Allen Kellog, director of the creepy 7 Nights of Darkness, gives us the lowdown on the sequel 7 Nights of Darkness: The Devil‘s Toybox.
See the film’s Indiegogo campaign here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-devil-s-toy-box
What prompted you to make a sequel to 7 Nights of Darkness?
First, let me thank you for this opportunity. You guys have a great website and social media presence and I’m happy to be able to be a part of it and contribute. That being said, “7 Nights of Darkness” is really, still to this day, growing in popularity. Just this year we gained international distribution in Japan, another huge market for us. We left the last movie leaving a lot of unanswered questions and we feel that the audience deserved answers. At the same time, we wanted to make another movie that really shows off what we can do. The script in it’s current form really raises the bar for us and we’re excited about that.
Will the film take place immediately after its predecessor? Can you give us a basic outline of the plot?
The film takes place 5 years after the initial movie in which we find that only one person, Carter, has made it out of the asylum alive. Carter feels an extreme amount of guilt about leaving people behind, most specifically the character of Brooke, and doing nothing to try and save them. He is ashamed of his own cowardice. Something I think most of us can relate to at some point in our own lives, but this particular cowardice was filmed and publicized for all to see, making it that much more of a humiliation.What pushes Carter to go back in is the daughter of one of the other contestants, Cynthia, who claims to have seen her father alive within the asylum. She convinces Carter that if her father might be able to be saved, Brooke may be somewhere lost inside as well and thus they once again enter the asylum.
Will we see a lot more of the creepy asylum?
You will. We will be spending a lot of time in some of the Asylum’s creepier areas, but we are also going to be using some other locations as well and those locations will be just as scary.
Do you expect 7 Nights of Darkness: The Devil’s Toy Box to be even more scary than the first film?
We learned a lot from the first movie. From those lessons we now have quite a bit planned to build two primary components of the story. One being the characters. We are creating characters that people will be able to identify with and care about. We need the audience to be able to put themselves in their shoes. It’s an essential part of making scares work. The second component is tension. We are going to build on silence, ambient noise and imagery. We play with both time and dimensions. We are going to give the audience a feeling that something could happen at any moment, but then again, maybe it won’t. Of course I can’t really release the details about all of this, but we are super excited about it.
And what exactly is The Devil’s Toybox?
The devil’s toy box is actually a device used to capture ghosts/spirits or in this case a demon named Beleth. The box is essentially a cube made entirely out of mirrors. The theory is that energy bounces off of the mirrors inside of the box, attracting entities to the power generated inside, but once the entity is in the box, they are unable to escape. It is very much like the asylum itself. Once you step inside, you always leave a part of yourself behind, if you are able to leave at all. It is much like our lives when we experience trauma. Part of us changes in those moments. Part of us will never be the same and part of us is always called back to it, looking for answers.
Many people would argue that the found footage genre has become tired recently? Do you think that it still has life left in it? How will you utilize the style?
I can see how people feel that way, but we have to remember that found footage is simply a tool used to tell a story. It’s how you’re shooting something. What I think matters most is the content. As the saying goes, “content is king”. The limitations found footage puts on you is that you must justify why people are recording what they are doing and the portrayal of the characters has to be hyper-realistic. These days, no one goes in to see a found footage film and believes it is real, they just want to believe that it could be real. Very much like wrestling. People watch, knowing that it isn’t real. It’s the suspension of disbelief. It’s a delicate thing and it cannot be broken. Once it is, the fear will leave.
Can we expect the questions from the first movie to be answered?
Many of them will be, yes. We think the answers will be nice silver linings for those who watched the first movie, but those who haven’t watched the first will get the same enjoyment from them and in no way will some one have to have seen the first movie. We do not want to limit our audience on this.
I understand that you intend to begin filming in July regardless of whether or not you reach your fundraising goal? Why such a bold stance?
When people contribute to our campaign on indiegogo, we want them to know that they are going to be able to see the direct results of their contribution. We did the first movie on a budget of just $5,000. With that came many limitations, but we had to get creative and work around them. We did and gained both domestic and international distribution. We can do that again, but as I said before, so many lessons were learned from that first movie. We know we can do it again and we can do it better. The more we raise, the less limitations. For example, (and this will serve as the first time this is made public) we have just brought on board Alan Tuskes over at Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps, to work on the effects. We are bringing in the big guns, so to speak. Creature Corps last projects include “It Follows“, “Fear Clinic” and Kevin Smith’s “Tusk“. Alan and the folks over there are going to make a huge difference to this project and we couldn’t be happier bringing them on board. We have our contributors to thank for that!
How long do you expect filming to last? Do you expect the process of shooting the movie to be a challenge?
Right now we are scheduled for 13 days (the first was shot in 5). As we all know, $45,000 isn’t a whole lot to make a feature with so even though we are shooting much longer than the first, it will still be cramming it in a bit to stay on budget. Of course, we may have to shrink it down even more depending on what we raise. It brings different challenges, rewrites and so forth. But it’s all in pre-production and planning. We will be organized and efficient. That’s the key. Plan for worst case scenarios, get creative, solve it. All the challenges that come along with this project actually excite us, make us work harder and is one of the reasons we do what we do.
Will the film offer fans of the first film a sense of familiarity whilst also working as a standalone film in its own right?
Yes! Absolutely. Our audience won’t be limited in any way, but fans of the first can expect subtle rewards for watching the first here and there.
What advice would you give to fellow indie filmmakers?
Do it. A lot of what holds people back, I find, is the initiative to do it. Especially the writing part of it. Yeah, you’ve got that great idea. It’s easy to go and tell your friend about it. What’s hard is to sit down in a room and write it. It takes time, thought and persistence. Find a way to get it done. To do that you have to become well rounded. People may get past the writing but then stop at the logistics. Let’s face it, logistics aren’t exciting or fun for most people, but it is essential to run a production smoothly. Create an accurate and realistic shooting schedule and budget. It will let you know what you need to get it done and get it done right. When a wall is in front of you, find a way to knock it down. For most issues, there is always a way if you’re willing to do the work. Things along the road will not go your way or how you expect, and that’s okay! “Ever tried, ever failed, no matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” – Samuel Beckett.