Lucky Mckee has had his ups and downs with various projects from the criminally underseen The Woods to the success of films like The Woman. With his latest, All Cheerleaders Die, Mckee collaborated with his old college buddy Chris Sivertson to relive their college days by fleshing out a short film to a full feature film filled with cheerful mayhem.
Here’s what Mckee had to say about the film, which is now available on VOD with a Blu-ray/DVD release on July .
Dread Central: Did your success working with Jack Ketchum lean you towards collaborating again this time around with Chris? What advantages do you find in that kind of mutual relationship?
Lucky McKee: Film is, in its essence, a collaborative art. It’s a blast to create stories with good brains. Chris and I have collaborated like this since we were teenagers so it’s pretty natural at this point. In fact, I’d say that my collaborative relationship with Chris is what paved the way for my work with Ketchum. The major advantage to working with a partner is having someone to call you on bullshit.
DC: Either with Ketchum or Chris, can you recall some moments of contention, or did everything run fairly smoothly between all of you?
LM: Pretty dang smooth. We both have our own ways of doing things, but the key to a good collaboration is to be accommodating to the artists you work with. This goes all the way up and down the line, from actors to crew to producers…everyone. Naturally, there were disagreements, but they always led to better ideas.
DC:Do you look at this film as kind of a fun reset after the intensity of something like Red or The Woman? Were you reminded a lot of your college days and the freedom that can come with that?
LM: Absolutely. It was a great way to see what we had learned since we started making features. Plus, the lighter tone was a relief after so many dark and intense films. It was much needed. It definitely called to mind the spirit of our college endeavors. That “seat of your pants” approach to filmmaking and the continuous experimentation.
DC: It might be somewhat of a sore spot because it didn’t get the treatment it deserved, but The Woods is definitely my favorite film of yours and I still show it to anyone willing. Have you reached a point with how you are working and collaborating now where you can protect yourself from the kind of interference and distribution problems that plagued such a great film?
LM: Hopefully so. It’s all about setting boundaries around yourself. You have to have ground rules or things just get wacky. I guess I’ve just gotten better at setting those rules. The budgets have gotten smaller, but there’s more creative control, which is fine by me. The budgets will go up if I keep my work protected and pure. I’m sure of that.
DC: This film definitely seems out of your comfort zone and I laughed when I first got wind of the film and your involvement. Do you think it’s an odd pairing, and do you think your experience on this film has expanded your idea of what you’re capable of as a filmmaker? Did it make you want to venture out even more on the next one?
LM: The whole idea of doing this film was to break outside of the creative box I had put myself in. It certainly has opened up my creativity and freed me up to experiment more with tone and style.
DC: What’s up next for you? You tend to take your time and really develop projects so it seems that you always have a lot of irons in the fire. Personally, I’d love to see another moody Lucky McKee period piece from you.
LM: Lots of irons in the fire, for sure. Developing a film version of the last book I did with Ketchum. That one’s called I’M NOT SAM, and I’ll be governing the production and overseeing the script. But I’m handing off the directing reins to an exciting new filmmaker by the name of Vanessa Menendez. She’s currently storyboarding the living shit out of it, and it’s an awesome process to watch come to life. I’m also in the midst of a new screenplay/book with Ketchum that’s very exciting but I can’t talk about yet. The only thing I can say is that it’s very different than anything we’ve done yet.
The high school-set comedy horror-thriller was written and directed by Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (The Lost, I Know Who Killed Me). It was produced by Andrew van den Houten (Funeral Kings, The Woman) and Robert Tonino (The Woman, In the Family) for Modernciné and stars Caitlin Stasey (“Reign,” Tomorrow When the War Began), Sianoa Smit-McPhee (“Hung”), and Brooke Butler and introduces Tom Williamson. The executive producer is Arrien Schiltkamp.
Teenage outsider Maddy (Caitlin Stasey; I, Frankenstein) is keeping some dark secrets and holding a serious grudge against the captain of the Blackfoot High football team. When Maddy joins the school’s elite and powerful cheerleading squad, she convinces her new friends to help inflict her revenge. After a late-night party goes awry, their plans take an unexpected turn for the worst, and all of the girls die. A sinister, supernatural power intervenes, and the girls mysteriously appear at school the next day with a killer new look… and some unusual new appetites.
“Sexy, campy, funny, subversive, angsty, and most importantly fun” (The Hollywood Reporter), ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE is a rebellious horror-comedy that redefines the genre.
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