“The EVO was an invaluable part of our work. We couldn’t have made the movie without it.”
That’s Damien LeVeck, founder of Skubalon, Inc. and director/writer/producer of The Cleansing Hour, a Shudder Original that’s been racking up streams, screams, and rave reviews since its 2020 release.
LeVeck has always had a soft spot for horror films, especially movies about exorcisms and the paranormal. After building his own production company from the ground up with his wife and co-producer Natalie, LeVeck was well on his way to directing his first feature horror movie production.
In 2015, LeVeck began a long and fruitful pre-production process for The Cleansing Hour, the terrifying tale of two friends whose faux exorcism livestreams attract the attention of a very real—and very angry—demon.
After releasing a short film by the same name in 2016, LeVeck knew he was on to something big. He began a two-year process of putting together financing for the feature, and in 2020, LeVeck’s vision of a feature-length The Cleansing Hour came to life.
Horror film production is no easy feat. But with the workflow tools built into their EVO shared storage server, LeVeck and his team created a bone-chilling, demonic possession film that—I’ll admit—scared the pants off this author.
Cutting The Cleansing Hour on Multiple NLEs
It was more than the on-screen horrors that kept LeVeck and his team up at night. Filmed internationally in the USA and Romania with multiple sets, two film editing crews, four different NLEs, hundreds of post-production visual effects, and hours upon hours of high-quality footage, the production itself was a massive undertaking that led to many sleepless nights.
Skubalon cut the original short film in Avid Media Composer, using Nuke and After Effects for post-production visual effects. For the feature-length version of The Cleansing Hour, LeVeck and his editing team started using Adobe Premiere Pro for their post-production workflow.
However, when cutting early teasers of the film for sales markets in Premiere Pro, LeVeck and his team changed course once again. They returned to Avid Media Composer to edit the feature film, but decided there were features in Premiere Pro, Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve that better fit their editing team’s needs in certain circumstances.
Knowing that their EVO would work seamlessly with any editing software, Skubalon decided to make use of several NLEs—all four major video editing programs to be exact, plus two VFX software programs.
The horror film’s visual effects were created using Adobe After Effects and Nuke. Conform and color correction were mostly reserved for Resolve. The teaser was cut in Premiere Pro, and other deliverables were made in FCPX and Resolve as well.
“EVO’s project locking capabilities worked flawlessly,” said LeVeck. “We had every NLE working off of our EVO, and we never had any issues with replication or overwriting. It allowed us to make the movie almost entirely in-house.”
No matter how many VFX composites were added in post-production, how many project files were created, how many NLEs were used, or how many editors were accessing the files, nothing could slow down their team’s organization and editing process with EVO.
An International Horror Movie Production
With the exception of a handful of scenes filmed back in the US, the majority of The Cleansing Hour was filmed in Romania. The Los Angeles-based cast and crew were flown overseas for 19 days of filming, while LeVeck himself was on-site for two months getting everything ready for action.
The film is primarily set on a soundstage for the titular livestream. From the custom-built wooden throne to a commissioned painting of The Virgin Mary, every detail on set was purposefully and painstakingly designed to perfection. With so much time and effort spent on set design, LeVeck was careful to ensure the technology supporting the production behind the scenes was top-notch.
Skubalon used large-format cinema cameras extensively for principle photography. A local post-production crew wrangled footage and produced dailies after each day of shooting.
Every day, the production team would transfer footage onto shuttle drives to transport to the film editing team. From there, an assistant film editor would copy the media onto their EVO shared storage server so the entire post-production team could access the footage and start editing.
“If there’s one thing I would change for the next film, I would bring an EVO on set with me for every step of the process,” said LeVeck.
Having an EVO on set would eliminate the shuttle drive transportation delay and activate time-saving workflow solutions for their editing team. With EVO, post-production teams can access media remotely from anywhere in the world as soon as it’s uploaded to the server, so the faster media gets to EVO, the better.
An on-set EVO also enhances data safety and security. With Slingshot, EVO’s built-in automations engine and API, users can schedule automatic sync and replication jobs to ensure media is safely backed up in real-time.
A Bright Future for Future Frights
The Cleansing Hour released to wonderful praise and acclaim from genre fans and critics alike. The scary-good film screened at prestigious festivals like Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival, gathering glowing reviews. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Watch The Cleansing Hour on Shudder and see for yourself.
Reviews aside, LeVeck certainly enjoyed every minute of the project.
“My favorite part of making The Cleansing Hour was the challenge. It really is a test of character. That said, the best feeling is being on set making a movie at that scale. I was beside myself; it’s what I’ve always wanted to do my entire life.”
So, what’s next for LeVeck and his team at Skubalon?
Having learned from his experience writing, producing, directing, and editing his first feature film, LeVeck has his sights set on future productions—and future post-production workflows.
Recently, LeVeck produced a sizzle tape for a client’s television production using EVO’s offline proxy editing workflow with Nomad. Nomad is a remote editing utility included with EVO. It enables a familiar offline editing workflow so post-production teams can work from anywhere.
“Whether editing here in the office or connecting remotely or using proxies to get work done, EVO will always be an integral part of our work,” added LeVeck. “These remote editing tools open up a lot of doors for our team.”
One of those doors is offering low-cost dailies creation and remote workflow solutions to their film and television production clients. Aided by their 4 Bay EVO Prodigy, Skubalon can transfer, copy, and backup original camera files; sync, transcode, and organize on-set dailies; post the files online for web viewing; and deliver media to remote editing teams so editors can securely cut from anywhere with a low-bandwidth internet connection. For more information on Skubalon’s creative services and sinister work, visit skubaloncreative.com.
From frightening film productions to creative content for clients, LeVeck knows he can rely on EVO to help manage all of his team’s projects—no matter how haunting… I mean daunting.