New horror comedy ‘The Tragedy Girls’ blew audiences away at the recent SXSW Festival, and is set to flip the slasher genre on its head.
We got the chance to ask co-writer Chris Hill some questions about the film and what else he’s working on.
The Tragedy Girls seems like a fresh take on the slasher film, where did the idea come from?
Tom Morris and Jaz Kalkat (directing/producing pals of ours), were working with Anthony Holt and Kerry Rhodes over at It’s The Comeback Kids. They had optioned the original script some time before that. Tom and Jaz suggested Tyler MacIntyre and I come in to pitch a re-write as a potential directing vehicle for Tyler. To prepare, we hunkered down over Skype and started talking about slasher movies, what we loved and what we haven’t seen before. I think our goal is always to try and surprise the audience while staying in the general confines of a genre. Making the traditional victims of a slasher movie into the killers was where the conversation started, and that led to a ton of other ideas to build on.
The film seems to be getting very positive feedback from SXSW, how exciting has this been for you?
So stoked! I think everyone involved has been blown away by the response, and we’re very grateful for everybody that came out see it and has spread the word. We knew going in that SXSW was a great platform to premiere a movie, and it lived up to the hype. I’m already thinking about going back for some delicious Austin BBQ. The whole experience is surreal. Seeing the awesome creative work of Pawel Pogorzelski (DP), Mars Feehery (production designer), Dakota Keller (costume designer), and Russ Howard III (composer) in a great venue is especially exciting for me since they all worked on my first feature. It’s great to see everybody grow together.
What was it like collaborating with Tyler McIntyre on the project?
Tyler and I go way back to university (along with our Infinite Lives Entertainment producing partner, John Negropontes) where we made a lot of short films. We went different directions for education, but stayed in touch, and bounced ideas off one another. Finally we got to the point where we decided to start co-writing features. Generally Tyler is the horror aficionado and I’m the comedy guy, and together we have a pretty sardonic voice. Our first feature, Patchwork (coming out this June!), won Screamfest and played well in festivals, which led directly to this opportunity. We’re pretty close friends, so I’m grateful we’ve gotten to work together as much as we have.
Tell us about a memorable day on set of The Tragedy Girls?
Lots of days stand out for either really wonderful moments, or very challenging ones, but I think my favourite was the ‘#Remember Al’ sequence, which involves the townspeople being led by Sadie and McKayla in an ironic take-back-the-night march. As any producer can relate, staging a scene with a lot of extras, at night, with stunts is enough to give everybody an ulcer. The people in Springfield and Lebanon Kentucky were so awesome as hosts, and even better as background talent. There was a rolling rainstorm that caused pretty big delays, but most people, even kids, stuck around for the whole shooting day. Their enthusiasm was fuel for the scenes, and seeing it all come together was very special.
Get Out is being praised for being quite socially conscious, do you feel The Tragedy Girls is also quite topical given teenagers varied use of the internet and social media?
I just finally got to see Get Out and I loved it! That movie succeeds on so many levels. I think satire kind of lives in a specific cultural climate. I use social media, which can be wonderful, for say promoting a project, but the internet can also be a brutal, horrific, dangerous place. I think the movie is a hyperbole of the negative side, which is funny, and also frightening. Definitely one of themes is how social media has a very real impact on our lives, and how bizarre it is for kids to grow up with it as second nature.
What is the next project you’re working on?
Tyler and I are currently developing a project with Blumhouse, which is exciting because we’ve been a fan of them for years. I can’t say too much about it, except that it is very much in our wheelhouse.
How would you describe The Tragedy Girls to someone who had never heard about the film before?
It’s about two BFF’s in high school who kidnap a serial killer and start murdering people in their small-town to get hits on their horror blog. It’s also about friendship.
‘The Tragedy Girls’ is out now in selected theatres.