Sponsored feature: SPK Productions and Crazy 8’s Film Society
Crumbs is a new short psychological thriller written by Jessey Nelson & Kyle Siemens and directed by Jessey Nelson & Cody Nelson.
The story of a young boy who loses his father and creates an imaginary friend in order to deal with the traumas of his life.
A Q&A with writer and director Jessey Nelson
Congratulations on the release of your short fantasy horror film Crumbs! It’s such an original idea and really unlike any horror short I’ve seen. How did you come up with the concept for the film?
The concept began with the very first script I ever wrote. My brother, Cody Nelson, and I decided to enter a “15 Second Horror Film” challenge. The concept was simple: “What if the reason kids put their food under the table was to feed a monster for protection”. That small little crumb of an idea kept evolving in my head. When we had the opportunity to pitch for the Crazy8s film challenge, I decided to revisit this idea. With the help of my friend Kyle Siemens, we dug deeper for the short film and brought in a personal edge — the story of my father’s abusive childhood. The concept evolved into: “What if we could save my father from his childhood trauma with an imaginary monster?” After 8 days and $1000, Crumbs the short film was born.
Tell us more about Shylo’s imaginary friend Crumbs the clown. The character’s design is so well done, it’s clear a lot of thought went into it. Where did you draw inspiration from?
The clown idea came from a book that I had when I was a little kid. My parents had it custom-made so that I was a character in the book. Little Jessey and a bunch of clowns at the circus. It seemed fitting to give Shylo a similar book, which sort of ‘births’ Crumbs. We also wanted to do the complete opposite of Pennywise. Instead of eating children, this clown would protect them. Sort of the arch enemy of Pennywise.
As for the design, it wasn’t easy to create an original clown these days. We took inspiration from Death Note, IT, and The Crow. We wanted it to be simple, yet creepy and powerful. We worked with our talented art department and decided a hybrid clown/scarecrow would be a dope idea. As he is entertaining, scary, and also a protector, this made a lot of sense. We were also lucky to have a great costume and make-up team. The make-up brought the character’s face to life. The costume (made by Rylan Hornall), was an amazing finishing touch. She perfectly combined scarecrow and hobo-style-clown and made Crumbs look badass. Considering the budget and time we had, the look of Crumbs ended up amazing.
Crumbs the short film is just the beginning. I know you also have a comic book, anthology series, and a feature film in the works. Any details you can give about those projects and what fans can look forward to?
Yes! As soon as we made this film so many other little crumbs started to take form. The feature was the most obvious. Without giving any spoilers, this short film ends on a pretty uncomfortable open ending, with a lot of possibilities for what’s to come. All I’m going to say about the feature concept is that in real life, my father ran away to join the circus at age 13. So maybe that’s where Crumbs and Shylo are headed next…
The comic is actually happening right now! The Kickstarter is live and we are pumped to share it! The idea came once we realized we were essentially planning a ‘comic book feature film’, with a graphic novel/horror vibe. Instead of waiting for someone else to make the inevitable comic, we decided to make it ourselves! This is a more feasible way to explore the story and world while looking for film funding. Not to mention that comics allow the story to go much bigger.
To get started on this comic, we went to Instagram and hired a bunch of artists to draw their version of Crumbs. We were lucky to find an amazing artist from Orange County named Madison Silva. She is super passionate about this concept and has been so amazing to work with. Kyle Siemens and I will be writing the comic book while Madison illustrates. It’s already looking so amazing and we can’t wait to share this with the world.
The anthology series will be a collection of horror/fantasy stories for mature audiences. Each episode features a different child dealing with trauma and the imaginary monster they create to survive. The series asks the question: “What if our mental illnesses manifested as imaginary friends?” The trauma births the monster (a literal personification of a coping mechanism), who wants to help, but is often maladaptive.
Trauma is unfortunately found everywhere. To honour this, each episode will feature a new writer/director team — overseen by us — in which they tell a story unique to their culture and experience. By turning traumatic events into art, people with and without trauma will relate and find ways to discuss these often misunderstood topics. The world is divided right now and we need conversation more than ever. No matter where you’re from or what colour your skin is, people experience trauma and hurt. It’s important to create a connection with people so they can relate and seek out the help they need and deserve.
“Without giving any spoilers, this short film ends on a pretty uncomfortable open ending, with a lot of possibilities for what’s to come.”
Earlier you mentioned Crumbs was filmed in just 8 days for a film challenge called Crazy 8’s in Vancouver, and for a budget of only $1000. That’s really impressive! What were some of the biggest challenges during the filmmaking process and how did your creativity help you overcome them?
Oh boy! It sure was a challenge. We were so blessed to do this project with people who were not only kind enough to volunteer their time but were also passionate about the project. One advantage we had was that we run a sketch comedy crew called “THE SMASHED POTATO KIDS”. We were able to bring our team with us and many connections we had already been making on our journey. The Vancouver film community is also supportive; we often reached out and received a lot of help. Crazy8s facilitated a lot too. Their name allowed us to receive insane discounts on rental gear, actors volunteered their time, and businesses donated things like food.
The biggest obstacle was COVID. We filmed this March 2021, right when things were starting to open up again. Because of this, we had to follow a ton of rules. For example, we were only allowed 28 people on set in its entirety. We all wore a lot of hats through this experience, but I can say we are all better filmmakers because of it.
Can you share any fun BTS stories from on set?
Hmmm! The funniest thing I can think of came from our lead child actor, Zebastin Borjeau. One of the scenes called for him to eat cake and we soon discovered that he hardly ever eats sugar. As he dug into the cake he started to get a little wild. It was perfect for the scene, but he got a mad sugar rush and started looking a bit psychotic. At the same time, we were throwing blood on his face and trying to get him to tear up… all while his mom sat three feet away. We were so worried she was going to be upset, but she turned out to be impressed with everything. It was our first time working with kids on such a dark film and we learned a lot. Overall, everyone was great to work with and it was an incredible experience.
Crumbs is screening at the HorrorHound film festival later this month. Anywhere else fans can check out the film?
As of right now, that is the only way to see it. Once this comic book gets funded you will see what we have in store for the bigger story of CRUMBS. However, we are looking into getting some distribution and who knows, we might be releasing it to the public before you know it 😉
Thanks for having us and sharing Crumbs on RABBIT IN RED. You guys rock!
Check out Crumbs #1: A Fantastical Horror Comic Kickstarter page here.