[Exclusive] We Spoke to Eli Roth About Making a Horror Movie for Snapchat

"They prefer it rough," Roth says about Snapchat's growing audience.

Jul 20 2015, 10:00pm

Behind the scenes of Eli Roth's Snapchat murder mystery. Images courtesy Crypt TV.

At 7 PM PST last night, a murder mystery produced by Hostel mastermind Eli Roth will disappeared from its Snapchat-exclusive internet home for good.

The film, posted through the Snapchat account for Roth co-founded media outlet Crypt TV, begins with Logan Paul, Nick Bateman, Acacia Brinley, and seven other Vine-famous filmmakers invited to meet a mysterious benefactor at a creepy mansion before drinking wine served by a creepier butler. Naturally, one of them keels over, poisoned, sparking a panicked death spree throughout the building. The question of who is killing all these Snapchatters has spurred over one million opens on Snapchat and since yesterday, as well as hundreds of tweets trying to guess the murderer.

Stuffed with cheesy dialogue and characters that disappear in seconds, the lo-fi film doesn't look like the viral videos made by Devin Supertramp or Action Movie Kid—yet it's turned into an international phenomenon. This, Roth says, makes perfect sense for Snapchat.

"People don't go onto Snapchat for perfection. In fact, they don't like it," he tells The Creators Project. "They prefer it rough. When someone's holding the camera and they're just looking right at you. Because Snapchat is about immediacy and that personal connection with someone."

Eli Roth lights the set.

Snapchat presents a host of challenges to filmmakers trying to burst into the new medium. Roth and Crypt TV worked with production company the Culprit Creative in learning to accept the 24-hour time limit, teach themselves Snapchat's brand of "vertical storytelling," and shoot each scene with no cuts, edits, cropping, color-correction, or VFX polish. "It felt when I'd shoot with my VCR in the 80s. I had to shoot it in-camera, in order," Roth recalls. "I'd spend all week planning the shot. I had to hit record and pause at the exact moment, and stop it. And when you play it back at the end of the day, you're finally watching the whole video and you can go, 'Oh yeah that's so cool!'"

His 30 years of experience with Snapchat-like filmmaking seem to be paying off, since we were waiting with bated breath for the 7 PM announcement about who dunnit.

"It's really fun to watch this whole thing unfold," Roth says. We asked him for a hint about the real killer, but all he would reveal is, "Everything you need is there, in the snap. People have solved it. I'm trying not to retweet or favorite anyone but all of my Twitter followers figured it out."

If you figured it out first, let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @Creators_Project.

The film's social media celebrity-studded cast includes Logan Paul (11.6M followers across Vine, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram), Nick Bateman (6.3M), Acacia Brinley (5.3M), Alex Busriss (4.4m), Lia Marie Johnson (4M), Jack Baran (3.6m), Simone Shepherd (3.5M), Jake Paul (2.3M), Josh Leyva (2M), David Dobrik (1M).

Update: The murderer has been announced! At 7 PM PST Crypt TV released the ending on Snapchat: it was Lia Marie Johnson.

For more inspiring stories of fearless filmmaking, watch the first episode of The Creators Project's Art World series, A New Wave of Iraqi Cinema:


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