"VENTRIS" DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT
The idea of shooting something like Ventris started when I first wanted to become a filmmaker. Growing up my favorite films always included puppets-Critters, Gremlins, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Muppets, Dark Crystal etc. I also grew up loving comedies like American Pie and Ace Ventura. So as a filmmaker my goal was to one day make a film combining all my favorites and to use actual hand puppets, therefore all inspiring Ventris.
An official script was written, then my wife and I designed the puppet. We had a friend who toured as a puppeteer with The Jim Henson Company and was willing to puppeteer for us, but also put us in contact with someone who could make a custom puppet for us. Once that process was complete, we began casting for the short film, trying to find the perfect group of actors who could pull off the comedic relationships I wrote. Knowing that we only had a small budget to create a short, finding the perfect cast was a must in order to really portray what I wanted to come across, which was a group of friends with great banter and history.
Once we found the perfect cast we began rehearsals with two puppeteers, cast, and crew. It was everyone’s first time working with a puppet on film, so we wanted to make sure the movements and steps in every department were all well calculated before shooting dates.
We chose not to rely on a plethora of visual fxs when it came to the puppet, other than a few green screen shots. Nor did we remove any of the puppets rods because I intended to shoot it with plans for each camera move. I wanted it to be as close to practical puppeteering and filming as possible. We were able to finish Ventris in three shooting days, each day consisting of about 6 hours and only a total of about 10 people in our crew, all wearing multiple hats during production. My wife and I shot, edited, scored, and developed this whole short in hopes to prove we can not only tell a story in a short amount of time, but show the possibility of how fun bringing puppets and horror back together can be.
The action is this puppet (Ventris) comes to earth and wreaks havoc on a group of college kids who are having a backyard party. They have their own drama already going on, drinking, jealous ex girlfriends, and sex driven egos. So when Ventris lands, it’s quite the distraction from their problems. Once the Ventris’s land, their main goal is to kill the male population in order to dominate and impregnant the females. By doing this they hope to create a new world of powerful hybrids. In the short we only show a little bit of what the Ventris is capable of, and we find our final girls standing at the end learning why it’s here and as result are not very happy about it. Having final girls in my film was more than just a cliche, I really want this short and the feature to show the powerfulness that can come from a group of woman when they come together with one main goal, this goal being, defeating these aggressive Ventris.
The full length feature of Ventris holds so much potential for a story that can not only be fun, but have an impact on audiences. We discover the problem Ventris runs into is Women are a lot more challenging than it expected and he is faced with a fight from who he came to conquer. For a long time we have viewed woman, especially in horror, as sexual objects (such as Venrtis does). A chance to show a movie where a group of diverse woman who may not normally associate, can come together and put up a fight.
This script was developed with the intentions of having a puppet on screen that was both comedic and terrifying. We really wanted to bring something with Iconic potential back into the Horror genre. Something that can develop into multiple films, television episodes, cartoons, merchandise, and more. A character that has personality and has the love to hate and hate to love factor audiences enjoy. I also wanted to challenge myself as a filmmaker and create an environment where you almost forgot you were interacting with puppeteers. Watching horror and comedy movies was always my escape from reality, I wanted to create something like that. I want the audience to have fun, fall in love with the characters, the puppet, and finish watching it, wanting to see more.
I’ve taken away a lot of experience and have grown as a filmmaker while making this project. It has taught me to not let the possibility of budget restraints get in the way of a great idea. I was able to take something I have wanted to do for a long time and make it, which is motivation to want to do it even bigger and better if given the chance.
One of the greatest things Ventris has brought on, is the fact we have people who have fallen in love with the idea of Ventris and the puppet. Fans have bought stickers, prints, and posters without even seeing the short. To me this is the biggest honor as a filmmaker, creator, and story teller.
To have people appreciate something you put your heart and passion into, is the reason I do what I do.