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What is one of the most charming and endearing hallmarks of the found footage genre? Lost footage of course, lost footage that is just dying to be seen by innocent eyes ready for a jolt of first person terror. That’s the kind of jolt director Ron Hudson wants you to get when his film appropriately called The Lost Footage hits in the fall. In a classic bit of found footage marketing the concept behind the film goes a little like this…
Since the year 2000, a special branch of the United States government has seized a series of homemade tapes deeming them classified information. In 2014, those tapes will finally be released for the public to see.
Read the interview after the break.
FFF: With the found footage horror genre becoming sort of a playground for independent film makers, as well some some established, what drove you to make a film in the found footage format and what were your influences in and outside of the genre?
RH: Although admittedly, I’m not a fan of horror films, I’ve always found the found footage genre quite intriguing. It really lends a different and more unique perspective than your standard movie. You can relate more to the characters and environment because the reality in addition to the fear and emotions conveyed by the characters is almost palpable. I’ve never been afraid to watch any movie, but when it comes to found footage, I’m always hesitant and that’s what I love about this flourishing genre.
The very first feature I ventured out and shot on my own was found footage. I always said it would be my first and only found footage film. However, on each project, you’re always spawning ideas for the next one in the back of your head. I wanted to develop an idea that involved a plethora of urban legends, but I also wanted to showcase them in a manner that hadn’t been done before. So after deciding on a feature that involved a series of short films covering as many urban legends and myths that time would permit, I went back to the drawing board and decided that this idea would be better told from a documentary style perspective. While taking into consideration that found footage movies are basically hit or miss, we spent a lot of time researching the genre, watching films that were hits and films that were bombs, while taking notes on what seemed to work and what didn’t. Looking back, I think we made the right decision.
Plus, from a marketing standpoint, we have a very strategic approach we’re planning to unveil that I don’t think would receive as many bites if it were told from any other angle.
FFF: Part of making a ff film is the dedication to illusion, convincing the audience to suspend disbelieve and believe what they’re seeing is real. In many ways this may very well be the grande rule of the genre. What challenges did you have to overcome in order to make your film seem real, and how did you overcome them?
RH: The primary point I repeatedly emphasized and stressed with both the cast and crew is we’re not filming a movie here; we’re filming a factual occurrence. If I can take a second to commend the backbone of the project on an exceptional job well done thus far, the cast and crew have exceeded all expectations. They’ve made my job a lot easier and I’m so proud and blessed to be working alongside such amazingly talented and creative people. They’ve eased the burden and that’s putting it mildly. I was very meticulous in the casting process and it was an arduous task that is ultimately paying off. But as of now, I believe our most difficult challenge in terms of believability will take place next month. We’re heading down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for an entire week and I’ve chartered a private vessel to take us out as far as it possibly can, deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The challenge here is we have to film this particular scene in the middle of a storm, hence the reason we’re staying for a week in hopes that on one of those days, we can catch a little rain and choppy waters. Of course, I’m not complaining as Gulf Shores is my secret place of Zen. But if we miss out on the rain, we’ll be forced to either pack up and return later on down the road, or wing it in hopes of working magic in post production. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my brief tenure as a filmmaker it’s this: you never wing it. Unfortunately for the viewers, I’m acting in this segment simply because I didn’t want to endanger any lives by putting innocent actors in risky situations. So hopefully the viewers can endure my unpleasant face and queasy acting for a few moments.
On a more serious note, another opportunity we’ve been blessed with is locations. In the story, you don’t want everything taking place in one city or state, it has to be widespread and diverse. Luckily, Alabama and Georgia (which is where we’re filming) are such scenically and culturally diverse states that mirror one another. When outsiders think of the two states, woods and farmlands immediately come to mind first. But that isn’t the case as you have a wide variety of options to choose from in terms of scenery. You’ve got cities, beaches, towns, mountains, the choices are endless and many states can’t offer all of that.
FFF: It’s one of the enjoyable aspects of ff movie making that almost anything with a lens, when used strategically, can be integrated into telling the story. More and more ff film makers are taking advantage of everything from cell phones to camcorders. Some films like The Bay pull from everything that can capture video, while some films rely solely on the intimacy of a lone camera. What approach did you take with your film and what did you shoot on?
RH: That’s one of the topics I brought up in one of our first true pre-production meetings: I want to have the opportunity to experiment with various cameras, to sort of mix things up a little, thus preventing each segment from having the same look and feel to it. In fact, the script calls for one segment to be filmed entirely on a cell phone. Of course, that’s simply not feasible, so we’re actually going to film it with a prosumer HD camera, and tweak the footage in post to resemble that of a highly advanced cellphone.
FFF: With the ff genre having such a steady stream of output from straight to disc, vod, and theatrical, what would you say makes your film stand out from the pack?
RH: Unlike most found footage films, where the entire film is centered around one urban legend, myth, celestial being, or what have you, this one delivers a variety and I think this is what separates itself from the rest of the pack. In addition, during the brainstorming process in the early, early stages of pre-production, we wanted to introduce as many new terrors as we possibly could that you haven’t seen in any of the mainstream found footage flicks. So you’re not going to waltz right into this knowing what to expect. Each film will tell a brand new story and introduce new characters in new suspenseful and horrific situations.
FFF: I always try and end with something that encourages other film makers to pick up a camera and do their own thing. What advice would you give to other independent artists looking make a ff feature?
RH: The best advice I can lend is to simply go out and do it. I know it’s cliche’, but if you really take the time to let that little piece sink in, it’s worth considering. Ask yourself, “What’s holding you back?” The beauty of found footage films is you have far more wiggle room than a traditional style film. Always remember that you’ll never again be as young as you are right now. So seize the moment and capitalize on the opportunity at hand. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. Granted it’s not a cakewalk by any stretch, but the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Special thanks to Ron Hudson for taking the time to talk to FFF. Check out more about the The Lost Footage and investigate the evidence for yourself at the links below.
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