Stop motion as a horror genre: how scary can puppets really be? Turns out, pretty darn scary! To understand how this might be done, we spoke with Kangmin Kim of Open the Portal studios recently and he gave us some background on his new stop motion horror piece, a leader film and trailer for Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2018.

“This year, BIFAN is paying homage to Nightmare on Elm Street, which is where the inspiration for this festival trailer came from,” Kim told us. “The overall concept came from Jonny Depp’s infamous death sequence in the film. Our version shows how Freddy Krueger transforms into the festival’s logo.”

He also let us know how much they enjoyed getting to work on the project. “The production process was actually quite fun! BIFAN is always an amazing client because as long as we are able to deliver on their key requests, they are extremely open to new ideas.” Having heard this from more than one successful director in the past, we suspected it may have something to do with why the finished product was so effective.

Kim seemed to concur. “Working on this project was especially rewarding because of that creative freedom and flexibility we were able to have…We were able to come up with our own concept and have as much fun and flexibility with it as we wanted! For example, halfway through production, we discovered a new form melting technique that wasn’t initially planned on and that actually changed our storyboards and direction of the piece.”

This is not to say that BIFAN did not present the team with challenges. “One of the biggest challenges was the initial concept,” said Kim. “BIFAN asked us to create a short animation with a horror atmosphere. But since their programming is family friendly, we were not able to use any violence or blood; two staples in most horror films! So it was certainly a challenge to come up with our specific point of view and the appropriate amount horror intensity.

“Once our style and concept was locked in, the next challenge we encountered was execution. We’re always trying to push the boundaries of animation comfort zone and use new techniques every time…This year, we used form melting animation for the first time, which was something very new for us. There was certainly a lot of experimentation before we were able to control it and get the effect the way we wanted.”

See for yourself how it turned out but it looks to us like all that experimentation paid off.

Also, check out some behind the scenes footage here: