“Let me in,” he wails.
“Occupied!” I reply, smug.
Then the blood seeps in.
This is a horror haiku — a small tonally eerie poem consisting of three stanzas of alternating syllable length (typically 5-7-5), and the basis of one of the most terrifying — and innovative — YouTube channels ever.
“Horror Haiku,” found on the Seraph Films channel, is the brainchild of the deviously demented duo of Gene Blalock and James Boring, independent filmmakers with an appetite for the macabre. Slicing through stacks of viewer-submitted haikus, the folks at Seraph carve up and film the meatiest and meanest of them, crafting scenes of psychological sadism fit for a cannibal’s Thanksgiving. That they package it between a vicar and a vamp running schtick like an old-timey late-night spook show is just the delicious dressage supplementing a very tasty meal.
Like the guy in slasher movies that shouldn’t, I had to know more, and so I touched base with Gene Blalock to find out just what was going on inside that brain of his. Well, I survived … turns out that Gene is quite a pleasant and well-adjusted sort of guy, totally not sinister at all. Of course, as these are only words on a page, maybe Jeff Klima isn’t really the one typing this … bwahahahaha …
Was “Horror Haiku” an independent project that you brought to Seraph, or was it developed in-house? (If developed in-house how did you get your start with Seraph?)
Gene Blalock: Seraph Films is a collective of like-minded, independent filmmakers that have been making films for about two years now. For a while I’ve wanted to do something on a regular basis for our fans that would also engage them to fill the gap between our longer “short” films that take a while to shoot and release (you can view most of our short films online as well). I had an idea of perhaps putting up a weekly creepy video or something. After talking with our group about the concept, James Boring came back to me with the idea for “Horror Haiku.” I thought it was quirky enough to be compelling and a great way to get the fans involved.
What is the process for choosing the haikus that get filmed?
Each of our producers goes through all the submissions and selects their favorites. If there is one that everyone selects, it is likely to get made. It tends to come down to whether I can think of something clever to do with the haiku. We often ignore the literal translation, and see what might be practical yet intriguing. A big consideration is if we can do it within a tight shooting schedule and limited budget. We’ve had to skip a few really good haikus because there was just no way to produce it within budget.
For our tech fans out there, what kind of equipment are you using and editing with?
Fortunately, we have a lot of gear ourselves, so it’s pretty consistent from shoot to shoot. We shoot on the Red Scarlet at 4K and finish in Premiere at 2K and then exported for the web. VFX work is done in After Effects and Mocha. Depending on the shoot, we will use everything from a dolly and jib to Steadicam and hand-held rigs.
We also post a weekly behind-the-scenes video that accompanies each episode to try and help others see what goes into making an episode.
What was the inspiration for “Horror Haiku” (both the show format and the use of user-submitted haikus to tell stories)?
We really wanted to do something regularly that would engage our fans and let us keep active between larger projects. We knew it needed to be short and something people could easily view in one sitting. Horror is not all we do, but it’s something we really enjoy, so it just made sense. We also wanted to make it accessible to more than just hardcore horror fans, so I had the idea of adding our horror hosts. I remember watching old horror films on Sunday afternoon, and they were always hosted by these tongue-in-cheek, campy horror hosts who made the scariness of the film a little more tolerable, so I thought it could be good fun to have our own hosts.
As with all our projects we try to push our limits and try new things as filmmakers. I am a big fan of long single shots, so I felt it would be good fun to challenge ourselves to do each episode in a single shot – or at least for it to appear as a single shot.