By Stacey Gillard
Mary is living the dream: a new job, a new dream home, a new start. Everything is dropping into place and she couldn’t be happier. But sometimes dreams take a turn and Mary is soon to learn that her perfect house has an uninvited guest.
Based on a story by Natalie Kruijen, who also developed the screenplay with director Ryan Curtis, Homeowner is gripping from start to finish. Mary is at a point in her life that most adults can relate to, taking on more responsibilities and having to deal with the consequences, good and bad. Wonderfully portrayed by Briana Buckmaster (Supernatural), there’s a strength to Mary that makes the movie even more compelling. We recently caught up with Ryan and asked him to talk about the movie and how winning a grant from Storyhive made so much difference. (A few spoilers, so watch the movie here before reading!)
AT STAKE MAGAZINE: What made you create this movie?
RYAN CURTIS: When Storyhive announced that they would be opening up for Short Film it was the perfect time because I had just finished filming the Weirdo Hero and wanted a new project. Only problem was I didn’t really have a good idea for a short film. I ended up going to a friend whom I met online while making the previous movie. Natalie is a writer so I reached out to see if she had any stories she wanted to turn into a short film. She sent me a bunch and we went with this one.
ASM: Is the story the same as the one she wrote?
RC: We changed it quite a bit to work for a short film. In the original Mary fell down the stairs and when she woke there was someone else in her body. That seemed too complicated to do with stunts, so we went with something cleaner.
ASM: The electric shock?
RC: Yes, it allowed us the opportunity to use that moment too, where you think everything is alright and Mary isn’t harmed to give the movie a little twist. I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
ASM: The Storyhive grant was a nice sum to make the film, what would you have changed if you had a bigger budget, or smaller budget?
RC: If we had more money I would have liked to do a bigger stunt maybe. I could have probably got a stunt woman to come and help us out, but you don’t want to ask someone to probably hurt them self for a little money and some lunch. It would have been nice to have a little more time of course, another day would have been great.
If we had less money, we probably wouldn’t have had such great makeup, or maybe no Briana.
ASM: Briana was great as Mary, were there other options for that role?
RC: Not really. We kind of knew that Briana would be available during the time we were planning on shooting, so unless something big came up she was down from the beginning. We totally geared the script towards her and wanted to challenge her. Briana is so great at comedy and has impeccable timing, but what people need to know is she is a very very talented actor. So we wanted to showcase some of that. Mary is a very strong woman who takes care of herself, and Briana showed that perfectly.
ASM: Mary is a great character. How do you develop a full fledge character in such a short film?
RC: I’m glad that it came across. Its always tricky to give the viewer a whole bunch of backstory without dumping a bucket of exposition. I used the phone call with her sister as our primary info dump, but because we were distracted looking at the ghost it helped sweeten the exposition a bit. But that isn’t until we are halfway through the movie. The opening half we just had to set the scene that she was new to the house, by herself, and thinking about things from her youth like the necklace.
ASM: What was the purpose of her necklace? is she is thinking about being a kid?
RC: The ghost is an allegory for old age waiting to take over our bodies at any moment. If you look closely the ghost only appears when Mary is thinking about aging, or doing old person things like talking about life insurance. The day that Mary is heading off to work at her new BIG job in the new city she moved to is the day she loses her youth and old age takes over.
ASM: There was a large amount of women that worked on the film.
RC: Yes. The large amount of female crew wasn’t necessarily on purpose, I just like to work with good people who are hard workers, and like to have fun. Gender is irrelevant when you go by that criteria. But proud to have such a diverse crew. Really our film is really about independence and strength with a character who just happens to be a woman.
Storyhive is currently taking votes for short movies here and Homeowner is in the running for some great benefits, including a trip to the Banff Media Festival. I cannot recommend it enough, the movie asks questions many of us ask as we’re growing up. The production is incredibly high quality and Briana Buckmaster blows me away with the intensity of her delivery.
Thanks so much to Ryan for taking the time to chat with us and best of luck to the entire crew. This is definitely a movie that deserves recognition.