Nov 3, 2022
As always, each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores how today's horror filmmakers are getting their movies made while deconstructing their methods and career strategies into practical insights that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey. This includes their creative processes, funding resources, favorite books & tools, key life lessons, and much much more.
Jean Luc Herbulot is a Congolese writer & director known for Dealer (2014) and the TV show Sakho & Mangane. His most recent movie is Saloum, a Senegalese horror-thriller about a trio of mercenaries escaping the 2003 coup d'état in Guinea-Bissau before taking refuge in a hidden region on the Saloum river of Senegal only to be at the mercy of supernatural forces.
So... I think I'm going to go ahead and say this was my favorite horror movie of the year. Yes, I know, SMILE, BARBARIAN, TERRIFIER 2, etc., etc., but there was something so fresh, so unique, and so stylish and memorable about this movie, the characters, the approach to horror, everything. I was thinking about the characters for weeks afterward, and overall, I thought it was a very fine film.
There's just something very refreshing about being exposed to a culture you know very little about in the context of a horror movie that brings into the picture lesser-known supernatural legends. Africa is abundantly rich with mythology around monsters, ghosts, and demons, and Saloum dives into this while delivering a kick-ass movie. Seriously, just see it and let me know what you think.
Jean Luc is a very passionate filmmaker and was a bunch of fun to talk to. We got into the making of Saloum, how he funded it with his own money and the difficulties and benefits of shooting in Senegal.
Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Jean Luc.
Dig in untapped mines.
Saloum was one of the freshest and most unique horror movies of the past few years. It made me realize the horror genre is getting saturated with very common western horror tropes that seem to repeat themselves. There are not a lot of African horror movies (two other really good ones are Atlantics and His House, both streaming on Netflix), but there are so many other countries, cultures, and mythologies to explore through horror. In the case of Jean Luc, there was a lot of rich African mythology to explore when crafting his supernatural horror element. Consider digging into the mythology of your own heritage for lesser-known stories that could lend themselves to horror. The genre needs it, and it's what keeps movies fresh, unique, and authentic.
One of the strongest elements of Saloum was the characters. They were some of the coolest I've seen outside of the Tarantino universe, and like I said, I was thinking about them for weeks afterward and would love to see them show up in more movies. Jean Luc began with the characters about ten years before finally putting pen to paper to write Saloum. As a result, they were fully developed and came from his own want for African heroes in his youth. Consider crafting your characters first and then finding a story that allows them and their identities to shine.
Work that side hustle. Jean Luc funded the majority of the movie from profits made directing and producing commercials. With a concept like Saloum, it likely would have been difficult to apply for funding so having a side career that allows you to both flex your filmmaking abilities while making money in a way you can scale up and down gives you a ton of freedom. This might not be a realistic funding strategy for everyone, but it worked for Jean Luc. Consider using your directing abilities in other profitable arenas, and you might be able to fund all or part of your movie through that.
In any case, don't forget to check out Saloum, now streaming on Shudder, and Jean Luc's tv show, Sakho & Mangane on Netflix. Thanks again for listening.
Produced by Simpler Media