***Get to Know Ethan Evans & Jess Bartlett – director & producer of STAGNANT ***
Following our Horror Lockdown Short Competition public vote, STAGNANT took the Audience Award 🏆 home!
Ethan Evans (director) & Jess Bartlett (producer) share their journey that gave birth to STAGNANT.
A: Hi Ethan and Jess, congratulations on your win! Could you tell us a bit about your background?
EE: First and foremost, thank you so much for the opportunity - I can’t tell you how much the award means to us! I graduated from University in 2018 alongside Jess, where for the first two years I specialised in editing and sound design, before finally pursuing the only thing I wanted to do - writing and directing horror. I’ve always been engrossed in film and filmmaking, but I’ll never forget seeing ‘Insidious’ for the first time in the cinema and knowing it was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Since graduating, we’ve made 2 self-funded shorts, but we have a tonne in development that I’m so excited to bring to life in the near future!
JB: Since graduating University in 2018, Ethan and I have focused on creating micro-budget short horror films under our production company ‘Terror Arcade’ - we’re passionate about the genre and have many exciting stories in development. We co-write our projects with Ethan directing and myself producing, so it was fun to set ourselves a challenge like this over lockdown where we had to embody all of the roles within a crew to form the finished product. Outside of my horror collaborations with Ethan, I’ve written/produced two short musicals - one of which was an award-winning haunted house original musical - something I’d absolutely love to revisit!
A: Why did you choose to enter our competition?
EE: Throughout the lockdown period, I toyed with the idea of creating a horror short, but let self-doubt get the best of me. As soon as I saw the competition advertised, I was buzzing with excitement and knew it was something I had to be a part of! As an indie filmmaker, Moorhead & Benson have been hugely inspirational to me, so I was thrilled to learn that they are involved in this competition - the fact that they’ve even watched it is an award in itself.
JB: As close followers of the Arrow Video socials, we knew we had to jump in when we saw the competition advertised (although we had just over a week before the deadline!) With limited resources and time, it was definitely a challenge, but hugely enjoyable for us to get creative and produce a spooky short during lockdown.
A: How did you come up with the idea for your short?
EE: In true DIY fashion, I paced through my house late at night trying to figure out what we could make use of and what would scare me. My all-time favourite sub-genre is paranormal horror, so I knew I wanted to make a linear narrative within that realm. My dad has spent the best part of lockdown prettifying our garden, which as you can imagine doesn’t quite set the tone we were after! Fortunately, my Auntie (who was in our bubble) only lives a few doors away and had an overgrown garden, which made for the perfect setting. While absorbing lots of lockdown content, I noticed the majority of ideas coming out of this situation have revolved around something evil invading your home / keeping something out of your house, and I wanted to explore the opposite perspective - a story about someone breaking into somewhere where the horror already exists.
A: Any anecdotes that you’d like to share about making it?
EE: It was an exciting, extremely challenging, and liberating process. I had never shot anything properly myself before and in all honestly, I was terrified at the prospect; creating an idea that required a night-shoot certainly made things tricky! A huge thanks to Jess, our composer Chris Köbke, my brother, and my family who were willing to be covered in coffee-stained clothes (which smelt awful) and a full face of make-up in the middle of the night.
A: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
EE: We have two shorts in late development that we’re hoping to get some funding for, both of which lie within the supernatural horror realm. They’re both projects that’ll be my biggest yet, both logistically and emotionally, which will really demonstrate my abilities as a director - I can’t wait to bring them to life! Once we’ve tackled them, our goal is to jump into feature films, and I’m hoping the shorts will serve as a tonal proof-of-concept for a couple. With the hurdles faced when trying to obtain funding (as I’m sure every filmmaker knows), I’ve also been developing a couple of smaller horror shorts that I’m hoping we can shoot in the meantime as the lockdown guidelines begin to ease.
JB: Under Terror Arcade we’ve been busy writing horror stories that we’re eager to turn into short films, with scripts ready to go! Our goal is to produce one/two more really exciting and genuinely scary horror films before diving into the world of feature films. Ethan has near completed a feature script from an idea he’s been passionate about for years, so it’s an extremely fun time for us! For now, the mission for film funding begins!
A: Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
EE: Thank you so much again for the opportunity. We entered the competition with the goal of getting a prize bundle, so to win one of the awards is a dream come true. I had a lot of fun watching the other entries and am very excited to see what the other filmmakers do next!
JB: A huge thank you to Arrow Video and Celluloid Screams for shortlisting us in your incredible line-up - it’s been a huge boost for us during this strange and unusual time. After visiting FrightFest as fans, then screening our short Wither in the FrightFest shorts showcase in 2019, and now winning Arrow’s lockdown Audience Award in 2020, the only way is up and we’re truly thankful for the happiness these events have brought us!
If you’d like to follow Ethan & Jess in their next venture, you can connect with them on social media via: @JessBFilm @ethanevansfilm @terrorarcade.
Re-discover STAGNANT – the entry that won the public’s heart over - here: