Learn how to make a low-budget film that can launch your filmmaking career. Leave the week with an IMDB credit.

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Low-budget genre movies have launched the careers of many of the most celebrated directors of the last fifty years. As long as you can deliver the thrills, chills, and a great twist, you can make whatever film your heart desires. The only rule is to show them something they have never seen before. Having a lower budget means freedom. Make the film you want to make right now, with a budget you can actually raise.

Guided by established comedy/horror filmmaker Lola RocknRolla, learn how to conceive, plan, prep, and shoot a low-budget genre film that can set your career in motion. During the week we will all make a short horror film together and you will leave with your own IMDB credit.

Lola RocknRolla on set
Instructor, Lola RocknRolla on set.

Cheap genre films have been the way in for many directors: Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Jordan Peele, Edgar Wright, Kathryn Bigelow, Park Chan-Wook, Oliver Stone, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Jonathan Demme, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-ho, Brian DePalma, James Wan, Robert Rodriguez, Francis Ford Coppola, Jennifer Kent, Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Russ Meyers, and John Waters – to name just a few.

Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard, 2011
Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard, 2011.

Why do we love horror, camp, thrillers, and sci-fi? How do they reflect on our society? What can genre movies provide that other big-budget films cannot? Learn how to use your own background, likes, fears, obsessions, and creativity to make films that have never been seen before. Just consider the many kinds of films that live under the label of horror: Get Out, Halloween, The Babadook, Nightmare on Elm Street, Let The Right One In, The Lighthouse, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Scream, The Cabin in the Woods and so many more

Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright, 2004
Shaun of the Dead, directed by Edgar Wright, 2004.
The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent, 2014
The Babadook, directed by Jennifer Kent, 2014

Whether you shoot the next Blair Witch Project using an iPhone or have something more ambitious in mind, we’ll examine how to conceive and make a genre film that can sell to various markets and streamers and perhaps even launch your directing career.

On day one, case studies will illuminate how to budget, schedule, and plan for the short film we will make.  We will explore how to find money and learn where to spend and where to save it. We will discuss transitions, three-act structures, false scares, tropes, nods to horror favorites, and how the best directors made their marks. Then we’ll examine how to find actors and assemble a crew and discuss how to navigate the challenges of prep, production, and post-production.

Lola RocknRolla on set

On days two and three, the group will all work together to create a short horror script, scout locations, shot list, storyboard and prepare the cast, and crew as we get ready to make it real. 

Day four is our shoot day. We’ll make camera, lighting, sound, and choices together as well as a makeup test for our bloodiest and most awesome shot. All hands on deck as we make our short film. On day five, we’ll edit and explore how to get it into festivals and before audiences. As well as how to market and sell your own low-budget indie.

Lola RocknRolla as a zombie
Instructor, Lola RocknRolla as a zombie.

Spend an autumn week leaf-peeping and eating lobster on the coast of Maine as you learn how to make your own genre film. There will be tons of fun, fake blood, and real-world education. Come with a hunger for filmmaking and leave with your own IMDB credit.


Don’t hesitate to email [email protected] with any questions you may have.

Please note: An hour-long training session on Set Etiquette and Safety will be required of anyone registered for a workshop that involves production. Students only need to participate in this session once during their time on campus.

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Instructor: Lola Rocknrolla

Lola got the moniker “Rocknrolla” singing and playing tenor sax in noisy rock bands all over the U.S., opening for acts like Joan Jett, L7, Marilyn Manson, and others. Lola started making music videos for her bands which led to her first short film “Dragzilla” in 2002. “Dragzilla” went on to screen festivals worldwide (Outfest LA, Frameline SF, New Filmmakers NY, New Fest NY,  Ann Arbor, Boston, Feast Australia, etc). Lola then made a series of “Gaysploitation” shorts including “Tits n Blood” (2004), “Night of the Living Gay” (2007), “I was a Trans Werewolf” (2010), and the lesbian horror film “Brunch” (2011). In 2012, Lola started her foray into Blaxploitation with “Nefertitty,” “Nefertitty in Space” (2015), and “Nefertitty TV,” which is currently in development. Lola has also directed the daytime EMMY-winning "Biz Kids" on PBS, industrials, and music videos, and wrote and directed the hit off-broadway show “Homo The Musical” with Gina Volpe (Lunachicks). Lola’s first feature “The Big Johnson,” a documentary about LGBTQI nightlife legend Dean Johnson, is set to release in 2024. Lola is a New Yorker hiding out in the Maine woods with her gorgeous wife Legs Malone and Pickles the pitbull.