What Must Happen In The First 10 Minutes Of A Horror Movie – Steven Shea

Steven Shea, Filmmaker: You go through the entire first level and nothing happens but the whole time you’re waiting for somebody to jump out of a door at you. Nothing happens. Then you go to the next level. It’s the same giant hallway and you start walking by, then all of a sudden you hear a noise behind you.

Film Courage: What has to happen in the first 10 minutes of a horror screenplay?

Steven: Back in the day they used to say when they would pick up a horror movie (distributors) that you had to have a kill in the first five minutes of your horror movie, that was a requirement. Most of the time because you want something to hook the audience, you want to get them in being like this is what this movie’s going to be about. A movie like Scream does that really really well by having this whole like nice happy scene and then killing the biggest actor in the movie which was from Psycho. Albert Hitchcock’s Psycho you have a whole opening sequence with this high-end actress and then they kill her and then the movie starts. That’s a little more than five minutes but in Scream it was five minutes. You need something big, a big inciting incident to hook the audience in and be like Okay, this is the ride we’re in for and I think that’s important, that’s important with every movie. You have to have something to hook them at the beginning to be able to bring them in and if you start off with a very slow sequence in the beginning and your audience starts to nod off 20 minutes in, that’s a problem. You don’t want that to happen. Usually I try to start with a bang and with a bigger bang. 

Film Courage: With Children of the Corn that was pretty gruesome (actually too gruesome for me) but with Carrie I don’t remember within the first five-ten minutes, it was kind of a slow build, But still very effective. 

Steven: Carrie is much more like a giallo-type style, an Italian style of a slow, lots of reds, lots of deep colors, which has a big fan base for sure and there’s definitely different types of genres of horror. I mean there’s slasher is a genre and giallo is a genre, there’s comedy horror, there’s action horror. It’s really interesting about the comedy horror…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Image from Surviving Supercon by Steven Shea
Image from Surviving Supercon by Steven Shea
Image from Surviving Supercon by Steven Shea


International Award-Winning, STEVEN SHEA has been working in the entertainment industry since he was 16 years old. Starting out in the local television market in the Florida Keys where he grew up, he eventually made his way to Orlando where he founded Abyssmal Entertainment in 2002. His first feature film he wrote and directed, “The Night Owl”, was distributed globally in the Summer of 2005. In 2008, “Hoodoo For Voodoo”, Steven’s 2nd feature he wrote and directed was released on DVD. Steven garnered some awards on the international festival circuit with the horrific short film “2:22” in 2009, which has been distributed through Hulu & FearNet. “Doomsday County” is a horror anthology film that he co-directed and produced that was released worldwide through Troma Inc in 2013. The comedy web series “The Interrogationists” was released in the summer of 2014 through Funny Or Die. His latest feature is the Documentary “Surviving Supercon” that was completed in 2019. Steven had directed over 25 music videos, for such artists as Kitty In A Casket, The Hellfreaks, The Dollyrots, The Attack, The Bloody Jug Band, WhiteQube and The Crazy Carls. As an award winning photographer, Steven has directed and shot such talent as Harrison Ford, Louise Fletcher, Roger Corman, Deepak Chopra, Lin Shaye, Mark McGrath, Denise Richards, Vivica A. Fox, Rick Fox, Juliana Harkavy and many more. He was a Producer on the feature films Last Shift, Rockabilly Zombie Weekend, The Unbroken, Deadly Weekend, Two Days, and Andre the Butcher. As well as Producer for the Disney Channel series Game On! 

Steven’s latest film is SURVIVING SUPERCON, a zany behind the scenes look at how a rag-tag Mom & Pop organization pulls off one the biggest pop culture conventions in the United States.     










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