Everything i have planned visually is for a reason – i am trying to keep this theme as original as i can, so for example the setting for the promo will be in a wooded area in the middle of the night – witches working their magic at midnight in the dark, creepy forest is how every scary story should begin.
With my male actors being in masks, i want them to be hidden, my actresses have to show their faces to show the proud side of their characters, this relating back to not only the power of witches but to the power of women – they are centre of attention. They are in control. In films such as ‘The Purge’, we see the villains/criminals in masks, this is hide there identity when committing their crimes. When dealing with an unknown face, most are ordinarily uncomfortable and on edge considering we do not know who is behind the mask, making us a little vulnerable. In Horror we tend to go for the creepier option that will scare and there is commonly a fear against the subject, for example clowns etc.
The masks i have created for this project are gruesome and scary in a sense when suggesting what we normally witness in the Horror. With one being a pig and the other being the devil – these both associate with witch lore and paganism, should anything suggest my film is not about witches, these little hints should be significant in confirming this theory the viewer may have. These masks will be re-imagined by my make-up & prosthetics artist, Freya Beavis, this mainly being done on location with the actor in costume, to make any changes due to the shine from the lighting and forming the mask to to the actor.
The costumes will play the role of keeping it as modern as i possibly can, of course witch craft goes back thousands of years so it was difficult to decide what era i wanted to set these characters in. With a lot of the films and television series airing now, modern day seems to be the more popular choice – this being mainly so the audience can relate more to the story, for example ‘American Horror Story: Coven’, one of our main characters Fiona Goode played by Jessica Lang, a sassy head witch who is very much loved by the audience, and some of her best lines are as popular as they are because they are relatable to modern day life.
With my main female characters living in the woods i want them to be seen in mostly bare feet ad they are living off the land. The colour black is used widely in horror however putting my witches in white gives them a sort of innocence to vaguely fool other characters and the audience if their villainous side.
The main technique i will be using is to keep the short a classic horror – dim lighting, shadows, eerie shapes in the background etc, however i am hoping with my modern day twist, it will be kept original to me – my goal with the final piece is to reveal a baseline to this story without giving too much away, just enough to intrigue the viewer so they want to know more.
To evaluate if i have been successful in my technique to draw in an audience without using original footage of this ‘film’, i will preview the trailer to various viewers in different brackets- for example, age & gender. I am hoping from this i will be able to not only get feedback in the sense of successful or unsuccessful to draw in an audience, but to assess on my editing skills in trailer making and what i can improve on.
In a small town surrounded by the deep, dark forest, a little boy discovers the hiding place of a coven of witches only known through bedtime stories and local folklore. Legend has it, these witches practice their magic through the sacrificing rituals through children. When young pre-school children start to go missing, their teacher sets off to take the continuing disappearances of his students into his own hands.
Witches – x6 Female Witches – In the coven we meet in the film, there will be one head witch and 5 follows, all of which have powers. The folklore says that the witches are over 500 years old and to keep their youth they sacrifice young children by luring them into the woods and never to be seen again. With only a few missing children being reported in the modern years, they are overlooked by police and search parties, this keeping them off the suspect list. These characters will be leading the film forward, alongside the male lead, who will stumble across their path and figure out their secret. With the witches being young and seductive, their sexuality will either be their way out or their downfall. With this aspect crossing with the femme fatale and feminism aspect of the horror genre, we see these characters as strong females who do use their sexuality as a weapon when compromised by a male character. However, this could be seen from a different characteristic feature of feminism. Are these women only protecting their family and home? Sure they are the villain of the piece, but in a way they are protecting their livelihood, whether this is seen as a villainous act or not. I hope that this will raise a lot of questions from both sides of the feminist argument.
School teacher – Male – This character teaches history in the town local pre-school, when some of his students are reported missing he takes it upon himself to look into the case. With a wide knowledge of the towns surrounding folklore it becomes more applicable that the residents in the woods may be accountable for the missing children. This character will be considered as a lead alongside the witches. With a past of adultery our male lead will have to face the youthful witches as to not fall under their spell of seduction – this linking in with femme fatale as the male characters are manipulated by the females actions.
