Embrace your Failures

Embrace your failures, for they are your friends.

Your failures show you that you’re trying to achieve more than you’re currently capable of, (or, at least, more than you were capable of at the exact moment you screwed up). Your failures are there to let you know that you’re still testing the limits of what you can do, and still pushing onwards.

You people who haven’t screwed up good and proper lately? Go and take a good hard look at yourself. What are you people doing? How have you let yourselves reach this cringeworthy point where you haven’t properly ballsed something up lately? How have you let yourself drift into such a state of complacency that you haven’t royally and publicly screwed the proverbial pooch in recent memory?

If you think that your frankly embarrassing failure to adequately fail at things is due to ‘knowing your limits’, you’re kidding yourself. How can you know your limits unless you’re comprehensively stress-testing the bastards at every opportunity? It’s the equivalent of living like a pauper when you might potentially have millions in the bank.

Now, look. I realise that there are some professions and some situations that won’t give you as much leeway as others. If you’re an air traffic controller or a brain surgeon, it’s more prudent to keep your spectacular failures for other areas of your life. But don’t kid yourself that you don’t need them. If your day job means that you can never take a risk for fear of endangering lives, then you need to make pretty damn sure that you get all the really big, enormous failing done in other areas.

So, do me a favour. Go and chat up that person who is way, way out of your league. Try and write a song on an instrument you can’t play, and upload the results to YouTube. Go out today and really fail at something.

Do it often and spectacularly, until you’re thoroughly innoculated against the imagined sense of shame and all that other stuff you’re worried is associated with it. Because no matter how successful you think you are, think how much more successful you could be if you screwed up more often.

My name is Pat Higgins, and my conscience is clear.

 

 

 

The Tale of Hellbride II

Our movie Hellbride has been seen by more people than any other Jinx movie, (with the possible exception of TrashHouse, which was torrented insanely upon DVD release in 2006, but figures for that are really hard to accurately find). It was released on DVD on both sides of the Atlantic, with the UK release getting piled high and sold cheap in HMVs across the UK for at least one Halloween special promotion. It was, at one stage, uploaded to YouTube as part of a side deal by a company we’d licenced it to, and racked up in excess of 180,000 views before their licence ran out and we politely asked them to take it down (which they did). On Amazon streaming, it’s been consistently performing ever since it went up last summer. Even the version on Vimeo has outsold our other movies.

Lots and lots of people have seen Hellbride.

The cast of Hellbride - Horror Comedy

That doesn’t, of course, mean we’ve made money from it. Hellbride is unlikely to ever make it into the black as far as cash goes: as far as budget is concerned, it cost ten times as much as The Devil’s Music did. As far as income is concerned, we never saw a single penny of our investment back (for all the usual depressing reasons) right up until the point we got the rights back last summer and stuck it up onto Amazon ourselves. Since then, our decade-old movie has brought in a reliable trickle of cash (but certainly nowhere near the amount we spent making it in the first place)

Regardless, I’m still aware of the fact that a sequel might be a different proposition as far as being a worthwhile investment goes. The way the industry works has moved on a great deal from when we signed Hellbride with a distributor around the beginning of 2008. Indies have got an awful lot more control over their movies and their are an awful lot more revenue streams that are accessible without going through a third party middleman. If, say, half of the people who’ve watched Hellbride in one format or another over the last few years would return to watch a sequel via legitimate channels we could access directly ourselves (Amazon streaming, Vimeo, etc.), then a sequel could make its money back pretty easily without leaving us to remortgage our homes.

