Recently, a feature film titled ‘Lights Out’ was released. We have chosen to research into the journey of how this film was made. Originally, ‘Lights Out’ was a three minute short directed by David F. Sandberg, starring his wife Lotta Losten. Sandberg entered it into ‘Britain’s Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge’. It didn’t win, it didn’t even become a finalist but he did win best director and the short film went viral on Vimeo, YouTube and various other social media platforms.
In the following months, Sandberg was bombarded by attention from managers, agents, producers etc. before being approached by Lawrence Grey, a former Fox Searchlight executive, after discovering the short film on Reddit. Grey had the perfect collaborator in mind: James Wan, director of many successful horror film franchises such as Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring. ‘Lights Out’ became the first film James Wan produced under his new production banner, Atomic Monster.
Despite, James Wan’s initial skepticism, the feature length film went on to produce a 900% profit. However, my real interest lies in the budget of the initial short film, which was budgeted between £2000-£3000 and went on to gross over $450 million. They built a dolly system using bits and bobs bought from Ikea and most likely either rented or hired filming equipment for a limited time to make the short film.
‘Lights Out’ is proof that hobbyist films can go onto make money, which links in with our design to sell project. Even though we may not make immediate money, in the future, our work may be scouted and we may even be commissioned.