Today we chat with producer Sarah Hartman about her latest horror short project, Umbra. What are the challenges facing the indie horror filmmaker today? How did a period piece, shot in the dark, even get made, much less closing in on post-production? How can you help? Read on as we chat with Hartman.
HB: Tell us about your upcoming project.
Sarah Hartman: Umbra is a short period horror film set in the 1800s. In our story, the sun has vanished and night is perpetual and has been so for months. Along with the night came a horde of banshee-like creatures that live in the dark, but are repelled by light. Due to the discovery of electricity still being far off, people can only protect themselves under cover of candle and lantern light. The film revolves around the Connors, a farming family journeying across the arid American West to a place called “The Refuge”, a rumored safe haven underground society that is out of harm’s way of the banshees.
HB: When was it shot? How long did it take? We shot this film in November in Bronson Caves and Griffith Park in LA. We filmed over two nights outside.
SH: As an independent filmmaker, what particular challenges did you face on this project?
Definitely budget! Art direction and location were really necessary to sell this piece since it’s a period film, so distributing our budget wisely and creatively in front of the camera was really important. We also only had two nights to film, and one of the nights there was a helicopter search party going on in Griffith park, so we lost about an hour of shooting due to the noise.
HB: Is there a particularly clever way you overcame any problems in production?
SH:While the helicopter search was going on, we used the time to shoot some fun environmental shots and got some really great wide, environmental shots which add a lot to the film and it’s scariness. We also had more time to get shots of the banshees stalking the Connor family.
One other challenge we came across was finding a great makeup artist in our budget for the creature effects. To overcome this, I (the producer) bought a makeup kit, watched a ton of tutorials, did practice makeup on everyone I knew, and learned how to do convincing SFx makeup.
HB: Where is the film now? Post Production? Is it done?
SH: We’re currently in post-production, almost done! We’re aiming to premiere in April 2020.
HB: Are you looking for financing to complete the project?
SH: Yes, we’re currently fundraising for score and marketing. We raised the initial funds for production, but to really make it top tier, we just need a little bit more.
HB: What is one piece of advice you can give other indie filmmakers that you have learned?
SH: Don’t be afraid to ask for things – food for set, locations, resources, support. So many people admire this craft and know how hard it is, and they’re more willing to help than you might think.
The worst someone can say is no!
HB: Where can readers go to help support your project?