Bride Nicole Meadows, bloodied but unbowed

I started pondering options for a sequel back when the film first hit the shelves (and before, of course, we realised that we weren’t actually going to see any revenue whatsoever from it for the best part of a decade). Back then, I scribbled together a treatment for a movie called Hellbride 1985 , which was a retro prequel focusing on the cursed ring’s previous appearance in everyone’s favourite decade. Of course, the 80s are pretty damn hot right now, partly as a result of magnificent shows like Stranger Things. But since the idea resurfaced in my brain last summer, (at the point that Hellbride finally broke the ‘zero’ in the Jinx Media incoming funds column), I started thinking about the sequel rather differently. This was partly due to the one-off audio epilogue called The Ring of Josephine Stewart  that we’d recorded with Cy Henty a couple of years previously. I started thinking about a straight sequel rather than a retro prequel.

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And then I wrote a treatment about two kids called Danny and Bronwyn, who were getting married. Nice kids. You’ll like them.

Well, one of them.

I started thinking about how we could learn from the mistakes we made with Hellbride and make something leaner, bloodier and funnier. I started to warm to the idea quite a lot. I pondered whether it might be feasible to run a Kickstarter for the eventual (inevitable) wedding massacre where, as a perk, people could turn up as a guest on the final day of filming. Get killed onscreen and stick around for a wrap party that evening with all the cast and crew. Run that final day almost like an actual wedding, with guest footage from cameraphones and whatnot getting edited into the final movie.

And I came up with a killer of a final scene, which I ended up writing out in full before I’d written another word of the script.

Thing is, we’re at a point where we have a lot of projects floating around right now. We’ve got bigger budget scripts that I work on for third parties, and a couple of smaller scale ones that we’re perilously close to getting decent funding for. I’ve no idea whether Hellbride II (or Curse of the Hellbride as I sometimes cheerfully call it) will make it in front of the cameras.

But I can’t quite stop thinking about it.

Go and watch Hellbride a few more times, and maybe that’ll twist my arm.

 

Horror-on-Sea – Awesome as Usual

We love Horror on Sea around these parts.

It’s a genuinely independent film festival, showcasing some really unusual movies that other fests might overlook. Of course, I’m slightly biased, seeing as H-o-S has been kind enough to host my talks on various aspects of filmmaking since the first festival five years ago.

This year’s big festival weekend was no different. We got to hang out with terrific independent filmmakers and catch awesome movies like the world premiere of MJ Dixon’s Slasher House II – a movie which represents a jaw-dropping achievement on a very, very small budget.

My talk this year was called ‘Horror Stories’ and was rather more focused on the screenwriting side of things than the talks I’ve done before. It was great fun, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to all those who came along (and especially those who contributed their own ideas to the mix!)

Next week, the festival continues with a second (slightly smaller, but no less excellent) weekend of unusual features and fascinating shorts. You can still grab tickets and we wholeheartedly recommend that you do.

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Horror Stories @ Horror-on-Sea

Pat’s first live show of 2017 takes place this Saturday at the amazing and brilliant Horror-on-Sea festival in Southend. This annual festival is a huge highlight of the year (every year!) for the crew at Jinx Media. There are countless premieres and special events, including the World Premiere of Slasher House II from our wonderful friends at Mycho Entertainment.

Pat’s show will feature a whole load of stuff about structuring horror movies, together with uncensored anecdotes and clips from his journey through horror cinema. Don’t miss it! Tickets are only a fiver and can be bought by clicking the logo below…

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Jinx Media vs 2016

Well, the year’s nearly done.

It’s been stupidly eventful, stupidly exciting and, at some points, just flat out stupid.

I started the year by hosting a new live show before premiering my new movie (Jinx Media’s first full feature since 2007) and then destroying the master copy (and back-up) live on stage. Which was a busy way to kick things off.

Ever since that eventful January, people have been asking about House on the Witchpit and where it’s going from here. People have also asked over and over again whether I really destroyed the master copy, to which the answer is yes. The film that screened at Horror on Sea no longer exists in that form. The footage still exists, of course, and will resurface in a radically different format in 2017. Tickets will be going onsale soon.

