Case Study: The Hangman Inspired by horror stories he read as a child, Tim Sagl now directed his own horror short film The Hangman.
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Case Study: The Hangman

Inspired by horror stories he read as a child, Tim Sagl now directed his own horror short film The Hangman.

Horrorfan Tim Sagl now celebrates his directing debut with his horror short film The Hangman which was immediately selected for the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam. In the following he talks about his first project.

“Making a first film is not easy, maybe a bit scary but also a lot of fun.”

24 september 2018

Scary childhood games

“The idea of a cursed Hangman game came to me as a child. I’ve read a lot of horror comics and ghost-stories which scared and entertained me at the same time. I liked how storytellers used simple things or situations and combined these with supernatural elements.”

“With this movie I tried to bring these monsters into the daily life situations and show that danger could be everywhere; in this case it’s a child’s play that makes you feel unsafe in your own home. While everyone played Hangman as a child, I always found the drawing of a hanged person some kind of terrifying. That’s what later became the story of The Hangman, which is also a hommage to campy horrorstories and movies, that inspired me as a child.”

Writing the script

“I wrote the first draft around 7 years ago. While I had no experiences with filmmaking I just started to write some short horror-stories. I watched a lot of horror shorts by first time directors and wanted to make my own low budget movie. In the beginning I wanted to make a very short film around 3 minutes. During my second study, a filmschool in Brussels, I finally learned more about filmmaking, which helped me to continue writing.”

“During the writing process I got a lot of tips from Remy Kooi and Jeroen Mourmans. We changed the script and the story became a bit longer. Together we had a lot of ideas how to realise the shots and after a few more rewrites we finished the shooting script. Because I like writing, I worked on the screenplay until the day we started filming.”

A chance to realise the project

“After I pitched the project to CineSud I received some funding for the project. From this point on I realised that I had a chance to make my first short horror movie. This was also very exciting, because I still did not have a lot of experience in filmmaking. During the first year in filmschool I learned a lot about film productions but CineSud helped me to find other filmmakers around my region. I didn’t know that there were so many passionate filmmakers in Limburg but the CineSud network helped me to find a crew. Very soon we found a director of photography, who helped me to translate the script into interesting shots.”

“In pre-production we had some troubles to find the right location. After a long period of location scouting we finally found a great villa in Belgium and the owners were very interested in our project, so we had the opportunity to film in their rooms and could prepare the night scenes.”

Night Shots

“Beside the production, the whole filming process was a bit exciting for me because this was my first production outside some small school-projects. Luckily the whole cast and crew where very motivated and we had a lot fun during the shoot, even when it was cold outside and became late during the nightshoot.”

“Overall the production went fine, even when it was difficult to shoot everything within 2 days because all scenes take place at night. Although everything was prepared before the shooting days, we had to fight the time, especially the hanging-scenes took a lot of time and were very difficult to shoot. Sadly we couldn’t film all shots on location, so we had to plan an extra shooting day in a studio a few weeks later where we finished the shots.”

The power of editing and sound

“First I edited the movie on my own. To give the movie a trashy or B-movie feeling we added a lot effects in post production. This was done by Remy Kooi, who created all special and digital effects. Not all scenes worked as we hoped but we found some creative solutions to tell the same story and delete some shots from the edit.”

“For the Audio Post I worked together with Sander Pleijsier and Clemens Wijers. Clemens plays in the horror rock band Carach Angren. Because of his musical background Clemens knows a lot about music in genrefilms and added the right vibe to the style and tone of the movie, which refers to the B-movies of the 80’s.”

Getting public

“The film was finished in the end of 2017. Since then the film has been shown by some genre festivals in Texas, Italy and Portugal. In April the film was part of the Imagine Film Festival in Amsterdam. We also showed the film in a market screening in Cannes. Till now, september 2018, we received more than 15 festival selections, which is a great honour.”

“First I was a bit scared to show the film. It’s a first time project and I learned a lot about filmmaking but also made some mistakes. To show a movie on festivals is a totally new experience for me because it’s always very exciting how people will react. I hope to learn a lot from these selections and get some tips for some potential future projects.”

Learning from first projects

“Making a first film is not easy, maybe a bit scary but also a lot of fun. As a first time director you’ll learn a lot by getting tips from other makers. Maybe your first film is not what you really wanted to make, and maybe not even your second. But with every new movie you’ll get better. So don’t give up and take a lot of tips from other filmmakers.”

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