If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
With her 20th birthday arriving next month, Emily Hagins has
only a little while longer to enjoy (or endure) the label of “teen filmmaker.”
She has by now earned the simple designation of filmmaker, with three features
(all horror-oriented) under her belt, including today’s DVD/Blu-ray release,
the vampire comedy MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE.
Distributed by Dark Sky Films, ROMANCE stars Elaine Hurt as
Kate, who’s about to head off for college but first goes with her friend
Allison (Lauren Lee) to the SpaceCon genre convention. She’s hoping to run into
her crush, supermarket cashier Paul (Patrick Delgado), at the con, and does—but
unfortunately, he has recently been vampirized by Vince (Devin Bonnée), a
bloodsucker dating back to the ’50s. When Paul accidentally “turns” Kate, her
friends have to figure out how to cure her condition before it’s too late.
ROMANCE, which follows Hagins’ ghoul opus PATHOGEN, made when she was 12 (as
chronicled in the documentary ZOMBIE GIRL: THE MOVIE; see review here),
and her ghost story THE RETELLING, balances teen courtship rituals and gentle
satire of the convention scene with a surprising amount of bloodshed given the
lighthearted tone. And of course, ROMANCE touches on that teen-vampire
franchise that has been so conspicuous in recent years…
FANGORIA: Is MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE a response to
EMILY HAGINS: In a way, but without negativity. I don’t
think there’s anything productive about maliciously making fun of someone
else’s creative endeavors, but we do acknowledge that TWILIGHT exists within
our universe too, since the timing of our film was important.
FANG: What was the initial inspiration for the movie?
HAGINS: It came from a combination of wanting to do a teen
vampire film from a real teen perspective while the genre was still prominent
in pop culture, and to place that film in the setting of a homemade sci-fi
FANG: How was the production put together?
HAGINS: We had a very short shooting schedule—only about 14
days. We created the layout for the convention within an actual hotel, and the
“movie-world” layout of the con. Our shooting schedule was predominantly
determined by the geography, and our shooting days were long. But I’m very
lucky and thankful for our extremely talented and hard-working crew, who seemed
to be running on enthusiasm throughout the shoot.
FANG: Has the attention you’ve received from PATHOGEN and
the ZOMBIE GIRL documentary helped in putting together your subsequent
HAGINS: Probably in some ways, but I like to think I’ve
grown a lot as a filmmaker since those movies. I think they help communicate to
people that I will finish my projects.
FANG: How much of ROMANCE’s script was inspired by your
experiences at real conventions?
HAGINS: A lot of the layout and teen awkwardness came from a
sci-fi convention I go to every summer in Minneapolis called CONvergence. It
has a real homemade feel, unlike Comic-Con. It’s more of a celebration of
geekdom by geeks, rather than an advertisement for all the new movies/TV
shows/games coming out. There’s definitely a cool place in the world for that
too, but CONvergence is where I had the most experiences to draw from.
FANG: Was it a balancing act, setting a comedy at a
convention without poking fun at conventiongoers?
HAGINS: That was a big factor for me. I would consider
myself a geek, and staying respectful of congoers was just as important to me
as staying respectful of the teen voice in the film. I think there are some
easy stereotypes you could poke fun at with a movie like this, but ultimately I
believe that style of humor would add up to a shallow film.
FANG: Did you aim to create your own vampire lore, or just
riff on the established mythology?
HAGINS: I mostly riffed off of established mythology, and
made up a few rules to fit my story. But since the characters were using what
they knew as geeks to figure out how to make things right, I wanted to create
vampires they would already be familiar with, without much of a
FANG: As a teenager yourself, what advantages do you think
you have over others making “teen films”?
HAGINS: I love the awkwardness of that age, and I think
there’s a lot of humor there that’s often glossed over in some mainstream
movies and TV shows when they’re caught up in an unrealistically heightened
sense of drama. I hope the teen experience in this film can be relatable
through its awkwardness and humor, and that the kids feel like real kids.
FANG: Were any of the leads cast from among your pool of
friends? Have you established a “stock company” at this point?
HAGINS: They’re all actors, but I did know some of them
beforehand from various places. Some of them were more theater-oriented, and we
had to balance their techniques with the kids who were more comfortable with
improv. But they were all very professional and dedicated, and I think we’re
all open to continuing to work together on projects.
FANG: Where did you film the convention scenes, and how
tricky an undertaking was that?
HAGINS: It was all staged in the hotel, with some rooms
doubling for others—and some extras doubling for others. Almost every
crewmember makes a cameo appearance [laughs]. But there are a few clips of
B-roll from CONvergence in Minneapolis for some of the very large crowd shots.
FANG: You’ve tackled zombies and vampires so far; any other
horror characters you’d like to tackle in future films?
HAGINS: There are a couple of other monsters I’d like to
explore; we shall see!
FANG: What happened to your previous feature, THE RETELLING?
HAGINS: It is around; I’ve just been kind of sending it to
anyone who asked for it. It was very much a transitional film for me, a
necessary step between PATHOGEN and MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE. And it’s very, very
dark. It was a huge part of why I wanted to move to comedy.
FANG: What can you tell us about your next movie?
HAGINS: It’s a Halloween coming-of-age story about
18-year-old Tony Phillips, who doesn’t realize he is too old to be
trick-or-treating. Nothing supernatural, just a growing-up story in the vein of
FANG: Have you taken film classes, or are you completely
self-taught? Do you feel one has any advantages or disadvantages over the
HAGINS: I have taken a couple of classes, but they were
mostly experience-oriented. I met some good friends there and made a couple of
fun short projects. I always love learning, though. I think everyone has a
different path, and for me it has mostly been self-taught.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment