By Sarah Mac
CALGARY — Following in the footsteps of horror masterminds we know and love, Hussein Juma and Jun K. Lee are not going to let a little blood and guts get in the way of their deranged dreams, but they will use it to achieve them.
Friends for years and partners in crime for almost as long, Juma and Lee have found creative bliss in each other’s morbid minds. Their first project together, Cat Mask (watch below), was filmed back in 2009 – a short written by Lee and directed by Juma. It seemed that everything just clicked after this pairing and they have been collaborating ever since.
They currently have a horror mini-series in the works entitled Horse Mask. The script for Horse Mask, which centres around “a missing daughter, a number of perplexing masks, human skin, and a mysterious forest,” is actually the first project Juma and Lee ever collaborated on, but due to the script’s absurdity, it was put on the backburner.
Lucky for us, they’ve decided to resurrect this film; which is fitting for a metaphysical-horror series. But instead of just releasing the film, they decided to turn it into a web series.
BeatRoute: How do you approach writing a mini-series?
Jun K. Lee: I would compare writing a mini-series to a newspaper/magazine serialized thrillers. The mini-series demands fireworks, shocking twists, audience manipulation, brevity; each episode needs to simultaneously retain its own arc while leaving the viewer dangling as it ends.
BR: How do you design each episode of the series to flow with the next and finish as a film?
Hussein Juma: An independent web series is kind of hard to get people interested in. We’re going for a more TV-show style so that at the end of each episode, people are like, “Holy crap, I can’t believe how sweet this is. When do I get to see the next one?”
BR: Have you always been fans of horror films? If so, did they help inspire you in your craft?
JKL: As a child my father and I would film elaborate fantasies on variations of Robin Hood, Peter Pan and other such boyhood heroes. I took part in making my first horror films in junior high, complete with soccer ball decapitations.
HJ: We make the kind of movies we want to see. Hopefully people are intrigued by the strange subject matter as well. We want to make people’s minds go kaboom. As a kid, I watched what any child of the ‘80s watched, plus a lot of slashers. As a film student, I happily absorbed everything they taught from French New Wave to Italian Neo-Realism. I think filmmakers like David Lynch, Michael Haneke and Kiyoshi Kurosawa have shaped the type of films I make now, with a little Takeshi Kitano thrown in. These influences definitely shaped the mood of my films the most. That balance between actual creepiness and unexplainable dread that is achieved through lighting, sound and framing.
BR: How did you acquire funding for this project?
HJ: It is completely self-funded and cast and crew are generously donating their time based on our good looks and their interest in the project. We generally work with the same awesome group of people. We hope to one day lavish them with champagne and caviar. For now they’ll have to settle for frozen pizza and high-fives.AB, Alberta, Cat Mask, horror, Horse Mask, Hussein Juma, Jun K. Lee, web series