Professor to screen horror film at UCF Celebrates the Arts
Interior, a “part supernatural thriller, part sci-fi, part psychedelic experimental” film created by UCF lecturer Zachary Beckler, nearly failed to get off the ground during its earliest stages in 2012.
With only minutes left until the deadline for its fundraising goal on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, it appeared Beckler would come up short of his goal. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, on Kickstarter, if a campaign doesn’t raise enough money to meet its goal, it doesn’t get any money at all.
Zachary Beckler’s horror film Interior will be screened at the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m. as part of the UCF Celebrates the Arts Week.
“A friend of mine donated an extra $1,000 at the last minute,” Beckler said. “We wouldn’t have made it without him.”
After successfully raising $12,551 on Kickstarter, Beckler began the filmmaking process. At the time, he was working on Interior as his thesis requirement to receive an MFA in film from UCF. Beckler seemed pleasantly surprised but proud of the film’s success outside of academics.
“I have a fan base in Knoxville, Tennessee, that I didn’t even know about,” Beckler said. “They liked my short [films] and were really excited for my feature. That was a wonderful screening.”
Thanks to his unexpected fan base — which turned out about 100 people to see Interior — Beckler’s film won the audience award at the Knoxville Horror Film Fest in 2015. Interior has also won awards for Best Horror Feature at the 2015 Shriekfest Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles, Best Director and Best Sound Design at the NYC Horror Film Festival in 2015 and Best Thriller at the 2014 Atlanta Horror Film Festival, among others.
Interior, which follows a solitary filmmaker in a haunted suburban house, “is a digital journey through the unknown and beyond, a film about isolation amidst limitless online connectivity, and above all, a terrifying exploration of the horror that is the recorded image and what happens when what you see through the camera is different than what is there in the world,” according to a promotional description of the film.
“I always wanted to do a movie that was just one person alone in a haunted house … I thought that would be very isolating, very scary,” Beckler said from his office in the Nicholson School of Communication, where a cardboard cut-out of Freddy Krueger lurks on the wall behind him. “Horror affects you in a very unique way, in a negative way that you’re drawn to. It’s like being on a roller coaster.
“It’s not pleasant being on a roller coaster, but once you’re done with the roller coaster, [you think], ‘That was fun — I got to experience sheer terror in the environment and safety of a harness,’ and that’s what horror cinema is [like]. You experience these horrible things with the safety of being here right now in a theater and not actually there.”
Jon Perez, a UCF assistant film professor who worked on Interior as a first assistant camera, described what working on the film was like.
“It was a pretty collaborative environment, a group of people who know each other and are trying to make a film together. We had known each other for years,” Perez said. “[We were] working on a micro-budget project, [and] in order to accommodate not being paid, we were living in the house we were shooting in. It was like summer camp, there were a lot of antics.”
Beckler shared some advice for aspiring filmmakers.
“Don’t think about it. Just make it,” Beckler said. “Just keep making films. You’ll get better as you go along. And if you have limited means, come up with ideas that utilize those means in interesting ways.”
Story originally published April 15, 2016.
Alex Storer is a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future.