Multi Dimension Independent Film Festival

Award winner
August, 2022

Explore the brilliance of ‘/demo_n’ in this interview with filmmaker Gary Francis Roche


The film “/demo_n” captivates its audience right from the beginning with a truly fitting title that reflects the essence of the story. The opening scenes are masterfully edited, creating an immersive experience that gives the impression of personally operating the film. The narrative unfolds with the introduction of an email offering a free game demo to Gary, who eagerly dives into the virtual world.

As the game progresses, an eerie atmosphere begins to envelop the story, hinting at an underlying sense of unease. What initially seemed like harmless entertainment takes a dark turn as the virtual game starts to seep into Gary’s real life. The sudden and unexpected impact on Gary adds a chilling dimension to the plot, transforming the entire scene into a genuinely scary experience.

Despite being a brief horror encounter, the film excels in delivering a spine-tingling narrative. The impeccable editing and the innovative storyline contribute to a sense of dread that lingers even after the film concludes. ” /demo_n” stands out as a testament to the effectiveness of concise storytelling, leaving a lasting impression on the audience with its top-notch presentation and compelling ideas.

Dear Gary, your portrayal in the remarkable narrative of “/demo_n” is truly inspiring. The resilience and determination exhibited by your character go beyond the screen, serving as a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Your performance resonates with audiences, showcasing a depth that transcends mere fiction.As the central figure in this gripping story, you’ve brought to life a character that not only entertains but also inspires. 

May this film be just the beginning of a journey filled with success and creative fulfillment for you. Your dedication to your craft shines through, and we encourage you to keep editing and creating such impactful films. Keep moving forward, exploring new horizons, and pushing the boundaries of storytelling. May success accompany you on every step of your artistic journey.

About Film:

When a young girl suffers a stroke, an universal portal opens up to give her spiritual aid and a strong message to humanity.Based on a true story.

Director Biography: Gary Francis Roche

Gary Francis Roche is a storyboard artist, animator, and editor, who dabbles in independent filmmaking with a sheer drive and relenting tenaciousness to become a film director; having made his early attempts in short films, and documentaries. He had recently graduated from Escape Studios in London with a bachelor’s degree in studying computer animation.

He also directed/wrote/produced and orchestrated the indie-animated horror short/trailer, Burger Royale: A Short Prologue back in 2021, which won a total of 15 awards, and earned 2 nominations and an honorable mention at the ShockFest Horror Factory, where it took home the award for ‘Best Animated Film,’ during its yearly run in the festival circuit.

He had just recently worked as a Junior Animator on the brand new pre-school animated series, Pop Paper City, which was distributed by Aardman Animations.

Gary was also trained in acting at the drama institution, The Poor School, before making the transition into filmmaking and animation.

Director Statement:
Getting the opportunity to be a director, I would say, allows me to culminate and utilize all of my skills and knowledge that I picked up over the years in the creative world that I have on my belt into one profession, all for the sake and love of visual storytelling, and entertaining an audience.

Gary, let’s delve into the questions.

1. Can you share your inspiration behind creating “/demo_n”? What motivated you to make this particular story?

I had just fulfilled my contract as a Junior Animator on a pre-school series called Pop Paper City, during the Summer, and I became unemployed, and during that time I needed to keep my wheels spinning. I was in the middle of production on an independent animated short that I’ve been working on for 2 years now which I’ve been working on part-time while I was working as an animator. Then I came across a few competitions where you must make a 2-3 minute horror short for a chance to win cash prizes. So I seized the opportunity and set out to make my own short. The idea of /demo_n came from relying on my intuition and utlising all the resources I had at my disposal to create an effective piece. The inspiration behind the idea came from horror movies that specialise in the found footage/computer screen sub-genre. One particular movie that I looked at was the computer screen horror film called ‘Host.’ I researched that the director made a 5-minute short of how he got his friends together on a Zoom call to join a seance which turned out to be a prank that he secretly recorded which then became the proof-of-concept that caught the interest of Shudder to reach out and offer to invest in making it into a feature adaptation. Having come across this piece of information bled innovation that felt within reach for me, and applying my arsenal of tools I’ve picked up and disciplined myself in for the past 7 years in the mix that evolved into what became the premise for my short.

2. The opening scenes are masterfully edited. Can you discuss the creative choices you made to ensure an immersive experience for the audience?

The creative choices behind editing the opening were mainly an intuitive process. I look for the feeling of the pacing and getting it right before observing the continuity, and relying on my knowledge of movies that successfully execute the tried and tested formula of the horror genre. The first step was to build the suspense and set up the atmosphere and feel of what the audience will be in for within the first 15-20 seconds. Since this is a piece that is confined within a 3-minute runtime, the challenge was finding a way to be able to build enough suspense to get the audience immersed and time to explore the world of myself in the real world captured through the perspective of my desktop and the world of this 16-bit video game that creates this bridge that the entity travels between.

3. The description highlights the virtual game seeping into Gary’s real life. How did you conceptualize and execute this transition in the storyline? 

The concept of the virtual game component was more of a ‘what if.’ Picking up from your first question regarding my inspiration behind this short and having watched a lot of found footage horror movies, I notice a trend where they all involve a Maguffin of some religious significance or a seance that a bunch of college kids purposefully perform that invites an unwanted visitor from the bowels of hell who comes to torment them. I also wanted to contribute my skills in animation, and some basic trickery in practical and visual effects I’ve taught myself in, and the idea of a cursed video game just came to me, and as a subject matter that is pretty hip and appeals to the modern audience. I wanted to shake up the status quo by not falling into the same trappings that audiences who are familiar with the sub-genre would expect and approach it in a way that was refreshing by having this cursed video game just randomly get emailed to this guy’s computer out of coincidence.

