Renowned writer, director and producer, Sam Raimi has signed on with the streaming service Quibi to bring forth the new horror anthology series 50 States of Fright. Raimi teamed up with Gunpowder & Sky’s horror vision ALTER in producing this series.
We spoke to Raimi during a press conference about the project and here is some of what he had to say about the series and the first three episodes he directed entitled Golden Arm:
Question: With Quibi being a relatively new service and formats, so we could talk about some of the challenges with working within its strict time limits.
Sam Raimi: So the challenges of working in the format were limited time to shoot like any television program would have. Even though this is a new format, that limitation was the same with limited resources. These are not big budget films. They’re fairly precise with the budgeting you have like a TV budget and and with 50 States of Fright that budget is really put upon it for us was like making nine independent films because we didn’t have the amortization of the same set a TV show would have been the same workshop your characters for transportation flying in and out actors for the episode was a multiple of like six times as much as it would be for a normal show because you usually just have one set of actors there and you work with them. Yes, you bringing in a guest stars on a normal television program, but each of these steps, each of the actors, each of the wardrobe was unique to to the approximately 24 minutes show program. So there were a lot of expenses that you don’t have on somewhat of a TV budget. So it came down to not relying on visual effects for the budget spectacle, but trying to get back to the basics of telling a simple story. So that was both the challenge given by the format, and the limitations of budget, but also the advantage is that we knew that the audiences dig good stories and so that’s where we put our focus trying to entertain with simple characters and plot and simple story construction to try and please the audience.
Question: Could you talk about the genesis of the idea for 50 States of Freight. Everything, every story so far has been like a mini campfire ghost story. So how did you come up with the idea?
Sam Raimi: It was really the other producers that came to me with the idea of 50 states and fight and the evil one working for a company called Gunpowder & Sky. And they said we think that this a really good format for a TV show each week telling the horror story of a different state, all the lore that every state must have there’d probably be one or two stories for every state of the union. And I recognize when the producers came to me that I had seen in the state of Michigan, there’s even some books that I see a tourist spots, which, that’s my home state, and local tourist spots. You’ll see like ghost stories of Michigan, a little pamphlet, at a local writer is published. And I’ve seen something similar in the state of Illinois and I realized this when he presented the idea to me, there must be writers and stories for every state, I realize how true that was and I saw how instantly people would think, Oh, I want to see the story from my state, you know? I hope they use the story that I’ve heard lore from my state. Well, that’s a neighboring state story. I wonder what happened there? So I recognized they had a great idea. And then we took it together to Quibi, to Jeffrey Katzenberg we pitched it to him and he said, Great, but we hadn’t thought of short format for Quibi at the time, they were just going to be an anthology TV series. But he said, Sounds perfect for what I’m doing, and so we started to work with Quibi. That’s really how, how the show came to be.
Question: Right now as you know, the world is upside down and scary enough as it is. How does a horror anthology like yours help us release that anxiety from real life horrors. And use horror and thrillers as entertainment to relieve those stresses?
Sam Raimi: I think your proposition is, I mean that the statement you’re making is correct. I do think that as strange as it sounds that horror films and fright stories do really stress. I don’t know why that is in times of stress, but I think that they’re a good medicine probably why the horror film like Frankenstein and Dracula did so well during such miserable times in America. I think it just has to do with pure escapism and And once you experience that escapism horror, and the show’s over, you probably think, Wow, I survived that and my life isn’t quite as bad as it was as if I were Frankenstein. My life is a little better than that of Frankenstein’s monster or Dr. Frankenstein. There’s kind of this release that you realize is brighter than the horrors on TV, but it’s also kind of cool to scream and jump, it lets out a lot of tension, I imagine, and I bet that it’s slightly therapeutic.
Question: Stepping away from the series just briefly, we obviously have the big Doctor Strange news coming up, do you find it kind of funny almost that you’re going to be taking on that project after mentioning him, or even your brother mentioned him and Spider-Man too? And if you have you always had an itch to explore the characters?
Sam Raimi: I loved Doctor Strange as a kid, but he was always after Spider-Man and Batman to me that he would probably got number five for me of great comic book character, he was so original but know, when we had that moment in the first Spider-Man movie, I had no idea we would ever be making a Doctor Strange movie, so it was really funny to me also that coincidentally that mine was in the first Spider-Man movie but that’s all I’ve got to say. I wish, I had the foresight to know I was going to be involved in the project.
As a reminder, 50 States of Fear is streaming on Quibi and the first three episodes entitled Golden Arm are streaming right now.