In The Blackcoat’s Daughter (starring Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, and James Remar), two girls battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break. We caught up with producer Bryan Bertino (The Strangers, The Monster) to ask him about working with director Oz Perkins (son of Anthony “Norman Bates” Perkins) and more about the project.
A24 and DirecTV will release The Blackcoat’s Daughter in theaters and On Demand March 31, 2017.
Dread Central: Did you come on board as a producer after The Blackcoat’s Daughter was made?
Bryan Bertino: No, my producing partner and I, Adrienne [Biddle], got involved in the project four years before it got made so it was a labor of love. We were sent the script… I can’t remember exactly how it got into our hands, but we read it and really fell in love with the project. It took forever to find the financing; there were a lot of starts and stops along the way, but this has been a pretty amazing thing for us and finally the movie is coming out after fighting so long just to get it made.
DC: Since it took a while, and since the girls needed to be young, did you have to recast through the process?
BB: I think throughout the process… I mean, yeah, Oz always had the types of girls [in mind], and part of the reason we knew, as a first-time filmmaker, that he was the right person [and] would be able to take it is anyone who spoke to Oz knew that he had a vision for what he wanted to do… as with any independent movie, it can kind of come together fast, and Oz always had an idea… and we knew we didn’t want it to feel like some sort of, you know, boarding school, sexy teen [film] and instead really wanted it to be a drama so we were looking for dramatic actors for a drama that is horrific, you could say.
DC: Even though it’s a totally different story, to me there was a tonal similarity to movies like Picnic at Hanging Rock.
BB: It’s funny that you would mention Picnic; that was a movie that came up. For Oz and I, the Seventies… was something very close to the both of us, not for how it feels but for how… you look at something like The Exorcist; it’s scary to think what a studio would want a version of that movie to be today. For me, the Seventies genre [films are] almost like the way television is today where you can spend a little time… even if it’s a high concept movie, you can spend time with character work, and so those were the kinds of conversations we were having… watching The Exorcist again and just remembering [films like that]… as a filmmaker what I love about those movies is the patience that they have, and I think that’s something Oz really responded to as well… one of the things I love the most about this movie is there’s a patience to it that’s hard to pull off, where it can take its time but still be engaging. I think that was always the balance… how do we capture that spirit of really allowing things to breathe?
DC: I’ve been a fan of Oz as a screenwriter for years; so tell me, how was it to work with him on the directing side of things?
BB: I think Oz is a really special filmmaker, and it was amazing to me to work with a first-time director who has spent his entire life around movies, actors, storytelling so he was bringing to the table almost an old soul for a first-time director… [there are] so many obstacles that one faces when they’re making a movie for the first time. If you didn’t grow up making student films and Super 8 movies, it’s like, “Wow, I’m going to be on set for the first time directing actors.” For Oz, these were the things that came most naturally to him. As a director myself, I was amazed at the confidence he had and his ability to communicate, which at the end of the day is the number one thing about directing a movie. It’s how do you, very quickly, explain your dream to a giant group of people with fifty different agendas and questions and get everybody on the same page? I think Oz has such a vision as a filmmaker and has so many of the skills, it was really easy for everybody to kind of fall in line. When I saw the first cut of this movie, I was so excited because after all this time, it was clear that vision he had set out to do, he was able to achieve.
DC: I really loved your latest film as a director, The Monster. In fact, I’ve been kind of an evangelist for it, telling everyone I know to watch it.
BB: That’s so crucial. As you know, in today’s age there’s not as much advertising dollars; there’s so many options, and movies can suddenly be on your computer, suddenly on your Amazon home page. I feel like more than ever… people have a real opportunity to spread the word… it really means a lot that you would pick it that high, not just because I want people as a fan to watch it or for you to watch it, but I can’t tell you how much it means to me as an artist because what the press can do now is almost more important than ever before.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter centers on Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), two girls who are left alone at their prep school Bramford over winter break when their parents mysteriously fail to pick them up. While the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences at the isolated school, we cross cut to another story—that of Joan (Emma Roberts), a troubled young woman on the road, who, for unknown reasons, is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. As Joan gets closer to the school, Kat becomes plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions, with Rose doing her best to help her new friend as she slips further and further into the grasp of an unseen evil force.