Are you an aspiring, tech-savvy moviemaker posting your short films on YouTube, hoping to use the Internet to eventually develop your first feature-length movie? Your dreams may become a reality now that Perkins’ 14, the first feature film to be developed entirely over the Internet, will soon be released. Now in post-production in New York City, the film follows Ronald Perkins, a mentally unstable, emotionally damaged man who kidnaps 14 people in his hometown and brainwashes them, creating a deadly team of psychotic killers.
MM caught up with the film’s director, Craig Singer (Dead Dogs Lie, A Good Night to Die), to find out about the innovative new process of developing a film entirely through the Internet.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Perkins’ 14 is the first feature film developed entirely over the Internet. Could you describe, overall, what that means? How does it differ from how a film is usually developed?
Craig Singer (CS): This is my second feature for After Dark Films. After Dark and [online community] Massify Media and I wanted to make what would be the world’s first “crowd-sourced” feature film, a film that opened up the filmmaking process to emerging talent by utilizing the reach and efficiencies of a social network. It was also an opportunity to engage and build a fan base around a feature-length project. Massify.com’s online film production network provided the platform for collaboration, as well as tools for actors and filmmakers to showcase their work.
Like most films, studio or independent, Perkins’ 14 began with an initial story, pitch or idea, followed by a treatment and a script. In the case of Perkins’ 14, we tapped the Massify community to come up with a pitch for a feature-length horror film. The response was fantastic. Then members of Massify voted on the winning pitch and we set off to make it. We cast the same way, by holding open auditions online at Massify.com and opening up the process to up-an-coming actors who may not have had representation. Again the community voted on the winners. After that, we moved into production, shooting Perkins’ 14 at Media Pro Studios in Romania this June and July.
I had long been interested in what’s now called “user-generated content,” from the days of my previous company, FanLib, which I started with partner Chris Williams. Now was really the right time to use crowd-sourcing to create a professional film for theatrical release.
MM: Did you find the Internet development process easier or more difficult than the development of a typical movie?
CS: It’s a good question, but I would have to say that developing over the Internet is easier than shooting in Romania any day.
MM: Would you want to use the process to make another movie in the future? How would you change it?
CS: I would and filmmakers will. It’s so challenging today to make any film a reality—on any level—so if a filmmaker can utilize the Internet in a way that cultivates and engages a community from early on, that’s a good thing. Studios hemorrhage great sums of money to capture the imagination of moviegoers, but the Internet can level that playing field and allow smaller films to be successful by letting fans “touch the cloth,” so to speak. It’s a great way to pre-market a film. Additionally, as a director, using crowd-sourcing to uncover under-the-radar talent is exciting. Ultimately, the material must stand on its own. That’s true of any project.
MM: Perkins 14 is your second horror film following 2006’s Dark Ride. What draws you to the dark side of human nature?
CS: I think extreme behavior is always something people are interested in. Much of reality programming and viral videos are based on the odd, the extreme or the bizarre. P.T. Barnum would have done very well in this century and, in a lot of ways, there are many modern day Barnums around. But to answer more specifically, I have many interests, and the success of Dark Ride has given me wonderful opportunities, particularly in horror. It’s also important to be mindful of film economics and the fact that horror is perhaps the one remaining genre of film that’s not star-driven. It does need to be scary, however.
MM: What is the release plan for the film?
CS: Perkins’ 14 will be released in theatres nationwide this January as part of After Dark Films’ Horrorfest.