Witchpit hasn’t been the only major development at Jinx in 2016, of course. We launched our new VOD site and managed to get our whole back catalogue of features up on VOD. The death of physical media as a viable means of distribution has continued at terrifying speed, but happily coincided with us getting the rights back to a lot of our older movies (for which we’d signed 10 or 7 year distribution contracts).

Some of these were straightforward, some of them were (cough) a little bit less so. Either way, all four of our original features are now available online in one form or another. Here’s the way it breaks down:

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TRASHHOUSE is now available via Amazon Prime in the original cut. This was our first movie, and it’s nice to get it back out into the world. It’s possibly fair to say that time hasn’t been kind to the visuals, but in terms of delivering a slightly mad midnight movie on a tiny budget, I reckon it holds up pretty well. TrashHouse was originally released on DVD in the UK (once in 2006 and once in 2007), but the US release was somewhat torpedoed after the movie got pirated on a scale that was somewhat ridiculous for such a modest flick. I always thought that TrashHouse might end up being the only film I’d ever get to direct, so I crammed an awful lot of things that I thought were cool into it. Except mole people. I’ve never found a way to fit them in. But they’re cool, aren’t they?

HELLBRIDE is also available on Amazon Prime. At least, it usually is. Amazon pulled it last weekend (along with THE DEVIL’S MUSIC) because of HELLBRIDE POSTER FINAL ssome undefined issue with the artwork. It’ll hopefully be back up by now, but it can also be purchased via Vimeo if you’d prefer (or if the Amazon listing disappears again). Hellbride remains a romantic comedy at heart, but one that just happens to have a fair amount of splatter and supernatural mayhem along the way. It was originally released on DVD in the UK and the US, and we were pleased to have the rights revert to us. Hellbride was actually the second movie that we shot, although it was the third to be released (KillerKiller beat it to release by the best part of a year). It was also the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie set. Still.

Battlefield Death Tales and more...

KILLERKILLER is NOT yet available on Amazon Prime, due a pesky certification issue which we hope we’ll be able to sort out before too long. Nonetheless, it’s available in the lovely, shiny 2014 Director’s Cut via our lovely friends at Vimeo, together with a bonus ‘look back’ video. This movie was our third to go in front of the camera, back during the long crazy summer of 2006. We shot chunks of it in a haunted asylum , which was fun, and it got released all over the world on DVD (EXCEPT in the UK) before coming back home to us. I’ve got a whole shelf full of DVD releases of KillerKiller. My favourite is the Russian dub, where the same dude does all the voices (including the women).

The Devil's Music

Like Hellbride, THE DEVIL’S MUSIC should be available from Amazon Prime (free to subscribers) but has experienced the same issues as Hellbride regarding the listing disappearing due to unknown issues with the artwork. Fingers crossed, you should be able to watch it right here, but if not then boogie on over to the Vimeo version  which includes hours of bonus features, including the somewhat notorious ‘Director’s Breakdown’ commentary. Nine years on from filming it, I’m still pretty damn proud of The Devil’s Music. It’s a horror rock documentary, and there aren’t many of them around. This version, like KillerKiller, is a 2014 Director’s Cut. It’s been tightened up a little and has a few never-before-seen moments when compared to the original release. God, we had a nightmare getting TDM out to the public after the rights returned to us from the initial US DVD release. Everything from VATmoss to BBFC certification initially seemed to stand in our way, and various costs torpedoed the planned DVD release by the wonderful Cine du Monde (who are currently dark, but will hopefully return stronger than ever!)

So, that’s the back catalogue. Saved from the confines of shiny disks, and ready to watch whenever you choose. Why not go check one of them out? We worked hard on them.

In terms of live projects, the year has had its share of frustrations. Killer Apps (aka Evil Apps) ping-ponged between on again and off again, but remains very much a possibility for next year. A third Death Tales got a little bit closer to being a thing. Two things happened that were stupidly exciting but I can’t talk about yet. It was all enough to keep us very busy indeed.

