Canadian Todd Brown is the founder and editor of TwitchFilm.com, a global film resource read by festival programmers, filmmakers, and fans from around the world. Todd is the director of international programming at Fantastic Fest, and a producer of films such as Time Crimes, The Raid, and The ABCs Of Death. Here, in honor of Indiegogo Horror Month, he shares how genre films are among the most diverse in Hollywood—something which makes them only more fantastic.
Genre fans are a bunch of adrenaline junkies and if you’re a fan of diversity on screen that’s a very good thing. Genre film is the place to find rich and diverse voices from a broad range of cultures and backgrounds.
Everybody knows you can’t have the same thrill twice, so genre aficionados are always out there looking for the next fix. Genre is the one space where people really want the new thing. In the past month I’ve done the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest back to back, and in that stretch I’ve been witness to Maori warriors (The Dead Lands), duelling Japanese hip-hop gangs (Tokyo Tribe), Chilean martial arts (Redeemer), and Australian ghosts (The Babadook). The one thing that binds all of these things together is an audience unsatisfied with the norm—and audience who wants to experience something new. And they’ll happily go anywhere to get it.
It’s been my experience that the genre audience are also among the most likely to value the act of creating something new, enough so that they’ll throw down to help support it. Take Mattie Do’s recent Indiegogo campaign for her upcoming horror film Dearest Sister as an example. Do’s the first female director to come from Laos, and let’s pause for a second: Hands up anyone who has actually seen a Laotian movie. Yeah? If your hand is up, it’s probably because you saw her first feature film— a ghost story called Chanthaly. Do wanted to tell a tale of gender roles and economic inequality in her second feature, and if she’d packaged that up as an art-house drama…the idea wouldn’t have fared so well. But wrapped up as a horror tale, Dearest Sister not only hit its fundraising goal, but beat it by a solid thirty percent. It’s now set to be the most expensive Laotian film ever made. Why? In large part because genre fans are wonderful people who want to see crazy things, and will throw down to make that happen.
Genre film is sometimes dismissed as being immature or inferior to other forms of filmmaking. And, yeah, some of it is. Some of it’s horrible. But the great advantage of genre is that if you’re a filmmaker, it’s the one place where an audience is sure to seek you out. This is the one place where the only thing that matters is if you’re good, and if you are, the audience will be there for you. That’s why I pray I’ll never grow up to the point that I stop appreciating a good scare.