How to Make a Successful Five Nights at Freddy’s Movie

With the recent announcement of both Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 coming out this August and a movie in the works, it is a great time to discuss this rapidly growing series. It seems as if every couple of months, creator Scott Cawthon has been releasing these short, stressful games appeasing fans and theorists alike. While these roughly two hour long experiences work as games, is it possible for it to translate well to a film?

According to history, the answer is “no” for the simple fact that there hasn’t been a good video game to movie adaption yet. However, this game has such an interesting lore and simplicity to it that it could be the first good video game movie.

So, how can it be good? Well, here are some ideas:

  1. Make it a Straight Horror Movie but with Comedic Elements
  2. Set it in the Early 90’s
  3. Shoot it in an Abandoned Chuck E. Cheese
  4. Follow the Source Material, but Interpret it in Your Own Way
  5. Keep the Budget Low and Fast Track the Film

The set up of Five Nights at Freddy’s is very simple, which is part of what makes it so good and what will make or break this franchise as a movie. A key to making this work as a movie, is to make the tone a serious horror movie but with comedic elements sprinkled throughout the flick. The set up of haunted animatronics is so silly, it would be weird for there to be absolutely no humor in the movie. However, most of my friends (including me) were scared of the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics growing up, so the humor should be used sporadically in order to keep a consistent tone. To bring the authenticity of the horror, the movie should also be shot in an abandoned Chuck E. Cheese and have the movie be set in the early 1990’s, much like the first game was. That may sound difficult, but from a production standpoint  it’s actually not. Shooting in an old Chuck E. Cheese would actually save the production some money since they wouldn’t have to build a set. Even now, productions use abandoned or closing establishments to save money. In fact, recently filmmaker Kevin Smith made a deal to shoot his latest movie, Mallbrats, the sequel to Mallrats, inside a mall that is about to close. Timing is everything when it comes to this, so the hardest part of shooting in an abandoned or closing Chuck E. Cheese is actually finding one.

The last two points I made kind of go hand-in-hand considering these steps would have to be taken care of in pre-production. The writer of the movie should definitely follow some of the main stories and themes that were presented in the series of games. However, as anyone who actually played the games will tell you, the lore of the series runs deep and is highly up to the players interpretation. Because of this, the writer should play through the first game and interpret it his or her own way to form the story. To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if the movie turns out to be using mostly fan theories, and if that’s the way it is done, the movie viewers and fans of the games will find the movie to be too predictable. Another danger writing-wise is that the series’ creator, Scott Cawthon, is involved with the production. The writer should listen to what he has to say about the story but also remember that Cawthon is a genius game developer, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a great storyteller or writer. It will be a very dangerous line to walk when scripting this flick.

My last point is that this movie shouldn’t cost too much to make. The franchise name will be marketable enough, so no big-named actors really need to be put in this movie from a marketing perspective. The budget of this movie could easily be made for around 5 million dollars with an additional 1-3 million for marketing. As long as a good chunk of the budget goes to building the animatronics, this movie will have money to spare by the end of production. Oren Peli would make a great director for this project considering he knows how to make a low budget horror movie into one of the biggest franchises in the world, like what he did with Paranormal Activity back in 2009. Regardless of what you think about Paranormal Activity, it’s hard to argue that the first movie, which was the only one directed by Peli, is a well-shot and well-paced movie that was made on an insanely small budget and was an astounding success.

With the budget being low, this movie should also be fast tracked. The movie should come out when the game is still popular and in the zeitgeist of pop culture. With the fourth game in the series coming out this August and supposedly being the last game in the series, the movie is getting closer to not being able to strike while the iron’s hot. For maximum profit, this movie should be released anytime between April and October 2016 before people stop caring about Five Nights at Freddy’s as a series.

This movie has the potential to be the first good video game to movie adaption, it’s now just a matter of if the filmmakers care enough to ensure quality rather than making this a simple cash grab.

Why We Love the ‘Heist’ Genre

Heist

It’s been said time and time again but it’s true, we as gamers love to play the bad guy. In terms of a movie premise, you could say that as the bad guy, you win every fight except the last one, maybe it’s so fun that we don’t care what happens at the end of it all? Maybe it’s just that we’re tagging along for the thrill of the ride?

Of course, as in all negative media attention, video games that highlight the robbery genre have been accused of glorifying a life of crime, but I prefer to think of it as an escape or release. Several games that take on this theme of criminal activity seem to borrow heavily from classic Hollywood motion pictures of the past, a perfect example of this would be the Grand Theft Auto V‘s ‘Blitz’ Heist which depicts heavy influence and shares similarities to Michael Mann’s Heat (1995) that are just uncanny. Although both highly exhilarating and enjoyable to observe, the difference with video games is that we as a player have the opportunity to take control of something that is so out there and (hopefully) completely out of our comfort zone.

Many of the cinematic aspects to these heist movies seem to also translate well in video game experiences. Take Kane & Lynch: Dead Men for example, although the game suffered from clunky controls, it displayed a dark story with intricate characters, none of which were simply black and white but more a blend of shaded grey that revealed deeper layers into their background as you progressed through the game. There’s always one moment in a game that stays with you through your life and for me it was the Retomoto Tower rappel. The descent, tense composition of music and explosive breach all come together to deliver this beautifully intense memorable moment. Further on in the mission when you push through the streets of Tokyo with cops all around you, once again, it made me feel as though I was playing the iconic bank robbery scene from Heat. Movies like Heat, The Town, Bonnie & Clyde, Point Break, Inside Man and Reservoir Dogs, all these movies center around the theme of Robbery in some form or another and the ‘Heist’ element, in my opinion, has now evolved over the years from a sub-genre to a standalone genre in itself.

It’s not just the high risk adrenaline pumping experience that keeps us coming back for more, it’s also the perks that come along with it. Payday: The Heist and Payday 2 are excellent illustrations of how preparation and planning serve a purpose to your overall outcome on a heist. There is something awfully satisfying about getting together with a crew and plotting your moves step by step. Whether it be choosing an entry/escape point, dealing with security measures or deciding which gear to bring along, everything is about exploiting the rules and the situation. Gamers love to break the rules, no matter what the circumstance is, if there are rules and laws out there, chances are we as players want to exploit them purely for the purpose of releasing our imagination away from the real world or even sometimes it’s simply a form of stress relief. Dealing with crowd control, becoming a demolition/technical expert in safe cracking, the getaway driver, all those notorious roles that we see time and time again in the movies, we get a chance to take responsibility for these ourselves when we play a game of this genre and it in all honesty, it feels pretty exciting!

With GTA Online recently releasing their Heists mode, there’s no doubt or question that owners of the game will dive straight into this content without hesitation. As well they should, it was one of the highlighted selling points from the initial trailer and if you do play regularly with friends online, games like this are a perfect way of banding together and successfully completing a series of cooperative obstacles.

It’s a challenge, and we as the player want to tackle and conquer it. The world of high risk, high gain, although dark, lawless and filled with consequence, it’s an appealing fantasy world with a potential large sum reward as an outcome.