Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
Exclusive Premiere: Pablo Absento’s Chilling Japanese Short Film, “SHI”!Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
Earlier this year at the Mile High Horror Film Festival in Littleton, Colorado, this writer encountered a film that was quite striking and intriguing: SHI, an eerie Japanese horror short from emerging fright filmmaker Pablo Absento. The film was quite haunting, and in the discussions that followed the festival, this writer learned that Absento’s ambitious streak did not end with SHI. Rather, Absento’s eye was focused on bringing an assembly of terrifying tales from Japanese Mythology to life in an upcoming monthly short film series simply entitled JAPANESE LEGENDS.
While Absento is currently in production of her first of the JAPANESE LEGENDS, FANGORIA is excited to present an exclusive one-on-one interview with the up-and-coming filmmaker about the project. Even more exciting, however, was Absento’s decision to use this platform to premiere SHI for the world at large to see for the very first time! So read on, fright fans, and be sure to check out SHI… if you dare…
FANGORIA: What has inspired you to take on this monthly short film project?
PABLO ABSENTO: I love telling stories via films; I have tons of ideas and my “ideas” folder increases every day. And I don’t want just to collect and keep them inside that folder. I want to tell as many stories as I can. Also I’d like to introduce Japanese folklore and urban legends to the world. The stories are going to be adapted and shown through my eye– the eye of a foreigner who’s lived in Japan for a quite long time.
Moreover, the horror genre of TV shows are getting more and more popular these days. I am a fan of some TV shows myself. So the idea of releasing something frequently without having to keep it out of the Internet like filmmakers all do for festivals seems really attractive to me.
FANGORIA: Are there any particular horror stories from Japanese folklore that you are excited to tell?
ABSENTO: I would like not to reveal all the details for the meantime to keep the audience on toes. But certainly there are a lot of stories to tell, and actually, I already have scripts for 7 of them. However there is one aspect I want to share right now about the project which will make it special: we are going to shoot in really haunted places! I have a list of locations I want to shoot at. Some of these locations are already scouted and they look perfect. Plus, one of the stories is planned to be filmed in Aokigahara, the famous Suicide Forest. I hope we survive!
FANGORIA: As a female director from Britain, what initially attracted you to Japanese horror stories?
ABSENTO: One of my hobbies is researching on different countries’ folklore. I’ve been truly fascinated by ancient myths and legends from all around the world since I was little. I have also always liked dark and scary stories, and Japanese folklore is one of the darkest and most mysterious of them all. I think it metaphorically echoes British/Celtic mythology at some points. It’s not only about “getting scared,” but also about learning things, reading between the lines, and understanding more about what the life is about.
FANGORIA: What is the production schedule looking like for a project this unique and ambitious?
ABSENTO: The perfect case scenario that I have in my mind for the production schedule is to release one episode every month. However I understand that it sometimes might be difficult due to the budget situation. That’s the thing: it’s really expensive to make films here in Japan and the tolls are often really discouraging.
Of course, I am looking for sponsors, but while doing so, I am going to shoot this project with my own money, and I would never save money sacrificing quality. My attitude is that if you make a film, it doesn’t matter if it’s a short or a feature, you make a piece of art. So I’d rather extend my deadlines a bit than make something that I’m not excited to show to people.
FANGORIA: Your film, SHI, was a festival favorite over the past year, and we’re excited to present it to the world. Can you tell our readers a bit about that particular project?
ABSENTO: SHI is an 8-minute short, filmed in Japan and based on a hybrid of Japanese and Western folklore and my own original story. It’s a mysterious, supernatural J-horror-ish film shot at a gorgeous location with creative cinematography, SFX makeup and computer special effects involved.
Yes, that’s true, SHI traveled around the world and won a lot of awards during its festival circuit over the past year. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend some of the festivals to support my work, talk to people, and hear different opinions. There often is a reaction like “Is that it?! I want to see more!” and actually that’s a compliment to me and my team
That was the point, of course: to make people want to see more. Shortly speaking, SHI short is a proof of concept for a feature. Hopefully it can become a feature this or next year.
FANGORIA: Is there anything specifically about the horror genre that you’ve learned in your time at genre-centric film festivals?
ABSENTO: Well, the horror genre is getting more and more popular day by day, and that’s a good news. The best things that I’ve learned are what I’ve learned from the people I’ve been lucky to meet. The passion and attitude of genre filmmakers and fans is amazing! It’s a great honor to make films in a company like this.
FANGORIA: As a filmmaker, what is the most important element of these stories to capture in your films?
ABSENTO: It’s certainly the message. As a film-fan myself, I like films with messages, when people can realize or learn something after watching. Some movies are really entertaining, but there is barely something we can learn from them. I prefer to be not only an entertainer, but also a storyteller. And I like to make people imagine; to leave an open door for your imagination is probably one of the most essential elements.
FANGORIA: Outside of Japanese folklore and SHI, is there any particular subject matter in the horror genre that you would like to tackle in a future project?
ABSENTO: All my projects have been shorts so far, but my other target is to make features. One script I’m working on now is the SHI feature, but there is also another one. The working title of that film is CALL MY NAME, which I am writing together with a very talented Spanish Writer/Director and a good friend of mine Daniel M. Caneiro.
CALL MY NAME has nothing to do with Japanese folklore. It’s a feature film screenplay about Romanian curse and superstitions inside the US. And it’s more than just a horror: it’s a story about people who didn’t have enough courage to make right choices back in the days, so that’s why now their lives and lives of their loved ones are falling apart.
We are working hard and hopefully soon our scripts turn to films and we can show people some fresh horrors! But for now, I would love to open “SHI” to the public. So it’s the official Internet World Premiere – the premiere for the FANGORIA Fans!