An Interview with the Directors of Chill – By Kirsten Walsh

Not freshmen in the filmmaking scene of Ohio, Meredith Holland and Noelle Bye have an uncanny knack to bring the unique into the horror genre. With a resume that includes romantic comedies and documentaries, they took a special approach to Chill. Among the inspirations of the film, the funniest to me is the mention of the Girl Scout game- as many young girls would play this game- but to take that and turn it into a horror film is definitely a feat!

*   *   *

KW: So what is Chill all about?

MH: Chill is a live-action role playing game (along the lines of Clue) was a game that was played on a local campus in the 80’s.

NB: In which players all draw "yes"’s and "no"’s from a box, and whoever has the "yes" is the game’s killer. The killer then has to "kill" as many players as possible before he or she is caught. Whoever identifies the killer first wins the game. But if no one catches the killer, then the killer is the winner. One day someone took the game a bit too seriously and killed a bunch of players for real. Fast-forward 20 years and a scheming university student decides to resurrect the now taboo game as a web series. But as soon as the cameras start to roll, history begins to repeat itself.

KW: Sounds really spooky. Where did you ladies come up with that idea?

NB: Meredith and I were working on a different film with most of the Chill actors, who had amazing chemistry together. One night, I was watching Wrong Turn on TV when I had the idea to put all of them in a slasher together. I texted Meredith, and she said she had an idea for a movie, based on a game she had played as a kid. Originally, it was going to be a short, but Roger Conners (who plays Kyle) suggested the story was good enough to turn into a feature, so the three of us collaborated and came up with the basic premise for the film.

MH: Chill, ironically, is something I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember. It started out as a game that we played when we were bored at Girl Scout camp. This latest incarnation was created when I lived in North Carolina and my friends and I were bored. (Which was usually every night) At one point in time, there was over 20 of us getting together to play this game.  I had always thought that the idea of that game would be a good storyline for a script, but it wasn’t until I met Noelle Bye and the rest of the cast and crew that I realized that turning this game into a movie would be possible.

KW: The location- the theater in the film- looked awesome! Where was that and how were you able to secure the location?

MH: Noelle is completely responsible for all of the amazing locations that we had for Chill. When our first location fell through, Noelle took the reigns and got us locations that would work for what we wanted. It turned out that the locations that Noelle found for us worked even better than our original location. If we had gotten our original location, it is quite possible that Chill would have been a completely different movie.

NB: We actually shot the movie in several theaters and art schools around Northeast Ohio. We could only got so much time at those places, so we just used each space as often as we could and made it look like it was all part of one large building. For the most part, the locations were given to us out of the goodness of the staffs’ hearts, as sort of an artistic charity. The interior for The Stanwick Art’s Center was primarily filmed in the Ohio Dance Theatre, the Weathervane Playhouse, The Garfield Heights Center For the Performing Arts, and the Chagrin Valley Little Theater, among others.

KW: That is definitely neat, and it really looks like one space in the film! The cast was excellent as well, how was the casting process ?

MH: Locking down the cast was actually relatively easy. We had absolutely no auditions. The majority of the cast (including Roger Conners and Brad Arner)and Noelle and I had all worked together previously on another project. We all got along so well and worked so well together, it was automatic to bring them along, if they were willing, to do Chill. Everyone agreed to do the project before even a line of script was written. Our first rehearsals consisted of us playing the real game of Chill, to get everyone familiar with it. Roger brought Bella in for memorable role as Ch-Chi as well as the rest of the group for the cleaning crew, our Librarian Janine, and Erinn, who ended up playing Kelly Masters. I brought in Mike Kafury and David Gilmore. David automatically recommended Wednesday Vinson to play the role of Madame Iz.

NB: Most of the cast came from another film we worked on together, "Dark of Moon," which was a rom-com. They were a great team, so we figured they would do well in a horror movie. Roger Conners was one of these actors, and he brought in Bella Sin. In exchange, I shot several of her burlesque shows for promotional tools. The burlesque performances you see in the movie were all from these actual shows.

KW: Let’s talk effects- many horror films these days go towards using digital effects- how did you decide to use primarily practical effects, with prosthetics and latex?

