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Springboard: Why This Horror Filmmaker Thinks the Genre is In a Good Place

Springboard: Why This Horror Filmmaker Thinks the Genre is In a Good Place

READ MORE: Memo to Distributors: Buy These 2015 SXSW Movies

[Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the film industry worthy of your attention.]

Ted Geoghegan’s path to becoming a filmmaker is notable for all he did before directing his first feature.

Geoghegan’s debut, the retro horror blast “We Are Still Here,” is currently playing in select theaters after premiering to rave reviews at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, where Indiewire’s Eric Kohn called it a “wildly entertaining haunted house thriller.” Before bringing the film to Austin, Geoghegan had taken on pretty much every job in the film industry apart from directing. Since 2001, he’s been working as a screenwriter mostly in horror, which in 2007 led to a self-launched boutique label he created to produce low-budget horror films. His writing on the genre has been published in a number of online and print publications, and as a day job, he’s been working as a film publicist for a number of years, just like Ava DuVernay did before she went on to become a Sundance-winning sensation for “Middle of Nowhere.” With “We Are Still Here,” Geoghegan proves that he’s worthy of the spotlight with a solid genre effort that’s terrifying and a great deal of fun.

Watch the trailer for the film and hear from the budding filmmaker below.

I grew up in rural Montana and I used genre films as an escape from the monotony of the plains.
I realized that horror is really where my passion lies. These were pre-internet days, so I was trying to figure out through any means possible everything about horror movies. 

I find myself still drawn back to the cinema of childhood. The point of this whole movie was to make a movie unlike anything made in the last 30 years. Rather than make an homage, I wanted to make something that was altogether new and that used modern storytelling techniques in a classic aesthetic. I wanted to embrace things like extremely methodical pacing and awkward editing. Even melodrama — the fact we really pushed our cast to work with acting styles that aren’t traditionally seen in modern film.

I’m actually quite a fan of modern horror. While I tend to stray from found footage and remakes, I do still watch them and support them as a part of the genre. Occasionally I’m surprised by an exceptional remake or found footage film. But I think that the real voices of the genre industry right now are in the independent scene. They are the Adam Wingard(s) and the Ti West(s)… these guys are making movies outside of the studio system that are extremely original and daring. They kind of call to mind the studio filmmakers of the ’70s who were given monumentally more freedom to do the wild and crazy things that studio filmmakers aren’t really allowed to do.

I’m not above admitting that the studios can’t churn out some really fun stuff. I think what Jason Blum is doing is exceptional. I absolutely loved “Sinister.” I think horror is in a good place. We’re seeing a lot more creative freedom in terms of what’s coming out and that can only lead to better and better movies. 

I kind of feel that in the filmmaking world, and not just in genre films, that there’s this hipster mafia — if everyone agrees that it’s not cool before it comes out then it’s not going to be cool, and if everyone think it’s going to be the next big thing then it’s bound to be the next big thing regardless of its quality. I do think that’s rather unfortunate. But there’s not much you can do about it as a creative. What you can do is appeal to the critics, appeal to the writers, let them know that what you’re doing is made with a lot of heart. 

I think that when people are aware of how much love goes into a project, they can’t help but warm up to it a little. 

Being a publicist prepared me for being a director more than even writing and producing. It put me in very close contact with directors all the time and it allowed me better perception of how they think, what they do in their off time and the processes one goes through to get a film made — and get it made well. I just soaked up a lot of that.

READ MORE: SXSW 2015: A List of Criticwire Grades for Every Feature 

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