The Year of The Shape continues, as a group of indie filmmakers who share a love for Halloween have teamed up to faithfully recreate four iconic scenes from John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, along with fifth scene of their own, to be released online for free this month as part of the ongoing 40th anniversary celebration.
Halloween Daily News caught up with the fan film’s co-directors Michael T. Lombardi (who also portrays The Shape) and Nils Toledo Jr. to get the scoop on this project, which used look-like actors and tried to match costumes, settings. lighting, and camera angles as close as possible to how Carpenter did it. We asked them about what the original Halloween means to them, what inspired them to take on this experiment, and the challenges it presented. Read on for their answers, as well as a teaser trailer and some pretty impressive promo photos.
Why did you decide to undertake this shot-for-shot recreation?
Lombardi: I’m always looking for new challenges as a film maker and actor. When I saw all the excitement surrounding the 40th anniversary of Halloween and the upcoming release of David Gordon Green’s 2018 sequel, I knew I wanted to somehow be a part of that. Since I and my production team are big fans of the original film and have been influenced by the film making style of John Carpenter, we decided to attempt to faithfully recreate several iconic scenes from the original film.
To say that this is not an easy task is an understatement, but we were intrigued by the idea and definitely always love a challenge! We are acutely aware that Halloween fans are intensely passionate and notoriously hard to please, but we are Halloween fans too, and we saw this as an opportunity to have a lot of fun honoring a movie we love so much. And let me tell you, we had a lot of fun.
In my career, I’ve produced only original films and television projects, which is how it should be for any artist. I’ve watched countless Halloween fan films over the years, all of which took their cues directly from the original source material. In 2012, I produced a four-episode limited event series called Haddonfield Hills, which was my own interpretation of the Halloween story. We had a lot of fun with that, and it had a modest online following. But this shot-for-shot project is very different.
Toledo: We’re all fans of the original movie, and it’s the one movie that we all wanted to recreate. It was groundbreaking for its time and continues to be.
What does the original Halloween mean to you?
Lombardi: As a kid, I was easily scared and did not fully see the appeal of horror films, but I eventually came to appreciate the genre in all its forms. Halloween was the first horror film I ever watched, and it left its mark on me. The film was produced with such a high level of artistry and craftsmanship, and did so much, with so little. I’m not a fan of horror films that emphasize gore over scares, so the fact that Halloween has virtually no blood in it was very appealing to me. It proved that less is more.
The mask was simple but terrifying. The attention to detail with lighting and camera movements was revolutionary. I also really liked that the film had a strong, intelligent female protagonist at its core, which most horror films still lack even to this day. But it was Carpenter’s iconic music score that really affected me. It was haunting – and still is – no matter how many times I hear it. For me, Halloween is as perfect as a horror film gets.
Toledo: It’s the first movie I remember from childhood. My parents allowed me to see the movie very young (they were big horror fans) and it became the family go-to movie not only every Halloween, but we would watch it throughout the year. We were all enthralled in the fandom, the characters, the story, and mythology behind it.
What were the challenges you faced doing the shot-for-shot recreation?
Lombardi: The first challenge was casting. Not only did we need to find actors who were strong performers, but they also had to resemble the original actors as closely as possible. That being said, I think we got very lucky in both departments.
The next challenge was the locations. Early on in the scouting process, we gave up on being able to find homes here in Connecticut that matched the look of the houses that Carpenter used in Pasadena, California. That just wasn’t going to happen. Interior wise, we had the same challenges, especially since this is a late ’70s period piece. Unless we built replica sets on a sound stage (and we didn’t have the budget for that), we were never going to match that look perfectly. What we did do was find locations that we felt allowed us to capture the same basic aesthetic as the original, and we then focused on duplicating the camera angles and lighting.
When people watch this, they may see that not every angle is exactly the same, or the lighting may be slightly different. We did have a few logistical challenges on-location, which were expected, and we did have to make compromises along the way. But I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish, and proud of our entire production team and cast. We can only hope that every Halloween fan out there who watches our little tribute will appreciate the incredible effort that went into this endeavor, and have as much fun viewing it as we did making it. This is an incredible year for Halloween!
Toledo: Originally, we wanted to exactly mimic this movie that we love so much. But since we had virtually no budget, you’re asking everybody to work for credit. The hurdle is to find actors and crew who are willing to work for free. The other thing is that we are attempting to recreate a movie which was shot on film, and employed a full production and lighting crew. We are shooting digital, utilizing modern-day lights, with a skeleton crew of five. We also had a challenge with shooting schedule, which was only four days.
The biggest narrative challenge we had was with the Annie Brackett scene. We wanted to shoot the laundry room scene, but we don’t have laundry rooms in a separate backyard location in Connecticut – that’s a California thing. So we had to get creative. Michael T. Lombardi was able to take that laundry scene, and two others featuring Annie (including her death scene in the car) and combine them into one big scene with some new, original dialogue, which allowed us to put our own unique spin on it. That was fun.
The official press release:
Michael T. Originals SHOT-FOR-SHOT in association with TNT Media presents John Carpenter’s “Halloween” will have its online premiere Friday, July 20, 2018. The independently shot “Halloween” tribute project is produced and directed by Michael T. Lombardi and Nils Toledo, Jr.
The short film project recreates four iconic scenes from John Carpenter’s 1978 horror film, with great care being taken to be as faithful to the original as possible. The production also recreated a fifth scene but put their own original spin on it. Local look-alike actors were cast, costumes were duplicated, and locations were chosen that allowed the filmmakers to capture the overall aesthetic of Carpenter’s classic. It should be noted that the production had virtually no budget, and was a true labor of love for all involved.
Lombardi and Toledo, themselves big fans of the original film, wanted to do something special to celebrate the 40th anniversary, and also to challenge themselves as filmmakers, with each scene being painstakingly shot to replicate the exact angles, lighting, and performances.
“As huge horror fans, the original ‘Halloween’ is our favorite film in the genre. It’s the perfect combination of great storytelling, solid production values, and an unforgettable performance by Jamie Lee Curtis. Our challenge has been to bring these five scenes back to life as accurately as possible and give the fans something to be excited about”, Lombardi said.
Prior to the premiere of the short film on July 20, “Halloween” fans can get a first look at the production with a Behind-the-Scenes “First Look” Special on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, which will include footage from the production and interviews with the cast and crew.
The cast includes Natalie Osborne as Laurie Strode, Emily Santarsiero as Annie Brackett, Patrick D’Andrea as Sam Loomis, Paul Noonan as Sheriff Leigh Brackett, Devin Murphy as Lindsey Wallace, Eli Wald as Tommy Doyle, and Michael T. Lombardi as The Shape, directed by Michael T. Lombardi (who is also Executive Producer) and Nils Toledo Jr. (who is also Director of Photography), and edited by Terese N. Toledo.
The short film can be viewed on the Michael T Originals YouTube Channel, Facebook, and other outlets.
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