Recently we spoke with filmmaker Parker Finn about his film The Hidebehind which screened over the weekend at Portland Horror Film Festival. The film is a short horror tale that is best seen without any real info known info beforehand. The following interview spoils a few moments in the movie but does not fully give away the ending. You’ve been warned.
Andrew Hawkins: Give us a general spoiler-free idea of what people can expect from The Hidebehind.
Parker Finn: Sure. So, we meet a hiker who is lost in the forest and he’s injured. He’s desperately looking for help and he thinks he might see some help in the distance, but things take a turn for the worse from there.
AH: Well we just got done watching this with a ton of folks at the Portland Horror Film Festival who loved it. They dug the ideas that you show in the short, and one of the things that really gripped people was the creature especially. I wanted to ask you about what you mentioned at the Q&A regarding folklore. Tell us a little about the background for this and where the thought for this came from.
PF: Way back when in the old days of North American lumberjacks, the lumberjacks used to occasionally get drunk and go missing in the forest and they used to blame it on the Hidebehind which was kind of an inside joke. The joke was that there was a monster that you only ever heard and you’d never see it because every time you turned to look at it, it would hide behind a tree and it would hide behind any size or shape tree.
I was always interested in what that thing would actually look like. That was kind of the genesis.
AH: Are you a fan of old folklore? Did you grow up reading any kinds of scary stories or campfire mythologies? What’s your background with this kind of horror?
PF: I really love sort of the concept of any kind of boogeyman story. That’s always done something sort of special for me y’know. As a kid, some of the early movies that really stuck with me were things like A Nightmare on Elm Street and even to some degree The Thing. Just the idea of something inexplicable that is coming after you that you can’t escape is so nightmarish to me.
I don’t know. I’ve always held sort of like a little special place in my heart for that kind of storytelling.
AH: Well this film definitely has a boogeyman that’s effective in it. Without getting into what exactly happens, there was a resounding shock around the crowd and it was one of the films that we saw that had that kind of effect. You and a few others really got gasps and scares and it was great to see that reaction happen.
So, what’s your thinking behind building tension and building suspense until the scare? How do you go about that?
PF: I think any good scare is kind of like any good joke. There is a whole structure to it and you kind of have to walk this fine line of knowing what the audience’s expectation is, giving into that expectation in some ways, and pulling back and then really getting them with something unexpected.
It’s a combination of leading them on and then pulling the rug out from underneath them in a very clever way.
AH: Awesome. Well, I wanted to talk to you for a little bit about your background as a filmmaker and a writer and also who you worked with on this because the practical and visual effects in the film are fantastic. If you wouldn’t mind digging into that, I’d love to talk about your team and everyone who you want to mention who was involved in making this happen.
Visually, it’s a really tight film and it’s so well shot in the woods and this location that you used.
PF: Absolutely. Thank you for saying that first of all. I really appreciate that. It means a lot.
To start off with, my Director of Photography is a cinematographer named Daniel Clarke who is just absolutely brilliant at what he does. We work together to shotlist and storyboard everything down to every last shot you see in it has been planned in some way which is necessary to pull off something like this in a limited amount of time on a low budget.
As far as the special effects go, I worked with a very talented artist named Nelson Cooper who does effects and makeup. We worked together on a sculpt that became the reveal that you see. Nelson was on the SYFY network’s Face Off series and we linked up and found we had similar tastes in monsters. We’ve been working together and he’s working with me again.
And then for visual effects I worked with this really cool company, a very small house called Post Mango. They are very talented at what they do and very passionate about visual effects. They sort of jumped on the idea and loved it and really brought a lot of passion to it as well.
Rounding out the rest of my core team, my editor I worked very close way before the film was shot. We basically had the entire film cut before we ever shot anything, and we had it planned exactly how we were gonna do it. His name is Tristan Borys and we actually went to film school together and he’s basically one of my partners in crime on all of this stuff.
AH: It sounds like you’ve got a great team and hopefully you’ve got more coming that we can expect soon. I know you have a lot that you’re prepping right now and you’ve had a huge festival season this year. What do you have up next that you can talk about?
PF: We’re actually in pre-production on a new short film right now that we are hoping to shoot next month. Without going into too much detail, it’s another horror piece and we think we’re going to scare the pants off people with this one. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and I’m really really excited to shoot it and get it out there in the world.
AH: Right on. Well to wrap up, how was your experience at the Portland Horror Film Festival? What do you think about the crowd and the festival?
PF: I absolutely love it. Portland is such an awesome city and the Hollywood Theatre here is incredible and the crowd was amazing. The house felt pretty packed in there and the response was great.
I’m just really excited we got to be here and be part of it.
AH: Well, thank you for spending some time talking with us about your film. Anything you’d like to shoutout before we get going?
PF: I just wanna say thanks to the Portland Horror Film Festival for having us and yeah I’m excited for everybody to see The Hidebehind once it’s available.