Thanks for the advent of the Internet, there’s millions of short films that you can watch at any given time. But no other genre of short films enjoy more success online than the horror short film. I’ve spent the last decade devouring horror short films of every kind to help become a better horror filmmaker myself. So I thought to myself – why not share some of my favorite horror short films to the world?
So without further ado, these are 10 of the terrifying horror short films online that have stayed with me. Strap in.
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Ever since I started making films back in 2009, I considered myself very lucky to be born in an era where the DSLR had made filmmaking accessible to everyone. Naturally, I was a big proponent of the technology and purchased my Canon 600D soon after followed by a Canon 5D Mark III in 2014. I loved using DSLRs for the form factor and the image quality they provided me at a cost that was unthinkable just a few years ago. But over the last year as I moved into doing larger scale productions and more corporate work, the limitations of a DSLR which I was well aware of before started bothering me a lot more. The less than desirable battery life, inability to record audio using XLR internally, lack of internal ND filters and more just made shooting harder for me without splurging more money buying accessories. So I started looking at upgrading my DSLR to a full blown professional camera last year and after a long search, I fell in love with the Canon C100 Mark II. It had a great form factor, all the features that I felt were missing from the 5D Mark III and ran all of my Canon lenses easily. Yes, it lacked 4K which I debated if I really truly needed but decided that it wasn’t a priority at that time. I’m a happy user of the C100 Mark II.
So I was quite surprised when I saw Sony release the FS5, which was clearly built as a C100 competitor first and foremost considering how popular the C100 is among videographers and indie filmmakers. I had no previous experience with Sony cameras before, but I was always in awe with the Sony a7S and appreciated how they packed so much value into an affordable. So when I was contacted by Sony Professional Solutions MEA to test drive the camera for a weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. Below are my honest thoughts on using the camera as a first time Sony user coming from a Canon background.
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Anyone who knows me or has seen a single film of mine knows how much of a fan I am of contained films or genre films in general. And being a filmmaker in UAE, I always found genre films extremely lacking on a feature film level. So imagine my surprise when one day I stumbled upon the trailer of Zinzana, a slick looking neo-noir thriller that takes place entirely in a prison cell. I’ve been connected with filmmaker Majid Al Ansari ever since I watched his short film ‘The Intruder!’ in 2011, which was another genre piece that was unlike anything else from this region and now his new film has acclaim internationally.
As the film gears for its Middle East Premiere this Thursday at Dubai International Film Festival as well as releases in cinemas across the country, I took the opportunity to have a conversation with the director himself. Forty minutes later, we happened to connect over our love for genre films and passion for filmmaking. He’s truly a filmmaker who has earned his way up and has a unique vision that I can’t wait to see more of. Here’s the exchange below.
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Majid Al Ansari, director of Zinzana.
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If there’s one thing I’ve found out while running this website, it’s that I don’t have a career as a blogger considering how I criminally ignore updates here as compared to my own Facebook profile. I guess I enjoy micro-blogging a lot more. Anyway, new promise to update here a lot more.
To catch up, I’ve been quite busy since last November. I took part in Samsung’s Short Film Competition and it led to my short film Clownish which was a far-cry from the horror films I’ve been doing since 2012 and a refreshing change of pace that I enjoyed. It screened at Dubai International Film Festival last year and I’m proud of how it turned out. But right after that, it was time to go back to the genre my heart belongs to – the supernatural thriller. And that’s how Sleight was born.
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The 48 Hour Film Project is a global phenomenon taking place in hundreds of cities worldwide, so I was very glad to know that it arrived in Dubai in 2011. After sitting out two years just watching the entries, I decided to finally take part in 2013. The result was an exhilarating experience that was unlike any other. Last year was different since it happened two times. Once, I won the Audience Award. The second time, I won Best Film itself.
While I won’t be able to take part this year because of other shooting commitments, here are ten tips from my end on how to survive and make the best film possible during 48 Hour Film Project.
1. Have Three Actors Ready
It’s always daunting when you as a team leader and filmmaker have to gather a team for your crew. But the one thing I have learned is to think small. As far as your actors go, it’s great if you can get ten different people to be a part of your film. For some filmmakers, this is very easy to find. But for others like you and me, it might be a much harder goal to accomplish. So here’s the trick – get at least three actors. Two of one gender and another of a different gender. So two male actors and one female, or vice versa. No matter what genre you get, it’s almost always possible to come up with a story that involves three or less characters.
