Welcome back to the series where I post the behind-the-scenes details of our Just Scare Me Horror Shorts.
After all the time, money, and emotional energy spent behind the scenes to make Autoslay, Erica and I wanted to keep this round’s horror short simple and confined. We wrote a story with two actors in a room, and little else. Yet, we didn’t just want any two people. We wanted Erica’s best friends in the whole wide world to embody these characters.
We had seen Mary in several other shorts over the past few months and assumed she was so busy with everyone else asking her to participate in their shoots that she wouldn’t have time (or say yes) to ours. But after we premiered Autoslay, we learned that was far from the case and that she would love to work with us. Thus, our conversations of collaboration began. But again, what could we make with only two people?
We had some other short ideas that seemed doable, but with the focus of our actors’ immense ability and range in mind, we were able to create a relationship in crisis. We tweaked a story we had about a couple who argues about whether or not their toddler is the literal spawn of Satan.
In this version, the two women are on the outs, one convinced their son is a demon, and the other convinced her wife is crazy. It’s the typical gaslighting scene you find in the second act of any typical horror movie before the partner of the main character finally sees the monster in question for themselves. So essentially, this is a brief scene from that theoretical film.
We were fortunate enough to have our collaborators from Autoslay, DP Jonathan Lewis Louis, and First AC and Colorist, Celeste Cassidy, rejoin us for this short. We shot at Angela’s apartment and finished the gig within four hours. I said three, and clearly, it seems I’ll be forever bad at estimating accurate shoot times.
To achieve the effect of the baby demon’s eyes, we took one of our small LED light strips and wrapped it in cinefoil black wrap cut in the shape of two demonic eyes, and sandwiched a red gel between the layers. The result was the effect you see at the end of the short.
All it took after that, was for me to wear a black ski mask and clothing and stand in a dark room as Jonathan panned over to find my eyes as they grew with the height of the morphing demon.
I’m most proud of the performances that the ladies gave because they really sold the pain of their argumentative history regarding the sudden change of Violet and her child. There was a lot of unmentioned resentment from Cara because she couldn’t bear their child, and she felt like Violet was throwing that fact in her face. I couldn’t have imagined such phenomenal performances like theirs when writing the script. That was all their natural skill as actors and their long-standing history as friends kept their relationship real.
All in all, this is one of my favorite shorts we’ve ever done so far, and it’s all thanks to Mary, Angela on-screen, and the amazing work of Jonathan and Celeste behind the scenes. And a very special thanks to Erica who always keeps my work honest and asks the right questions and keeps our shoots true to life all the way from the conception to showing of each short.
And finally, be sure to watch this short here.
“All Violet wanted to do was to let her wife know that their child was the literal spawn of Satan, what’s not to understand, Cara?”
“Mother’s Milk” – Just Scare Me #11 (2/19/22)
Copyright – GuyOnAWire Productions 2022
Starring: Mary O’Neil as Violet & Angela Worth as Cara
Written & Directed by: Jamie Gagnon & Erica Vitullo
Cinematographer: Jonathan Louis Lewis
1st AC & Color: Celeste Cassidy
Music & Sound Effects: Jamie Gagnon and Pond 5 (via License)
Special Thanks (as always) to: Buz Wallick & Just Scare Me