NB: We had an incredible special effects team, Daniel Blain Click and Greg Lanning (who make up GD Effects), and they were skilled at making real prosthetics and creating effects on set, so we just let them go wild with their ideas. I’m not a huge fan of digital effects. I feel like the industry has become almost cartoonish. Plus, we wanted to create a throwback to the classic slashers.

MH: Kelly Rogers, who played the role of Raven, recommended Dan and Greg to us for our makeup needs, and we couldn’t be more proud of the work they did for us. Funding this movie ourselves, using latex and fake blood was our only real option. But we also knew, because of the way our movie looked, and the overall feel of the movie, that it would work out the best for us. Dan and Greg were fantastic to work with. I hope to use them again in the future, if it works out.

KW: What were some of your favorite moments onset?

NB: Any moment involving the special effects was especially fun. Without giving away any kills, my favorite was shot in this unusually warm attic using real pig intestines, which smelled dreadful. It sounds like an awful experience, but we were all having so much fun and got so slap happy that the yucky parts ended up being more funny than anything.

MH: There were so many great moments on set, it is really hard to pick one that was absolute favorite! But I think the one that sticks out to me the most was when we were filming one of the deaths in the movie. It was going to be the biggest special effects we were doing throughout the movie. It had been a  very long shoot throughout the day, and we filmed the death very late at night. We were all sitting there, in an attic like space, all holding our breaths, because we knew that this scene could make or break us. It was intense. But we all felt so proud when that day was over. We had accomplished a lot.

KW: What are your plans for "Chill" and where can people find it?

MH: Right now, Chill is hitting the film festival circuit. So the only way someone can see our movie is if they catch it at one of the film festivals. It was accepted to the 17th annual Indie Gathering International Film Festival, where we placed first in the thriller category. Angelia DeLuca, the talented actress who plays Maddison, has been nominated as best Ohio actress in a feature film. We were also invited to be a part of the film festival at Lonestar Con 3. Our movie will be showing there, in San Antonio, on August 31st. We are still waiting to hear from multiple film festivals.

NB: We plan to start submitting to distribution companies soon, to try and find the best company to unleash Chill on the masses.

KW: Awesome! Now, buzzing on the net, there have been some rumors about a "Chill 2" coming up. Is that true?

NB: We’ve certainly talked about it and possible ideas for it, but nothing is set in stone yet.

MH: We have definitely been talking about doing a "Chill 2." But, if we do decide on continuing the story, it probably won’t be until 2015. We really want to see how Chill does before we make any final decisions as to where the story is going to go next.

KW: So I guess fans will just have to keep checking the facebook for more updates on that! What is next for your team?

NB: I have another movie I was the director of photography on, called "Kandie Land", which premieres September 5 in Cleveland, Ohio. I’m also wrapping up another rom-com feature out of Akron, Ohio, and working on two other movies (both of which will once again star Roger Conners). Plus, I am planning to join forces again next year on new projects with both Meredith and Roger Conners.

MH: Noelle has been involved in many projects since Chill has finished, and I have had the joy on working for her for a couple of them. But we do plan on working together, like we did for Chill, next summer for a new horror movie that I am currently finishing the script for.

KW: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

NB: Get out while you still can! No, seriously, if you want to make a movie, your first order of business is to watch movies. Lots of them. Compare big budget movies with small independent films. Then start practicing. Shoot a few shorts, watch them with other people, and learn from your mistakes. And most importantly, learn the rules, so you’ll know the right times to break them.

MH: I would tell any aspiring filmmakers to not give up. This is not an easy road, but it is well worth it! Also, make sure you have an amazing team around you! The only reason Chill turned out as good as it did, is because of the talented team who were around me. This was a group project. A labor of love for all of us. If we all hadn’t been as passionate about this story, this movie would probably have not gotten finished!

Well indeed! Thank you Meredith and Noelle for the awesome interview, and we will definitely keep on the lookout for your upcoming projects!

*   *   *

More information can be found about Chill on the official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChillTheMovie/info

Also, check out the IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2103166

For more information on the production company, check out their website: http://www.mousenest.net/blog