Tiring of gore horror and resisting the found footage format of most low budget films, director Chris Silver has created inside Shadows, which strives to take the genre back to its traditional roots of the ghost story. Two and a half years in the making and filmed predominantly in London, Chris’s debut feature was produced with just a few hundred pounds as everything else was donated, begged for or borrowed, making it perhaps one of the lowest budget feature films of all time.
“One of the main points of inside Shadows was to create a convincing, original film out of nothing – or rather whatever we had available to us,” Chris explains. “That is: to not let excuses get in our way, nor depend on money when there was none or dream of equipment which we couldn’t gain access to. Instead we were to pull together our resources, experiment and see what happened.”
“With inside Shadows,” Chris continues, “the cast and crew worked relentlessly hard for well over two years. They did so without complaint or pay and with absolutely no guarantee of any pay off, financial or otherwise. The reason they did it is because they love filmmaking and wanted to tell a story that would entertain, unsettle and challenge the audience.”
It seems to have worked. Now available to rent or buy through Vimeo On Demand, inside Shadows is already the 2nd most rated and reviewed film in their horror category, as well as in the top 5 of the drama section – despite only being released 4 weeks ago. No mean feat for an unknown director with a cast of new faces.
“From audience feedback it seems the major appeal is the substance of the film,” Chris continues. “As a fan of the genre myself I was getting wearisome of the same old formats being dished out by the studios, then being told it was the ‘major horror movie of the year.’ Surely it’s not for studios to declare this, but for audiences to do so over time, if the film stays with them? And I would say it’s been a few years since we had a real horror classic with some longevity to it because a good film, particularly a horror film because there’s so many of them, needs to do more than just tick the same stale boxes. It has to be about something or at least try to say something to the audience. Whether we achieved this or not is up to the viewers to decide, but at least we tried.”
Fans of inside Shadows appear to have noticed. One review called it a “tremendously ghoulish debut. Excellently shot, acted and edited…a nerve wrecking ghost story that harks back to the classic films of the horror genre” whilst others claim: “inside Shadows is so much more [than] a horror film…a gripping low budget debut that does not fall short.”
Chris concludes by saying that: “From my experience there are those who are in love with the idea of filmmaking – the glamour and excitement, lavish equipment, the aura associated with the whole scene – and then there are those who quite simply have a genuine love for making films: story tellers who get on and do the job. I’m proud to say with this project, my team fell into the latter. Our lead actress Sofia [Hagen] recently told one viewer: ‘due to a lack of budget and time we needed to resort to passion.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.”
Chris, a recently published author and his girlfriend Sofia, a waitress-come-illustrator are excited to be settling in to their new home: a converted shop in North London. What the property lacks in space and modern décor, they feel it more than makes up for with its unusual layout and quirky appeal. Yet from the beginning there is a degree of uneasiness surrounding the house; a matter not helped when several mysteries unravel within the building and the relationships of all those connected to it begin to sour. Visits from the bizarre landlord leave more questions than answers and Chris begins to suspect that something from the past is clinging on in their new home. As the situation escalates he is forced to confront the landlord – a catalyst which brings all that move inside the shadows out into the light with harrowing consequences.
A labour of love for a small dedicated team of film makers, inside Shadows aims to prove that you do not need to spend millions on equipment and lots of special effects when you have an engaging story to tell and a few passionate people to help you tell it. The cast and crew for inside Shadows worked on the film, not only without salary and alongside full time jobs, but some with concussion, eye infections, fractured feet, broken bones and migraines…to name but a few afflictions suffered throughout the two year shoot!
– How much did inside Shadows really cost?
We can’t offer an exact amount but without crowd funding, financial aid or a grant and with the director earning less than 20K in his day job, it wasn’t an awful lot – there are plenty of people who’ll confirm that. We estimate about £600 was actually parted with and everything else was donated, loaned or borrowed. On top of this the cast and crew worked for 2.5 years without a salary. They will definitely confirm that! It really was mostly a case of hours, months and years of hard work & sweat.
– Is the house inside Shadows was filmed in haunted?
Whilst there were certainly lots of strange noises and goings on there, it was actually Chris’ first flat in London that was haunted and the occurrences were witnessed by at least three other people. They ranged from aggressive knocking upon doors to the sound of furniture moving in unattended parts of the flat. There were also several sightings of a man in dark robes. People claimed he was watching them from the corners of various rooms.
– Is inside Shadows an original film?
We like to think so. At just under 75 mins in length, the lack of budget made us stretch our initiative and creativity so corners were cut and unorthodox methods used. inside Shadows is unique for its lack of funds – and its rawness and originality are a result of that. Everything from the story to the sound design to the soundtrack was created from scratch, albeit unusual scratches at times!