At last! The Erika Spawn ‘Body of a Whore’ EP

Our cult movie The Devil’s Music features shock rocker Erika Spawn as the mysterious core of the movie. In the process of making the flick, we recorded a number of tracks from Erika Spawn’s past, from her biggest hit ‘Body of a Whore’ through to the power ballad ‘Dying Bride’. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know some of these tracks.

For most of the past eight years, we’ve tried to keep the lines suitably blurred as to what elements of the film are real, and which very much aren’t. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler at this point to state that the songs featured in the movie were written and produced by the mighty Phil Sheldon from lyrics and extremely basic demos by Pat. Vocals were from the wonderful Vic Hopkins.

Check out Erika Spawn’s ‘Body of a Whore’ EP in full below, and be sure to mark your calendar for the worldwide VOD release of The Devil’s Music on October 21st 2016.

 

New Interview with Pat over at Micro Budget Massacre

If you haven’t yet checked out the awesome blog Micro Budget Massacre, allow us to point you in that direction. The blog was set up by our good friend MJ Dixon, writer and director of a whole slew of terrific independent features such as Slasher House and Legacy of Thorn.

Pat’s interview is the latest in a terrific series of chats with low budget horror writers and directors. The series has also featured Liam Regan, who created the awesome Troma-influenced flick Banjo, and the prolific and unstoppable Jason Impey.

Check out the interview by clicking on the graphic below!

Interview with Pat Higgins

Get the Screenwriting Masterclass to Visit Your Town!

I love running workshops and masterclass sessions on screenwriting.

Over the years, I’ve built up a real arsenal of exercises and techniques which can help screenwriters tap into their full potential regardless of whether they’re just starting out or have been writing professionally for a while. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time lecturing in very different environments, (having taught elements of screenwriting to everyone from film festival audiences to BA undergraduates), which has not only been fun but has allowed me to get used to using different techniques with different classes.

There are still a few places available for our full-day workshop in Southend-on-Sea on 4th June, but they’re going fast. We haven’t announced further dates after that yet, but I’m open to suggestions. If you can’t make it to Southend but would be interested in a masterclass taking place in your home town in the UK, drop me a line via Twitter. If we can find a suitable venue in your town, (and round up at least a dozen delegates wanting to buy a ticket), we might well be able to make it happen.

In the meantime, don’t miss the chance to grab one of the last tickets for Southend. We’ll be covering everything from idea generation to character motivation and crafting the perfect ending.

Look forward to seeing you there!

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Hellbride vs Automatic Subtitling

In our attempts to get the mighty Hellbride out to as many people as possible via VOD, (go and buy/rent your copy right here if you haven’t already), we’ve been looking at new options.

One of these new options requires subtitles, and Pat’s been wrestling with getting this sorted out via an online automatic subtitling service. The results have been… Uh…

Hellbride Subititling

Read all about the epic battle with crazy subtitling over at Pat’s new blog for Huffington Post.

 

Amazon Video Direct, Vimeo on Demand and the Independent Filmmaker

So Amazon have now launched a new VOD service called Amazon Video Direct, which will allow filmmakers to charge for their work and has been labelled as a cross between Netflix and YouTube.

This is an interesting new wrinkle in amongst the VOD options available to filmmakers and indies. We’re planning on trying it out this week, so I’ll let you know how things progress.

We’re in an interesting and probably fairly unusual position at the moment. As a small independent company, we have a back catalogue of four features which have all seen significant distribution of one kind or another and have had the rights return to us after previous distribution deals have expired. One of these, The Devil’s Music, we’ve discussed in some detail already. Before we get back to Amazon Video Direct (and start talking about Vimeo on Demand, too), I’ll take you through the other three one by one.

First up, TrashHouse.

TrashHouse DVD
The first Jinx Media film to be released

Our first feature was shot in 2004, and it shows. The film exists only in standard definition, because that was the way it was filmed. It was shot on 4:3 DV, then masked to a 16:9 ratio in post. The film was released in the UK on DVD on February 20th, 2006. The release ended up in every Blockbuster in the country, which was incredibly gratifying. It was described as having “clever ideas but dodgy tech credits” by the mighty Kim Newman in Empire magazine. It turned up on the torrents on a scale that I wouldn’t, frankly, have predicted at that point, meaning that tens upon tens of thousands of people watched it with no context whatsoever and absolutely hated it (the fact that the torrent apparently had buggered up sound presumably didn’t help). The widescale torrenting torpedoed a US deal which was scheduled for later in 2006 and the movie’s reputation as a weird, fun little micro-budget midnight movie went into the toilet under the onslaught of negative commentary people who downloaded it expecting the next Saw. The UK release was the only official one the movie ever saw (although it got re-released in the same territory on a budget label the next year). The rights came back to us about two years ago, and I’ve never quite worked out what to do with the movie. There are certainly people out there who absolutely love the flick and we still get nice emails about it to this day. Apparently, there are bootleg versions of it knocking around in other territories too.

