Screaming and crying can often be heard coming from the Melbourne WebFest offices, but for once, it’s not the sound of us torturing the interns. Much to the dismay of our more squeamish Jurors, we’ve had an impressive amount of thriller and horror-oriented submissions in 2018, blowing our socks off…
Some of these eerie masterpieces include Zombie Ztories (FRA), Burkland (BEL) and Event Zero (AUS).
These select web series are dedicated to the examination of the gorier aspects of the human condition and how we as humans cope in times of fear.
But why are we, as living organisms, drawn to fear and terror for our own viewing pleasures? Dimitri Kourtchine, writer and director of the web-series Zombies Ztories, explores exactly this.
“I thought that it might be interesting for me to try to understand my own fears. Why it scares so much. And apparently not only me but also a lot of people, as the Zombies are clearly the most popular monsters for the past 10-15 years… So the main questions became why it is so scaring? How does it reflect some profound fears of our civilisation?” says Kourtchine.
Today, the Zombie is everywhere. Examining its history in pop-culture, Zombies Ztories is a documentary that explores the part monsters and deadly creatures play in our society, and come to terms with why the Zombie lights up our deepest fears better than any other beast.
“The movies that interest me the most are the ones that combine political and aesthetical senses, and the ones that were perceived as scary at the time of their release. This is the case for most of George Romero’s movies,” says Kourtchine.
Zombies Ztories indulges in the minds of many Zombie experts in today’s society from many different zombie oriented backgrounds, but none more notable than the late and great, George Romero.
“He put on his famous glasses and when I started recording he was suddenly full of life and humour. This was the George Romero we all knew.” says Kourtchine.
“I think that we were sadly some of the last people to interview George Romero, which makes our time with him very special…After asking one of my questions, I really felt his surprise; which was a moment I really liked, hence I kept it in the series. I had the impression that it was little bit more than a simple interview, but rather a meeting”, Kourtchine said.
Kourtchine says the purpose of the documentation suited the web format perfectly and aligns with the Zombie, “It is a monster that evolved a lot through history, and each creator made it stand for something different, so it was great to be able to treat each aspect in different episodes.”
One thing that Kourtchine would like his web series fans to take away is the reminder that “fear is a dangerous feeling, keep it for movies.”
Zombie Ztories discusses Donald Trumps 2016 presidential campaign and how it was revealed by Jared Kushner that the Walking Dead was used as an influence.
Enzo Tedeschi, director and producer of Event Zero knows first hand of the eery connection that Trump has with apocalyptic cinema, as his very own project resembled a self-fulfilling prophecy after Trump was elected.
“Trump was elected while we were in production, and by the time we completed post, we were seeing pages of our script come to life on the news. It was actually pretty unsettling,” says Tedeschi.
“I think it’s these kinds of heightened circumstances that give you the opportunity to explore some pretty outlandish behaviour in people that would otherwise not be as believable.”
Event Zero is a pulse-pounding action thriller set in Sydney, Australia. The protagonist, a suspended cop by the name of Leyla Nasser, takes it upon herself to expose the truth behind a terror attack in the form of a highly contagious, highly deadly virus that is sweeping through the CBD of Sydney.
“We used colour grading very consciously, not just to separate aspects of the story (warmer hues for the halls of power, colder for the city itself), but also I wanted to elicit a feel of the cinema of the 70s and 80s – very bold colour looks and desaturated tones with a gritty feel. The desired outcome was stark and bleak, essentially, but with a bit of ‘retro Hollywood’ about it,” Tedeschi explained.
Event Zero explores themes like trust, media manipulation and how easily social engineering can take over in times of panic. “If people come away debating the content in any way, that’s a huge win for me,” Tedeschi says.
Mystery is a prominent feature in scary films and series. What happened? Who was murdered? Why is that black haired girl crawling out my telly?
Burkland has all you could want and more, with a thrilling and absolutely perplexing storyline that’ll have you on the edge of your seat wanting more.
Burkland is a suspenseful, borderline horror that centres on a young journalist trying to investigate the mystery of a small town that has been completely abandoned after an unknown catastrophic event takes place. It ingeniously utilises smartphones as the main tool for viewing and as a medium to shoot a majority of the scenes with.
“I wanted to immerse the spectator as much as possible. We knew that most web series are watched on a smartphone… so let’s just give the audience smartphone images,” says Gregory Beghin, director of the Belgian web series, Burkland.
The biggest challenge faced by Beghin and his team was using the smartphone to shoot with. “Most of the scenes have no cuts. It’s always a long set up and it takes times.. what we did not have.”
One of the most notable features that Beghin employed is the use of binaural sound. When you watch the show with earphones, it’s not just stereo, the sound is going all around you.”
So if you’re planning to dive deep into this web series, don’t forget to bring your headphones along for the ride!
Watch these web series and hear from creator Enzo Tedeschi at Melbourne WebFest 2018.