A Saskatchewan-made horror film is getting some high-profile attention in Hollywood.
The 14-minute short film “The Druid’s Hand,” has been chosen for screening at L.A. Screamfest, which runs Oct. 11-20 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood. It’s the largest and longest-running horror film festival in the U.S., and the place where movies like ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘The Grudge’ took off.
Director Mitch Oliver, who co-wrote “The Druid’s Hand” with Jesse Sawitsky, said the experience has been a dream for them since the beginning.
“It’s absolutely surreal to know that we made it in on our first try,” he said. “This is the festival with the most press, the most industry representatives in attendance.”
The movie tells the story of an ostracized town priest who believes he can detect “dark forces” at work in his community. He gets a local roughneck to help him destroy evidence of a ritualistic sacrifice.
“The movie picks the audience up at the tail end of what the full-length film would be, and we see that these two characters have to make peace and reconcile with the horrible things that they’ve been doing,” Oliver explained.
Both Oliver and Sawitsky are from Saskatchewan, as is the cast and crew. And like ‘Paranormal Activity,’ which was made for an initial budget of $15,000, their budget was also tiny – just $9,000. The movie was filmed in the community of Alvena, northeast of Saskatoon, and money to make the film was raised through crowdfunding.
Oliver said a full, feature-length script has been written, and the 32-year-old hopes to have it made someday if they can secure enough financing.
“How it works… specifically in independent films is, you need to make a really quality short film as a proof of concept, and to just show people that you kind of know what you’re doing and you know what kind of story you want to tell,” he said.
Oliver said he believes the movie will stand out at Screamfest because of the effort they put into the movie, including building their own sets.
The film premiered to a sold-out crowd at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon June 3, and got some rave reviews.
“People still seemed to be messaging about the nightmares that they’ve had since. That’s the best possible thing that could happen if you’re wanting to make scary films,” he said.
Oliver said his ultimate goal is to bring more filmaking back to Saskatchewan.
“It’s been kind of embarrassing how little it’s been valued over the years, and I think us doing this is going to kind of show that there is something to do here,” he said. “We do have the talents and we do have the locations.”
Saskatchewan horror film catches Hollywood's attention – 650 CKOM News Talk Sports