FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG Short Cuts To Hell 2 Finalist Interview: Joe And Lloyd Staszkiewicz - Hubert's Ghost
By James Whittington, Saturday 4th October 2014
This year’s ShortCuts To Hell competition saw some incredibly inventive entries.
Here we speak to finalists Joe and Lloyd Staszkiewicz who are behind the paranormal short Hubert’s Ghost.
To vote for Hubert’s Ghost click here.
HC: Where did the idea for Hubert’s Ghost come from?
JLS: Despite it being a new idea we’d often talked about a way to expand the core concept behind Hubert’s Ghost for years. We've always been very fascinated with the origins and folklore behind Halloween. On that one night, the veil between the living and the dead is apparently at it's weakest, so in ye olden days people started dressing up in costumes in attempt to blend in with the evil spirits and go unnoticed. We’ve always thought about this and wondered what it would be like if this idea wasn't just confined to one night, and there was a really haunted town where people have to dress up all year-round. Also, every Halloween, you see blogs posting old-school pictures of how people used to dress up in those amazingly messed up, makeshift but awesomely creepy costumes. So we decided to combine that with the other story elements we had in place. Not only would these super-shit costumes keep costs down but they would give the film a very interesting style, with regards to character and costume design.
HC: Did it take long to write?
JLS: I probably took us about 30 minutes to write the first draft. We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. We then spent a few weeks tweaking and changing bits of the story and dialogue for various reasons. The three minute time constraint meant we had to be very strict with what went in the final script so we deliberated over it right up until we started shooting. We also had to ditch the part where 10,000 ghosts march on Hubert’s house and destroy it with ray guns before Hubert and his family escape to the Planet Of The Apes on a spaceship from the future. We weren’t sure that we could make that visual effect convincing enough.
HC: How much budget did you use?
JLS: We were allowed to spend £666 on the short as per the competition rules. This was one of our most expensive productions to date, costing about £30 which covered the cost of some paint, chopsticks, a bright orange harness and a load of ‘buy one get one free’ pot noodles. We try not to spend much. Mainly because we don’t have much. But I also think you don’t always need money to make something look great. Working with a strict budget really helps to focus your creativity. I’m probably only saying that because I’m bitter about rich people though.
HC: It has a wonderfully dark streak of humour running through it, were you inspired by any other horror/comedy movies?
JLS: We were inspired by a wide range of films and TV shows for this film. There’s obvious reference points like the films of Tim Burton, Wes Anderson and Laika. Really fun and quirky family films. But our main influence in writing and also in life is a 90s TV show that ran on Nickelodeon called The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. The main characters are two brothers, both called Pete. Their Mum has a metal plate in her head that picks up Mexican radio and the younger Pete has his own personal Superhero called Artie: The Strongest Man in the World. It’s utter genius and so funny without being stupid just for the sake of it. You really care about the characters in it and it has a lot of depth and heart. That’s something we aspire to.
HC: Did it take long to shoot and edit together?
JLS: It was quite a lengthy process. Definitely the most time we’ve ever put into a short film with regards to both filming and post production. We shot it over a weekend at an Oriental Brewhouse in Lincolnshire. I’m not really sure what one of those is but it looked great on camera. Eight of us worked on the film and all slept on the floor of the room that Hubert’s Ghost was mostly shot in. We didn’t get much sleep. Mainly because of the ghosts that kept throwing chess pieces and books at our heads. That could have been our brother Rowan, though. He was quite drunk by the time we decided to get some sleep. We’re always professional.
The post-production process took a few weeks. We had a lot of effects shots to complete, most of which were completely new to us. On top of that we wanted to spend a lot of time on the sound. I think the final sound mix had around 80 tracks of audio on it. We had a lot of fun doing it all though. Our parents had just opened a cafe in Nottingham so Lloyd and I would go down there every day and work on the film. Some of the older, regular customers often made snide comments about us wasting our time on “those machines” playing “Wars of The Warcrafts”. Little did they know we were actually playing Minecraft whilst scabbing free cups of tea.
HC: What was the hardest part of creating Hubert’s Ghost?
JLS: There’s always obstacles in film making but I wouldn’t say anything was particularly hard. Having challenges are part of the fun and it makes the end product so much more satisfying when you finally get there. The VFX shots were quite ambitious for us. For the most part, we went into filming without knowing whether we were going to be able to accomplish the shots that we had in our heads. We ended up pretty proud of what we achieved. If any Visual effects guru looked at it, they would probably laugh but I think for the majority of the audience that will see the short, it does the trick. Having said that, I suppose the toughest part was trying not to break any of the home owner’s valuable possessions whilst we were throwing people and objects around rooms and along floors. I’m quite proud that we left it unscathed.
HC: What did it feel like seeing your work on the Horror Channel?
JLS: Having your work broadcast to the general public is amazing. We feel very fortunate that Hubert’s Ghost has been screened at both FrightFest on the big screen and on the Horror Channel in the last few months. I’ll never get bored of seeing our films like that. We’ve both religiously tuned into the Horror Channel when Hubert’s Ghost has been shown. Every time it’s on we get picture messages from our friends who are also watching and feel as proud as we do that’s it’s being shown on TV.
HC: Do you have a plan as to how to extend this idea if it wins Short Cuts To Hell 2?
JLS: We always had the feature length idea in the back of our minds when working on the short. The style and much of the concept will carry over, but there will be a few key changes. Instead of the story being confined to the one haunted house, the whole town is super haunted, and so all the residents have to wear costumes. There will be such a weird and wonderful world that will aid a really interesting story. We are currently working on the script. Every story element is mapped out and we have a really clear idea of where we are taking it.
HC: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
JLS: We are currently concentrating on developing the Hubert’s Ghost script. We both work full-time doing freelance video, so we are just spending every bit of free time on this. Hopefully one day we can dedicate a lot more time to our own projects, like Hubert’s Ghost. Also, I need to paint my dining room because it’s just been re-plastered. I’m putting that off.
HC: Joe and Lloyd Staszkiewicz, thank you very much.
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