Jinx has never seen a single penny of our investment from TrashHouse back, and it would be really nice to monetise the flick in a way that works out for us this time around.

Next up, KillerKiller.

KillerKiller

KillerKiller was shot in HD but has thus far only ever been released in SD, and in most territories it’s been released as a 4:3 pan and scan crop rather than in the original aspect ratio (this kind of madness was still happening 10 years ago. Go figure). It’s had a little cinema release in Germany, lots of festival screenings and been released in at least half a dozen different territories on DVD, sometimes under exciting different titles (as you can see below). It’s been fairly heavily pirated, but not as badly as TrashHouse was (largely because by the time KillerKiller hit the shelves, the boom in independently produced horror had started to kick in, and there was more choice of movies to nick).

Jinx has never seen a single penny of our investment from KillerKilller back, and it would be really nice to monetise the flick in a way that works out for us this time around.

Finally, Hellbride.

Hellbride

Now, as you may be aware if you follow this blog, this is the one we’re concentrating on this month. Shot back-to-back with KillerKiller but released later because of a longer post-production, Hellbride was shot in HD but, as with KillerKiller, has only been released in SD prior to this year. It was released on DVD in both the US and the UK, and then licenced out by our distributor to various streaming platforms. Our best guess, judging by the figures that we have available to us, is that around a third of a million people have seen Hellbride on one platform or another by this stage.

You’ll never guess what. Jinx has never seen a single penny of our investment from Hellbride back, and it would be really nice to monetise the flick in a way that works out for us this time around.

Those were the first three movies we filmed. Hundreds of thousands of people saw the films. Many tens of thousands actually paid to see the films. Yet not a penny ever came back to the people who made them.

We’ve got wiser as the years have gone by, I hasten to add. Both of the Death Tales movies that Jinx co-produced, and indeed our fourth feature The Devil’s Music, have made money back from their investment. We’re playing the long game with House on the Witchpit, but it’ll definitely make its meagre budget back if all goes to plan.

But those first three movies, man…

Now they’re back home, we’ve had a period of taking stock and looking at the options available to us. We decided a few blog entries back that we would set a re-release date for our fourth film The Devil’s Music of October 21st, and get it out in as many different platforms and territories as possible. It’s our most critically acclaimed movie, and we want to make sure that we do it right in terms of the rerelease.

As for Hellbride, KillerKiller and TrashHouse, that gives us an opportunity to try new things.

The first one up to bat is Hellbride, of course.

We uploaded it to Vimeo on Demand and made it available in HD for purchase or rental a few days ago. We used the functionality of Vimeo on Demand to send out review screeners to review websites who hadn’t already reviewed the movie, and hoped for the best. On the first day that Hellbride was up on Vimeo on Demand, we made six sales totalling about $20. That might sound like a laughably small amount for a movie that still represents a hole in the company’s bank account to the tune of thousands and thousands of pounds, but let’s not forget that out of the 300,000 or so people who’ve seen the movie, that $20 represents the first money that will actually come back to Jinx from Hellbride.

Ten years after the movie filmed.

So, with the Vimeo experiment just getting underway, Amazon throws its hat into the ring with Amazon Video Direct. We’ve already got a nice HD version of the film sitting ready to rock that we prepped for Vimeo, so it looks like we might as well take a punt and upload it to that platform too. Looking over the details, though, it seems to be the usual trade off; increased exposure via Amazon’s collossal reach, in exchange for a reduced cut of the money (50% on Amazon’s platform vs 90% on Vimeo on Demand).

Well, since we managed 6 sales on our first day with Vimeo on Demand, let’s see how we fare on Amazon.

Since I’ve started talking openly about this stuff (we used to hide it behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz for fear of devaluing the perception of our movies) I’ve been lucky enough to chat to several other wonderful filmmakers and share their experiences. So, once you’ve done buying yourself a copy of Hellbride, go and check out Matt Jackson’s amazing Bigfoot-flavoured romp Love in the Time of Monsters, MJ Dixon’s entire goddamn catalogue and Bin Lee’s rocking Office Ninja.

