End of the Road

Funding a feature-length film through crowdsourcing requires more than luck. It only seems to work if you have a huge pre-existing audience or a devoted cult following. A team of filmmakers decided to “get the ball rolling on [their] feature-length werewolf movie” by creating a stand-alone short film to woo studios and investors. Their 2013 campaign met its goal, and they got to work.

The result, a 10-minute horror film called End of the Road, feels like a particularly vicious Tales from the Crypt episode. Writer/director J. Spencer’s screenplay puts archetypical characters in an enclosed space and then lovingly surveys the carnage. There’s no world-building and no deep character exploration – the surprise is that everyone is exactly who you think they are – but the point is not to win an Oscar. The point is to grab audiences and investors by the shoulders, point to the beautifully-composed shots, endearingly-rendered characters (big Travis fan, here) and gore-splattered windows and say “look at the cool shit we did with $23,000… now imagine if we had a bigger budget”.

End of the Road isn’t simply a means to an end. It stands on its own as a brutal, funny and supremely-well-made horror short. There are flourishes of pacing and character detail that delighted me so thoroughly that after watching it once, I immediately started it again and attempted a goofball live-tweet session.

It’s not perfect – some of the dialogue clunks, and the werewolf design seems to vary significantly depending on whether or not it’s in focus – but perfection isn’t the point, either. J. Spencer and his colleagues are making the case for a feature-length werewolf project (which he teased in a message to me, and which sounds awesome), and in demonstrating their capabilities, they’ve created an aesthetic showcase that exemplifies the strength of crowdfunding, and the power a group of creative people can wield when they’re truly passionate about something.

You can watch End of the Road for free right now by asking for a download link and password on their Facebook page. There’s also an excellent behind the scenes gallery on the Unmanned Media web site.

Also, just putting this out there: I would pay to watch a Wes Anderson style movie about a day in the life of Travis.