I got a chance to ask this amazing woman about her series and other upcoming projects.
First of all tell us about 31.
a dark enclosed space. She doesn’t remember how she got there and soon realizes she doesn’t
remember anything. When she hears a voice beyond her prison that claims to be from a man who
is trapped too, she doesn’t know if it’s really a fellow victim or her kidnapper toying with her.
But, she has to trust him to escape. When she does, she finds the world beyond is even scarier
than the darkness.31 is a complete story told in web series format. 31 cliffhanger episodes, each 31 seconds long,
initially released each day over the course of 31 straight days at 3:31 each day. Experimenting
with the possibilities of multi-media it combined the story arc of a film, with the structure of
television (same time, same length, set schedule), with the brevity of the Internet, and a touch of
the nostalgic best from old radio serials of the last century. It ended up being like a web event
and really turned out even cooler than we could have hoped.
How did that project come about?
Honestly, it was one of those ideas that just comes to you- the morning of September 17th 2010
in fact. I guess I was looking forward to October, every horror lover’s favorite month, and
thinking about 31 days of horror movies to look forward to and the idea of telling one story each
day for 31 days kinda just coalesced with the girl lost and trying to figure out why and what
happened to her, and of course the truth of who took her and what their motives really are was
all just there. It took me 17 days to write the first draft of the script. People really responded to
it and we got super great talent to jump on board and once we realized nothing like it had been
done before quite that way we were determined to get it done.The challenge of writing 31 scenes each
30 more times and tie it all together.
We filmed that January in 2 ½ days (all we had for the location), which was intense. And cold.
Each take had to be timed, and we really had to consider each shot down to the frame in post to
get the timing just right, which made me a better director too.Lots of prep, lots of post, lost of prayers, lots of hard work by a very talented cast (Benjamin
Bryant-30, Becky Biggs-31, Rob Kiely-White Coat) and crew (Mike Bruno-Editor, Amy
Peterson-Audio, Steven Swigart-DP) and producers (Claudia Bennett, Julian Bennett, Dawn
Smith, Becky Biggs, Tammy Good, Trevite Willis, and myself) and a few miracles later and
voila a critically-acclaimed, 31-second episode, 31 episode web series was born. You can see it
www.31theseries.com, and http://www.imdb.com/title/
A couple of producers have asked for a feature version and I’m more than willing to give them
one. There’s a whole mythology behind any world I create, cause I’m big into backstoy and
possible other dimensions to explore in other media within that world. In 31, there’s the whole
tale of what segment of the dead are trying to take the place of the living, where they are coming
from, how they are doing it, how to stop them, who can stop them, and of course the even greater
darkness they are in danger of unleashing by throwing off the balance of life and death. Building
the world behind the story, even if you only show glimpses of it at a time, makes the story
stronger and is hellacious fun. It’s like creating your own video game world, then playing in it.What are some of your other projects?
I just signed an option for pilot production with Canadian Opiate Pictures, Curio Media, and
the brilliant producer Karen Lam. The series is called “NEPH” and is the story of the last 6
Nephilim, the offspring of Fallen Angels and Humans, in existence as they fight to survive in a
world where both the forces of good and evil see them as abominations. The story touches on a
lot of things going on in society today and has it’s own great mythos. I cannot wait for you guys
to see it! Everyone involved is so passionate about it. Nothing cookie cutter here. This is going to
be something special.We are also finally unleashing “Mistresses of Horror.” This will possibly be the first horror
anthology feature written and directed completely “by women, for everyone.” We have shorts
from myself and two other award-winning screenwriters in there and will choose from 3 to 6
of some of the most talented female directors in the biz. The goal is to franchise the brand into
everything from features, to series, to websites, to ebooks, to graphic novels, etc. all showcasing
work by women in horror. There are a lot more of us out there than some people think.
Also, four shorts scripts, headed for production: “Through a Glass House Darkly” (haunted
house) with Shandra Bradford of Kiss The Limit Productions; “World’s Shortest Horror Movies”
(horror spoof) with Alden Miller of Zodiac Cinema, and Shriekfest winner “Seekers” (vampire)
with H. Craig Bass (Year of the Phoenix Studios/Motion Source) and Brian Ernst (UBK Studios)
. “Flesh” with producer Najma Cade of Morning Star Productions, I’ll probably direct myself.
I also have several feature scripts I’m currently marketing, “Lizzie,” “Blue Bloods,” “Last Call
For Angels,” and “The Guardians.” About a dozen shorts. A pilot, “The Four.” And then there
are the new features I’m working on, “The Loft” and “’Dead’, By Dawn” the first of which I
hope to direct as well.
Shit, I work hard. Anyway, it’s all at www.cruellworld.com.
How did you first get involved in horror?
I love horror movies. Love them. Have seen more of them than I could ever count. I love horror
and sci-fi movies, television shows, books, short stories, always have. You can explore things,
about humanity, society, science, the past, present, and future, everything, in these genres in away you just can’t anywhere else. Sure Hostel’s gory but it also questions where we are on the
value of life versus money tipping point in some parts of the world and it does it in a way you
won’t forget. American Horror Story (brilliant) was so many things, but at its core was a very
simple message- don’t cheat, it will be the death of your family. There’s some deeper thing
I’m exploring in everything I make, some question I have in my own mind. If you can take
people along on your journey AND can creep them out, give them a good top of the rollercoaster
scare, AND throw in a little mindf-ck in while doing it, something that haunts them, gives them
something to think about and mull over and want to talk about later, well even better.
What has been the hardest part about filmmaking?
Funding. Definitely. Times are tough. Finding funding for independent films is no easy task.
And as Hollywood has pretty much raised its drawbridges, put snipers in the turrets, and set
the alligators lose in the moat, unless you are already rich and famous, related to someone who
knows someone who is, or are willing to humiliate yourself on a reality show, you pretty much
have to do it yourself. The upside, if you manage it, you probably have actual talent. And that,
considering all the above is such a delightful rarity in what we get to see that you would be
amazed how many a project that’s original or good can really get people excited and make things
New avenues for crowdfunding like Kickstarter and the one we used for our micro-budget
IndieGoGo are good places to facilitate this.
What has been the most rewarding?
There is absolutely no feeling in the world like watching words you wrote, that tumbled out of
your brain, over a keyboard, and onto a page, come to life right before your eyes. To watch as
the set becomes your vision, actors become your characters, say your dialogue, as the editor puts
the final touches on it so it looks just the way you envisioned it, and its everything you dreamed
of and more. There is nothing else is like it. Nothing.
And then showing it to my Mom when it’s finished, that’s pretty cool too.