Talk To Me, the latest horror offering from A24, possessed the Indigo Ballroom at Comic-Con with some exclusive footage and a chat with directors Danny and Michael Philippou.
The brothers began the panel by discussing their rise from YouTubers to feature filmmakers and how their roots in live action horror comedy videos aided them when working on Talk To Me. They told the audience they never intended to create content for the internet and have always had aspirations of making feature-length films.
“We felt like every single of our YouTube videos was building up to us making a film so it just felt like we were ready,” Danny said. “We kind of fell into YouTube. We never went into YouTube wanting to be YouTubers. We wanted to make feature films, but that was an avenue that gained momentum quickly, and it was so much fun.”
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While they may have “fell into YouTube,” the decade spent on the platform allowed them to experiment with plenty of the techniques that they would eventually use on Talk To Me, Danny added.
“Every video we’d like to try and design up a new fight scene or a new rig or a new blood effect, or something with music,” he continued. “We always accept these challenges for ourselves, for the videos that we were making, just so we could see if it was possible to do some of these things, and then just to keep gaining experience.”
During the panel, the audience was also treated to a scene from the film, in which star Sophie Wilde becomes possessed while sitting in front of a group of other young people who are taunting her as they record videos on their phones. The scene, as well as the film in general, was inspired by a video Danny once saw of people recording as someone reacted negatively after taking drugs (and also a short film sent to them by one of the producers of the hit kids series Bluey, funnily enough).
“Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop,” Danny said. “And then within eight days, I had like 80 pages for a script.”
Talk To Me was independently produced by Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films, who produced horror hit The Babadook, before A24 picked up the distribution rights at Sundance. But that didn’t mean that A24 didn’t have a heavy influence on the film even from afar.
“We’d always reference A24,” Michael said. “We never thought we’d actually get picked up by them. But we’d always say like, ‘That’s very A24 of you to linger on that shot.’”
The brothers said that they turned down interest from a larger studio during the production process out of fear that they might lose creative control — a move that they admit was a roll of the dice, considering they had no clue how things would unfold once they said no. But ultimately, their hands-on approach, while unconventional, led them to make the movie “about 97%” the way they wanted to.
“When we went to edit the film, I had an edit of the movie, Michael had an edit of the movie, and the editor had an edit of the movie — and the editor would be like, ‘What the f*ck?’” Danny joked.
Added Michael: “We just care too much about every single shot…So it was tough to walk away from that guaranteed theatrical with a big studio, but we were able to make it our way. So we just made a movie that we’re happy with.”
Talk To Me hits theaters on July 28.
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