More to come. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Hellbride – Filming a Wedding… With Added Gore (Part One)

I’ve filmed a few weddings in my time. When my awesome brother Colin got married to his lovely wife Nancy nearly eight years ago, I arranged discreet multi-camera coverage and cut that footage together like an epic. I’m a film guy, so people are never too surprised to see me turn up with a camera. Hell, I was even slightly too interested in the filming of my own wedding when I really should have been worrying about other things.

No amount of filming weddings, however, can prepare you for the nerve-shredding experience of filming a fake one. Particularly when there are a few additional ingredients in the mix; namely ghosts, gangsters, guns and gore. See, just because those elements are there too, the real problem is that the other things that you have to worry about with weddings don’t go away.

And thus was the experience of filming the finale to our movie Hellbride.

Rebecca Herod as the beautiful bride in Hellbride

So, yes, you need to make sure that the blood sprays up the drapes in a particularly cinematic way when one of the ushers gets slaughtered by a monster with a weird beak-face, but you also need to make sure that the bride’s hair looks beautiful and that the flowers haven’t wilted since yesterday. Because whereas a real wedding takes place on just one incredibly intense day, a fake wedding for a horror movie can be stretched out into several. Each one presents their own continuity nightmares.

So, without further ado, here are some of the issues we experienced when filming the blood-drenched wedding finale to the movie, which has just been re-released on high definition VOD and can be purchased or rented from http://www.jinxmedia.co.uk and http://www.hellbride.co.uk

Prop hand from Hellbride

The first five issues we encountered, in reverse order:

10) Balloons
Yes, white balloons full of helium are a nice way of ‘filling the space’ in the background of a shot. However, as the days pass whilst filming during a ridiculously hot summer, these balloons lose their lift. They droop. They sag. Some of them pop. And of all the millions of things that you remembered to get when prepping the set, spare balloons were NOT on the list.

We got around the droopy balloons by introducing them as a plot point. When the ghost appears, we cut away to the balloons dropping to the floor as if the atmospheric pressure change had caused this. Because we’re geniuses. But not genius enough to bring spare goddamn helium, obviously. Probably shouldn’t have inhaled so much of it.

The cast of Hellbride - Horror Comedy

9) Flowers
Yes, even getting flowers for a fake wedding is extremely tough, because as soon as you say ‘wedding’ and ‘flowers’ the average florist adds a zero to the quote. We were shooting on a shoestring but needed this to look reasonably convincing. One of my amazing crew (can’t remember who, sorry folks) managed to convince a florist to give us some arrangements that were just about to wilt, and they looked amazing as the bride (the wonderful Rebecca Herod as Nicole Meadows) carried them down the aisle. Unfortunately, they looked a whole lot less wonderful on the second, third and fourth days of filming the sequence. See ‘Balloons’ for more information. Our solution was the same. Ghosts turn up, flowers rot. Because science.

8) Hair and make-up.
We had an amazing, unstoppable genius in the form of Beverly Chorlton sorting out our hair and make-up. Somewhere along the line, however, we sort of forgot that the wedding sequence would require far more ornate hair and make-up for all the female cast (not to mention a full makeover for our ghosts and monsters, too), yet Bev would only have the same amount of hours in every day. For us to be filming by 9am, Bev had to be onset with someone in her chair at some ungodly hour in the morning that shame has made me forget. Sorry, Bev. You were absolutely amazing.

7) Wedding dresses
We got our wedding dresses off eBay. This being a horror movie, they were all destined to get drenched in blood. Funnily enough, that’s a fairly drastic step to take with that particular item of wardrobe. Once a delicate wedding dress gets drenched in gore and bits of fake brain, you can probably forget about going back and getting pick-up shots.

Bride Nicole Meadows, bloodied but unbowed

6) Guns
Specfically, not enough of them. The wedding in Hellbride is attended by a lot of gangsters. All of these gangsters are meant to be armed. Our prop gun budget never stretched that far, so we ended up sharing a single gun between all of my cast. A quick-cut sequence of them pulling their guns out of their jackets? Same gun over and over, passed down the row as each shot was set up. Oh, the miracles of micro-budgets.

The final five problems of filming a gory fake wedding are heading your way soon. In the meantime, why not go and buy Hellbride? It’s available in glorious HD for the first time, for a stupidly small amount of money. Plus this time, for the first time ever, Jinx actually gets some of the money that you spend on buying the movie. Around a third of a million people have watched Hellbride in the past decade, yet the purchases made through this particular download are the first time ever that Jinx has ever seen any of the cash generated when people watch our film.

Hellbride – The Most Terrifying Romantic Comedy Ever! (2007, Pat Higgins) from jinxmedia on Vimeo.

We hope you enjoy it, and we’ll see you for the last five problems soon!