In the bigger world, outside of the confines of independent horror, a lot of things happened this year that absolutely sucked. Even before we lost Leonard Cohen, 2016 had more than its fair share of awful stuff. Looking for diamonds in amongst the crap hasn’t always been easy.

We need to keep looking, though.

I hope 2017 has an enormous amount of wonderful surprises for all of us.

My name is Pat Higgins, and my conscience is clear.

 

 

The Devil’s Music hits VOD

Our award-winning horror mockumentary THE DEVIL’S MUSIC has arrived on VOD and Amazon Prime just in time for Halloween! The Amazon version is free to subscribers, whereas the version on Vimeo is packed with extras, including the notorious ‘director’s breakdown’s commentary. 

At last, the tale of Erika Spawn can be told.

TrashHouse hits Amazon Prime!

And here’s where it all started.

Back in the first few weeks of 2004, we rented a warehouse in Shoeburyness and shot an insanely ambitious locked-house horror movie on cheaply built sets that still had the paint drying on them. It was an insane learning curve, back from the days when digital filmmaking was fraught with difficulties and precious few routes through which to get assistance. We laughed, we cried, we made a load of mistakes and got a certain number of things right.

The result was TrashHouse, a cheerfully odd midnight movie which a certain section of the cult movie audience still hold in a lot of affection. A bunch more people absolutely hated it, of course, but if it was designed for a mass audience it would scarcely be a cult movie, would it?

When I wrote the first few lines of the script, I was working in a branch of Blockbuster Video (remember them?) in Westcliff. The day the movie came out on DVD, (on a surprisingly wide release for such a small movie), I walked back into that branch and saw a copy on the shelf. If I get ten days that good in my life, I’ll have done alright.

It’s got jokes. It’s got (somewhat rubbish) zombies. It’s got chainsaws. It’s got a weird monologue about a man who thinks he’s a dolphin. It’s got three seconds of gratuitous nudity. It’s got Gary Delaney, who’s now one of the UK’s best comics and is on Mock the Week all the time. It’s got a sequence in black and white, with a laugh track. It’s got the amazing Amber Moelter. It’s got some appalling CGI that looked iffy even in 2004. It’s got practical blood splashing up the walls.

It’s got a whole load of love and good intentions bubbling in its crazy soul.

It’s on Amazon Prime, free for subscribers, right now. So please go and watch it if it sounds like something you’d enjoy.

Oh, and it’s got this kick-ass new artwork from the mighty Paul Cousins.

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My name is Pat Higgins.

I made TrashHouse, and my conscience is clear.

 

Hellbride hits Amazon Prime!

With our lovely new artwork courtesy of the fantastic Paul Cousins, our much-loved horror romcom Hellbride has hit Amazon Prime this week. Subscribers can check the movie out for FREE as part of their subscription, and non-subscribers can rent on buy.

We’ve got a lot of love for this film. It was the second movie shot under the Jinx Media banner (back in 2006) and is the sort of film that could only ever be made as an independent.  Fire up your Amazon Prime app and stick ‘Hellbride’ into the search field to check out our unique little supernatural stew of brides and bloodshed. We’ve got a script for a killer sequel which we’d dearly love to put into production next year, but it all depends on how the VOD release goes.

So, please, go watch it. Buy it. Rent it. Share it.

Consider this your wedding invitation.

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Filming in a Haunted Asylum

I’m not a believer in the supernatural.

I’m a rational kind of guy. I love writing about ghosts, demons and the possibilities of experiences beyond what we comprehend, but the blunt truth is that I don’t believe in any of it. I’m not a guy to get rattled by dark corridors or abandoned buildings.

With that in mind, I want to tell you a few things about our 2006 shoot for the movie KillerKiller.

We shot in the then long-disused building then known as Warley Hospital. Nowadays, the site is a posh housing development known as The Galleries.

Before it was Warley Hospital, it was known as Brentwood Mental Hospital. Before that, back in 1853 when the building first opened its doors, it was known as Essex County Lunatic Asylum.

