Well, I’ve been waiting to do this review for quite some time now as I feel as though I’ve been immersed in every step of the project’s evolution – which has been great fun for me!
About a year ago now, well I say a year, I can’t really remember when exactly, I was contacted by yet another independent filmmaker. But this guy was different.
His name was Brandon Arnett and he had been a fan of this site for quite some time…and he was in the extreme early stages of filming his very own Found Footage effort.
I could tell straight away that this wasn’t going to be another iPhone monstrosity from YouTube, everything seemed to have a direction and his enthusiasm carried me along.
So this review is going to be COMPLETELY different to all the other reviews on this site up until this point.
I’ve been in constant contact with Brandon all the way through the evolution of this movie/series and it made perfect sense to let his own words paint a picture of the film for you.
So I decided to throw a few questions at him aimed at giving you some idea of what to expect from this Found Footage offering.
And the coolest thing about all this?
He’s decided to release it to the world FREE of charge….
(P.S. I will be including it in the main tab of the Free Found Footage Cinema section of this site!)
Question #1 – Why Found Footage?
I walked into a theater room at cousin’s house and all the parents were watching The Blair Witch Project when it first came out. I was like 10 and at first didn’t know what I was looking at.
Sat down with everyone and couldn’t look away. Scared the shit out of me.
Kind of forgot about how much I got into it until I went and saw Cloverfield. I fell in love with how it’s made to seem like real events. Like I was watching something personal and intense.
From then on any found footage movie I could find I would watch. When I plugged in Rec and pressed play with the lights out…it was the first time I got such a ‘scared rush’ from a movie.
And Rec 2…like The Exorcist on crack. It’s definitely my favorite genre. Got a digital collection now of over 164 found footage movies and hard copy about 22.
And it’s more flexible of a genre than people think and I love that. Everyone I know has only seen those two mentioned above, so it also feels like a secret I have that they don’t. How good it can be.
I like how it still feels close to the birth of the genre. Can always weed out those who don’t understand with their stupid complaints on shaky cameras…I love that and when the footage glitches or skips, so wrote a reason to have a bunch of them in mine (glitches).
I basically picked all the things I liked about Found Footage that I could afford to do and wrote it in without over doing it.
Always wanted it to keep moving forward even when you don’t know exactly what the motivations are.
JJ Abrams is my favorite when it comes to unexplained (at first) events and actions taken, and I tried to learn from that. He always starts on the edges of the story and slowly moves to the center with hints poured in along the way that start to become less and less confusing.
In short, the genre, since it’s not very mainstream, can get away with so many types of stories and different ways to tell itself.
Don’t know if ‘Found Footage’ is as accurate a term these days since (it) makes it seem like everyone’s going to die and footage is found. It’s not that constrained at all these days and that’s exciting. Makes watching movies seem new and fun again.
I wanted to make it diverse when it came to the sets too. Unless you have special effects or really good top notch performances, having a FF movie stay still is annoying to me.
I call this ‘stationary vs mobile found footage’. Stationary being mainly from tripods and wall mounts or camera not being held basically, and mobile being handheld and frame always moving.
I prefer the mobile side so you’re always looking at something new in frame as scenes progress. Like the viewer is going along with the journey, and multiple cameras are always fun as you get to switch perspectives inside the events.
Question #2 – Could You Give us Your Version of The Plot?
I don’t know how to tell people without spoilers so I’ll just keep it simple. It’s got cults, creepy houses, scary forest scenes, and a conspiracy that becomes more and more personal as the main character moves forward.
That’s really the point, that the viewer has to piece the puzzle together themselves and do some research in order to figure things out.
Make them feel more a part of the story themselves. I always liked when you have to press pause or go frame by frame to catch something almost hidden among the chaos.
I made the journal so in depth so that you would feel a sense of accomplishment after reading through it’s pages and learning some background on what’s happening.
Question #3 – This is Your First Time Directing – How Did You Find The Filmmaking Process?
Took 6 months to write and 14 months more once filming began. Unless you have a lot of resources available (which I did not), you have to do every aspect of it yourself and it will take longer to make it professional quality.
I also wrote each segment in a way where I knew what exactly would happen, but how it would happen and the dialogue was all written and decided upon on the day of filming or even in the moment we started to record.
Once all the pieces are in place then it’s easier to do things on the spot that would fit into the established framework. Gives it a sense of reality and ‘in the moment’ feeling.
I knew basically what I wanted to say but didn’t memorize any lines, just kept it close to what was in my head and go from there once I pressed record.
In (segment) 1.5 I just told Parker what kind of motivation his character has and what he’s trying to accomplish. Told him to be dodgy when it came to answering questions and gave him some science theories on time manipulation to research.
He then made the character himself and all the dialogue in 1.5 was us improvising off each other. We never knew what each other would say so we would just react from it and respond. Was a lot of fun.
He started to be kind of a smart ass and rude while filming and I was like, why is Parker talking to me like this? Then I was like okay, he’s still in character and just went with it.
He actually discovered the Uriah Moreland story himself while researching his character and Percy Priest Lake while it was still Old Jefferson.
It was so perfect that I added him into the plot as the founder of the hidden cult and wrote that story time scene on the island in.
Question #4 – What do You Hope Found Footage Fans Will Take Away From This Movie?
I liked connecting it with the real world so that I (and the viewer) can feel closer to what’s happening, feel like you’re a part of it just by watching and figuring things out.
A lot of the project, especially with the journal, is supposed to feel like you’re reading/watching something genuine and intense.
I wanted to put real things in with whatever I wrote in the journal/script so that if people Googled any of it then it would be right there, more tangible.
Like Uriah Moreland. Every bit of his story is true except for him creating this cult after he disappeared.
There’s more truth in House of Labrys than fiction to a degree, whether it be hard facts or statements of what real people actually believe.
So there you have it! I think it’s glaringly obvious to you by now that I liked this offering, from start to finish really.
Keep in mind that this is not a haunted asylum or possessed Ouija-type ripoff – you are going to have to keep your mind’s gate wide open and concentrate through each segment of this film.
As I mentioned above, I will be including it in the Free Found Footage Cinema section of this site but here’s a direct link to the channel that holds every segment:
Don’t forget to show your support after watching the movie – YouTube videos are ranked based on engagement mostly, so a simple ‘Like’ (that’s ‘thumbs up’ to you and me!) or a comment can help rocket the film in front of millions of fans/viewers.
Don’t miss this one – well worth watching!