The Movie Waffler Interview - HUNT HER KILL HER Directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen | The Movie Waffler

Interview - HUNT HER KILL HER Directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen

Interview - HUNT HER KILL HER Directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen
We spoke to the co-directors of the tense single location thriller.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by Greg Swinson and Ryan ThiessenHunt Her Kill Her stars Natalie Terrazzino as a night shift janitor forced to fight for her life when masked raiders break into the factory she's been employed to clean.

We spoke to Swinson and Thiessen about their impressive low-budget collaboration.

Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen

You first collaborated on 2006's Five Across the Eyes. How was your partnership formed?

Ryan: Greg and I met in high school when I got cast in his movie adaptation of the Mortal Kombat video game series. I was cast as Raiden, Reptile, and probably one or two other masked characters. We never completed the film but continued to work together on various home-made action movies, including a pretty blatant rip-off of The Crow. I also realised that I was a little better suited behind the camera. After high school, Greg went on to film school and I went to college, but we continued to work together in the hopes to make a feature film one day. A few years later, we did – which was Five Across The Eyes. And we've been working together ever since. 

Could you give us an insight into how your co-directing process works? Does one of you focus on the actors while the other concentrates on the visuals or is it more of an equal collaboration?

Ryan: Greg and I work together all throughout the writing process. He is 100% the writer, but I help with the brainstorming and feedback process as the script is written. So, when it comes time to getting it on screen, we already have a shared vision of what we are trying to accomplish. For Hunt Her, Kill Her, Greg and I wore multiple hats during the production, so it was a very divide-and-conquer mentality. I served as DP, so a lot of times I would get the lighting set up while Greg gets our actors up to speed on the next shot, scene, etc.. Then we would run the shot a few times and tweak as needed. At the end of the day, it's really about getting as close as we can to that original vision in the script. 

With Hunt Her Kill Her you've followed the advice of every guide to low budget filmmaking and confined all the action to a single location. Was the film conceived with the location in mind or did you have to find somewhere suitable later on?

Greg: The factory has been in my family for years, so we always had that particular location in mind. Scenes were specifically written knowing exactly which nook, cranny and dark corner to utilise. The factory was still in operation during filming, so we'd come in at night after the day shift left and start shooting.

The film seems heavily influenced by Die Hard with a couple of what seem like explicit nods to that classic. Was it indeed an influence? Did you have any other movies in mind while making Hunt Her Kill Her?

Ryan: Yes, Die Hard was an influence. I see some First Blood inspiration in this one, too. Greg is a huge '80s and '90s action movie fan, so that influence tends to make its way into our horror stories. We always considered it a bit of an "action horror" movie, so we tried to do as much action as our no-budget would allow. I think our lead, Natalie Terrazzino, really did a great job with everything we asked her to do there. We're also big fans of David Fincher, so we tried to draw inspiration from his work for the actual shooting style. 

The film features some impressive camerawork. I particularly liked how the POV would switch between the predators and their prey without cutting. Could you tell us how the many tracking shots were pulled off?

Ryan: As many as we possibly could. Basically, we got a dolly and a gimbal and used them anytime it made sense. Matter of fact, as the camera operator, I got dumped off the dolly twice while filming. We were working in a real factory, so one time the dolly grip ran into a sanding machine and accidentally turned the wheels causing me to roll off onto the floor with the camera in hand. It was all about the tuck-and-roll to protect the camera on that one.  

Other times, we'd mount the camera on the gimbal and I'd run along with the actors while trying to keep them framed up. Let's just say, it was a very physical shoot. 

And this isn't really a tracking shot, but our opening credits is a true one-take dolly shot. We didn't stitch different takes together but rolled it as one long shot. We numbered the lights so as we went along, I called out the numbers and someone would flip that switch to turn it off. After yet another dolly crash, I think we got it on the 4th take. 

It's almost unheard of today for a horror movie with a relatively limited budget to get a UK cinema release, with most disappearing into the VOD void. How did you get Hunt Her Kill Her into UK cinemas?

Ryan: We were lucky enough to land some great distribution partners on this film, including Welcome Villain in the US and Screenbound Pictures in the UK. Screenbound decided to put it in UK theatres, which totally blew us away. When we were making the film, we never imagined that it'd get a theatrical run, so this is a bit of a dream-come-true type scenario for us.

Hunt Her Kill Her comes to UK/ROI VOD and bluray on May 27th following its theatrical release in April. You can read our review here.