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Kate Nash and Rebekka Johnson talk SXSW short Wild B*tch

Ahead of its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Bloody Flicks caught up with writer/director/actors Rebekka Johnson and Kate Nash to talk all about their bonkers short Wild Bitch.

Tell us about the writing process for Wild Bitch?

Rebekka: Kate and I actually started to outline Wild Bitch over text message! Kate was listening to the soundtrack to “The Shining” when she happened upon a Youtube video of a local news story about a woman who woke up with a coyote in her bedroom. The music gave the video an eerie quality and inspired her to use it as a jumping-off point for a short. We created a backstory and developed the world for the characters during many socially distant pandemic hangs. We tried to let our imaginations run free without thoughts of budget or logistics in order to be as creative as possible before we edited it to a doable place.

Did you always envisage this as a short?

Kate: When Glow didn’t get picked up mid pandemic, we were both so devastated we wanted to continue to work together so we made a promise to make a short film. We had no idea what it would be about. We just knew we wanted to work on something fun. We’d been pitching other ideas as a creative duo but the great thing about making a short is it feels achievable, we could do this ourselves with the help of some crowdfunding and we wanted to make something instead of just pitching something. It’s important to take things into your own hands as a creative person instead of waiting for the gatekeepers to let you in.

While extremely gory, Wild Bitch is so funny, how did you balance the horrific and comedic elements?

Kate: I am horrific and Rebekka is hilarious. People often say we go together like Ghostface and a rubber chicken.

Rebekka: Nobody says that. Ha. We used the comedy to lure people into the world of the characters and then once we got them hooked with our bonkers style, we hit them with the gore. Kate is a huge horror fan and had a strong idea of how to create the scariest moments. I like to cut all tension with jokes even when it’s not appropriate. So our sensibilities came together for this in a fun way.

How did you and Kate divide up the writing and directing of the film?

We started on text, going back and forth about the idea, then started a Writerduet document and just kind of kept tweaking it. For the directing, we would have long discussions, crafting emotional moments between the characters and how we saw it in our heads. Then we worked together with our cinematographer in each location to break down the shots. Directing and acting in most of the scenes together was a bit of a challenge but we’re so happy we chose to go that route.

Did you have conversations about doing something like Wild Bitch on the set of Glow?

Mainly on Glow, we wrestled, iced our knees, took ibuprofen, ate nerds candy and got told off for group singing. The rest of our time on set was spent adjusting camel toe so we only really had space to work on something like Wild Bitch once Glow was cancelled. Every cloud…

The character of Melanie (played by Kate Nash) feels like a cheaper version of Gale Weathers from the Scream movies, what can you tell us about crafting this character?

Kate: That’s amazing, Gale Weathers is an iconic character. With Melanie, I wanted to create someone who is desperate to do well but not focused at all. She’s not actually that good at what she does. She’s unhappy, frustrated and wants it to come easily to her. She’s desperate enough to go into the woods and apparently to sacrifice her co-worker. I think you can push characters into dark spaces if you make them desperate enough. If we had more time, I’d love to take that idea further. I’m interested in who people will be rooting for when they watch it as each character is definitely a little off.

Your character of Barb is extremely socially awkward, how did you go about crafting the character?

Rebekka: For Barb, I took inspiration from Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery combined with some introverted and quirky people I know. (I won’t say who – ha). I worked on her physicality and voice, her ticks and facial expressions. I also wanted to make sure all the layers of Barb were evident. I wanted to show how she was coming out of a painful place and finding her inner power. I loved playing Barb even though I wouldn’t want to cross paths with her in real life. .

It must be exciting to be screening at SXSW right?

This was our dream and number one goal so we truly can’t believe it. We’re so excited!

I have to ask about Glow, why do you think Netflix pulled the plug, its end felt very abrupt?

I think it’s a real shame as I feel like Glow has such a specific style. It’s diverse and really good quality and it felt so disappointing that we got dropped when we’d already started shooting, had sets built, costumes made and scripts written. I mean the truth of it was that they didn’t want to continue to spend the money so, they let us go.

What is next for you?

Kate: I just finished my 5th album so I’m working on releasing that and I get to go on tour for the first time in years! My tour is in May for about a month in EU/UK! katenash.com/tour for more info! 🙂

Rebekka: I am currently developing a romcom script, a television series and I’m getting ready to direct my first feature! But for both of us, we are looking to turn Wild Bitch into a dark comedy series and we cannot wait to pitch it and see who gets on board!

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