An Interview With Andy Chen of Locust Garden Pictures

We're all fans of horror here and spend a lot of time watching old movies, new movies, bad movies, and great ones. We watch b-movies and arthouse films alike, but an art form you may truly be missing out on are movie shorts. Short films are almost always under 30 minutes and mostly under 10 minutes for that matter. Its great for directors with low budgets, but creates new challenges in creating a cohesive story or feeding you a convincing string of events that leaves you in terror. Watching shorts is a great way to discover new and upcoming writers, directors, and producers; and if you're anything like Andy Chen you might just do all three.

I discovered Andy when I was scouring the internet for something new to watch. I found a film posted on YouTube from the first day of the new year - Close Your Eyes. It was only 3 minutes and 45 seconds, which, even for a short... is short. I was stunned by the lighting and the ability to create an eerie atmosphere that pierced my senses on the first watch. I was filled to the brim with fear which is a diamond in the rough these days. I was interested in the characters by their first interaction and the questions that blossomed from it. I wanted to know more. So, I reached out to the man himself to find out his method to this madness.

"What influenced 'Close Your Eyes' and what kind of production goes into a short less than 4 minutes long?"

Close your eyes was actually inspired by real events. I used to live with my friend Josh. The guy that took over my room in that apartment apparently has been hearing things like knocking in the house and has had dreams of a spirit haunting him. “She told me if I close my eyes, she would tell me secrets” was something that he actually told my friend Josh. The whole thing was super scary in real life. So I just wanted to see if I could fictionalized it and make it even scarier. The full production was about 10 of us. I rented a house for about 8 hours and we shot the whole thing in a night.

"That film has won a couple of awards already. What is it about this film in particular that makes it "award-winning"?"

Its won 2 awards out of 3 festival placements so far. I honestly have no idea what makes it award winning. I just submit it to where ever I can and hope that people like it.

"'The Drowned Lady' is utterly terrifying. For those of us who may not understand what goes into special effects and post-production editing, how much time and resources goes to making her appearance and movement perfect? What kind of costuming and makeup did Maddi have to go through?"

She spent the entire day putting the makeup on. Probably a good 6 hours doing makeup and we only really filmed her parts for the last 2 hours or so. Jay, the make up artist, has insane skills. Him and Maddi work together a lot and I had been seeing their photoshoots for a while now so I thought they would be perfect for this. Maddi also does scare acting for haunted houses and stuff so it’s almost like she’s had years of practicing for this. Not much post production work needed to be done for her at all.

"When you're putting a film together, what do you look for in a crew for production? Is it a lot of the same friends you know? Do you advertise for additional help?"

Lately I’ve been trying to keep crews smaller just to keep budgets smaller. My last 3 short films have just been a crew of mostly friends and maybe 1 or 2 new people. If I need a specific position filled, I might ask someone for a recommendation but I’m not opposed to advertising for help.

"You seem very dedicated to your craft which you've made apparent in over 5 years of writing and directing film. Based on that experience and knowledge, what direction do you see horror going in the years to come? What trends will be sticking around and which ones will be gone in just a short time?"

I don’t know if it’s a trend or if it’s more of just an evolution of horror but the wave of “post-horror” of the past 5 years have been pretty amazing. With Ari Aster and Jordan Peele both coming out with new movies this year, I can only imagine it getting better. But don’t get me wrong, I love a good paranormal jump scare movie and a mindless slasher flick too. I think there’s always going to be an audience for that.

"Is there any possibility that you'll be producing a full feature length film any time soon? If so, what can you tell us about that?"

I would LOVE to make a feature film. If I can pull it off this year, that would be amazing. I’m always trying but at the moment I don’t have anything in the works.

Favorite horror films?

Evil Dead 2, Get Out, Hereditary

What wisdom or advice would you give to aspiring young filmmakers?

Don’t be afraid to just make films and make mistakes. Even if you don’t have any money or resources, utilize what you do have and find creative ways to tell stories from the things around you. I used to just spend all my time reading, and watching and studying film because I didn’t feel confident enough to make anything but there’s only so much you can learn from books. Real life experience teaches you a whole lot really fast.

How can people keep up with what you have going on?

I have my website but I mainly just post a lot of stuff on my IG @locustgarden

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