The advantage of having at least one person from the other gender is if you get romance but even without that you can get creative. Maybe instead of a guy meets girl, it’s about a guy obsessing over a picture of a girl instead. But point is – three is a good minimum number of committed actors that ensure that you’re not creatively stifled when thinking of ideas. My first round film had three actors (two male, one female) while my second time around had just two actors in a room. But it’s always a good idea to also have a bunch of friends willing to play extras as well if needed. Just in case.
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I had the honor of being invited by Canon Middle East to their filmmaking panel during CABSAT 2014, and it was even bigger of an honor to have shared it with filmmakers I respect such as Ali F. Mostafa (City of Life), Ashraf Ghori (Xero Error), Egyptian actor Khaled Abul Naga among others from Canon themselves. The topics at hand ranged from challenges within the regional film industry as well as advances in technology and how filmmakers have and will benefit from that. It was a discussion that was informative and expertly moderated by the lovely Lina Matta and me being the youngest filmmaker of the lot, I managed to voice a lot of things from that perspective.
Here are the four major takeways that I think filmmakers and artists should gather from the overall discussion:
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Though movie night for couples usually ends up in watching a light-hearted romantic comedy most likely starring Ashton Kutcher or Matthew McConaughey, that’s a pretty safe and kind of boring choice to make. But that’s not you. You must be feeling more daring than that, right? Well, I’ve got 10 great off-beat choices here that would make date night more interesting.
Who are we kidding? These are absolutely terrible choices for a date night, despite almost all of them being excellent films on their own. Unless your significant other is a huge sport (in that case, marry her if you haven’t already), these great films are bound to end your night on a disappointing note. You might either be lauded for being unique and daring or you will not have a date anymore. It could go either way, but most likely the direction of the latter.
For others, take it as a warning because most of the movies below might seem very appealing for a date night choice from the cast and other elements involved. So thank me later.
Still interested? So here we go:
1. Hard Candy
Why You Might Be Fooled – Ellen Page, the quirky indie romantic comedy girl from Juno.
What You’re In For – What starts as an intriguing date between a teenage girl and a charming older man quickly takes a turn for the disturbing as the teenager ties up the man and accuses him of pedophilia, followed by some serious torture as the film takes a turn for the intense. It’s a nail-biting thriller, but one that tackles themes that will definitely ruin your romantic night little by little until it reaches its bitter end.
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Dubai International Film Festival is upon us, bringing a spectacular line-up of films from around the world for their 10th celebratory edition. Looking at the schedule can be daunting if you’re new to the festival, or if you generally want a quick guide to know what’s worth watching at the festival. I’ve spent a good amount of time going through the schedule and connecting my own research to what’s playing and as a result, this is the top 10 picks of the festival for me that you should definitely check out starting tomorrow.
1. Champ of the Camp
Plot – CHAMP OF THE CAMP is the first ever feature-length documentary filmed in the UAE’s labour accommodation. Told (and sung!) entirely in the voices of the labourers, it follows a Bollywood singing and trivia competition that takes place each summer in Dubai. The film chronicles the stories of characters such as Dhattu, a middle-aged Indian sweeper who is saving up for his daughters’ marriages, and Adnan, a Pakistani who excels in all things Bollywood and is proud of his work on the world’s tallest tower.
My Thoughts – This is really a landmark documentary that highlights the unsung heroes of UAE, and after a lot of behind the scenes troubles, documentary filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour was able to make this happen. It’s a happy film that perfectly fits into this year’s DIFF and one that none of us should miss.
Sat, 7 Dec 2013, 08:00 PM
Mon, 9 Dec 2013, 03:15 PM
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After a fruitful festival journey across the world and a Best Film award, we finally released our short film Scrambled to the world online this week and here is where you can see it.
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After attending the screenings for 48 Hour Film Project Dubai last year, I was jealous that I didn’t take part in the madness (especially considering that I had a very cool idea for the elements last time). So I made sure that I assemble a team and we take part this year. And so I did.
As I went into the ballot box and my genre pick ended up being ‘Horror’, I was relieved because I had just come off Scrambled and this would be easier territory than say Musical. But the challenge wasn’t as easy as I had thought. Especially considering this year’s elements were – Character: Referee, Prop: Envelope, Line of Dialogue: Do you want to trade places? But after 48 hours, we had shot and finished a creepy little horror film called Cold Feet that was submitted in time. And not just that, we actually won four awards including Audience Award, Best Film – 2nd Runner Up, Most Promising Filmmaker and Best Use of Prop!
Here’s just a first look of the film. It’s more in the horror vein than Scrambled, and hopefully will be out by the end of the year. Cheers.