Stealth-launched on Snapchat and experienced by millions, SICKHOUSE, [is] a “made for mobile” horror thriller produced by Indigenous Media, starring digital superstars Andrea Russett and Sean O’Donnell. (Vimeo.com)
While we consider Snapchat to be synonymous with LOL-worthy filters and sneak peeks of new Kylie Lip Kit shades (natch), social media star Andrea Russett is reimagining the media-sharing platform as we know it with the release of SICKHOUSE … which stars a handful of digital influencers [and] follows a group of friends as they embark on a journey to visit a seemingly abandoned house in the woods, dubbed Sickhouse, after an urban legend about the location intrigues the group. Those who follow Russett on Snapchat (@andwizzle) were taken along for the adventure, with many thinking the hundreds of 10-second scenes shared – which served as footage for Indigenous Media and writer-director Hannah Macpherson’s project – were real.
… Shot over five days, April 29-May 3 , the journey of the main characters occurred in real time, blurring the lines between truth and fiction. The snaps [were] edited together into a Director’s Cut with substantial additional footage to create the first “made for mobile” feature film.
… On Snapchat, the SICKHOUSE clips … vanished within 24 hours of their posting … In order to make the storyline more believable, producers created an online mythology for SICKHOUSE, with a website and a Facebook page detailing the fake history of the house. At one point during the filming, several fans of Andrea’s created fake Twitter accounts for her cousin in the movie, Taylour, with one of the accounts, @SweetBaBayTay, garnering more than 4,000 followers in just a few days.
Despite a nearly complete lack of marketing before shooting the movie and placing the short chunks on Snapchat, Indigenous Media COO Jake Avnet, 33, says SICKHOUSE generated more than 100 million views over the course of its five-day run from late-April to early-May …
Whether or not Avnet and Indigenous Media find major success with their Snapchat-to-Vimeo business model, at the very least they’re helping to forge an interesting path for the movie industry. It’s a path that includes the relatively low overhead of shooting a film entirely via a mobile device and an app (the studio said SICKHOUSE‘s budget was similar to that of a typical indie film) while potentially tapping into various social networking platforms’ massive built-in audiences of users. With major studios pumping more and more money into superhero movies and tentpole franchises with sky-high budgets, any relatively low-cost opportunity to attract a millennial audience is worth exploring.