By DAKOTA DAHL
In the before times of 2019, I managed to actually go outside and attend the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, where I got to see a charming short called ROMI, written by famed Canadian horror author Susie Moloney. I loved it, so when I got news of her latest film, BRIGHT HILL ROAD, I jumped at the chance to interview her. Here’s Seven Sinister questions she was brave enough to answer about her upcoming movie.
So BRIGHT HILL ROAD is your feature film writing debut, and a pretty terrific one I might add. What was different about working on this project as opposed to previous projects?
This was a big one for me, because I knew it was going to be made. Previously I’d written spec scripts that went out and did the rounds, some even got pretty far, but nothing had been made. Nevermine Films literally asked for a script to shoot. My fear was breathtaking!
What inspired you to write BRIGHT HILL ROAD?
I’ve always had an interest in aftermaths – what happens after a major, traumatic event. I’ve had some major traumatic events of my own and once the initial shock is over, people tend to go home and go on with their lives, leaving you behind to deal with the future alone. I’d had the character of Marcy in my head for some time, and I knew this was going to be the story she was in.
Alcoholism is a tough subject to capture on film with any realism, something you and director Robert Cuffley managed to pull off effectively. What tips do you have for portraying addiction in a film with realism and respect?
Have it run in your family? Thank you for saying that. I have a soft spot for drunks, and I think that’s how we pulled that off. I also have to give big props to Siobhan Williams for making Marcy so human and such a perfect blend of aggressiveness and vulnerability. She elevated the whole movie.
Without giving too much away, what’s your favorite scene in the film, and why?
I love the scene where she calls 911. ‘Nuff said.
You are well known as a horror novelist, having been called “the Canadian Stephen King.” What advice do you have for writers looking to transition from writing long form fiction to scripts?
Read, read, read and write, write, write! I was always a movie and tv person, I just never saw it as a viable option – being a little girl from Winnipeg, Manitoba. There were novelists in Manitoba (shout out to Margaret Lawrence and Sandra Birdsell) but I didn’t know any filmmakers. So I went the book route. When the opportunity came up to adapt my third novel, The Dwelling, I jumped at it. That’s when I met Robert Cuffley. He mentored me on the second draft, or at least let me look over his shoulder so I could see an adaptation done well. And we’re still working together!
What did you learn while working on the script that you plan to bring to any future projects?
I learned SO much writing this script! Especially about pacing and backstory. You can’t tell backstory, you have to feed it in. Ditto any information that you have to get to the viewer: it has to come up organically. These probably seem like total Fisher-Price lessons, but in fact, coming from novels where you have so much geography to use, to films where you have 90 pages at most, it was a steep learning curve!
What future projects of yours can we look forward to?
Colin Sheldon from Nevermine Films is producing the feature length version of Romi – which is an award-winning short that I wrote and Robert Cuffley produced and directed, shot entirely on an iPhone! It’s a tech-horror about a young woman testing a state-of-the-art Smart Home. We’re pretty excited about that, and I think it’s shooting in March. I have another script, based on a short that Robert Cuffley wrote, but it’s going to have to wait until we’re completely free of the virus. Much of it takes place in a high school and there’s lots of…touching. I’m writing a new book – horror of course. And I plan to rent BRIGHT HILL ROAD every couple of days just to see my name on the tv!