4. The film is commended for its innovative storyline. What challenges did you face in crafting a unique narrative, and how did you overcome them?

There were many challenges in almost every stage of the process, and a lot of organisation, especially being a production where it was just myself making the film. The character design and 2D animation process was in itself a tedious process. Compositing the pieces of the environment in the game interface sequence was also a time-consuming process, and learning to matchmove the layers in sync with each other to imitate the camera travelling as the playable avatar scrolls past making it look like we are watching a live walkthrough of a video game being played, and making it look authentic, such as the time it takes for the player to decide to hit play, or briefly familiarising with the controls to move the character which made for quite a task for me to execute in the editing process. Another challenge was how hard it was to act with nothing but the camera on my desktop, the first shot took me almost 17 takes to make myself feel comfortable and give a performance that was subtle, and staring at a particular spot on my computer screen imagining where the notification will pop up. The most challenging one of all, which was also the most painful, was when I performed my stunt for the sequence when I fell from the ceiling to the ground following through with what happened to the avatar. I relied on the duvet and pillows from my bed that I placed on the floor which I thought would help cushion my fall which turned out didn’t and instead led me to land harshly on my coccyx in two out of the four takes of performing that stunt. That was a lesson learned that I’ll take on board in the future when I work on another project that involves stunt work.

5. How do you hope the audience will react to “/demo_n,” and what emotions or thoughts do you aim to evoke?

I hope the audience is entertained by it. There is nothing like getting a crowd of people in a room and watching them react to your work, watching them scream, or laugh at the thrills and chills like a roller coaster ride, and then hearing them share their thoughts and opinions about it after viewing it, there’s something pretty electric about that, especially if it’s a horror piece. There is something to learn from the shared experience in seeing what worked and what didn’t work that I can take on and get better at in my next project.

6. How do you strive to connect with your audience through your films?

Relating to the previous question, I like to take a step back when I look at what I’ve made and watch it as if I were a member of the audience observing what I get out of it in how it is paced, what I’m visually conveying in these scenes are clear or not, and then from there I would test it out by showing it to a few friends of mine in getting their take on it. Going through that process just bleeds confidence and not cringe at my work when I do share it with the public. Whenever it is a piece of work that I own that I made independently I share it through all social media platforms, and on my YouTube and Vimeo channels to reach out to as many people as possible in an instant, as well as submit them to festivals and find an audience.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who are just starting their journey in the industry?

We live in a day and age where everyone carries a movie camera in their pocket and free software that you can download onto your computer to help you cut together your movie with sound and music. I’d say if you want to be a filmmaker. If you want it so badly then you should write a short screenplay every night and get together with a few friends, or connect with other like-minded people who share the same passion as you and shoot something in a weekend that within reach that is feasible with the resources that you have at your disposal, and then show it to your friends, or your family, or your worst enemy, and see if what you made is working, what isn’t working, and then move on and write another short screenplay every night and shoot another short the following weekend, and just keep on making shorts and that way you are learning and perfecting your craft. You find new challenges with each film you make. The more you keep on doing this process you will be a filmmaker.

8. When reflecting on your career, what legacy or impact do you hope to leave through your body of work?

 I’m still in the early days of my journey as an aspiring filmmaker but I think what I hope to leave behind is having made movies that I hope have entertained people, and maybe having made something that set off that same creative spark like I had when I was captivated by a particular movie that set me on my path in wanting to become a filmmaker.

9. As you continue to shape your career, how do you envision yourself in the next five years? Do you see yourself primarily as a storyboard artist, an animator, an editor, or perhaps evolving into a filmmaker?

I hope to see myself making full-length features, and keep on making features for the rest of my life. Every skill I’ve picked up and disciplined myself in throughout the years such as storyboarding, being an animator, editing, operating behind the camera, and learning visual effects have all been crucial in my journey to achieving the ultimate goal, which is to be a director, and these tools that I have picked up has helped me become a better filmmaker, and finding value and appreciation in every aspect that goes behind making a film, and this is something I want to keep learning with every opportunity I set for either myself or by someone else as a director and getting to oversee all the departments and working with a team, and keeping them excited about what they’re working on, which I find is important, because then that joy and passion of working on a production will show in the result which bleeds onto the audience’s joy of watching it as much as my team and I enjoyed making it.

10.  Are there any upcoming projects or genres you are interested in exploring as a director, based on the success of “/demo_n”?

I think a good story can come from anywhere, having educated myself by watching the work of directors whom I admire I’ve since widened my horizon of being open to any genre as long as there is a good story that can captivate me and sets off that drive within me in wanting to make it, so I don’t have a particular project or genre in mind; but never say never, maybe one day I’ll come across a piece of material that blows me away and winds up becoming a passion project that I end up fighting with studios over to invest in.

We are delighted to have delved into the rich tapestry of Gary Francis Roche’s experiences, marveling at his exceptional editing and animation skills. His brilliance as a filmmaker truly shines through, leaving us inspired and in awe. Listening to his journey was a gratifying experience, and we genuinely appreciate the opportunity to connect with such a remarkable artist. Personally, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for the chance to engage with someone of his caliber. We hope you found as much joy in hearing about his experiences as we did. Thank you once again for being a part of the MDIFF Community. Your presence and outstanding contributions are sincerely valued. Stay connected, and we look forward to continuing this journey together.

Contact us: [email protected]