But before I get to that literally gory detail, let me tell you about Sir Philip Sydney.
Yes, Sir Philip Sydney is where this all started, on some level. He was a great thinker, poet and more and, in his treatise “Apology for Poetry”, he declared the purpose of poetry was to both teach and delight. That really resonated with me when I first read it in college and I’ve always thought it could be applied in a broader fashion than Sydney proposed: that any film, play, novel—any artistic creation—could be poetry if it succeeded to jointly entertain and instruct; even the often discounted and maligned horror film. That was one of the driving forces behind the creation of “Deadly Revisions” which I devised to hopefully not only be a thrilling film experience to delight fans of horror, but also as a commentary on the genre, its staying power and its value in society: that facing fears in the safety of a movie theater is a valuable and arguably necessary tool for many in society.
In “Deadly Revisions,” a horror writer with a selective case of amnesia recuperates from a breakdown only to be haunted by images from his past films–images that begin to stir frightening memories of events that may have led to his breakdown. Did he try to kill himself? Did he kill his wife? Is she back from the grave for revenge? Can he sort it out before he goes mad? Or is he already there? With all the trappings of the genre, “Deadly Revisions” is a valentine to horror: there are dark passageways, creaking staircases and things lurking in the shadows. But, as the writer reviews his past, the film also examines the art of the horror film itself and, hopefully, provokes thought as to its own purpose, its own value.
So I wrote the screenplay with the lofty goal of paying homage to the tradition, providing the thrills fans expect, and proffering food for thought in the guise of a possible purpose to the often misunderstood horror genre. That was the first challenge. But I also wrote it with a more down-to-earth goal as well: to fulfill the ubiquitous need for low budget projects. Large studios aside, most production companies are on the lookout for films they can make a small budget: a concept that almost always translates to limited locations, small casts and little or no CGI or FX. But how do you keep a few people in one place and have it be interesting for an hour and a half? That was my second challenge. And “Deadly Revisions” is my answer: you provide an unreliable narrator, you keep twisting the plot and you keep messing with the audience’s perceptions. As Grafton gets more and more confused about what is real and what isn’t—about what happened and what didn’t— my hope is that the audience gets to take that ride with him in addition to struggling with their own changing opinions about Grafton and his state of mind. So it’s as much a psychological thriller as it is a horror film.
All of that, believe it or not, was the easy part. The difficult part began when I had this crazy epiphany: I had written this film that could be done for (relatively) little money and, it occurred to me that, rather than try to sell it to someone else, maybe I should just make the darned thing myself. Talk about a challenge! Was I now as potentially crazy as my own character? Folks I showed the script to didn’t think so. I had people left and right eager to join me in the venture. I had an actor interested, I had a co-producer interested, I had a director of photography interested; suddenly, I had a team that could help me bring the script to life.
There was just one problem: I had never directed a film before. My co-producer assured me that, having directed and produced theater and having been on countless sets as an actor, I knew the basic skills. Her confidence in me, my confidence in her and the rest of the team…and the help of a lot of my own research and self-education managed to allay my anxiety.
But then I decided it was probably apropos that I felt a little fear, considering I was making a horror film! So we forged forward, full steam ahead, developing marketing materials, seeking funding, casting and all the other elements of pre-production. While involved in all those tasks as a co-producer, I had to focus chiefly on creating the teaser trailer because, not only would it be a key to our crowd-funding efforts, it would prove to everyone (including myself) that I knew what I was doing as a director.
I wrote the teaser trailer script, discussed it with my director of photography and then we arranged to shoot it. We got actors and crew calendared, bought props and costumes, rented equipment and—on a single weekend—shot the entire thing. The experience panned out perfectly: efficient set-ups, comfortable actors, room for experimentation…and plenty of food. Everyone worked as a team, understanding there are too many parts that create the whole; no one acts alone; we make the film together. I was relieved. I knew the shots would make an enticing trailer—including the shot of the aforementioned bloody knife in the sink. My co-producer, also a rock star editor, cut the footage into a draft of the trailer; together, we finessed it. I think it speaks for itself: it has enough classic horror film images to make fans drool and also enough metaphoric images to let folks know there’s more going on than just your basic body count.
I hope the teaser trailer sparks interest. I also hope it incites people to donate money to help us make the film be the best it can be. As I more or less said earlier: filmmaking is a team effort; we’d love to have a huge “Deadly Revisions” team. with crowd-funding like IndieGoGo, anyone can donate to the making of the film and receive cool perks in exchange. Your name can be in the film credits; you can be part of the legacy of “Deadly Revisions.” How cool is that?
Kate on set
In the end, our goal with “Deadly Revisions” is to create a film that will both teach and delight. Pretty unique for a horror film, perhaps. Call us trailblazers or call us crazy, but we think Sir Philip Sydney would stand with us…and we hope you will, too.
Gregory Blair has been active in the arts for many years as an actor, writer and producer.
A Geoffrey Award winning actor, Gregory has graced the stage (Sylvia, Working, Six Degrees of Separation, etc.) the big screen (Camp Virginovich, Losing You, Samurai Avenger, etc.), and the small screen (Amazing Sports Stories, The Immoral Dr. Diquer, Alternate History, etc.).
As a writer, Gregory’s been represented on stage (Cold Lang Syne, The Last Banana and Nicholas Nickleby), and in prose offerings such as The Ritual, Little Shivers and the Stonewall Award winning Spewing Pulp. His screenplays have garnered lots of attention: Twisted Fortune is in development at 701 Productions and The Sisterhood just took top honors in the Horror Screenwriting Contest.
Gregory’s goal is to entertain and enlighten people to make the world a little bit better for his having been here. He’d love your help.