Yes, that's right: a feminist horror movie. Gillian's Just Right is an Edmonton-based film project currently working its way through Cineplex's new Cinecoup Film Accelerator. The movie's heroine, Gillian, sets out to solve a series of 'grizzly' murders, and rather than prancing around in her nightie wringing her hands waiting for the dashing man-saviour to show up, Gillian will use herself as bait to catch the killer.
Through the glorious power of the internet, I got to catch up to the mutli-talented, AMPIA nominated Actor, Writer & Director Lindsey McNeill to chat about the movie and the team making it happen.
1) Gilliansjustright.com has a pretty great summary of what the movie's about and a snazzy trailer... anything else you'd like to tell us about what we can expect?
I've been working on the narrative with a story editor, and we are really starting to develop more of the fairytale elements. We really want to draw on a rich mythology that is already embedded in our culture. We see these archetypes and morality tales in our bedtime stories, Disney movies and PSAs. These elements make our characters instantly recognizable and relatable, be it Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, the Hunter etc.
2) Tell us a bit about who's involved with the project.
Well, we actually have a pretty large team of local filmmakers and actors involved. I thought I would have to call in a number of favours, but people are really excited about helping out. The people who have been pulling the all-nighters for this project are:
Myself (Lindsey, that is)
Greg Arenburg - Local radio and web technology guru
Travis Barton - My cousin and partner in filmmaking
Lesley Claire - Long time friend and marketing pro
Dave Baron - Our brilliant director of photographer.
3) What was the inspiration for this project? Can you tell us a bit about how it's been coming together so far?
This is a passion project for me. It is a horror fairytale about rape culture and violence against women. It is pretty dark, but life can be dark.
We have been receiving amazing support from our local film community.
We've already made it to the top 60, and usually trend highly in the 'Popular" section of the Cinecoup website.
I think we're poised to do pretty well, but we are up against stiff competition. This is a talented country in terms of film-making.
4) Speaking of rape culture, I kinda want to smack that priest in the opening part of the trailer. What's up with that guy?
Right!? In GJR, we really want to explore what we understand as 'typical' stereotypes, and turn them on their heads. The dead girls, the sexist priest, the male protectors, the stranger danger, it is all there.
And we definitely lucked out with Kirk, who plays the priest.
5) The horror genre's not exactly known for its female-friendly film offerings. Why do a horror movie?
Why not horror? There is something that certainly pulls me into the dark.
As a woman, I have a story to tell and it's not about lollipops and rainbows. More and more women are consuming horror and looking to the genre for satisfaction, yet most production companies won't even look at a screenplay with a female lead.
I've been told that if I want my scripts to be successful, I should change Jennifer to Jack. But women are often the protagonist in horror. Even in films where they writhe on the floor in a wet t-shirt, they are often the last person standing against an unspeakable oppressor. So, unlike any other genre, horror has great potential for feminist narrative. Horror can remind us of the violence towards women and our inherent power of survival. Even in death, we witness the valiant struggle. Women will not go quietly into the long dark night.
6) Gillian: feminist heroine? Discuss.
Yes, she is. But she is complicated, like we all are. Gillian is an incredibly rational character, she doesn't believe that there are 'innate qualities' that attract the murderer to the female victims (her friends). She is methodical in her analysis of the situation, and in using herself as bait. Having said that, she doesn't fall into the classic emotional/rational binary either. That would be too facile, and frankly too lazy on my part. She is angry about her friends getting killed, but not overcome by her anger or fear.
7) So this Cinecoupfilm accelerator business looks interesting. Tell us a bit about what it takes to get a film off the ground with Cinecoup.
They probably couldn't have made it more complicated for the average person to dive into, but that is exactly what we need people to do! Basically, the public has a chance to watch, rate and vote on indie film projects across the country. Every two weeks we go through a round of voting. At the end of May, the winner of the project will receive up to $1 million in funding for their film, and guaranteed release in Cineplex Odeon.
[If you're finding the process a bit tricky to navigate, there's a handy-dandy video guide you can check out.]
8) If our fair readers are as excited by the prospect of this project as I am, is there anything they can do to support getting Gillian's Just Right to a silver screen near you?
If you are excited about the film, then you have LOTS of ways to support us. I'd say there are three top ways:
- Sign up with your facebook account at cinecoup.com. This will give you the chance to particpate in 'fan missions' and actually INCREASE your voting power [you can find the fan missions right under the trailer at gilliansjustright.com].
- Sign up for the Gillian's Just Right Superfan Club. This is our way to keep you in the loop, ask questions about what direction fans want us to go and give you sneak peaks.
- Vote for us !