Skills: Filmmaking

Shady Valley feature promo

Shady Valley is a horror/comedy that follows the misadventures of a picked-on teenager named Ricky who discovers that his home-made martial arts system can slay demons.

We made this promo video to showcase the concept, as well as our formidable Hollywood filmmaking skills. :)

How we got funding

We needed $10,000 to make the promo (a lot more than we had), so we ran our first crowd-funding campaign.  We came to realize that running such a campaign is more-or-less a full time job, but the pay-off was that hundreds of wonderful contributors got involved.  We exceeded the target by $47.

We had a lot of fun making the promo (I mean, does any filmmaker NOT secretly want to make a martial arts monster movie?). 

We also learned a bunch about commercial filmmaking (see below).

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What we learned

After taking the promo to international film markets, a few critical lessons emerged:

If you want to make a commercial film, talk to distributors at the concept stage – Filmmaking costs a lot of money, and the “easiest” way to get that money is to secure a distribution deal before you get started.  If we had talked to distributors before starting, I think we would have made a lot of different choices (see below).

When you’re looking for funding, genre is very important  Horror/Comedy/Martial Arts Monster movies, amazingly, are not the first (or the even the tenth) genre that distributors look for.  Unless you’ve got Michael Cera.

If you don’t have a big name involved, make a really cheap film – If you want to make a film full of special effects and action sequences, you need a name actor in movie.  Or you need to be a famous director or producer.  Otherwise, choose a concept that you can make for $2.50.  Then you’re golden.

Considering the above lessons, Shady Valley may need to be reborn into a new, more ergonomic form.  Watch this space…

Actor Roberto Pombo

Roberto Pombo plays the lead role of Ricky.  He is a gifted performer who studied physical comedy in Italy, and did 2 months of martial arts training leading up to the promo shoot.

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NB. Full body prosthetic suits are very, very hot

Our special effects guru Jaco suggested that we cast a dancer to play the monster.  The reason, he explained, is that dancers are used to physical hardship. 

Even after hearing this, I don’t think any of us realized just how tough it was going to be to do a physical performance under 2 inches of rubber-latex.

The lovely Kieron Jina (aka The Monster) explains…