It’s the most wonderful time of the year where the city of Toronto celebrates the best in contemporary Canadian horror, genre and underground film. It is none other than the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival which is FERNTV’s most favourite festival to cover. We could have not of thought of a better way to start our coverage than to reach out to Vancouver’s own Bad Cookie Pictures who opens the festival with their short film Paint the Town Red. The film focuses on two women who decide to “Paint the Town Red” one night and attend an exclusive underground club in hopes to get hitched and a little lit. Unfortunately for the two, those who are at the club have other ideas for them. Paint the Town Red is the film that will spark fire to this year’s edition of Blood in the Snow. FERNTV caught up with both directors Ariel Hansen and Christoper Graham to discuss the makings of this film.
FERNTV: Tell us here on FERNTV of how this film came about?
Ariel Hansen – Paint the Town Red came about when we were invited to participate in a local film-making competition called Tales Beyond the Bar. The whole idea of the competition was to partner different bars around Vancouver with local filmmakers and to have each of them team together to create short films with the bars acting as the main
locations. We were paired up with a night club and neither of us are the clubbing type so we decided to take our film in a more horrificdirection.
Christopher Graham– We were hot off The Man in The Rabbit mask when Hammer & Tong invited us to be a part of their Tales beyond the Bar contest. Ariel thought it would be a good place for me to try my hand at directing and I was thrilled to. We decided to co-write and co-direct as it would help me ease back into directing and Ariel could focus more on her acting. It taught us a lot in terms of using available resources to maximize production value on a miniscule budget, as well as helping us network with people we’ve continued to work with going forward. Not only
that but it strengthened Ariel and myself as a creative team and built a strong trust between us.
FERNTV: The film reminds us of Dario Argento’s film Demons. Do you feel that this film had some influence on Paint the Town Red?
Ariel- I actually hadn’t seen that film in years, but I’m sure parts of it were percolating in the back of my mind while we were writing it.
Christopher– I personally have not seen Demons, but the Giallo film movement and recent resurgence had definitely had a part to play in inspiring paint the town red. The club was meant to have a very mysterious and surreal feel to it and I can certainly say I’ve pulled influence from Dario Argento for that.
FERNTV: The sound in this film has this dreamy type of sound. Can you explain why you wanted to do it this way?
Ariel – We wanted the music to lull the audience into a similar mindset to that of Andie and Josephine throughout the film and play with their expectations. That way when the twist came it was all the more shocking. Going into the film we knew music was going to be one of the most important aspects and we really wanted to support local artists so weended up licensing two songs from a local band one of our editors introduced us to call Black Magique and then had two songs composed by our frequent collaborator Kevin Williams.
Christopher– The music was meant to be intoxicating and draw the audience into the feel of the club. We wanted songs with a pounding dance beat but a little darkness to create a unique atmosphere and tone for the film. Our cinematographer and longtime friend Jordan Barnes Crouse recommended we look to indie band “Black Magique” who had two songs that were just perfect, and we went to our usual composer Kevin Williams to fill in the blanks. We knew music was going to be very important and had to make sure it fit just right.
FERNTV: Tell us what is it like to work with Ariel Hansen and what she brings to the table?
Ariel – She’s the worst, but Topher probably has better insights on this.
Christopher– Ariel Hansen is one of my closest friends and favorite people to collaborate with. She places a lot of trust in me and allows me a lot of creative freedom even from our first project together, “Ready to Burst”. Over the summer we dove in on a heavy amount of projects and I don’t think I could have accomplished as much with anyone else. On top of all this she always gives full effort and does amazing work and I’m truly grateful to be taking on these projects with her.
FERNTV: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?
Ariel – To me the biggest challenge was the weather. There was a snowstorm that day which isn’t too common for Vancouver, especially in March, so of course the roads were horrible. A lot of people, especially the extras, weren’t able to make it to set on time since most buses were heavily delayed. On top of that we only had to location for 8 hours since there was a live show that night. Efficiency was the name of the game that day.
Christopher – Despite having an arguably short prep period, the film seemed to come together fairly smoothly. The real difficulty was just that we had a short time in our location and the always difficult challenge of getting volunteer extras. Once we made the film though we seem to have found a good model for making good horror cheaply and quickly
FERNTV: Why did you want to get into the film industry?
Ariel – Ever since I was little I wanted to be an actor because I love feeling a reaction from an audience, whether it’s laughter, tears…or screaming. I initially got into directing (by way of writing) to make roles for myself as an actor, but bringing my own story to life was so fulfilling that I decided to pursue that area of the industry as well. I’ve been very lucky to know so many great filmmakers like Gigi Saul Guerrero at Luchagore and Jordan Barnes-Crouse at Off World Pictures who were able to give me some great advice before shooting started for my first film, Ready to Burst.
Christopher – For me, film is one of the greatest creative outlets. It requires you to use all forms of art to create worlds and characters to live in those worlds. It’s also an incredibly social medium as you have to collaborate to make a successful film. I feel it is the most complete form of expression and to me expression is everything!
FERNTV: Tell us about Bad Cookie Pictures?
Ariel – We started Bad Cookie Pictures officially when we filmed my first short film script, Ready to Burst. I had originally wanted to find someone else to direct it and I would only act in it, but when we were coming up short finding a director. Topher encouraged me to direct it myself. Before that we had also been collaborating on a feature script that we’re still working on now. Even with that first script we’ve been trying to find ways to even the playing field for women both on and off screen.
Christopher– Bad Cookie Pictures is a company Ariel and I formed a little over a year and a half ago. We aim to create engaging genre films and specialize in the art of horror. We are excellent collaborators and whenever possible like to give opportunities to female filmmakers as well as explore new mediums of storytelling. We’re getting stronger and better, Paint the Town Red is a film I’m very proud of, but I can’t wait to show what comes next.
FERNTV: What does it feel like to be part of Blood in the Snow this year?
Ariel – It feels amazing to be accepted by one of Canada’s top genre festivals! We’re quite sad we can’t make it out this year to experience the festival in person, especially since our friends at Off
World Pictures had such a great time there last year, but knowing that our film is opening the festival brings us a lot of pride. One of our actors, Gigi Saul Guerrero, will be at the festival representing her own film Bestia so we’ll have to bug her for a report on all the great things that happened there.
Christopher– It’s a huge honour! BITS has a great reputation and we’ll be playing alongside our friends at Offworld Pictures and Luchagore productions. We’re still fairly new and I’m proud that our work has managed to build such an appeal so fast and that we get to play against such heavy hitters in Canadian horror!