Bloody Cuts: Stephen Fry donation helps horror film

By David Keller
BBC News, East of England

image captionThe Franklins began making horror films a couple of years ago

Creepy? Kooky? Mysterious? Spooky?

They are certainly not your typical family, but East Anglia's answer to the Addams clan are not the disturbing characters you might expect to see howling in the dark underworld of horror filmmaking.

Consisting of about 15 members, "The Franklin Family" has spent many weekends in the past year braving the wet weather at period halls and abandoned houses creating short horror films for their 13-part series Bloody Cuts.

So far their work has garnered rave online reviews and the pleasantly polite and Uncle Fester-free Franklins are hoping to gain an equally positive response from their fifth flick, Suckablood , which was released at midnight.

However, this time the family - with ages ranging from 14 to 80 - has the burden of living up to the expectations of one of Britain's best-loved actors.

'Monster under-the-bed'

Stephen Fry's donation to the Bloody Cuts project hit the headlines in March after he tweeted to the group that he had "popped a little of something in your hat" to "keep up the good work", after the release of fourth short Mother Died.

The donation, which Bloody Cuts' creator, producer and editor Ben Franklin said amounted to a "couple of thousand pounds", allowed the low-budget filmmakers to treble their spend for Suckablood to £2,000.

image captionSuckablood was shot on location in Middleton, west Norfolk

A few months on, the publicity has meant more donations have "fallen into the hat" - the shock of which Ben is still trying to come to terms with.

"It's all slightly surreal because you can't plan for anything like that," said Ben who lives in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

"We haven't actively tried to pursue any type of funding or financing.

"It came totally out-of-the-blue, but that massively helped us when we needed some money to keep doing what we were doing."

Creative juices

The 31-year-old, a corporate filmmaker by day, said the donation allowed him to hire a composer, a couple more team members and a child actor for the next "monster under-the-bed" thriller.

"We shot [Suckablood] at Middleton Towers, which is a 700-year-old building in Middleton, near King's Lynn.

"It's quite a beautiful and unique-looking building and with its history it was perfect for our Victorian-type of story which we were trying to tell - something which would be a bit fantastical and remind you of old Grimms' Fairy Tales.

"The film revolves around a little girl a hundred years ago who keeps sucking her thumb and her evil stepmother who tells her that if she doesn't stop sucking it, the Suckablood will get you.

"It's like a children's book brought to life."

image captionThe Bloody Cuts series is expected to finish next year

The Franklins - consisting of mum, dad, sisters, brothers, granddad, cousins, uncles, aunts and a few friends - only started making movies a couple of years ago after Ben needed some help undertaking the Sci-Fi London 48-Hour Film Challenge .

Surprising themselves with a top 10 entry, the largely Norfolk-based family stuck together and allowed their creative juices to flow into the world of horror - providing the films with a cheap, but valuable resource of handymen and women.

"They all got the buzz from it," said Ben.

"In their day jobs they're sports coaches, engineers and plumbers - jobs I guess could be seen as quite mundane compared to what they see with us on the film shoots.

"When we started making the films they totally took to it and realised they had a lot of skills they could apply to filmmaking, so the people that had the electrical skills did the electrical work and those who had the artistic background built props.

"It was quite eye-opening as to how much of a good experience it was and it's a really nice thing to do as a family.

"It's the equivalent I guess of having a big band - maybe not like the Osmonds - but a similar thing."

Suckablood has since been submitted to a number of film festivals around the globe and Ben hopes that the Franklins' hard work will impress horror fans, and of course, a certain celebrity donor.

"All the money went into making the film, so hopefully the money's up there on screen and we've kind of gone the extra mile."

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