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An Interview with Horror Hack's Kelly Hughes

by Mike Haberfelner

June 2016

Kelly Hughes on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new project Horror Hack - what can you tell us about your inspirations for it and the philosophy behind it in the first place?


The idea started when I was promoting one of my own film projects. I decided to approach bloggers for reviews. It was a lot of work finding them. And learning whether they accepted submissions. Or even finding their emails in some cases. It was a great experience, though. Because bloggers take a personal approach. And they know their stuff! So I thought, how can I share this information with other filmmakers who want to promote their work? How can I help them so they donít have to duplicate all the work Iíve already done?

The philosophy is to treat horror creators (filmmakers, writers, artists, composers, etc.) with respect. And give them a resource to help them proudly share their work with the media.


So what kind of information will be on your website?


Contact information for sources that review horror films and interview filmmakers. Bloggers, podcasters, magazinesÖ both traditional media and online media. And listings for horror film festivals. And companies seeking horror movies for distribution. I want the site to be a one-stop resource creators can use to do craft their own PR and help them with DIY promotion.

Itís important to find sources that are receptive to your work. Some bloggers, for instance, donít accept submissions for review. So I would like to create listings that specify this. And for sources that do want submissions, to list up-to-date contact information, and how they want to be approached. This helps both sides to not waste time and energy. And itís free. No one will have to pay to be listed on the site. And itís free to the creators who want to use it.


With your site focusing on indie filmmakers - how would you characterize indie horrors in contrast to studio horrors?


Indie horror filmmakers are more likely to do their own promotion. Instead of hiring a PR firm, or having an in-house PR team like a big studio, they make direct contact to get interviews and reviews. They hustle to get their films made, and they hustle to get PR. And with all the noise and all the films out there, itís harder to get noticed and stand out in the crowd.


What do you hope for a horror filmmaker to get out of the site?


To save time. Because it is time consuming to start from scratch and search for contacts. And also to get inspiration and PR advice. So weíll be posting articles. And will also have guest blogs.


The $64 question of course - where can one submit to your site?


We have two submission forms on our homepage at One is for bloggers, magazines, etc. to list their sites with contact info and what kinds of submissions they accept. The other is for our PR newsletter which will have useful content to help with promotion of your work.


What does the horror genre mean to you, on a very personal level?


Horror is a very creative genre. I especially enjoy supernatural horror. Some people dismiss horror as childish or frivolous. But I think horror allows us to reveal humanity in a pretty deep way. So I enjoy the ďfunĒ trappings of traditional horror. Costumes, makeup, special effects. But I also like the more psychological side. And even a certain transcendence. When a horror movie enters a religious realm. Questioning good and evil, life and death, and the supernatural forces that may or may not be messing with us.


Having worked in indie horror for a good quarter of a century, how has the scene changed over the year, and what can you tell us about the influence of the internet, social media, and all kind of streaming services we have nowadays?


Going from analog to digital is amazing, of course. I still canít believe how long it took, back in the day, to go through videotape, and how clunky editing used to be. I love being able to edit digital footage on a computer. And I love how the prices have come down for equipment.


Iíve seen horror go through several cycles. I actually got to see classic slasher movies in the theater when they first came out in the early Ď80s. I got to experience the old mom-and-pop videos stores that rented horror on VHS. I can remember when there were lulls in the market and hardly any new horror was being produced. Can remember when The Blair Witch Project came out. And how it brought so much attention to both found footage films and creative internet marketing.


Iím most influenced now by social media. But itís not just about numbers. Not just about how many Facebook followers you have. To me, itís about making real connections. And to do that, it canít be one-sided. You canít always shove your work down other peopleís throats without talking time to learn about their work. Because now the line is blurred between creator and fan. Chances are that many of your potential fans also create stuff. Movies, art, musicÖ we all have an outlet now. So itís more important than ever to treat everyone respectfully online. And to not dismiss anyone. Because the person you least suspect could very well create the next big thing in horror.


So even if it's only wildest speculation, where do you see your website a decade from now, and where do you see the genre as a whole then?


In ten years I would like to see Horror Hack well established in the horror community. With a lot of valuable content in addition to the listings. How-to articles, interviews with successful people who share their PR secretsÖ stuff like that.


Where do I see the genre? Well, I think weíre going to see more diversity. Thereís already more female directors in the scene. And I would hope to see work from a variety of viewpoints made by people from different cultures and backgrounds.


Personally I would like to see more horror movies with adults as lead characters. Itís pretty standard to see movies featuring teenagers and 20-somethings. Pretty much expected in slasher movies. But I would like to see more horror in the adult realm. Like Rosemaryís Baby. Letís terrorize more people over 40. Letís give more roles to older character actors. More roles to older stars when they get gray hair and wrinkles. Good acting can really elevate a horror movie. So why not take advantage of all these great experienced actors.


Any (other) future projects you'd like to share?


This year Iíll be releasing a movie called The Mephisto Box [Kelly's The Mephisto Box interview - click here]. Iíve been editing it in chunks and posting them on YouTube as a web series. Which has allowed me to experiment a bit. And to jump start my promotion before it is released as a feature. And Iím working on a new screenplay. One where Iím adding a twist to a typical slasher film. Ironically itís the most commercial thing Iíve ever written.


Your/your project's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Horror Hack:

My website:

Mephisto Box on Facebook:


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


We have so many choices today. We can all make movies and music and art. And share it with the world. But to break through as an artist, youíve also got to limit your choices. To not let yourself get distracted. Focus on a genre, on a medium, on a project. And follow through until you complete that project. Then promote it with all your heart. You will learn so much from doing that. Once you are successful at something, then you can branch out if you want to. But you will self-destruct if you bounce around from project to project without completing anything. Thereís power in finishing things.


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And only take criticism from colleagues. From people with more experience than yourself. And donít take it personally. Even if your work sucks, it doesnít mean that youíre not a valuable person. And sometimes one personís opinion is just that. You have to strike that balance of being confident in your work, but not delusional. To learn the skills. To refine and edit your work. Set a standard for yourself.


But above all, donít waste your time arguing with the online trolls. Please. Just avoid them. The time and energy is better spent on creation and promotion. Donít fool yourself that being busy online is leading to something constructive when it isnít. Let ďGet to work and finish the workĒ be your new motto.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD