Today, we begin a new feature here at TerrorScribe.com. Texas filmmaker Shawn Ewert gives us his insights to the process and problems of the indie filmmaker as he begins work on his next feature, “Sacrament” .
All work, and no pay? Where do I sign up?
As a kid growing up in the 80’s, the idea of being part of making movies was always a dream of mine. The idea that it might ever happen though, seemed as impossible as walking on the moon. Sure, other people did it, but they had years of training, knew the right people, had tons of cash, and obviously had a special something that I did not have.
I have always loved telling stories, but for a long time I was just too afraid to let people read the things I wrote. Would they like it? Would they think I was a freak? Would they laugh at me? At some point the “nothing ventured, nothing gained” sentiment finally clicked off in my brain. After meeting the amazing Clive Barker, and some incredibly inspiring words from the up-and-coming Adam Green, I decided to finish my first script and made my first film.
Making an independent film, on no budget, is an incredibly humbling experience. Surrounding yourself with friends and like-minded people definitely makes the process easier, but trying to bring your vision to the screen can be a daunting process. With that in mind, we decided it was time to finally put together our first feature film.
Writing the script was the easiest part. All of my scripts come from nightmares that wake me up in the middle of the night. I learned a long time ago that a pen and paper or voice recorder are necessities on my nightstand. The idea that turned into the script for “Sacrament”, our new film, woke me up in a cold sweat.
Based on that nightmare, I put together a script about a group of friends heading down to the Texas coast for some relaxation. Of course, the story has to have its share of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but I loathe a film with no punch. When I see a film that has no story, it just leaves me asking “why?” Why did the filmmaker bother to make a film with nothing to say? Why did anyone put up any money to back the film? Why, dear lord, why did people pay hard-earned money to see it?
With “Sacrament”, I have tried to bring pieces of myself to the table. I want this film to have some meaning, and I don’t think that can happen if the filmmaker doesn’t really care about the story. My family is fairly religious, and I grew up going to church (almost) every week. It has always struck me how horrific the body and blood could sound to an outsider and I decided a film that took that feeling to the extreme would be something fun to see.
In the film, we follow the friends on their trip through Texas as they land in the middle of the rhinestone buckle of the Bible belt. In the town of Middle Spring, religion is king. The town takes the body and the blood quite literally. It had me thinking “how would things go down in a town full of cannibals that believed what they were doing was ordained by the church?” As the story progressed, I could feel it taking a turn. I started taking notes from the religious culture clash that seems to rear its head constantly in the news, and eventually they came to play a pretty heavy role in what I wanted the film to be.
Ultimately, I don’t want to just make throwaway films. I want my films to have something to say. I want to make people think, but I also want them to have fun. I’m a horror fan through and through, and I love my blood and guts. Hopefully, we have combined all of that into this story, and we are making something we can be proud of.