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Q&A with Claire Dellamar & Nick Phillips, Filmmakers behind “Jezebel”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Claire: I always imagined if I was in a horror movie that I’d be one of the first people killed. I’m not a fast runner and I scare super easily. I’d be that girl banging on the door without trying the handle first. Like, is the door really locked? You didn’t even check!
Nick: RJ MacReady from John Carpenter’s The Thing. He plays chess, drinks Scotch, has cool hair and an amazing beard. What else can you say?

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
Claire:I don’t really believe in bad ideas because I think all ideas help move you towards the good ones. But I think in general, there’s just a different feeling when you have that great idea. You can’t stop thinking about it, and the world of it starts to form so fully in your mind that you feel like you can’t possibly NOT bring this story to life. That’s definitely how it was with Jezebel. And afterwords we toyed around with a few other ideas which we really liked, but which didn’t have the same spark for us. And we could just feel that it wasn’t right. I think you gotta follow the spark. It’s like a sign post, telling you you’re on to something.
Nick: In terms of this specific project Jezebel, we had to look at several different locations before finding the perfect one. I wouldn’t necessarily say they were bad ideas, but with some of them we really considered making it work and doing the best we could with those previous locations. In hindsight this would’ve been a bad idea. I’m glad we held out for the location we ended up using. That location was so integral to our ability to immerse the audience in this world.
 

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Claire:I think Nick is really the horror guy in our duo. He really loves the genre and knows more about it than almost anyone I’ve ever met.  I think that’s why this project was such a great collaboration for us. He really created the tension and the atmosphere we needed and I focused more on the emotional, personal element of the story.
Nick: Yes, or at least I’d like to think so. I’ve been a genre fan all my life, I attend horror conventions and film festivals, I start decorating for Halloween before Labor Day, and I’ve been producing, writing and/or directing horror content professionally for almost 25 years. My next producing job is for CryptTV and I had an essay published last year in the book My Favorite Horror Movie. Let’s just go ahead and say yes!

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Claire:I think Pinterest is actually an amazing tool. I like to create a board with any images that feel like the world. Even if it’s nothing that we’ll practically apply to the film. It helps to create the texture in my mind. Because this project was a period piece we spent time in prop houses and costume houses and that was really helpful as well. Our set designers were incredible. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when I walked onto the finished set for the first time. It was like walking into a different time. I was transported. I thought, ‘This is it. They nailed it.”
Nick: Stanley Kubrick and David Fincher. It begins and ends there.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Claire:Kill a bunch of dudes. Kidding. But I do like how this character is able to be in a position of power, physically, over her oppressors, and turn the tables in such an unexpected way. So many women throughout history have lost their freedoms and even their lives to the patriarchy, and fighting back in this way is definitely a dark, somewhat twisted fantasy of mine. And I’d also try on a bunch of fun dresses.
Nick: I would make sure to be careful if I took a bath with Jezebel in the room!

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Claire:Nancy from The Craft, The Predator, and Queen Akasha from Queen of the Damned. And maybe the shark from Jaws. Just so we’re covered coast to coast.
Nick: Vorhees and Myers for sure. Maybe throw in a Xenomorph for good measure.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Claire: Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. Post Apocalypse.
Nick: Jason. Stephen King. Practical. Post Apocalypse.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
Claire: I think the Pinterest board or your look book is the jumping off point. It creates a feeling. And as you start piecing things together you follow that feeling. We also just had a fantastic team that really understood our vision and they brought in so many ideas and solutions we hadn’t even thought of. The collaboration aspect of the set design is really key and such a fun part of the entire process. 

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Claire: I think it would be a tie between Get Out and A Quiet Place. I loved them both so much. The performances are incredible. And they’re just scary enough without putting me into a terror for weeks.
Nick: Friday the 13th Part 2