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Interview: Generation Fear – The Seasonal Business of Scaring You

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Forgive me for asking, but what frightens you? I mean really frightens you? On the face of it, the question is easy to answer. Ask anyone and you're likely to get a half-serious, half-giggling response. But dig deeper and the answers are not so forthcoming.

In our generation we have quite a few socially collective fears that gnaw away at us daily. Toss on the personal phobias, quirky superstitions, and downright heart-pounding, sweat-producing fears we each hold reluctantly to our chest, and perhaps the answers become a little surprising. No one likes to confront his fears. And I do mean fears — not anxieties. Anxieties are just baby fears, until they mature and bite you in the…

But, perhaps I should rephrase my question. What frightens you for fun? Come on, I know you like to be scared – safely – and will even pay money to be playfully frightened out of your wits. With Halloween just around the mortuary, now's a good time to think about it — why you like to be scared for fun.

And it's not just you. Lots of people could use a good, safe scare now and then. It helps take the edge off of the real thing, like a warm-up before that all important marathon of real fear lying in wait, the one in which you will have no control when it overtakes you like an evil messenger in the dark; been there and back again, that sort of thing.

And it's not just me asking: David Neff and Patrick Neese are doing a documentary because they would like to know also. It's called Generation Fear. Their reasons for doing so are pretty straightforward:

Why is our current generation so fascinated with fear?  Why is the Horror genre more popular than ever? Why would anyone pay sixteen to twenty dollars a person to have other people scare them? Our documentary, Generation Fear attempts to answer these questions and more as it follows the cast and crew of two Haunted Houses across the span of one Halloween season. Watch as they attempt to run a seasonal business of scaring people.

I know why I'm fascinated by fear. It's that sugar rush, that giddy happiness at the end of it that it wasn't me that got the shaft (usually literally in horror films). But of course, that's just me. Not much to do a documentary on there. So I got in touch with the folks involved and asked a few questions, just to satisfy my own curiosity. And possibly yours. 

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ZC: First, I'm very interested in knowing about Steve the Bum Productions. Why choose such a title for your company, and what's your company's mission?

GF: Good question. Our production company was named after a person who terrorized the Haunted House we worked at in Austin, Texas where Patrick and I met. This homeless person was named Steve and lived in the building before the Haunt moved in. Needless to say he was not happy. He continued to threaten the Haunted House during its operation and even set our rental hearse on fire. It was featured on the local news. What a crazy Halloween that was.

At Steve The Bum Productions we work in two worlds for our clients: digital and physical. Whether it's creating a new website for your Haunted Attraction or creating poster artwork and doing practical f/x for your next horror movie, our goal is the same. Absolute client satisfaction. We are one of the nation's leading production studios with a penchant for frightening subject matter and dark design. Our services range from film and video production, commercial production and DVD authoring to web design and marketing/public relations consulting.

Generationfear2ZC: Now let's talk about your Generation Fear documentary. How did the idea come about, and why do it?

GF: The idea came about by Patrick and I noticing how much drama and energy went in to the behind the scenes work of the Haunted House. Also Patrick really has a great eye for the camera and I think we both really knew what we wanted out of this film. It's something the public sees every year but knows nothing about.

ZC: What led you to choose the Haunted House attractions that are featured in the documentary?

GF: Simply put, it really fell into our laps. We met people at HAuNTcon in Dallas, Texas, and those people led to others who led to others.

ZC: Deep down, in the back of your head, do you have a working hypothesis as to why people like to be scared, safely of course, in this way, or are you just hanging ten to see where it all leads to provide some answers?

GF: We really are suspending ideas 'til we see how it all plays out. That's the 10,000 dollar question.

ZC: What is your time frame for releasing the Generation Fear documentary?

GF: 2007, with a trailer by Oct 31, 2006. However we are still actively seeking sponsorships of all kinds. We would love some initial investments to help us pay for advertising and entering the film into festivals across the country.

ZC: And finally, is there a question that you are just dying to be asked, but haven't yet?

GF: Haha, ummm… "Why do you call this an open source film?"

Most films tend to be closed-mouth until everything is 100%. Still photos, who we interviewed and how we went about doing it are usually kept secret 'til it's time to start promoting. Not Generation Fear. We are as open as possible. Every interview we did or Haunted House we filmed you can find photos of on our Flickr photo site.

Need more information on us? Check our website. Need to read about why and how we filmed? Check our film director's blog. Also once the film is released we plan on uploading all our interviews to the Internet Movie Archive. So users can re-use them. They could remix and re-release their own version of the film! 

 

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So there you have it. This is one documentary I am looking forward to. For the latest production news, go to the official blog site.

And make sure to check out their mini-documentary, Britannia Manor, on the most elaborate Haunted House of all time.

It is, after all, fun to be scared. Sometimes.

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About ILoz Zoc

  • http://hauntedravensgrin.com jim warfield

    Every night of the year (well, almost every night!) I am conducting my own experiments handling and manipulating people’s fears and aprehensions as they pay me to entertain them in my house, The Ravens Grin Inn, in Mount Carroll, Illinois.
    Tonight just a couple showed up, already raving about what others have told them about my house.
    “I have been wanting to come here for ten years! I love all horror movies but she (the girlfriend) is scared to death of that kind of stuff.”
    Lately I had seen many couples just like this come here.
    I am not trying to terrorise anyone. My ideal tour would involve stimulation, laughs, memorable experiences for us all.
    I am intending to impress visitors, this is a “Destination” (in tourism terms) It is a tourist attraction, something to hang in their synapses and get them telling others about the good times they had here.
    The final deciding factor prompting their pilgimage tonight was the glowing testimonial from an employee working in the restaurant they were eating in.
    I know that nobody can please everybody all the time. I would like to please at least 99% of them 99% of the time, that’s all!
    At the end of the tour I had to ask the young woman if she had been laughing or crying through certain portions of the house?
    She had her head and most of her face continiously buried in her man’s shoulder, she was OK, no new phobias created here tonight, no bad dreams either.
    The man kept talking about the incredible mood and look this place has about it, that was where he was coming from,he was “digging” being in a Hollywood horror movie set, he said, as he walked through my house.(And to think he said this and I never showed him our private part of the house, where the real scary stuff is!)
    The poor, frightened (on-again, off-again) woman had a distressed look when I lied and said three of my four ex-wive’s bodies were to be found at the bottom of the old well!