Dating back to his debut feature film, The Evil Dead in 1981, filmmaker Sam Raimi has been intrinsically linked with the world of horror, with his latest endeavor, Quibi's 50 States of Fright, seeing him explore not only new stories but an entirely new medium to frighten fans. Available exclusively on mobile devices, the new series brings together a wide range of genre talent to explore a number of urban legends, with each episode's history being tied to local folklore about unnatural occurrences. The premise proves to have endless amounts of potential to deliver fans an all-new approach to terrifying tales.
"The challenges of working in the format were a limited time to shoot like any television program would have, even though this is a new format, that limitation was the same, and limited resources," Raimi shared during a press event in which ComicBook.com participated. "These are not big-budget films. With 50 States of Fright, it was like making nine independent films. We didn't have the same sets that a TV show would have or the same wardrobe for your characters. But each of these shoots, each one of these the actors and wardrobe, was unique to the 24-minute show. So it came down to not relying on visual effects or a big-budget spectacle, but trying to get back to the basics of telling a simple story. That was both the challenge given by the format and the limitations of budgets. But also the advantage is that we knew that audiences dig good stories, and so that's where we put our focus."
This first season of stories comprises of frightening fables from nine states, though Raimi teased that the nature of the premise has already drawn the attention of talented filmmakers who want to bring their own stories for a second season.
"When writers and directors hear about the show, it seems like every one of them is coming up to the producers saying, 'Hey, I'm from Iowa. Can I tell my little ghost story that we used to tell back home?' or somebody comes from New York and says, 'There is this story of this haunted bridge I want to tell,'" Raimi revealed. "It seems like everybody has a horror story from their home state as it turns out, and all of these writers and directors want to do their home state. It's through no real imagination of the producers or myself that this is expanding. It has to be successful on Quibi first, but if it is successful, we've got a lot of writers and directors who want to tell their story from their place of origin."
As far as finding the initial slate of filmmakers, Raimi detailed, "They hear about the show through their agents and that we are looking for stories. And when they hear that they can tell a story from their local state, they come swarming to the producers. It is different than a normal horror story that you write. You normally look for a writer to write for you. There's a real passion for these stories and seems like, with maybe a few exceptions, these are stories that terrified these writers and directors as kids, and they experienced how frightening they were ... so it's really an unusual project in the sense that they are really independent mini-movies that seemed to be filled with passion by the storytellers."
Raimi himself directed "The Golden Arm," exploring an urban legend from his home state of Michigan. In addition to the production having a smaller budget than a film, each entry also has a shorter run time.
"It was about being precise and concise with the ideas. I remember my brother and I wrote a scene about Rachel [Brosnahan]'s character to describe how sad and lonely it was for her, and how difficult life would be when she'd lost her arm," Raimi detailed of his entry. "We really wanted to support the idea that she needed this golden arm, that she felt it was something that would complete her. But in trying to be precise, it became more powerful. And were reminded how smart the audience is and how far ahead of us they always are. We boiled it down to just a moment of Rachel in the garden, standing where she used to enjoy growing her flowers and being unable to. And a moment of embarrassment that she couldn't hold a bag of groceries in front of some children. And that's all we needed it turned out. When we boiled it down and we dug in deep with some little seeds and a little bit of fertilizer, then they can grow the idea in their head. It turns out this series is a reminder to me about the great quality of minimalism and how the audience really fills in the blanks."
50 States of Fright is now available on Quibi.
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