“Visually arresting. Hypnotic.”– Beeston Film Festival
The Self-Seers is an award-winning K-horror short, shot in Jeonju, South Korea. Written and Directed by M.D. Ridley. Produced by Yeom Shin Yeong and M.D. Ridley. Starring Song Na Rin, Kang Seong Kyeong, Kim Chae Jeong, and Park Mi Su.
Synopsis: Grasped by increasingly horrifying, brutal bouts of sleep paralysis depicting a malevolent double, Korean high school girl, Yu Ye Ri, is faced with the thing she fears most – her shadow self. When the sudden death of a sleeping classmate is uncovered, it appears Ye Ri and her friends may each, in turn, suffer the same fate.
“Haunting. Striking imagery. A brilliantly unsettling mood piece with truly cinematic visuals.”– Twelve Cabins
The Self-Seers was selected for a total of 47 film festivals internationally (including nominations and honourable mentions), was a semi-finalist on 7 occasions, a finalist 6 times, and won 6 prizes.
- Frostbite International Indie Fest, Colorado Springs, United States, September 2, 2020, Best Horror Short Film Winner
- Košice International Film Festival, Košice, Slovakia, January 11, 2021, Best Indie Short Film Winner
- Golden Sparrow International Film Festival, Sirkali, India, February 5, 2021, Best Horror Short Film Winner
- Adbhooture Film Festival, Kolkata, India, March 2, 2021, Best Psychological Horror Film Winner
- Cotswold International Film Festival, Cotswolds, United Kingdom, March 7, 2021, Best Horror Short Winner
- Tagore International Film Festival, Bolpur, India, April 30, 2021, Best Short Film Winner
Here’s a 30-second teaser I cut for Halloween, 2019 – under the tutelage of Robert Rodriguez, who wisely suggests filmmakers show interested parties a trailer when asked about their movie, as opposed to stumbling over their words trying to explain it to them. It’s always easier to show them.
I obviously ripped off Alien (the greatest theatrical trailer of all time) and went with pure visuals until the final prayer/line of the teaser (and short), which translates as, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet,” and eventually became the alternate Korean title Shin gave the film: Sleep Will Be Sweet.
I thought it might be interesting to share my initial “scratch draft” of The Self-Seers. Here it’s simply called, Untitled “Sleep Paralysis.” I wrote it in a single sitting, following a morning medical, in a quiet gourmet coffee shop named Cafe The Herringbone in Jeonju. I used story notes, and already had in mind what would happen and where, but this was the first pen-to-paper draft of the film. It contains the majority of what eventually manifested itself, aside from the ending, which fluctuated and altered up until the day of the shoot.
This is a series of storyboards I drew on my Wacom Bamboo Slate around the same time. Many became existing shots in the final film. There’s a deleted scene of Ye Ri taking pills, which was shot but cut for time. According to the annotation, on the first of December 2018, I watched the Netflix documentary, The Nightmare, about sleep paralysis as research for the short, so I included my (hopefully legible) notes and thumbnail sketches from that day here, too.
This is my final draft of the screenplay from July 21, 2019 – a shooting script, using the working title of Shadowselves. This was translated into Korean for our actresses to study. I removed my address and contact details, but otherwise it’s exactly as it was.
The final dialogue is highlighted in yellow. This was to aid an Italian .srt subtitle translation during the festival submission process, by specifying which lines had made the final cut, making the job a bit easier. I left it that way as it’s a neat and clear guide to the dialogue which was deleted, lost in translation, never even shot, or eventually cut for time.
I still feel, although I’m incredibly proud of The Self-Seers, due to budget and time restraints, the script makes for a far better film than the final piece. The horror throughout – the more prolonged sleep paralysis sequence, in particular, is stronger and if shot, I think would have taken the film up a few notches intensity-wise. Nevertheless, we ended up with something subtler and more suggestive.
Here’s a before and after of our initial poster, and the 2020 festival laurel version, which was doctored on Procreate and used throughout the entirety of our festival run up until the public online premiere on October 31, 2021.