Horror Factoid: In The Orphanage (2007) Laura's necklace, a St. Anthony medallion, makes a clever reference to her plight. In Catholic religion, St. Anthony is a doctor and patron saint of lost items.






« Interview with Devi Snively Director & Writer of Death in Charge! »

Interview with the muli-talented Writer/Director Devi Snively.  In 2007, Snively was one of 8 selected to participate in AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women.


What was it like participating in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women?

Devi Snively- It was truly a dream come true.  The other 7 women became like sisters to me and the AFI instructors were fabulous.  It was the perfect environment for creating art – nurturing, inspiring and super fun.  They say it takes a village to raise a child and I daresay the same thing can be said for raising a film. 


Has participating in the workshop changed your directing or writing style?

DS- Absolutely!  Though I had a film degree, a number of shorts (and a micro-budget feature made for half the cost of Death) under my belt, the AFI experience helped me graduate into doing things professionally.  I finally actually got to be “director” and not “chick who directs when she can amidst holding a boom mic, cleaning an outhouse and being an actor stand-in simultaneously.”  It makes a big difference being able to focus on just directing.


Where did the idea for DEATH IN CHARGE come from?

DS- I originally wrote it in reaction to the Colombine shootings.  I wanted to explore a world in which a child so easily turns to gun violence.  So many “experts” blamed gun laws, violent media and toys, the broken family structure and so forth.  I didn’t think there was any one simple answer and making this film helped me reach my own conclusions and hopefully gives audiences food for thought in an entertaining fashion.


You are often the writer and director, do you ever find it difficult to separate yourself?

DS- Actually, I find it fun and somewhat liberating.  I tell our actors, if they have a question about the script to specify ahead whether they want to speak with the writer or the director about it.  The writer has very clear ideas about what was originally intended, whereas the director is open to letting things evolve in new ways to make the best movie possible.


Why did you choose Marina Benedict for the role of Death?

DS- There’s a perfect example of the writer differing from the director.  Originally, we had Juliet Landau set to play the role.  The writer in me envisioned the more traditional pale, dark haired, gothy looking Grim Reaper and we were delighted when Landau responded well to the script.  But when Gary Oldman made her a better offer at the same time (go figure!) and we had to recast, I was blown away by Marina’s audition.  I realized by casting her, I suddenly came off as  a better writer.  She delivered everything that was in the script and then so much more.  I think her blond, angelic look is far more interesting than the more traditional morbid, pale type we’d expect.


What was the budget for Death in Charge?

DS- That’s hard for me to admit.  All told, it was about $20,000, which is more than all of my previous shorts and feature combined.  Stuff in L.A.’s expensive and my one complaint about the experience is that I felt a lot of money was hemorrhaged that needn’t have been.  Had we shot the film in the Midwest as we usually do, I believe we could have done the same for half the budget.  However, by L.A.’s standards this was considered “low budget.” Crazy!


It has been said that you are one of the “Most Important Women in Horror History”, what made you choose make horror films?

DS-  In all honesty, poverty was the initial reason.  I was a writer living in a small town in Washington who wanted to see her scripts come to life on the big screen. However, with no connections or money, I determined I had 2 choices:  documentary or horror.  These are the genres whose audiences forgive low budgets.  Ironically, I couldn’t even WATCH a horror film back then, they scared me so.  However, I knew I’d have to learn all about them if that’s what I intended to make, so I started reading up on them, watching as many as I could starting from the early, silent classes up to post-modern torture porn and beyond.  Before I knew it I fell in love with the genre.  I even taught a course on horror cinema at the University of Notre Dame.  It became an obsession.  I still write in other genres, but horror’s my favorite mode of expression. 


What was the best film advice you have ever received?

DS-  William Goldman wisely stated, “Nobody knows anything.”  It’s an important reminder.  Everybody is filled with advice in this business about what you should or shouldn’t do, and most of it is irrelevant.  Every artist, every project is so unique.  What’s right for one, may not be right for another.  The best thing an artist can do is follow her heart while making sure her eyes remain wide open.


Death in Charge has already won several awards, any plans to make the film into a feature?

DS- Absolutely not.  I get asked that a lot, even made some tempting offers, but I believe the reason the film’s done as well as it has is precisely because it does everything it needs to do.  I said what I wanted to say and feel there’s no need to expand upon it.  I have numerous feature scripts that require 90 minutes or more to accomplish what they need to, but sometimes a short is just a short and that, in my mind, is a beautiful thing.  

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