Cambridge filmmaker Mike McMurran is adding the final post-production touches to his latest horror extravaganza, Beneath. Once complete, Mike plans to secure a place on festival programs. TIFF, Toronto After Dark, Fantasia, and Scream Fest LA–prepare a spot for this one. It’s coming your way.
Mike explained that everything came along smoothly during the production of Beneath. As smoothly as an indie film can go, that is. He laid the groundwork in May 2012 by creating a trailer to promote a sixty-day Indiegogo campaign.
His experience reinforced that raising funds remains the most difficult part of filmmaking. “It’s a great platform,” he says, referring to Indiegogo–the crowd funding machine that can make an indie artist’s dreams come true. However, even the greatest dreams must succumb to reality’s pull.
The funding was “really difficult to get ,” admits Mike, acknowledging that “you have to learn quickly, it has to be your life while the campaign is running.” Mike deluged Twitter and Facebook with news of this great film in the making. Word spread wide that Beneath was ready to go with a little help from your funds.
You have to “keep at them,” Mike explained. “Fight and claw to get your funding,” he reminds us, for although sites like Indiegogo offer the platform, it still falls on the filmmaker to open eyes and wallets for the cause.
His persistence paid off. Before the funding door closed, all money was raised. After a slow and anxiety inducing start to the campaign, a wealthy arts patron from Georgia (U.S.A.–A.O.K!) created fiscal momentum with a generous donation.
With some cash in his pockets, McMurran geared up Reel Phobia Productions and rolled camera in September. When it comes to horror, Mike acknowledges that “everything has really been done, and some things have been done to death.” With Beneath, he wanted to create something unique that would manage to elicit scares from the crowds.
A lifelong horror fan himself (he shot a version of Dracula when he was six) McMurran believes “it’s the best genre to work in because you can get so creative.” His previous work testifies to this philosophy. The Everwood Massacre, The Night Shift, and Demon Bitch–which was screened at Guelph’s Sharp Cuts Festival and the Toronto Independent Film Festival–strive to induce screams from the screen. These titles can be viewed on McMurran’s YouTube channel.
Beneath carries on the tradition, although he admits that this one is technically superior to his first Everwood Massacre. Chalk it up to the value of experience, and of course, some financing always adds to the production value.
Starring the stunningly beautiful Annette Wozniak as Amy, Beneath details the terror of a home invasion. Tension builds as Amy is left with no option but to hide from her assailants under her bed, and her once happy home morphs into a nightmare scenario of entrapment.
Obviously, having so many scenes taking place under a bed posed some unique challenges. “I’m thankful that I’m not a claustrophobic person by nature,” jokes Annette. “With Beneath there was such a minimal space to perform in at times. I guess that little space heightened the anxiety and panic in my character, which worked to my advantage–small space, high stakes in the story.”
This small space, high stakes mentality that Annette describes was just what McMurran was aiming for. A Ti West fan, whose films The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers garner praise for a slow but intense ratcheting tension, McMurran “wanted to do something like that, but wanted to do it in a very claustrophobic environment.”
With Beneath almost complete, McMurran plans to produce more horror films in the near future. “It’s what I’m focusing on,” he explains. “I just really love the horror genre.” It’s clear that McMurran’s commitment to the genre, and indie-filmmaking, runs deep, and we can rest assured that more horrific offerings wait to emerge from beneath.
~ David Briggs
Be sure to check out the trailer for Beneath…follow this link!