Exclusive: First News and Stills from the Set of Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch
This writer hit Stage #3 last night at Gower Studios in Hollywood, California, to pay a visit to the set of director Duane Journey’s currently shooting horror/thriller Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch and while their chatted with one of the feature’s leads, actress Molly Quinn. Read on for her take on the project as well as some exclusive candid stills.
Written by first-time feature screenwriter David Tillman and starring Twilight actor Michael Welch as “Hansel,” Quinn as “Gretel” and Lara Flynn Boyle (Men in Black II) as “Agnes” the witch, the film revolves the latter character, a centuries old crone who lives in Pasadena, California, and lures teens into her house with a special blend of marijuana in order to eat the adolescents in an effort to maintain her own youth and beauty. The film is being produced by James Cotton (Madison County), Brett Hudson and Mark Morgan with executive producers William S. Beasley and Michael Pollack.
Shooting day nineteen of twenty-one, actress Quinn took a break from the soundstage (which had been dressed to resemble a veritable forest of marijuana, with prop plants twenty feet high and bearing buds the size of an adult’s fist) to chat about her role.
“It’s been going great!” stated Quinn, whose best known for her turn as “Alexis” in the television series “Castle”. “I’m really enjoying it, and everyone’s really cool. It’s great when you get to work with people that are willing to teach you and are open to your interpretations.”
Of what drew the eighteen-year-old actress to the project, “I love the (Brothers Grimm) story of Hansel and Gretel,” she said. “It’s already a gory story. It deals with infanticide and starvation, and with this (project) it’s been amped up with severed legs and buckets of blood, and it’s my first horror film!”
Regarding the SPFX makeup being provided by Vincent Guastini and his company VGP Effects & Design, “Sadly, I haven’t gotten to have any prosthetic work, and I was very sad about that,” Quinn mused. “But what they have done looks incredible. The zombies look great, and watching our witch (Boyle) age back and forth is incredible. I was shocked at the detail and how good it was. You don’t know what to expect until you are on set, and when you see something that’s so great, it’s just ‘wow.’”
As for the physicality required of her character, “I’ve done a lot of stunts on this, which has been fun,” stated Quinn, who in addition to acting has a background in martial arts and stunt choreography. “I got to beat some people up, and I love doing action so for me that’s what really drew me to this - that action element of the rescue more than the horror, but I do like horror, and it’s fun when you can get the two together and have it be something really special and unique and not just run-of-the-mill. You do have to keep your energy up though (for the action). You just find yourself eating a little more chocolate (on set) than usual I guess.”
In informing her character of Gretel, Quinn deferred to the unique perspective of Tillman’s script.
“I think what happened with this telling is that we took out any parental influence,” the actress told us. “In this one Hansel and Gretel are very much left to their own devices, and I think that’s why the witch has met her match, because these are unsupervised kids that don’t know really, well, not right from wrong, but they’ve been modernized. We also have a quicker pace, and there’s some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ in there, and some more fantastical elements as well. I think it’s really interesting, too, what we are doing with our ‘trail of bread crumbs’ sequence, and I think people are really going to get a kick out of that. There’s some dark comedy in it, too. Most of it comes from the character of “Bianca” (actress Bianca Saad), who’s really the comedic one, who’s there to help my character rescue her boyfriend from the witch.”
“Well, you know Gretel, she smokes with her boyfriend,” Quinn continued of her character, “but she’s not like a pot-head, but her boyfriend is definitely like a pot connoisseur (which is what draws him to the witch), and so when Gretel comes into that world, she realizes how in over her head she is. She wonders, ‘How in the world is this happening?’ And that’s really when things start to click, and she and Bianca get together to rescue him, and it becomes a life or death situation.”
“We could not have a better person to play our witch,” Quinn offered of Lara Flynn Boyle’s inclusion. “She just has this down, and you never know what to expect (from her), and it works so well that way because one take she’ll do it one way, and then the next take she’ll be all the way over there, and it keeps it lively. Usually that would be a problem for continuity, but when you have a character like Agnes that supposed to be so off the wall and where our reactions are so based off that, it’s really been a huge help for the other actors to have her.”
Quinn effused regarding her director as well.
“He’s the best,” she offered of Journey, whose previous filmmaking experience includes production involvement in various key positions in many a horror flick, including the genre films Waxworks, Julia X 3D and 2001 Maniacs, among others.
“Duane is really good at getting his point across, and I really appreciate that because sometimes directors pussy-foot around an actor because they don’t want to hurt their ego or anything, but with me for instance, he’ll just kind of look at me, and I’ll go, ‘Okay, I know what you what,” said Quinn, who was decked out in a modern yet old world ensemble created by costume designer Elizabeth Jett. “That’s kind of our thing. I like to hear specific adjustments. The script is great, too, and the dialogue is awesome, and every day David (Tillman) has been coming up with new stuff and ways to make it better. I think he knew coming in that things would be organic and he was prepared (for that).”
“I think the film really has the potential to be the next cult classic,” Quinn concluded. “The way I’d describe this film is a mix between The Big Lebowski and Hot Fuzz.” (Writer’s note: Given the amount of gore on-hand in the impressive teaser trailer producer Cotton screened for me minutes later, I’d have to add, ‘…by way of Hostel’ to Quinn’s comparison).
Coming soon we'll have more coverage from our visit to the set of Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch in the form of interviews with the film’s director Duane Journey, actress Bianca Saad and the witch herself, actress Lara Flynn Boyle.
In the interim to stay up-to-date with the production, visit the official Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch website, "like" Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch on Facebook, and follow Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel & The 420 Witch on Twitter.
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