Child – Male age 8 – This child character is in charge of moving the story forward, with this character being the chosen child the witches need to being their spells to light. As we follow this child, we discover the witches who are living in the woods, and so out story begins with the interaction and the hidden agendas of the witches. With the imagination of ch ildren i will be using this as a way into the lore of witches and pagan mythology including magic and creatures (half man half pig for example). When children are involved in this horror world they are the priority, they are the ones who must be protected, this usually being the case in any situation. Using this as a base line, i also plan on putting my adult male lead in this very same situation, with both male child and adult being endangered by these foreign powerful women.
I have written a brief breakdown to the starting scenes to the film with added pieces taken from the ongoing script.
Opening Scene 1: We open the film with a series of clips showing news stories of children going missing with dates reverting back at least 50 years (Tv and newspaper) with newscasters voices layered in audio- This will be in the style of my trailer.
Scene 2: We cut from the opening to a long shot of a school – the loud end of school bell ringing as doors whip open and young children come running out. We are introduced to our leading male character, John, following the children as he is chased by another teacher – she’s asking about tomorrow’s trip.
Scene 3: John’s car, evening – He’s on his bluetooth to his wife letting her know he his on his way home – call ends – radio comes on once the call is ended, the news is talking about a missing child who hasn’t been seen in four days. The radio starts to turn to static, john messes with the radio dial but every station is static. His attention is moves from the radio to the road as a woman is standing in the middle of the road, her white dress dirty and her long dark hair hanging in front of her face tangled. He swerves off the road to the side and breaks to a halt. In panic he looks around trying to catch sight of the woman.
Scene 4: John exits his car, the road is silent, not a single car or person is visible.
Excuse me mister?
(John springs around to find the woman who in the white dress standing being him – her dress pristine white and her hair tied back in a bun)
Are you okay, i am so sorry i didn’t see you!
Don’t be silly, i was trying to flag you over. My car broke down here of all places. Can you help me?
(She point to her car on the opposite side of the road, the red tail lights illuminating the trees)
Yes, yes of course. Are you sure you’re okay?
I’m quite alright, i make a habbit of being the dear in the headlights
(She gives him a little wink)
John finishes giving her car a jumpstart. She exits her car and walks towards him.
I don’t know how to thank you!
It was really not an issue, least i could have done almost running you over
(She looks him up and down with a light giggle)
Are you married mister?
Is she pretty?
She’s beautiful. Get’s more and more beautiful everyday.
I always find it rare to meet such a gentleman. She’s a very lucky woman.
Thank you. And i should be getting back i’m late for dinner. Get home safe..
(John holds out his hand, she takes it)
Dawn, i’m Dawn.
(Dawn leans in slowly and plants a light kiss on his cheek, pulling away with a pouted smile)
(John pulls his hand away swiftly)
Get home safe Dawn.
(He turns his back to Dawn and quickly enters his car, pulling away. His eyes glance in his overhead mirror a few times as he see’s dawn fate into the black. He runs his hand down his face as he heads home).
Scene 6: John finally arrives home, dropping his keys into the bowl, the house is dark and quiet. He walks slowly up the stairs trying not make a creek. He opens the first door to see his wife with her back to him, the covers up to her chin. He slowly closes the door back to close and makes his way to the next door. He makes his way into his son’s room, he’s in the same position as his wife, his back to him. John sits on the edge of his sons bed and leans over to place a kiss on his head as he strokes his hair. He gets up to leave.
(John stops and makes his way back over to Aiden to his original position on the bed)
Hey buddy, what’re you doing up?
I can’t sleep. I had a bad dream?
Oh yeah? Want me to check for monsters?
Mummy already checked.
Then what’s got you all scared?
A lady was at my window. She asked me if i wanted to go and play. I said mummy doesn’t want me to go into the woods again.
It’s just a dream, there’s nothing to be scared of, sometimes we create things that aren’t real when we sleep, and sometimes it can be scary.
(John strokes Aiden’s hair)
She didn’t scare me, not like the monster. She gave me a present.
(Aiden brings a small doll out from under his covers, the quilted doll is dirty, wearing brown trousers and a little matching waistcoat, black hair spiking out of it’s head and it’s beading little black eyes reflecting the light form the nightlight)
It looks like you daddy.
(John takes the doll from Aiden and examines it)
Where did you get this?
You shouldn’t pick up dirty things, you don’t know where it’s been look at the state of it.
It was a present!
(Aiden snatches the doll from John and hides it back under his covers, his eyes frowning as he raises his voice)
You can’t have it! It’s mine!
