Thank you, Dana Stevens, for coining the term "Artisanal Horror"

Here's Dana from her article in Slate In Praise of Artisanal Horror:

The term caught on only in my own brain, where it’s become a handy taxonomic classification for a subgenre that seems here to stay, even in the age of the big-budget, special-effects-laden franchise. The horror genre has always welcomed tinkerers—inventive filmmakers who are interested in taking genre’s conventions apart and fitting them back together in novel ways. If the desired effect of maximum audience creep-out has to be achieved on a minimal budget, so much the better. Artisanal horror directors place a high value on cheapskate ingenuity, the trick of scaring the audience pantsless with the simplest possible effect: an unexpected camera movement, a barely glimpsed shadow, a hand reaching for a doorknob

I'd like to think I got my start in the world of Artisanal Horror though Dana might think differently of the direct-to-video screamers I had the pleasure of working on during the 90s such as Return of the Living Dead III, Necronomicon, Pumpkinhead II, and Leprechaun III. And what I loved about working on them is exactly what she describes here--the need for "cheapskate ingenuity".

Sure we worked hellishly long hours, in pretty inhumane conditions, and yup, we did it with very small budgets, and very little pay, but there was nothing more fulfilling, and exciting for me than showing up for work, and instantly diving into the job of creating something cool, creepy, bloody, or bizarre, with the limited resources I had to work with. I've always believed there's nothing better for sharpening creativity than limits.

Sure, what we created didn't look polished, or even real (case in point, the not quite decapitated head above) but that was the charm of it for me--that cheapskate ingenuity, and the visual style that comes from it. I've always loved that about horror films. From Frankenstein to From Beyond. How a filmmaker can create a whole new world, populated with nightmares, just using light, latex, paint, plywood, and shadows. It sends chills up my spine.

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And, yes, I've had my fling with digital effects as well--working as a broadcast designer for clients like Lucasfilm--but the slick digital, hyper realistic effects never had the same charm for me as the rubber puppet monsters of The Thing, or Reanimator. And those same digital effects made some of my first loves--Star Wars--unwatchable (but that's a rant for another day.)

You never forget your first love. When I was a little kid, my father introduced me to horror through the original black and white King Kong, and I fell in love. Sure, you could see Harryhausen's fingerprints all over the fur of King Kong, but that didn't take away from how terrifying he was, for me it somehow added to it.

So when I decided to write, and produce my own movies, well, I couldn't help but want to reanimate that feeling of falling in love. That's why I wrote, produced, and acted in movies like Blood Junkies, and The Ghost Club - Spirits Never Die, and why I'm working on  Cryptids, and PDA--feature films that definitely fall squarely on the artisanal horror film spectrum.

I'm just psyched to finally have something to call myself, and what I create.

Blood Junkies Teaser from Small Media Extra Large on Vimeo.

I want to make movies here!

The folks at The Fox is Black discovered/uncovered/found these photos by Andre Govia, a photographer who breaks into (I'm assuming), and takes photos of abandoned buildings, mine shafts, hospitals, and so on. Each and every one of these photos would be a perfectly dressed, perfectly realized horror film set. Or an amazing place to do an episode of The Ghost Club. What kinds of stories could, would, or did happen here?


Andre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia PhotoAndre Govia Photo

The power of designing for real people

Want to innovate? More importantly, do you want what you design to actually be built, and used by real people? Amos Winters, an engineer from MIT, makes a great case for the value, and power of user-centered design in this TED talk where he presents his under $200 off road wheel chair.

Such a brilliant case study! It would have been perfect for our book--Interactive Design: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of User-centered Design. Maybe we can include it in the next printing. ;-)

Maira Kalman on Thinking and Feeling

Inspiration for all us creative folks. Whenever I think too much. I say, "Stop thinking. This is a very dangerous moment." - Maria Kalman

More from Maria:

Allow your brain to empty. Take a walk. Wonderful things happen when your brain is empty. Feel your body going through space. Walking clears your brain, and fills your soul, and makes you quite happy. Be open to what's happening around you. Be surprised.

I Want The Quantum Parallelograph

I love this idea by Patrick Stevenson Keating! I have never been the kind of guy to get addicted to video games, but if The Quantum Parellelograph were real, I have a feeling I would quickly become a multi-universe voyeurism junkie, and spend all my free time exploring the lives of alternate mes. Who needs the Sims when you've got the real thing(s).

Here is a quote from Patrick's website about the project:

The Quantum Parallelograph is an exploratory public engagement project examining the scientific and philosophical ideas surrounding the theory of quantum physics and multiple universes. The device simulates the experience of users being able to glimpse into their “parallel lives” – to observe their alternate realities.

...

The device uses online sources to find the “parallel lives” of users, and prints out a short statement about their “simultaneous” life in a parallel world.

 

Under the Hood - Dave Hill Photography

Dave Hill is an amazing photographer who creates cinematic inspired photo-fantasies. His latest set is an homage to the pulps. Beautiful stuff. He's recently released a video pulling the curtain back, and showing his work behind the scenes. Dave basically sculpts and collages together layer upon layer of different photographs until he creates his fantastic compostions. As someone who has always been compelled to step behind the sets, or sneak into the hidden back rooms, I am mesmerized by the video.

Adventure Series - Exposed from Dave Hill on Vimeo.

Thanks for showing us this secret world, Dave!