Last night we made horror history by inviting you, the audience, to participate in a real-time interactive horror experience: the POV footage short FIFTEEN dragged terrified viewers along with a masked killer on a Halloween excursion in search of human prey; anyone with the Periscope app was able to tweet messages directly to the madman himself, virtually holding the lives of potential victims in their own hands.
FIFTEEN is the creation of SCAREHOUSE director Gavin Michael Booth and Blumhouse head of development Ryan Turek, who rose to the logistical challenge of shooting a film driven almost entirely by viewer input, in real time.
“I came up with the idea almost instantly when I first used Periscope on my phone a few months ago,” said Booth, who felt that Blumhouse’s history of success with first-person/POV filming techniques made them a natural fit for the project. “I figured they would be perfect for this and be excited with the concept. Turns out I was right. Ryan and I developed a full story outline for the film, and it was off to the races.”
Booth had also been interested in shooting an entire story in one take — an approach pioneered by Alfred Hitchcock in ROPE and seen most recently in BIRDMAN — but knew it could be a technical nightmare to carry off, especially given the unpredictability of consumer technology and the fact that editing or post-production fixes would be impossible for a live broadcast.
“Anything can go wrong,” he explained. “There are real-time stunts, real-time special effects, the cameraman is the actor… just so much that can go wrong, and my responsibility is to captain the ship through rehearsals and work out every little kink until the entire team is a well-oiled machine. In many ways it resembles live theatre more than filmmaking.”
In the end, Booth credits the quick thinking of his cast, which includes Neil Napier (300, HELIX), as the killer, Hannah Kat Jones (America’s Next Top Model), Alastair James (FASTER) and Sarah Booth (SCAREHOUSE, HELIX). “The actors brought us so much to work with talent-wise, and their contributions to bettering the script and making this live and breathe is fantastic,” Booth said.
If you missed the live event, you can still experience the outcome by watching the entire 20-minute mini-movie below, and you’ll find out what the participants tweeted and learn the fatal results of their ongoing dialog with the killer. Press play and watch him kill… again!