Okay! Okay! Keep the damn thing. It’s too late for this anyway! Get some sleep!
(John throws his hands up in the air as he exits Aiden’s room. Aiden creases back under the covers as he strokes the dolls hair as it lays tightly in his arms.)
Scene 7: John’s household kitchen – Morning- John come’s down to the kitchen, rubbing his eyes as he pours himself a cup of coffee, his wife hunched over the sink as she washes the dishes. She gives him a glare and asked him why he insists on making more dirty dishes just as she’s trying to clean the house. John stops just as his lips touch the rim of the coffee mug and retreats back as he apologises for his coffee in a sarcastic way. His wife soon apologises saying she’s tired and feeling stressed. They soon get into the conversation of Aiden and where he got the shaggy old doll. John’s wife shrugs her shoulders claiming that he must have found it outside and kids always make up stories in their heads. The conversation promptly comes to a close as they run out of things to say. John places his cup slowly next to the sink as he slinks out the door before his wife comments once again about the dishes.
Scene 8: School bus – John and his class are sitting on a bus. The children behind him are talking and laughing with each other as John takes in another yawn. He stands up at the front of the bus to make an announcement to the class. He announces that there is only ten minutes away from the family run farm (where they are having their school trip) ands reminds them to be on there best behaviour while they are visiting. The students all nod their heads as they agree in unison to their teacher’s requests.
Scene 9: Arrive at farmhouse, see’s dawn and other witches
Witches and Cults:
Throughout the course of my film we will meet the heroes and the anti-heroes. The leading male, an innocent school teacher will be the obvious choice as he tried to track down the missing children and will be living up to the hero cliche until we discover who the character really is and his secrets are revealed by the end of the film.
The witches are seen as villains. However part of the Coven are actually willing to change with the times, with modern technology and with the days of slavery and overlooked abuse are behind them, and they are just realising hundreds of years later that what they are and have been doing is wrong, selfish and it’a only a matter of time until they are caught.
With these witches on the course for change, this could easily abrupt the rest of the Coven’s plans with their sacrificial rituals to stay young and bring unease throughout their alliance. Living by the same rules for hundreds of years it’s hard to change, especially when there are selfish motives at work. Our witches doing these evil deeds truly believe they have the right to execute them, and always have. We are left with the question if these homicidal witches are in fact martyrs and if we, as viewers can relate and possible have pity for them.
If we look at American Horror Story’s fourth series ‘Freak Show’, we meet Jessica Lange’s character Elsa Mars, the owner and show runner of a travelling carnival – freak show, which houses abandoned people with disabilities to pub on a show for a strange seeking audience. However to Elsa these people are not disabled, nor freaks – as the towns people perceive them as, but people with extraordinary gifts. Set in 1952’s florida state, throughout the series we see the freaks be bullied, assaulted and even murdered by the ‘normal’ folk. To protect her employees and friends, Elsa does what she can to protect them, even if it means fighting back. The freaks themselves even murder certain people who try to either harm them or run them out of town for their differences.
Us as viewers know that anything of this sort is wrong. We can say that there are other ways around this situation than murder. However, if we were in these character’s shoes, would we be pushed to the same extremes and fight back in such a violent way to protect our friends, family and way of life? Is this a kill or be killed situation?
These are some of the questions i want my audience to debate with my witches. We have two sides, the good and the bad witch. Many would side with the good witch, she wants to change, catch up to the times – nonetheless if she stops the sacrificing of children, herself and her family will age and die. Whereas our bad witch knows the consequences if they do not make the sacrifices and is willing to protect her family to see it through. Once again, what would we do put in this situation? Who’s to say they are wrong? Especially being older and more powerful?
With the witches being around at the time of the Salem Witch Trials – where women were burnt at the stake for witchcraft even with little to now evidence of them being a witch, this has sparked fear of the average man, despite the modern day world. Living through this time and loosing family member at that time doesn’t mean that they should stop being fearful of being caught and killed just like in 1692. This could even be a grand example to hold a grudge against the average man and even in modern day they will still be feared for their powers – thus why they are living in solitary.
I will be linking my story with past events with more research into the history of Salem and real life told stories form that time, assorted with mythology. With creatives and a bigger audience being interesting in mythological stories and already aired television on the topic, this subject should draw in a wider audience.