How to: Make a Horror Film of Your Very Own

We’ve all pointed at a horror film, and shouted, ‘I could do that!’

In reality, making a film is a complicated and difficult business, especially if you want to craft a masterful slice of schlock like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Psycho.

Shooting a single scene can take hours, if not days, and can, at the very least, require the expertise of a director, cameraperson, sound operator and actors, all of whom need to be working with a script that doesn’t stink.

It’s a tall order, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

If you can amass the skills, you can become a filmmaker to match George A Romero or Tobe Hooper – here’s how.

Write a decent script

Without a decent script, there’s every chance that your film will be worse than Troll 2. You’ll need snappy dialogue, a solid grasp of structure, and a few shocking moments that will make audiences spit out their popcorn in surprise.

A fantastic book for Hollywood structure is Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. This dense text is packed with advice on how to write a serviceable script, although we’d recommend allowing yourself to deviate from its tellings from time to time – after all, who wants a film without a few surprises?

Scripts themselves can’t be written with biro in a tatty notepad. There’s an industry standard for these things, so much so that scriptwriting software is readily available. Celtx is one of the finest around, and will cost you about £14.99 for a basic subscription – it’s well worth the cash.

Know the business

Universities are still prestigious for a reason, especially in cinema – they’ll give you all the tools you need to make the film of your dreams, and that involves learning a little about business.

As a commercial entity, understanding the entrepreneurial world is a necessity to get your film project off the ground. If you need to balance a fulltime job with your studies, then one of the most effective distance learning platforms is Anglia Ruskin Distance Learning, which provides a vast array of qualifications to suit anyone who wants to match their business skills with their cinematic enthusiasm.

Once you’ve reached the end of one of their many business courses, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next Spielberg.

Know your role (and everyone else’s)

There are a lot of different jobs on a film set, and the number of people involved with a project grows with every increase in budget.

If you’re hoping to be a director, you’ll need to understand the role of everyone on set. That means dipping your toe in every profession and comprehending the highly specialised lingo coming from the mouths of editors, sound operators, actors and directors of photography. A director exists to bring these seemingly disparate disciplines together, and you can’t do that if you don’t know your key grips from your best boys.

That’s our how to guide! But it’s only the tip of the blood-covered iceberg. Let us know what skills and experience you think someone needs to get into filmmaking, and what kind of horror film you’d love to make.