13 Tips to Produce a Micro-Budget Horror Film

Tips From The Trenches For Successfully Getting Your Horror Film Through The Entire Production Cycle!
Hosted by Nick Phillips

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Nick Phillips

Webinar hosted by: Nick Phillips

Producer at PBR Streetgang

Nick Phillips has been a producer in the film business for nearly 20 years, in particular the world of genre films. His career started in New York in 1996 as a receptionist, when he began a nine year stint under Bob & Harvey Weinstein, working for Bob's Dimension Films label. While there, he was involved in such franchises as Scream, Halloween, Hellraiser, Mimic, The Crow, and Highlander. He moved to the Dimension LA office in 2003, during which time he appeared on Season 3 of Project Greenlight, which aired on Bravo, helping shepherd the film Feast through production and launching a new franchise in the process. By the time he left Dimension, he had risen to the post of Vice President of Production. In 2005, Nick went to work for Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. He helped create the micro budget genre division Stage 6 Films, under Peter Schlesell. While there he worked on successful sequels to 30 Days of Night and Vacancy, among others. He soon after moved into a position at Sony Screen Gems, working under Clint Culpepper, where he oversaw a diverse slate of films including Straw Dogs, The Roommate, This Christmas and Country Strong, as well as being involved in franchises such as Underworld and Resident Evil. Nick is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Revolver Picture Company, a fully financed independent genre label he co-­founded in 2012 with veteran casting director Kelly Wagner (The Grudge, Hostel). During that time they have produced three films - Haunt with Jacki Weaver and Ione Skye; the award winning Beneath with Jeff Fahey (both released by IFC in 2014) and Under the Devil's Backbone (which Fox Digital Studios will release in March 2015). They also co-financed and produced the horror reality TV pilot Fight of the Living Dead with Alpine Labs and Blackbox TV, which was picked up by Cinedigm to launch their new genre-centric network ConTV and will air as a web series in 2015. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Learn directly from Nick Phillips, Studio and Independent Producer for nearly 20 years (Halloween, Hellraiser, The Crow, Straw Dogs, The Roommate, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, the Project Greenlight film Feast)!

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, Nick Phillips will show you how to see your horror film through the entire production cycle, from script to screen. Drawing upon almost two decades of production experience, Nick will provide you with tips from the trenches that will help you become the leader and motivator you need to be as a producer. From the logistical aspects of hiring crew and finding locations and equipment, to the creative side of producing which involves the development of the script, the casting, the design and the look of the film, he will touch upon every aspect of the micro-budget horror filmmaking journey.

Nick Phillips has nearly 20 years of experience in producing genre films. He has worked both at the studio level for Miramax and Sony Screen Gems, and he also knows the world of independent producing via the production label he co-founded in 2012, Revolver Picture Company. Nick has worked on such films as Scream, Halloween, Vacancy and The Roommate, and he is here exclusively for Stage 32 to share his knowledge on how to create terrifying films at not-so-terrifying costs.

What You'll Learn

  • How to ensure your script is setting you up for success.
    • What you should look for as a producer.
  • Minimizing locations and maximizing how you use them.
    • Designing and shooting a contained yet visually dynamic film.
    • Using practical locations versus building sets.
  • Don’t fear a low budget - embrace it!
    • Too often producers use a low budget as an excuse for low quality. Don’t.
    • Creative ways to stretch your dollar.
  • The importance of the makeup FX Artist.
    • What to look for in this key crew hire.
    • How makeup FX can make or break your film.
  • How to keep the shoot moving, stay on schedule and still make a good movie.
    • Striking the balance between art and commerce.
    • How not to rush the process but also be clear with the director about what they have to work with.
  • Dealing with actors.
    • How to sell actors on your vision.
    • Negotiating tense moments with the cast.
    • Keeping everyone informed and on the same page.
  • Earning the crew’s respect.
    • Communicating with and supporting all departments.
    • Getting your hands dirty and being the hardest working person on set.
  • How to set yourself up to franchise.
    • Aspects of a script/movie that can lead to sequels.
    • Planning the storyline beyond the first film
  • Interesting actors playing nuanced characters.
    • Name actors help, but don’t be afraid to cast good actors who are lesser known!
    • Balancing the desire/need to cast a name with doing what is right for the movie.
  • How to get the best production value and make it look good!
    • Key hires that will elevate the look of the film
  • Less is more!
    • It’s what you don’t see that scares you more sometimes.
    • Gore isn’t necessarily scary!
  • Don’t fear ambiguity.
    • Sometimes it’s okay not to explain everything to the audience.
    • If they leave the theater having a debate, you’ve done your job well.
  • How to scare the audience in the first 5 minutes.
    • In today’s fractured viewing environment, you need to grab your audience quickly and in a smart way.
    • Set the tone for the film right away.

About Your Instructor

Nick Phillips has been a producer in the film business for nearly 20 years, in particular the world of genre films. His career started in New York in 1996 as a receptionist, when he began a nine year stint under Bob & Harvey Weinstein, working for Bob's Dimension Films label. While there, he was involved in such franchises as Scream, Halloween, Hellraiser, Mimic, The Crow, and Highlander. He moved to the Dimension LA office in 2003, during which time he appeared on Season 3 of Project Greenlight, which aired on Bravo, helping shepherd the film Feast through production and launching a new franchise in the process. By the time he left Dimension, he had risen to the post of Vice President of Production.

In 2005, Nick went to work for Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. He helped create the micro budget genre division Stage 6 Films, under Peter Schlesell. While there he worked on successful sequels to 30 Days of Night and Vacancy, among others. He soon after moved into a position at Sony Screen Gems, working under Clint Culpepper, where he oversaw a diverse slate of films including Straw Dogs, The Roommate, This Christmas and Country Strong, as well as being involved in franchises such as Underworld and Resident Evil.

Nick is currently serving as Executive Vice President of Revolver Picture Company, a fully financed independent genre label he co-­founded in 2012 with veteran casting director Kelly Wagner (The Grudge, Hostel). During that time they have produced three films - Haunt with Jacki Weaver and Ione Skye; the award winning Beneath with Jeff Fahey (both released by IFC in 2014) and Under the Devil's Backbone (which Fox Digital Studios will release in March 2015). They also co-financed and produced the horror reality TV pilot Fight of the Living Dead with Alpine Labs and Blackbox TV, which was picked up by Cinedigm to launch their new genre-centric network ConTV and will air as a web series in 2015.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar? 
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. 

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year! 

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Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • 3.5 stars. This webinar is probably best for beginners. I found most of it to be pretty intuitive though I did pick up a few good pointers. Also, I didn't like how the last 20 mins were hurried through due to the fact that it was running over time. Watching this from the comfort of my home, I didn't have anywhere to be and would have preferred a thorough discussion of all points -- not just the first 2/3. Lastly, and not necessarily the fault of Mr. Phillips, but there seemed to be numerous tech difficulties throughout from his voice getting garbled and cutting out to him not being able to read the live questions. Not a deal breaker but kind of unprofessional on Stage 32's part.

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