Raised in Greymouth, heavy metal fan Jason Lei Howden left high school at 17 to work as a cameraman and editor at a local TV station. After attending Avalon Film and Television School in 2005, he moved into visual effects. In 2013 Howden won the Make My Horror Movie contest, which awarded him $200,000 to direct a feature. The result was acclaimed horror comedy Deathgasm, about teen heavy metal fans who accidentally summon demons in a conservative town. Howden followed it with 2019 action comedy Guns Akimbo. Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe stars as a man fighting for his life, while the world watches online.
I’ve been a big horror nut for as long as I can remember. I’d go through the old VHS video stores and hire every movie and go through them day by day, ticking them off. That was my horror education. Jason Lei Howden on his love of horror movies, in an interview with The Lumière Reader, 23 July 2015
Designed to provide a “perfect storm” of gore, guitars, girls and comedy, Deathgasm involves two young heavy metallers who accidentally summon up a demon. Blazing a bloody trail at festivals across the United States, the film was born from the Make My Movie Project. Four hundred pitches for a low budget Kiwi horror movie led to one winner: this tale inspired by the metal and movie-mad youth of digital effects man and director Jason Lei Howden. After debuting at US festival South by Southwest, Deathgasm won keen reviews, and festival slots in Sydney and Aotearoa.