What keeps Kryshan Randel up at night? Apparently, Happy Planet Extreme Green smoothies. Last weekend, the Vancouver filmmaker stayed awake for 60 hours, interrupted by only three hours of shuteye, to write, direct and edit a gore-splattered five-and-a-half-minute movie for the Bloodshots 48-Hour Horror Filmmaking Challenge. And since Randel treats his lean body like a temple and has never let coffee pass his health-conscious, borderline obsessive lips, he stayed perky by pounding back one-litre bottles of the green slimy stuff, which lists blue-green algae, alfalfa, Pacific kelp and stinging nettle among its terrifying ingredients.
"It was definitely the least I've ever slept doing this," says the veteran of six Bloodshots contests. "The Happy Planet felt like it kept me going, but maybe it was psychological."
As far as rules go, Bloodshots is fairly straightforward. Twenty-five teams receive an information package containing a random horror subgenre, weapon, prop and line of dialogue. They then have 48 hours to write, shoot, edit and hand in their finished films, which must clock in under seven minutes. The public has until Monday to vote for their favourite movie online, while legendary horror director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead) serves as this year's grand jury judge. The films are then screened Oct. 31, 7: 30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre.
Although Bloodshots is an exhausting experience that can test even the healthiest person's tolerance for blue-green algae and Pacific kelp, Randel says the annual contest, now it its eighth year, not only hones his skills as a filmmaker but has led to several jobs, including a gig teaching a filmmaking class in Mexico.
"It's always the most fun I've ever had making movies, and it's also gotten me more career opportunities than a lot of things that I've spent more time and money on," says the 32-year-old, who's won two grand jury prizes, two audience awards and received nods for best director and best script for past Bloodshots efforts. Those films have gone on to screen at movie festivals around the world.
According to Bloodshots founder and organizer Kier-La Janisse, the appeal of making a film under such strict deadlines goes beyond a thirst for organic fruit drink and accolades.
"For a lot of them it's because they have all these mad skills and no time to make films of their own, whether it's because they're busy working on big budget films in order to pay the bills, or they just can't schedule everyone they know to be available at the same time. So the 48-hour timeframe is something that's easier for all their actors and crew to block off time for, even though it's gruelling as hell."
This year, Janisse added five new horror subgenres to the contest, including Bully Revenge, Creepy Coma Patient, Reincarnation Horror, Revisionist Fairytale and an old fave, Educational Safety Film. "For weapons, I just try to mix it up, but I don't expect the weapons to always be real- I don't expect someone to go out and buy a bear-trap. But maybe they can make one out of paper-maché!"
Randel and his team of two dozen were given the subgenre Reincarnation Horror, an occult text as their weapon, stitches for their prop and the line of dialogue "You haven't been yourself lately." The result is Seasick-a creepy little film set entirely on a boat, involving a fear counsellor who avenges her drowning death from a previous lifetime by luring her killer onto the high seas and doing all sorts of disturbing things to his doomed stomach. For the shoot, Randel and his crew spent 13 hours on the water, and even employed a remote controlled helicopter for an impressive overhead establishing shot.
"Horror is more forgiving of low budgets and sometimes you can use low budget to its advantage and make it feel more visceral or real," according to Randel, who says he slept for 14 hours once he handed in his movie.
As for his own horror-filled Halloween plans, Randel says he has a few costumes in mind, including dressing up as Ryan Gosling's brooding character in the movie Drive, though he hasn't been able to track down a satin jacket with a scorpion on the back like the one worn by Gosling. If that doesn't pan out, Ran-del says he might be forced to pull out last year's costume of another Hollywood hunk, although, fittingly, with a touch of the macabre.
"Last year I went as James Dean, and I had a steering wheel around my head."
To watch the Bloodshots entries, go to 2012.bloodshotscanada.com.
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