Attitudes towards mental illness in 1853 weren’t, of course, quite as enlightened as we’d like to think they are nowadays. “Treatments” included lobotomies and electro-convulsive therapy. Not only that, but ideas of who actually constituted a ‘mentally ill’ person were flexible enough to include an awful lot of people that society would rather just keep out of sight; everyone from unwed mothers to soldiers suffering from PTSD.

So places like Warley ended up having some fairly horrible things happen in them. Over a century and a half, even the recorded incidents make for grim reading. God knows how many worse things went on that nobody will ever know about. If ever there’s going to be a building to store up bad vibes, it’s going to be a place like that.

This wasn’t really something I thought about when I locked down the location, I’m ashamed to say. I was far more concerned about budget; the fee for shooting in the building was pretty huge for a film shooting on such a tiny budget. I was worried about how we were going to afford the location for long enough to get a huge amount of footage in the can. In the end, we did this with a mixture of good planning and dumb luck; we shot with available light rather than lighting set-ups, and the building was so cinematic anyway that the footage ended up looking pretty great now matter how quickly it was shot. We shifted complex ‘kill’ sequences to non-Warley locations where we could take our time a little more and somehow got everything we wanted in the can over a mere three days of filming at the former hospital.

By the end of those three days, however, all those things that I’d never even considered were beginning to get under my skin.

By the end of those three days, quite frankly, I was more than happy to wave Warley goodbye.

Our wonderful photographer Debbie Attwell discovered dozens of torn-off butterfly wings inserted between the bricks in the chapel. We would regularly find scrawled messages or carefully folded pieces of paper with troubling pictures on them tucked away behind radiators or whatever. The phrase ‘I Am Not Alone’ gouged into one of the walls (which can be seen in the first montage of the hospital in the finished film) wasn’t added by an enterprising member of our production crew: it was already there.

And then there was the incident with the footsteps.

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Like I said, not a superstitious guy, so I’ll stick to the facts.

We were about to call action on a scene, when we heard footsteps in the next corridor over. These were loud enough that all of the crew heard them, and loud enough for our sound recordist to shake his head as a ‘no go’. They got louder until they stopped abruptly on the other side of the door from the room in which we were filming. Irritated, I probably called out something like “You might as well come through now” and we waited.

My lovely DoP Al Ronald went to investigate when nobody came through. As I’m sure you can guess, there was nobody there.

It sounds so Scooby Doo and hokey. It sounds ridiculous. But that’s what happened.

KillerKiller – A Look Back Behind the Scenes from jinxmedia on Vimeo.

I also became increasingly convinced that I could hear whispering voices in the corridors of the building. This was probably an auditory trick caused by the wind whistling through the cracks, but, goddammit, once I thought I heard panting about a foot away from my ear. Enough to make me spin around like I’d been stung.

I’m not even sure what these are examples of. Weird acoustics in an old building? An over-active imagination triggered by the fact that we were shooting a gory horror movie in a location that had seen an awful lot of unhappiness?

Soon after the film came out, a few enthusiastic souls started suggesting that they could see ‘orbs’ in the final film (specifically in the scene starting 31:43 on the special edition, for those interested), which made me chuckle a little because I’m pretty goddamn sure that those floating orbs are dust kicked up by the chair that gets thrown against the wall in that scene. On the other hand, since I’m the dude swearing blind that I heard footsteps with no source that vanished into nowhere, who the hell am I to judge what others perceive?

After three days I was unreasonably happy to be leaving the most cinematic location I’ve ever filmed in. I still don’t believe in ghosts. I still believe in science over superstition, logic over legend.

But if I never hear a panting sound a foot away from my ear again for as long as I live, that’ll be just fine.

– Pat Higgins

 

KillerKiller: The Special Edition is available NOW to rent and purchase on VOD. Click through the trailer below.

KillerKiller – The Special Edition (2014) from jinxmedia on Vimeo.