Explosive, creative, independent horror movies often come together hand-in-hand.
This is something Philadelphia filmmaker Qadir Muhammad and Jasmine Goode understand deeply, collaborating to co-write, produce, and direct the new extreme horror anthology “Socio.” “Socio” is four short films with very diverse plots, but connected by one theme in their main antagonists – the sociopath. Not predictable at all, Muhammad and Goode incorporate the sociopath in very unexpected ways, with results near-guaranteed to have viewers on the edge of seats, jumping back from the gore, and laughing at the very dark humor.
“As with any good horror no happy endings,” said Muhammad. “We deliver that full-force and then some with ‘Socio,’ as a testament to the type of movie we enjoy ourselves. We hope horror lovers won’t be disappointed!”
The first of the four chapters in “Socio” is “Girl Flu” that tells the gore-filled but seriously funny tale of a woman-possessed and how she tries to work her way through this problem, with the help of social services, with the response and ending something that can’t be missed.
Next is “Radical,” which follows the interrogation, using extreme methods, of a women suspected of terrorism and all of the morals questions that come along with this line of inquiry.
The third short is “Super Bul,” one of the more unusual spins on the superhero story, which does not fail to both entertain and stay true to the sociopath thread that keeps the chapters in “Socio” connected.
The final chapter in “Socio,” “Hackman,” dives into the world of the serial killer, which while it may be expected in a sociopath-themed movie, is done in a fresh, creative way.
PW recently caught up with Muhammd and Goode to talk about the new movie and their creative process.
Talk a little about how you got into filmmaking. How did you eventually team up and begin to collaborate on films?
Qadir: When I was in elementary school, we had an art class and every two weeks we would do different forms of art, drawing, painting etc. One week, the teacher brought in camcorders and told us to walk around the school for 10 mins and film whatever you want. I caught the lunch lady digging up her nose on film, and that moment I just fell in love with film. From there, I would take my mom’s camcorder and film random things from comedy skits to random things in the neighborhood.
Jasmine: When I was a kid, I fell in love with a TV program “All That,” a kids show and “In living Color.” I knew I wanted to be on TV and do funny things. During high school, I was a class clown and was always in talent shows doing something. I liked being in front of the camera. I wrote stories as well in hopes of filming them one day.
Qadir: Me and Jasmine met through social media. I saw on her profile that she was a filmmaker and I contacted her. At the time, I was looking to work with other filmmakers because filmmaking is a team effort. What made me want to work with Jasmine was she already was doing comedy skits for her show “Philly N Da Building.”
Jasmine: After he contacted me, I had to feel him out to make sure he was serious about this craft. After getting to know Qadir and seeing his dedication by releasing a trilogy of films “Bad Guy 1-3,” we formed a partnership.
How did you come up with a theme of “sociopath” for your latest project?
Qadir: The original plan was for us to make four short horror films and put them together as an anthology. “Socio” was the original name of one of the short films now titled “Hackman.”
We asked ourselves how we can tie all of these films together into one theme. Then it just came to us: A guy who wants to kill his co-workers over a missed promotion is a sociopath. A guy running around with a mask fighting crime would be considered a sociopath. Then we thought about the legendary horror film “Psycho” and said let’s shorten it to “Socio” as a way to pay respects to that film.
What sets “Socio” apart from other horror films? Are you taking the genre in a new direction?
Jasmine: With “Socio,” we wanted to tell stories and put characters in situations that could actually happen.
Qadir: The short film “Radical,” starring Shawneka Ponder, would be a scary situation for anyone. She’s being detained by a federal agent, being accused of terrorism and is being tortured for answers.
Jasmine: “Hackman,” starring Robert J. Morgalo, is the theme of an underappreciated co-worker who snaps and just kills everyone at his job. With our horror films, we are going more towards realistic worst-case scenarios.
Qadir: A lot of people have told us they don’t like horror movies because they are not scary. We want to make real-life situations scary for people. We might throw some supernatural elements in a film once in a while. Our short film “Girl Flu,” which stars Kenji Butler, and where her character C.J becomes possessed every time her menstrual comes on, has received a lot of positive feedback.
How have streaming services, social media and technology in general changed how filmmakers get their product to audiences? Has the availability of these expanded distribution options encouraged independent filmmakers to make movies?
Qadir: Streaming services like Amazon allow filmmakers to monetize their content. YouTube was the go-to place for filmmakers but, with all of the new laws, new rules and regulations, it’s hard for a filmmaker to make money on YouTube. Your videos will get de-monetized if there is cursing or simulated violence. YouTube does not pay a channel unless they have a certain amount of subscribers.
“I would like to see free after-school programs for the youth dedicated to filmmaking. I think our great city should provide more resources for filmmakers and maybe a movie night once a month where local filmmakers can display their work for the residents of the city.”Philadelphia-based filmmaker Qadir Muhammad
Amazon Prime eliminates all of that for serious filmmakers. Amazon allows you to upload your film directly, but you will also need things like closed caption files and key art. Amazon takes a 50/50 split of all sales and rentals, and if your film is up there for free, they pay you 1 cent for every 60 minutes watched. The pay for every hour watched goes up after you reach a certain threshold. I believe the most it goes up to is 12 cents for every hour watched.
Right now, Amazon Prime is the best option for filmmakers to make money. Having a film on Amazon sounds more appealing to a consumer than saying I have a movie on YouTube. Amazon has given filmmakers hope it evened the playing field a little. If Netflix and I-tunes follow in the same model independent filmmakers can make more money and won’t need a big movie studio behind them to get their films in front of an audience.
Social media plays a big part in marketing your film. You can target your specific audience directly with ads or find an audience through hashtags. I can join a Facebook group just for people that like horror movies, and I can interact with them and build an audience or market our film in there without them knowing I’m one of the creators. Also with social media, you can easily reach out to someone with influence and get them to promote or talk about your product.
What’s the indie movie-making scene like in Philly? Anything you’d like to see improved or added?
Qadir: The Philly indie scene is growing, but it’s a small network. Everyone knows each other and all of the actors worked together on various projects. A lot of actors in Philly are dedicated and will be in your film for the love of the art. We try to support as many filmmakers as we can by going to their premieres. I was just at Antwione Saunders’ movie premiere for his film “League 215,” and a month ago I was at Raheem Roher’s premiere for “Dead Man’s Game.” The Studio Movie Grill up 69th Street allows filmmakers to rent out the theater for our premieres. Bryn Mawr Film Institute lets you show up to 15 minutes of your film in their theater for free, the first Monday of every month.
Jasmine: Rough Cuts Philly also allows filmmakers to show their work for free the first Wednesday of every month.
Qadir: I would like to see free after-school programs for the youth dedicated to filmmaking. I think our great city should provide more resources for filmmakers and maybe a movie night once a month where local filmmakers can display their work for the residents of the city.
What does the future hold for you as filmmakers? Any new projects or plans we should be anticipating?
Jasmine: Currently we are filming multiple projects. So expect some new content this year.
Qadir: We’re just going to keep creating.