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Horse Head: Season Zero is an art film masquerading as a science fiction narrative web series with a bit of flamboyant/queer/burlesque excess thrown in for good measure. The Horse Head character is a body/gender-fluid, super-intelligent, hedonist who always wears a latex Horse Head mask. They visit a version of Earth (#270) to enjoy human culture, make human friends, and party. Horse Head offers selected humans augmented mental powers — in the form of a horse-head-shaped device opening a pathway to a post-human lifestyle. The narrative will feature two queer couples getting their lives turned upside-down by the arrival of Horse Head.
Horse Head creator, Rob Parrish, is an award-winning filmmaker from Washington, D.C. His previous online project, Next To Heaven (nexttoheaven.net) was called “brilliantly bizarre” by The Guardian newspaper and “fascinating and addictive” by film-writer and super-star podcaster, Karina Longworth. See, nexttoheaven.net/about-press/ for more Next To Heaven press.
To cast the project, Parrish, with producer Chris Griffin, looked to the thriving burlesque community in Washington, D.C. “Chris was a part of the burlesque and underground theatre scene in D.C., so he was able to bring a lot of very talented weirdos into the Horse Head fold. Plus we were working with zero budget, so burlesquers brought their own sparkly costumes (Bonus!). This also fits in with the character of Horse Head who fetishizes the way the counter culture pushes back against the more conservative social norms of ‘primitive pre-Singularity worlds.’”
Describing the origin of the Horse Head project, Parrish said, “I was reading Ray Kurzweil’s book about the technological singularity, ‘The Singularity Is Near,’ and at the same time I got one of those disturbing horse head masks for Christmas — I thought, what if humans were offered the chance to become post-human super beings, but the entity making the offer was a bit creepy and suspect . . . what would we do?”
“The project is also an experiment in form, choosing to introduce the world of Horse Head via a series of 1-minute video dispatches,” Parrish said. “I came to this approach after making teaser videos that complied with Instagram’s 1-minute video length limit for profile posts. I liked the challenge of landing a story beat with a hard stop at 60-seconds, and found that the arbitrary limitation sharpened the material. The 52-week season, also echoes my Next To Heaven project where both seasons also ran 52-weeks. The long runway will give the project a chance to find its niche, if it has one. I’m not sure what the the subset of cinephile-futurist-burlesque-fans look like.”
The project will also be a bit of a puzzler for audience; from the jump, it will not be clear who is in control of the sound and images and why we are being shown these odd snippets of events from another dimension. The theme of the unreliable narrator is at the center of most of Parrish’s past work and is a vital real-world issue as we try to survive the shit-show of our current reality. The narrative structure was also influenced by the third season of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. “The summer that show came out, it hit me very hard . . . it was in my dreams several times a week, and always in my thoughts,” Parrish said. “After that summer, Horse Head became more fragmented and dreamy.”
Horse Head: Season Zero will released as 52 weekly mini-episodes through September of 2020 at horseheadshow.com.
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