By Joel Dryden
CALGARY — We’ve written a few months ago about Horse Mask, a local “surreal” horror web series we’ve been keeping our eyes on. Lucky for us, writer Jun K. Lee and director Hussein Juma are ready to unleash the first episode exclusively here on BeatRoute.ca. We asked Juma a few questions about the first episode (watch below) to set the tone.
BeatRoute: What’s the series about?
Hussein Juma: Horse Mask is a surreal horror-drama web series centering around a missing daughter, a number of perplexing masks, human skin, and a mysterious forest.
BR: Where did your inspiration come from?
HJ: Originally, the project was a feature film, the first thing Jun K. Lee and I collaborated on. At the time, we were watching a lot of David Lynch, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Michael Haneke. The idea came about when he asked me what would scare the crap out of me, and my daughter was two years old at the time. So, we came up with the missing daughter storyline and went from there.
BR: Are you still planning on turning this into a feature film?
HJ: We’re just trying to focus on getting the first season out there at this point. I still have the feature in the back of my mind but we’d have to shoot the second season before that could happen.
BR: If you were to go that route, how would you manage this standing on it’s own as a web series but still working as a feature?
HJ: With it being an indie production, and us having to wear many hats at any given time, that has sadly fallen to the wayside. I think about it when I’m editing each episode, but then I get caught up in the maelstrom.
HJ: It’s been a really good way to keep our skills sharp by having to make something every three or four weeks. Plus, there’s lots of things we’ve wanted to try out, different shooting styles, new equipment, special effects, etc. We’ve had to learn how to keep viewers interested and not want to click away after 30 seconds. It’s challenging and fun and a lot of hard work.
BR: What’s the Calgary indie horror scene like these days?
HJ: There’s definitely a few horror filmmakers out there but it’s hard to get noticed making a genre that still has some stigma attached to it. There is definitely a community out there and they support late night screenings put on by Night Terrors and CUFF [Calgary Underground Film Festival], which is awesome. Those are the eyes we have to get this series in front of.
BR: What do you hope people will take away from the series?
HJ: We’ve tried to transport our original feature film idea into this modern serialized format that TV viewers are hooked on complete with cliffhangers, humour and of course, horror. Trying to blow their minds with our own special brand of surreal drama in eight to 10 minutes.
BR: What scares you?
HJ: High interest rates, the low Canadian dollar and the real estate market. Just kidding. Things that go bump in the night. Or when I open my eyes in the middle of the night and my seven-year-old daughter is just randomly standing in front of me like something out of a J-horror flick. That’s pretty shit-your-pants-inducing.AB, Alberta, Horse Mask, Hussein Juma, Jun K. Lee, web series