Welcome to part 2 of "The lullaby for Nightjar" post. If you haven't read the first part 1 yet I recommend checking it out I'll share some information about the pre-production phase and deeper thoughts about the themes of the film (containing some minor spoilers).

Teemu was going on into negotiations with an Australian artist to do a music video. He contacted me to produce it and we started making ideas for it. I had this idea of a man-eating nymph-like woman creature (more on this in part 1) and some ideas of the plot and location of the story like I mentioned in the previous blog post

Martina Kuitto as Nightjar. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
Martina Kuitto as Nightjar. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.

So I wrote the idea of the story and pitched it to Teemu. Teemu had this great idea for the end and so he wrote the end of the story. In the end, I made the base story with existing locations and Teemu wrote the story in storyboard form making the beginning more interesting and a way to introduce the characters. Then he pitched the story to the artist but ultimately it didn't go into production for some reason.

Then we thought as we had this story ready, existing locations scouted, and plans on how to execute it aka we were ready to go into production: Why don't we make it a short film? 

We paid production for it from our own pockets and made it our first "bigger" short film project. We had made shorts before but not this size production before that's why it is "BIG" for us.

Nightjar making-of. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
Janne Karjalainen as Gary (standing) and Jere Saarela as Alan. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.

For the beginning of the story, we had this great-looking location but in the end, it became a logistic and time-consuming problem and we had to write the beginning of the story in another way. But the problem was that we realized this two days before we were going to shoot it. So we wrote the whole beginning sequence day before we were starting our two-day shoot of the film. We wrote the new beginning near our main filming location so that it would save us time, a lot of it! There was also this artistic problem that the original location had a very different look and feel than the rest of the film would look. Because it was a large open field. So we thought that it was better that we could do this in a more controllable environment. We could light it and prep it better so much better.

Nightjar making-of. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
This location wasn't written in the original script. Written on the fly. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
Nighjar making-of. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
Team planning the upcoming scene. From left Jyrki Kuitto, Ville Aittokumpu, Tatu Aittamaa, Eetu Keränen, Karo von Rutenhjelm. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.

We wanted to do a very different kind of short film that you are not normally used to seeing. Very theatrical and weirdly entertaining and kind of funny old-school horror film. I am not saying that we wanted to make it a "bad" film but we wanted it to have a feeling of those old "bad" horror films that you have fun with. Entertaining and not too serious in the tone of it but that kind of film you would be entertained all way through. We also wanted it to have very gruesome body horror scenes and a couple of very tense moments that would put you at the edge of your seat. Also, we wanted it to give a feeling that anything could happen in its short length. So that you would not see the end coming and that you can't even guess what is going to happen next.

Nightjar making-of. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.
Janne Karjalainen (as Gary) keeps a grib on his hand. Photo by Jakob Lahtinen.

We aimed the 17minutes to be as entertaining to the viewer as possible from start to finish. No boring dialog, no so-called slow moments that you see in feature-length films that have small budgets (even though slow and a tad long scenes are used but those are chosen to be there to give a certain mood to it). Action from start to the finish and I think we succeeded in that very well. The film is 17minutes but it doesn't feel like it. I have seen 10-minute shorts that have felt long and boring with bad and long dialog scenes then quickly rush it to the end climax. The feeling that when you think the fun starts then the film ends. End of erection.I don't think this is the way to approach a short film format. We wanted this film to be the climax all way through. All the interesting parts of the 90-minute horror film but pressed into compact 17minutes. Have fun and enjoy it all the way. Smile, laugh, and grin. Be frustrated and terrified.

Nightjar movie screenshot. Photo by Azh Boyzz.
Alan (Jere Saarela) entering into this welcoming barn with nice lighting. Shot by Azh Boyzz.

We were after the feeling that you could think the film as a continuum. The film could start again right after it finished and it was just a loop of events. The main character (Alan - Jere Saarela) starts to wake up from the loop and make different decisions than the last time he woke up. Why he makes these decisions? Because he had made a different decision the last time he woke up. That's why there are funny decisions that the character makes. But if you don't see them that way it doesn't matter. Just one way to see it and feel about it. Enjoy the first time you see it and then start again thinking about what could happen if the character goes in a different direction. Could he skip straight to the end of the film or would he still come to the same house even if he went left instead of right? What if he didn't pull the valve from his stomach and let the nightjar have his way with him, would he still wake up again on some bed on the road or in the cabin? How many times has been gone between these scenes? Why is Gary drained empty? All these different options and scenes make Alan's journey more hallucinating for him and the viewer.

Nightjar screenshot. Photo by Azh Boyzz.
Alan (Jere Saarela) chooses where to head next. Photo by Azh Boyzz.

I like the aspect that there is more to think about than we see, even if the viewer doesn't see it. Still, we see it as the makers of the film and we made the decisions based on that. Someone asked me a question about the film that he doesn't understand anything that is going on. I said that that's the point. Even the main character Alan doesn't understand what is going on. But if you watch the movie again and again you will start to understand it better. That is why it's a SHORT FILM that you can easily re-watch as many times (ok, to be truthful... also because we didn't have the money/time to make it any longer). But if you watch it several times with the idea that it is a psychic loop for the characters that Nightjar makes for his victims. So she can drain them empty and do it with their consent you will see it how we wanted it to be seen. An enjoyable little horror film that you can watch again and again. Be entertained again and again. Just like Alan and Gary do.

Check making-of Nightjar below to get a sneak peek into our "Nightmare".

Blog text by Ville Aittokumpu / Azh Boyzz.