Scare Me is a new film by writer, director and actor Josh Ruben. The project premiered at Sundance on Friday, January 24th and represents Ruben’s feature directorial debut. The film takes place in the Catskill Mountains during a power outage, where two strangers - Fanny and Fred - tell a series of scary stories. The more they commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in the dark of the cabin.
Fred (played by Ruben), is a frustrated copywriter who has checked into a winter cabin to start his first novel. He meets Fanny (Aya Cash) while jogging in the woods and learns she is a successful - and smug - horror author in her own right, which fuels his insecurities. During a power outage, Fanny challenges Fred to tell a scary story. As a storm sets in, they pass time telling spooky tales, fueled by the tensions between them. Fred is forced to confront his ultimate fear - that Fanny is the better storyteller.
The feature was shot by Brendan H. Banks and edited by Patrick Lawrence. Here, Lawrence details his work on the project.
How did you get involved in cutting Scare Me?
“I was really blessed to have worked with some incredibly talented directors and producers over the last few years, who referred me to our hilarious director, Josh Ruben, as he had been asking around about which editor he should hire for his first feature.
“I went to meet Josh for coffee one day in March 2019 and thought he was standing behind me in, but when I turned around I was starring right into the big blue eyes of Chris Pine. Eventually Josh did show up, and we really hit off... and we both agreed that seeing Wonder Woman’s boyfriend meant it was our destiny to work together.
“I was sold on the concept of the film before I came on. The production team at Irony Point had already created a very effective proof-of-concept trailer to help raise money for post production. They sent it to me as we were discussing the project and I saw that Scare Me was unlike anything I’d ever done...Scare Me is a metafictional horror-comedy that takes place entirely in the comforts of a secluded cabin in the woods, with a cast of just three actors telling scary stories over 100 minutes. There’s werewolves, creepy grandpas, trolls and an evil version of American Idol all appearing within the shadowplay of each creepy tale. It blends comedy and horror so seamlessly that you’re never quite sure if you should be terrified or laughing your ass off...and that is the genius of Josh Ruben.
What format was it shot on?
“Scare Me was filmed digitally at 4096x2048 using a Red Epic-W Helium with modified Canon FDn Prime lenses. We transcoded to ProRes 422 (LT) using DaVinci Resolve for editorial.”
Can you talk a bit about your workflow?
“For this project, my assitant editor Jordan Thomas created ProRes 422 (LT) dailies using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. He then imported the dailies into (Adobe) Premiere and synched our production sound to picture using the Synchronize feature, based on timecode. Because of the variations in performance and improvisation on set, JT set markers for each take and catalogued them for me in the Markers panel.
“The brand new Freeform viewer allowed me to organize my scene bins so that I could view every take grouped together by their angle. This was a welcome change from the past, where I would typically string out all my takes into one sequence and then scrub through to find the best takes.
“Another important element of Scare Me was our use of sound and how it emphasized the intensity of a specific moment during the stories. Because much of the scariness in our tales comes from how our actors manipulated their bodies and voices on set, we had to equally manipulate them within the edit to know how the effect worked before sending off to sound design. For that we used Adobe Audition to bridge over specific lines of dialogue so that we could transform Aya Cash into a creepy old grandpa or make Josh Ruben sound like a vicious werewolf on the prowl. The speediness of the bridge allowed us to makes these transformations in realtime and put our minds at ease.”
Is there a scene that you would call attention to because of the editing challenges or success in helping to tell the story?
“The greatest hurdle we dealt with on Scare Me was how to trim the film down from two hours and 10 mins to a more manageable 100 minutes. The issue with this was we have five scary stories being told in a linear and continuous narrative, making it very difficult to lift or eliminate any problematic scenes. Unfortunately, we ran into just that issue when one of the scenes in the film was just not working for our test screenings... nd lifting it all together would not make sense for the narrative progression of the film.
“Director Josh Ruben and I were forced to roll up our sleeves and get creative with how we presented the story in question in order to keep it in the film, while still cutting it down from its original 11-minute run time. I suggested using the erratic emotions of our characters to motivate faster cuts, with no real linear path for the story to be told, while at the same time using an eerie piece of score to turn the story into a montage/recap so that the audience could pick up the finer beats of the scene, without having to sit through the entire thing. The end result is one of the funniest scenes in the entire film, and our follow up test audiences absolutely loved it.”
The original score was created by Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez as Elegant Too. To learn more about Scare Me, visit http://ironypoint.com/scare-me.