill film should be made. This is, and the more I say this the more corny it sounds, but this is a fan film made by a fan for the fans. Not every fan mind you, because I can't please everyone and have no intention too. I'm just telling a tale of how I think the story continues, nothing more, nothing less. (gets off soap box)
Although already heavily into production, what has or will be your hardest challenge making this film?
Making any piece of art is a challenge. As I have already banged on about, what I aimed to do was to make a Silent Hill film that felt like a part of Silent Hill. I am not arrogant enough to rewrite the story or change things to better fit with a 'vision'. That's why I chose to continue the characters stories rather than retell them. So my biggest challenge was and is to make this feel like part of the franchise.
Will there be any surprises that fans can look forward to?
Plenty. The film is littered with Easter Eggs for those savvy to see them (though that might require repeat viewings hint, hint). There are more Silent Hill characters in the film than I have announced, this includes what monsters will be in the film. But to keep these details as surprises I'm not telling you who or what they are, so stop asking =P
How can the fans get involved?
I have recently re-opened four of the donation perks; this was due to a large influx of people wanting to donate towards the project even with the indiegogo being finished.
One of those perks is to have your image featured somewhere within the finished film, so that's one way to get involved.
The other is the usual, spread the word. I try to keep a constant flow of info about Requiem on my various social media pages, FB, Twitter, Tumblr, so the more viral that stuff goes the better.
I am also selling signed prints of the various posters I have created for the film, all sales of those feed directly into post production of Requiem and pre-production of Lazarus, so, you know, check the store ;)
What can we expect from Zenithfilms in the future? Will this be it for Silent Hill or can we expect more?
Expect more. There was a lot of ideas that I had to cut out of Requiem to keep it to a general length for my first feature film, last thing you want to make for your first feature is a 4 hr Peter Jackson epic. But rather than just trash these ideas I kept a hold of them.
Then one day it came to my attention that Silent Hill Shattered Memories was originally suppose to be a game called Cold Heart, not many people knew this at the time (it's pretty common knowledge now as the Pitch Document for Cold Heart is on the net for all to see) and all that was available to me was the concept art work for the box cover and a tiny paragraph of info that just contained the protagonists name and a few gameplay elements (even from that it was apparent to me that this game would have been more interesting than Silent Benny Hill Shattered Memories, but that's just my opinion o_0)
It was seeing this cover art of Jessica trudging through the snow carrying a bloodied pipe that gave me the inspiration those other ideas I cut from Requiem needed, and thus Silent Hill Lazarus was born.
I don't want to go into any real details of Lazarus as that may end up containing spoilers to Requiem, but suffice to say Silent Hill Lazarus will be a web series, set 16 years after Silent Hill Requiem. The over arcing plot follows Jessica, a British psychology student, who has been brought to Silent Hill under false pretences and soon discovers she has a dark and twisted connection to the town.
Can you reveal any exclusive info for the fans?
You keep sneaking these question in don't you? lol. I'd love to, but I don't want to spoil any details of the plot I haven't already released. So no ;)
You’re working really hard on this film and from what we’ve seen so far it’s looking amazing, any idea on when it might be finished?
I'm going to have to say the same thing I say whenever anyone asks me this questions, (and trust me I get asked this a lot), it will be out when it is ready.
I’m not trying to sound like a dick when I say that either, it is an honest answer. I can give no exact release date because the editing process is incredibly time consuming.
Consider that a Hollywood movie can take between One and half to Two years before completion, and those productions have teams of people working around the clock on different aspects. This film is all me, I have no post production team, all the editing, CGi, background assets, sound engineering, it’s all down to me and I only started the pre-production of this film in Feb of 2014.
To try and paint a picture, I'll break down Requiem for you.
I got the budget in February 2014 and began writing the script.
The final draft of the script was finished in April and me and Olwen (Heather) did a read through to make sure it flowed well and made sense.
I then began drawing the storyboards, this took me everyday of 3 months to complete, we're talking turning an 80 page script into a 160 odd page storyboard, each page consisting of 8 panels of shots, and I don't just draw stickmen in a box, I draw highly detailed comic book strips. Because we are essentially filming in a green box, most of the time there is little to no set, so having detailed storyboards means me and my actors know exactly what is occurring in each shot, the spatial awareness of the scene and what else is in that shot for them to take notice of.
We filmed end of July into August, collectively the shoot took just over 2 weeks of 10 - 14 hour days.
I am spending roughly 8-10 hrs a day editing, 6 days a week (I have to have at least one day off to keep a clear head) and some days I can get through a variety of different shots and other days I will be there for 10 hrs straight just working on one.
I really do appreciate that people are hyped and cannot wait for the film, which is super awesome and keeps me going, but patience's is a virtue. I am doing my best =)
Finally a few questions just for fun.
Who is your favourite Character out of all of Silent Hill and why?
Heather Cheryl Mason. I have always been drawn to strong female protagonists. Mainly because we rarely see them, in any form of media. I have felt this way for a very long time, well according to my dad anyway, the story goes:
When I was very young, about 6, I was watching a typical horror film with my dad, (my dad didn't really care for age ratings) it was the usual fair of pretty girls being slaughtered by some evil thing and apparently I asked my dad 'why was it that just the girls die, why don't they fight back? I know Mum would!'
That question stayed with me and near enough every piece of narrative I have wrote has a female lead character who doesn't play the typical trope of the victim, they of course get into difficult situations but never rely on a male character to save the day. Just look at the films I have on my youtube channel, I think 90% of them are female leads.
So of course when SH3 came out I was instantly drawn to it because of the lead character.
I also find it a shame that no other Silent Hill game since has had a female lead, not that developers haven't tried *cough* Cold Heart *cough*
Favourite Silent Hill game?
Silent Hill 2. I know, could I be any more predictable?
But it isn't my favourite because of James or his anti hero styled story. It is because out of the many games that exist, it is one of two where the main antagonist is the Town itself.
Not the typical cult or a person trying to claim the 'power' trope, just simply the Town, playing Judge, Jury and Executioner, and not just for James, but for everyone.
And describe Silent Hill in 140 characters or less.
True Survival Horror
Want to stay up to date with everything Silent Hill Requiem? Check out ZenithFilms on Facebook and Youtube.
Want to be a part of Requiem? Check out the online store to see how you can be a part of the film and also grab your official shirts and signed merchandise.