By: Christopher Waters @GHBHpodcast
I recently had the pleasure to speak with filmmakers David F. Sandberg (not to be confused with David Sandberg creator of Kung Fury) and his wife Lotta Losten. This Swedish couple has been taking the Internet by storm with their incredibly creepy and terrifying short videos, most notably for their short Lights Out. Lights Out has been an Internet sensation since it was uploaded in 2013 gaining (to date) about 21 million organic views, and is now currently being made into a feature length film. Lights Out has turned into a major Warner Bros. production movie with filmmakers like James Wan attached to the project. If the name James Wan sounds familiar its because it should — James Wan has been responsible for some big motion picture films like The Conjuring and Insidious. Lights Out will be the first feature length film directed by David F. Sandberg and will receive a wide release July 22, 2016. It will also star his wife Lotta Losten who plays a character named Esther in the movie.
As much as this article is about one of the most anticipated horror films of the year, is more about David and Lotta's origin and their uncanny ability to instill an immense amount of fear in you all in about three minutes or less — no easy task. David’s love for drawing slowly introduced him to the world of film and led him to start creating animation videos in 2006, which had a lot of success on YouTube. The success of these animations, which spread across Scandinavia, prompted a woman by the name of Lotta Losten to reach out to David and congratulate him on his success, reigniting a relationship from all the way back to about when they were 11 years of age. The two were married in 2013. This is where the “horror” began, so to speak. David and Lotta began making no-budget horror shorts in their apartment starting with a horror short with a dash of sci-fi called Cam Closer. Though originally a lover of the art of theater performing, Lotta began acting and creating films, working with David on all the shorts you will now see on YouTube. And it all began with Cam Closer.
The same year Cam Closer was made, the short Lights Out was also made, Directed by David and Executive Produced by Lotta. David and Lotta created Lights Out for the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge, a contest in which filmmakers were to create a three-minute horror short. David says the idea for Lights Out came from his own experiences. He says there are times when he wakes up the middle of the night, and while still half asleep will look into the darkness of his apartment and see shadows and figures coming at him. Lotta must shake him out of it telling him: “It is just a dream!” Lights Out unfortunately did not make the top six at the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge, but David did win Best Director. I don’t know about you but I would love to see the shorts that beat Lights Out because I can honestly say Lights Out is the most frightening horror short I have ever seen.
Listen to the short audio clip below from our interview of David explaining the influence of 'Lights Out.'
This contest did not halt the success of Lights Out — a couple months later starting on Reddit and spreading on the Internet like wildfire, the short went viral and that’s when David and Lotta began to receive numerous calls from people wanting to turn their horror short into a feature film. “The first one to contact us was a horror festival in Scotland and I remember thinking wow this huge!” Lotta says, but the day after that call from Scotland's big shot producers, agents and studios from the States were calling David and Lotta wanting to turn their three-minute short into a Hollywood Horror.
And just like that David and Lotta were packed on a plane and flown to Hollywood, California to begin production of one the most anticipated horror films of the year, right along with The Conjuring 2. David is now attached as a Director for the new horror film Annabelle 2 also, which is currently in pre-production and due for release sometime in 2017.
To wrap up, I wanted to highlight a key thought of my own I had after my talk with David and Lotta. This thought is themselves David and Lotta: They are a team — a pair of filmmakers who have worked together creating multiple shorts like Attic Panic, Closet Space, Coffer, Lights Out and many more. It is easy to lose sight of the artist’s identity when a movie is thrown into the Hollywood tornado, covering it up with phrases like: “From the director who brought you The Conjuring and Insidious.” I absolutely mean no ill intention toward James Wan — this is how business is done in Hollywood, and James Wan is a producer attached the film. But just remember David and Lotta are artists that created a no-budget horror called Lights Out in their apartment. Together they created something that everyone wanted to be apart of.
Finally I asked David and Lotta if they will continue to create more horror shorts. They responded with a resilient YES and will be making more shorts in their new apartment in Los Angeles. Be sure to check out all of David and Lotta's shorts over at Davids website and check out Lotta's website as well.
You will be able to hear the full interview with David and Lotta when we release the episode in July, so head to the iTunes store and subscribe now!