We’re sitting on a screener of the indie horror flick I Sell The Dead here at Reject HQ, but only because we’re waiting for a dark and stormy night to break that shit out. Called the ScareFlix series (the brainchild of producer Larry Fessenden), the latest in the series might just be a groundbreaking film, and not just by ridiculously-low-budget indie horror thrill film standards.
Joe Maggio (Paper Covers Rock) has written and directed his first genre film, Bitter Feast, starring Joshua Leonard (of indie staff favorite Humpday) and James LeGros (The Last Winter). Making the movie for $16.50 and a pack of Jujubees, Bitter Feast is the first feature to be shot on a DSLR camera. As far as anyone knows. (And recording over your little brother’s junior high graduation with your girlfriend’s drunken rendition of “The Humpty Dance” doesn’t count. Unless you’d like to submit it to Larry Fessenden as the missing link of the ScareFlix series. Or to the FSR staff.)
DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex camera, and Maggio (on the urging of Director of Photography Michael McDonough) chose to shoot the film with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II still camera. According to IndieWire:
With the 15-day shoot set around New York City and the Woodstock area upstate, the idea of shooting on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II still camera came when the film’s D.P. Michael McDonough raved about it to Maggio. “We went around Brooklyn shooting stuff one night and I was just amazed by the low light capability. It sees better than the human eye,” Maggio says. “McDonough has a beautiful collection of lenses and there’s no other camera we could afford where we would have that kind of aesthetic latitude. This camera is a game changer. This is where independent cinema is heading.”
Talk about taking lo-fi to a new low; this is a camera that you can get at Best Buy. If the visual elements work, however, the movie will be both a comic thriller and a piece with believable dramatics. I preemptively say kudos to them for trying.
If this technique works out, and I’m betting that it will, Michael McDonough will hopefully be lauded as an artistic visionary. It’s not that McDonough’s idea will make Maggio’s film the first workable low budget, low fidelity independent film in the “cool visuals” vein. It’s that Bitter Feast could be a rousing success story, and potentially breathe new life blood into that precarious intersection of people willing to manipulate physical technologies to create new, interesting, and alternative expressions of art — and showcase them for art and entertainment’s sake, and (hopefully) effective storytelling.