For every successful horror film director there are dozens – if not hundreds – of wannabes who just wish they could break into the horror film industry. Well, it's not impossible, but you're going to have to do some serious work in order to be noticed and listened to. Tough horror has a range of sub-genres and it doesn't matter which one you go for when planning your first film. If you get the essentials right then you have as good a chance as anyone of getting into the business. It may take a while before you make anything like The Exorcist or Saw, but you can cut your teeth on smaller projects to start with.
It's not all about Hollywood
Of course, that's where you probably would like to end up, but many countries have thriving horror film industries, including the UK. The country was famed in the 60s and 70s for its horror films made by Hammer, a company that is still operating, and there are opportunities for aspiring writers and directors to learn a lot from this and other horror film companies.
Perhaps the most important thing is to learn your trade, whether you want to write, direct, create special effects or work on the technical side in cinematography, lighting or sound. One method could be to take a higher education course in an area such as film or media studies – or a combination of them – at an institution such as the University of Bolton. The university provides a number of courses in the area of Creative Technologies and Media, aimed at aspiring filmmakers.
Becoming a horror film writer
Writing anything creative can be a lonely pursuit but if you want to write successfully, you need endless practice and patience. Take the time to read as much as you can about the genre, and this includes, in particular, all the screenplays for horror films you can get your hands on. They will give you a lot of pointers into how best to write for the screen, and it's worth not just reading scripts from films you really like but also from those that you don't – those could give you insights into what may have gone wrong. Then it's a question of keeping writing until you think you've come up with something really good, then maybe someone in the business will take a look at it and agree with you.
Becoming a horror film director
Once you've learnt the technical nuts and bolts, try making a short film to get started. It could be a part of a larger screenplay that you send out as a taster, or just a self-contained horror film that uses a simple set, strong actors and a great idea. There is no reason you cannot go on into the business. In the end, it comes down to creativity, imagination, perseverance – and a chunk of luck!
Look into the possibility of a course, keep reading and writing, and above all, don't give up!