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All about horror movie Episode 13, shot in the found footage format

A TV show director found an inhabited house locked from the outside. Now, he’s turning it into a crowdfunded horror film

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Mar 21, 2016 15:39 IST
Poorva Joshi
A still from the upcoming horror movie, Episode 13
A still from the upcoming horror movie, Episode 13

A TV show director found an inhabited house locked from the outside. Now, he’s turning it into a crowdfunded horror film.

In 2006, filmmaker Yogesh Raut (36) was directing Zee TV’s Mano Ya Na Mano — a series inspired by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hosted by actor Irrfan Khan, the show featured so-called real-life horror stories. A location scout for one such story led Raut to a residential complex in the heart of Aurangabad, in western Maharashtra. Little did he know, that 10 years later, this visit would cement the idea for the first ever Marathi found footage film.

During a morning tour in the area, Raut came across a house locked from the outside. “My guide said a family lived inside but nobody had seen them for eight years. They never came out, not even to collect newspapers or to buy groceries. I didn’t believe him at first,” says Raut.

Curious, he ended up visiting the house at night. “I couldn’t believe it. I heard people eat dinner and proceed to wash their plates. We saw shadows through the window. But the door was locked from the outside,” he says.

Raut developed an obsession of sorts with the house, and has now used the setting for a feature film set to release later this year. Titled Episode 13, the film is shot in the found footage format which follows a documentary-style narrative. “We wanted to capture the thrill of experiencing that creepy house. So we chose this format,” says Raut, who has directed and produced the film.

Lost and found

A popular film format in the west, found footage relies heavily on discovered footage. “Films like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and The Blair Witch Project (1999) first popularised the format. But the genre is unexplored in India. Love Sex Aur Dhoka (2010) was the first Indian feature-length, found footage film that was successful at the box office,” says scriptwriter Upendra Sidhaye (35), who wrote the dialogues for the award-winning film Killa (2015).

Also read: Meet the director behind the viral short film, Taandav, starring Manoj Bajpayee

Raut and Sidhaye finalised the script in 2012 and visited several producers for funds. Though the story received positive reviews, nobody was willing to back it because of its unusual narrative. “Producers wanted us to convert the script to Hindi and were sceptical about how the format would resonate with the audience. However, we were certain about making the film in Marathi — it’s our mother tongue after all,” says Raut.

So, Raut and Sidhaye teamed up with friends and pooled in their savings. The production began in Diwali 2014 in Tuljapur. The limited funds prompted Raut to turn to his hometown as the primary location of the shoot. “Luckily, we found an abandoned house behind my family home in the village. It had the perfect feel to it,” says Sidhaye.

The stroke of midnight

A fictional story about a TV crew who breaches the locked house, Episode 13 was shot only at night, a choice that presented challenges in terms of lighting and spooks. “On windy nights, the air used to gush through keyholes making an eerie whistling sound, which was terrifying. We realised that ambient sound would fit the script better and thus, the film has no background score,” says Sidhaye.

Currently in the final stages of edit, the crew has turned to crowdfunding to finance the remainder of the project. Made on a shoestring budget, Raut believes the film’s biggest strength lies in the theme and the resilience of the team behind it.

“Our actors are debutants and it is the first feature film for our director of photography and editor. The project is shouldered entirely by talent and faith, and a drive to bring something unique to the audiences,” says Raut.

Helping hand

To fund Episode 13, visit wishberry.in before April 10.