University of Miami junior Erick Lorinc has filmed and produced short horror movies since he received a video camera in middle school. As a motion pictures major, he has always seen the genre as the most creative one in the industry and as a way to escape to different worlds.
“Horror movies, generally, are the most consistently creative movies in the mainstream,” Lorinc said. “I like watching a movie to see something I haven’t seen before, and usually I get that with horror movies.”
This Halloween, horror film enthusiasts like Lorinc will be showcased at the annual Scares and Scores event on Oct. 26 at Cosford Cinema. In preparation for the short film festival, filmmakers and composers will be partnered to show their own horrific creations. The short film submissions will run no longer than eight minutes and will be scored by UM students. The original scores will then be performed live at the event.
Scares and Scores was created in 2009 by both UM’s Society of Composers and UFilm, a film organization on campus. This year will mark a new partnership, with UM’s colony of Delta Kappa Alpha (DKA), a national cinema fraternity, stepping in for UFilm.
“We’re now in our sixth year, and it’s become a real part of the UM Halloween tradition,” said Professor Lansing McLoskey, the advisor to UM’s Society of Composers. “It’s not simply a ‘normal’ situation where a composer scores a film, but a collaboration between the composer and the filmmaker. And what makes it really unique is that, rather than using pre-recorded soundtracks, the music is always performed live while the films are screened.” While meeting with their composer partners, the filmmakers discuss the atmosphere they want the music to convey. Katrina Enoch, cinematic affairs chair for DKA, explained that one of the event’s central goals is to promote creativity and provide a fun activity for students.
“It could be shot on your iPhone – I just want people to be excited about it,” Enoch said. “The thing that I am most looking forward to is to see how creative people can get with this. I feel like, with horror films, it’s mostly the same formula and twist every time, so I’m interested in seeing how people really build suspense and what their idea of horror is.”
In addition to the new partnership, this year’s Scares and Scores will also feature a panel of judges that will grant awards for different categories, including Best Film, Best Score and Best Scream. There will be a pre-show reception and attendees will be invited to participate in an epitaph competition that will feature readings between screenings. “This is the most I’ve ever put into a project here, just because I had freedom to do it and it was completely my project,” Lorinc said. He is in the final stages of his zombie-themed movie. “For our film program, there really aren’t too many showcases of our work, so this is a really good chance to see some of the things that film students are doing. Anybody can submit shorts too, so it’s a really good night for sharing your passion and movies with other people.”
So what does it take to make a horror movie? Passion for filmmaking is a must. So is digging deep into your imagination to bring your worst fears to life. But there are also many technical considerations.
“When it comes to the filmmaking, some of the things you have to consider depend on the subgenre,” Lorinc said, adding that serious horror movies require a different ambiance than horror spoofs. “You have to do a lot of pre-planning for effects. You have to take into account tone, lighting, which you really also have to do for any other movie, but it’s not so blatant in genres like romantic comedies.”
In addition to lighting and camera angles, music plays a big role in creating the right atmosphere. Junior and Vice President of the Society of Composers Kyle Guffey has scored short movies before, but she said that making music for horror will be a completely different experience.
“It really comes down to what the director is looking for,” Guffey said. “In the real world, the director would say, ‘I want it to sound like these four adjectives and you kind of have to figure out what ‘orange’ means, or how do I make something sound ‘orange.’ From a musical standpoint, whenever something is cute and fun, it has a key signature and it has a distinct rhythm. For something like a horror film, you would want more ominous sounds and really weird scary intervals, so I’ll definitely have to draw from more of my classical training.”
Horror films have existed for more than a century but have surged in popularity in the last few years. Shows like “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story” have captured global attention and established prominent fanbases. The horror genre has also remained popular in mainstream media due to remakes, parodies and even web-based shorts, such as videos featuring the video game antagonist Slender Man, a tall, faceless man that usually targets children. Scares and Scores allows students to showcase their own visions of horror while celebrating this important element of popular culture.
There is strange allure to horror movies because they depict an obscure and glamorized version of reality while still seeming conceivable to the viewer.
“I think people are drawn to the unknown, and horror films can give you a glimpse into that,” Enoch said. “A lot of these are situations that you’ll probably never encounter in your life, but then there’s always that one random news story where you realize that could happen. It’s a thrill, and some people live for that. They want their heart to skip a beat. What horror films do is touch upon the horrific but also the oddly possible.”
If You Go
What: Scares and Scores Film Festival
When: Oct. 26, reception at 9:30 p.m. and screening at 10 p.m.
Where: Bill Cosford Cinema, 5030 Brunson Drive, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user yunje5054