While consistently directing commercials and music videos, Fede Alvarez also made several short films. In 2009, he released the effects-heavy sci-fi short Panic Attack! via his personal YouTube page.
Fede Alvarez: "Panic Attack!—the short that Sam Raimi saw and ultimately got me [Evil Dead]—was something that I did out of my love for filmmaking. That's a good example of almost everything I did in the past, because I did basically everything on that short. I learned every aspect of filmmaking throughout all the years of shooting homemade movies since I was 7-years-old.
"Panic Attack! is a $300 alien invasion movie, and there's no way you can make that movie with that kind of money. The only way you can make it that way is if you do everything yourself and hire a few extras. We bought sandwiches for the people who showed up and ran in front of the camera. And that wasn't a place that we shut down with permits or anything; it was just a bunch of people running around while I shot them with a small camera.
"When people were questioning the fact that I made Panic Attack! with such little money, I had to keep telling them that I've been doing that sort of all-on-my-own thing since I was a kid. I know how to do every aspect of filmmaking.
"I really wanted to share it with the world. I didn't want to go to a bunch of film festivals and show it that way. I took it to one film festival, in Buenos Aires, which is a two-hour ferry from Montevideo. It was this horror/sci-fi/genre festival, called Buenos Aires Red Blood, and I went there and showed it one afternoon; there were about 20 people in the room. Nobody really cared about the short film section. After that, it was just like, fuck it, this is pointless. Nobody's going to see it this way. Let's just put it on YouTube and spread the word that way.
"After a day on YouTube, it had around 500,000 views. I put it online at the right time and the right place. YouTube had just started its HD format; before then, it looked like shit, but this was when you could finally put stuff on YouTube and it'd look great in HD. This was also around the time that Facebook was exploding; everybody was opening a Facebook account. It helped Panic Attack! because people started posting it on their Facebook pages and it spread like wildfire.
"Even without the whole Hollywood thing, and without the movie deal that came from it, just being able to get it out there and knowing that seven-million people have seen it, it's a great feeling. And that's not even a whole lot in terms of YouTube. A lot of other videos have more views, but if you think about it, Panic Attack! is five-minutes long; most of those other videos just have a cat falling off a table or something and they're only 30-seconds long. It's easier to click through them, watch them, and move on. I'm proud that I've gotten so many people to watch a longer video."