Director Michael Ballif discusses feature length ‘They Live Inside Us’

Independent short horror series The Witching Season Films took the bold step last year to adapt an episode from their first season ‘They Live Inside Us’ into a feature.

When did you decide to make TLIU into a feature?

The idea for They Live Inside Us is something I have been tinkering with for a number of years. I originally had aspirations to just jump in and make it as a feature film, but ultimately felt I didn’t have enough experience to do the concept justice.

I ended up creating my horror anthology The Witching Season first, which turned out to be a great opportunity to test the concept of the film cheaply and simply in a smaller format. Once the short was released and people began to react to it in a positive way, it was pretty clear that the concept worked and that it would be worth exploring again.

My team and I also received some amazing support from our friends and family who believed in the idea and helped us crowdfund a small budget of $10,000 to make the movie, which really solidified that we were on the right track.

Was it always your ambition to do a feature after a few episodes of The Witching Season?

Yes. The series was always intended as a means to prepare to make a feature. I was very interested in using the production of the series as a way to find talented artists to collaborate with. The series allowed me to make some great connections with some incredibly talented folks.

It also prepared me creatively and gave me the confidence to tackle an indie feature. It did a lot for me. And thankfully, just about everyone involved in the making of The Witching Season has played part in the making of this film in some way. We have some fun easter eggs from the series scattered throughout that I think fans will enjoy.

From the images so far it feels like you’ve really captured nuggets of what makes the Halloween season special, how did you achieve this?

Thanks, man. That’s always something I try to achieve in every Witching Season Films production. It’s really the foundation of everything creative for me. In the case of TLIU, we began production in July, which isn’t exactly the most autumnal-looking time of the year.

But again, because of our experience with the series, we had learned how to create that aesthetic year-round. We also scheduled as many of our exterior sequences as possible to be shot right during that prime-time of Fall. I think we’ve captured some of the most atmospheric imagery we’ve ever shot to date.

What has the production process been like?

Honestly, it’s been pretty grueling. But I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I have probably learned more about movie-making in the last few months than I have in my entire life.

For the production itself, we decided to shoot primarily on weekends due to cast and crew work and family schedules. It’s been great in that it has allowed me to edit and work on re-writes of the film in between shoots.

It’s been tricky in that stretching the filming process over the course of 5-6 months makes it difficult to keep track of things like continuity, especially when the film takes place in the span of 24 hours. It’s been a great learning experience so far.

What was your crews reaction to the idea of TLIU the feature?

Everyone warmed up to the idea really quickly. I think we all felt that the short was the strongest episode of the series and it made the most sense to be made as a feature.

Will the feature follow a similar plot to the short or have you taken elements from that a fleshed out into a completely new story?

The concept itself is very similar but the story is a bit different. There are new key characters that change certain aspects of the plot. The film also goes a lot deeper and is much more psychologically driven than the short film was able to go.

There were a lot of ideas that came up while making the short film that I just couldn’t fit in because the run-time would have become too long. I saved those ideas in a word document, many of which have become integral to the feature script.

If the reaction is positive, do you hope to do more features?

Definitely. Making feature films is where I’d like to be.

Are more episodes of The Witching Season in the pipeline down the line?

I kind of see The Witching Season as a project to come back to between features. I really like the idea of doing another season of the series soon after this film is complete, then do another feature, and keeping that rotation going.

I have another story that I’d like to test as a proof of concept in Season 2. Depending on how soon They Live Inside Us is complete, we’ll hopefully have some news regarding Season 2 coming in the next few months.

Keep up to date with They Live Inside Us and The Witching Season Films HERE

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