“The terrifying moment for me was when we screened RAVERS at FrightFest (August 2018). I was scared shitless; that was my horror movie” says filmmaker Bernhard Pucher. “Watching the film and all its flaws I could see, but nobody else gave a shit about, and then waiting for the audience to react, having expectations and then surprises, it was easily the scariest thing I have ever done” he remembers. “And I’ve had two kids, and I ski, and I do plenty of reasonably dangerous things, but screening a film is something you only get to do now and then - it’s not something you can get used to.”


He explains that the reason for the anxiety is the film maker’s lack of control when they hand a film over to an audience, that differs from the power he’d experienced as a DJ. “When I played in front of a crowd, if a track wasn’t working I would just shift the tone or direction. I could work with the crowd as I was going – I can feel them out, and they can feel me out, and at some point, they’ll get what I’m doing. With a film that’s not an option because all the adjustments have been made, and the film doesn’t belong to me anymore, it belongs to the audience. I can’t give them any extra context or any extra ideas, and as a director, I certainly have an amount of control freak in me that not being able to control that anymore frightenes me.”


“Film making was never an ambition until I went to graphic design school in New York, where I took a video production class” recalls the film maker. He speaks of this, his first experience of film making with a childlike enthusiasm, describing it as “the best thing ever”, and how participation in that class and watching the movies that came out in 1999, he found himself “pushed in that direction by pure circumstance.” He continues, “I loved that year of movies so much that I tattooed the movies onto my arm: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, FIGHT CLUB, EYES WIDE SHUT, and I have the roses of AMERICAN BEAUTY.”


Discussing the challenge of making a film that goes beyond a dedicated audience, he explains, “It’s so tempting when you’re familiar with the genre to cater to the people that know it best because you know they’ll like it” says Pucher. “The problem is that you can be distracted by that and forget your more mainstream audience” he warns. “As a DJ and as a raver, I wanted to represent the scene reasonably authentically. Well obviously more fantastical, but I wanted to be genuine with the genre. So that meant I needed to cater to a group of people that needed to buy into it, and for who would be harder to buy into. It’s the same thing with the horror crowd, who have much higher standards for what constitutes a horror movie than the average joe, who would get scared by things much quicker, whereas an avid horror fan would end up laughing at it because he or she loves it so much.” He notes the, “very different visceral reactions between the two”, and how as a storyteller, one is confronted with uncertainty as to the creative direction for the film. “Riding that line is very difficult - you can either go more self-aware and become very meta with it, or you can go the other direction and forget the meta-ness of it and stick to the scares. And there’s no right answer.”



“We knew we didn’t want to make a serious dark horror movie - If we had taken the premise that seriously, we would have shot ourselves in the foot”   Pucher declares. “We always wanted to communicate the fun nature of the premise and the excitement of raves, while poking a little fun at the rave community, and that, of course, is pushed to the extreme. So to engage with the familiar, but on a fundamental level, we wanted to tell the story of Becky, who has to overcome her weaknesses to gain strength. So that’s the anchor that everyone can hook themselves into, and whether you are into the joke or not, that’s the film’s core.”


The filmmaker draws comparisons to SHAUN OF THE DEAD, explaining, “It’s very meta, but the core of the movie is Shaun and his relationship with his best friend. And as long as that is genuine, you can throw in as many self-aware references as you like.” He adds, “We didn’t go as far as SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and we certainly toned that down a bit with the horror references, but on the rave references there are a lot. None of those would distract you from watching it if you didn’t know any of those things. The key is that you need to have an honest emotional core, and everything else is the texture on top of that. As long as you keep that tone consistent throughout the film, then you’ve got something that can work for an audience.”


Paul Risker.


RAVERS is available on Digital Download 16 March.


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