A sad day for Michael Myers in "Halloween is Canceled." / Courtesy of Andrew Kasch
Even Michael Myers is sad about Halloween 2020.
Horror short filmmaker Andrew Kasch, of Burbank, captures this sadness — and comedy — perfectly in Halloween Is Canceled, a comedic recreation of the opening scenes of the horror classic Halloween, with some twists.
“It’s just for fun, and it was just done to hopefully give people some enjoyment when they’re locked up and for me it was a little cathartic,” said Kasch.
The idea developed from his participation in a group for indie filmmakers that goes by Just Scare Me.
“The concept is every two months you have to produce a short with whatever your resources are,” he said.
He described it as an “artist’s gym” that encourages members to create films, even if it’s with little to no budget. If the deadline isn’t met, the filmmaker pays the group $100. Members provide support and feedback for each other’s work.
“That’s what I’ve been doing a lot over the past six months,” he said. “That’s where this Halloween thing came from.”
Down the street from Pasadena, where the original Halloween was shot, he was very familiar with all the locations where he’d be shooting. He started shooting in September. But then hit a roadblock.
“It almost didn’t get finished,” he said. “[My kid’s] teacher got COVID. Everyone was fine. That was a scare, but we had to go into lockdown. I had to get tested … that set it back for a while.”
He resumed shooting first week of October. It was a lean production — total shoot time was only a couple of hours.
“It was literally me and my DP Jonathan Lewis that were running around sort of guerrilla style grabbing shots,” said Kasch. “We just had a camera and a gimbal.”
Shooting was done with safety in mind, with masks and social distancing.
“At some points Jamie [Avera aka Michael Myers] was wearing a mask under his mask,” said Kasch.
Kasch had no budget and no real crew, but he wanted to make sure the production was high quality.
“I wanted to make it look and feel like Carpenter,” he said.
But he did have some doubts along the way.
“Is it gonna be a dead joke by the time it comes out?” he said. “When you have months of quarantine time to just sit and think and not do much … those are the kinds of thoughts that go into your head.”
But once he started shooting, he realized that it was, in fact, working.
He gives much credit to the performances of Avera and his longtime friend, horror actress Tiffany Shepis.
“So much of that just comes down to Jamie and Tiffany, and I got extremely lucky to [have] them,” Kasch said.
Avera previously played Michael Myers in a TV commercial and owned his own costume.
“He knew the character inside and out,” said Kasch. “He was a huge Halloween addict … he just knew instinctively how to do it. It came about so naturally.”
Kasch said as they were finishing up the shoot, a couple drove up and started taking photos in front of the famous house from the film. He told Avera to put his Michael mask back on. Avera stood behind the trees and stared at the couple until they noticed him.
“Their reaction was priceless,” Kasch said.
In a time when people are struggling to fight off anxiety and depression, Kasch wanted to share some humor and passion for Halloween with others. Kasch, who grew up in a very religious home where he wasn’t able to celebrate Halloween, is now an avid fan.
“I’ve instilled that into my girls, they love Halloween more than anything,” he said, adding that they’ve been going out to see the yard displays home haunters have been putting up this season.
He also hopes to offer some inspiration to other filmmakers like himself who have not been working during this time. He said putting together a production can happen without a budget or crew and in a safe way.
“I hope at the very least it inspires people to make their own stuff,” he said. “Just because we’re all locked down doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to be creative and make something.”