Top 5 Reasons Why Horror Is Perfect For Indie Filmmakers - Raindance

From the days of the legendary Hammer Studios to the Blair Witch Project, horror has been a very powerful genre since the beginning of film. With classics such as Frankenstein, Dracula, Nosferatu and more recently films such as The Shining, Paranormal Activity or The Conjuring, it seems people just like going into a dark room to be scared. And as it turns out, horror movies can be a good start for indie filmmakers. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Write with rules

When starting out as a filmmaker, you have to learn the ropes. Just like any fantasy, science fiction or any specific genre, you have to make your way through rules that come with the territory. That can be a good thing. Creativity can be seen as an endless flow of ideas that doesn’t concern itself with rules – except that the constraints of working within a certain frame can actually help be more relevant and make for more engaging stories.

2. Horror is about high-concept

Basically, horror films are perfect for a film narrative. Most horror stories before cinema were constrained to short stories or novellas (see the work of Edgar Allan Poe), and few were full-scale novels. Movies are usually about one or two ideas that carry the plot and story over the course of roughly two hours, and the pitch can be done in just about one sentence. In a remote countryside house, a thrift shop doll starts talking to children in their head.

3. Horror can be done for a low-budget

Horror is all about the fear, and the suggestion thereof. The reason people were so tantalised by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was precisely because of his decision not to show the shark until halfway through the movies. Therefore you don’t have to spend tens of thousands to frighten people – less is more. Not going to the scale of Jaws, take a look at The Blair Witch Project, which was made for a little over $20k. As Martin Scorsese once put it, cinema is about what’s in the frame and what is out. Horror tends to focus more on what is out. Which makes it cheap to shoot.

Raindance has pioneered low-budget filmmaking. Why not try our signature Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking course? It’s a weekend long class that will explain to you how to write, direct, produce and monetise a low budget feature.

4. People like to be scared

Since the beginning of times, philosophers have been thinking about that topic. Aristotle thought that people went through a catharsis when being scared by something that they knew were happening in the fake environment of the stage. Horror plays with our deep-seated fears and insecurities -not unlike dreams. So let’s just assume that this is not going to run out any time soon.

We have an entire article for you on this topic.

5. Horror has a strong following

Horror is a sub-culture that has loads of devoted followers. It has its own film festivals, its own film markets and is still sort of considered as a niche, which means that there is plenty of room for young filmmakers to make their own path into this realm.

So what are you waiting for ? Let’s get slashing cracking !

PS: Through Raindance Raw Talent, we produced Mark Rogers‘ cult psychological thriller Deadly Virtues: Love. Honour. Obey which was directed by Ate de Jong (Drop Dead Fred). It comes out on september 28th in the UK. You can pre-order a copy here. You can see the trailer below.



Baptiste is a writer hailing from the part of France where it is always sunny. After a stint in politics and earning his Master's Degree in Management, he was a marketing intern for the 23rd Raindance Film Festival in 2015, then joined the team permanently in 2016 as the Registrar of the MA in Filmmaking. He is passionate about diversity in film, which he researches and writes about extensively. He is the producer of the hit webseries "Netflix & Kill" and the multi-award-winning short film "Alder", as well as a writer for stage and screen. His short film "U Up?" is currently in pre-production.