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How to Write, Shoot and Edit Your Very Own Horror Film

Earlier this week we talked about the ‘Night of the Living Deb’ Kickstarter campaign, the indie, zombie rom-com that now only has 7 days left in its campaign. With indie horror films being such a popular choice for many filmmakers these days, we thought we’d provide just a few tips on how to make your own horror film.

If you’ve long dreamed of creating your own horror flick, there’s no better time to get started. According to Fast Company, the independent horror movie genre is thriving, even as other areas of the film industry crumble under the prospect of limited funding. What’s more, independent film makers can harness the power of advanced editing software, which picks up the slack for special effects that once required massive budgets. A great horror film is within your reach, so long as you avoid a cliched screenplay and infuse creativity into the shooting process.

Avoid Cliche In Your Screenplay


The horror genre is vast, and yet, creative screenwriters consistently manage to come up with new and interesting plot details. Although your film may follow the general concepts seen time and time again in horror movies, you still hold the potential to develop your own unique angle. That being said, there’s a fine balance between setting the stage for a unique horror film, and devolving into an excess of character development. As Script Magazine points out, audiences want to be frightened, so come up with original plot twists that will scare them silly.

Maintain a Reasonable Special Effects Budget

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The emphasis in your standard modern horror film is less on witty dialog and more on the action and special effects. Unfortunately, audience expectations for these effects have skyrocketed in the last few decades and with them, horror movie budgets. It’s still possible to make your film pop with limited funding, but it will take an extra element of creativity on your part. “Video Maker” advises subtle lighting tricks such as brief flashes of red mixed with ambient blue. These do not require a full crew, nor do they necessitate fancy equipment. You can also minimize costs by inserting brief clips of stock footage as needed. This is ideal for scenes involving advanced weaponry, complicated monsters or scenery you cannot possibly recreate within the confines of your limited budget.

Take Advantage of Video Editing Technology


The great thing about creating low-budget films in the 21st century is that you can take advantage of amazing film editing programs. If you are unable to utilize fancy sets or advanced lighting equipment, you can pick up a good portion of the slack after shooting with the help of Adobe Creative Suite or Sony Movie Studio. Take some time in post production to experiment with colors, also amping up images’ highlights and shadows as needed. If your camera equipment was similarly limited in scope, you may also be able to change the angle and perspective of the footage with the help of your film editing program. In their eagerness to make a horror film’s visual effects pop, small budget film directors often forget to take full advantage of the audience’s sense of hearing. A horror film devoid of eerie music and sound effects is not particularly scary. As Audio Micro points out, such sound effects are easy to incorporate through the downloading of royalty free soundtrack music and effects.

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