80's Throwback 'Pigskin' To Screen at ScreamFest

One of the most powerful short films that have come through our inbox this year has been the body horror film Pigskin. Equal parts Cronenberg and Carrie with a dash of Heathers thrown in for good measure, Pigskin addresses budding teen sexuality in a haunting, blood-addled way. You can check out the short film as part of this weekends ScreamFest in Los Angeles. Pigskin will screen Saturday, October the 22nd at 12pm. Make sure you take it in if you are in the area or planning on attending ScreamFest. Check out the trailer for the film along with a short synopsis some stills, and finally a lazy cut and paste job interview with director Jake Hammond and Co-writer Nicola Newton.

"Pigskin centers on a high school cheerleader who accepts a date with the quarterback and is subsequently plagued by a nightmarish manifestation of her own bodily insecurities.Starring Isadora Leiva as Laurie and Pablo Gonzalez as Glenn, Pigskin is co-written and directed by Jake Hammond, cinematographed and co-written by Nicola Newton, and produced by Paula Andrea Gonzalez. Editing and production design byAleksandra Hansen, Score by Charles Spears, with music from Chromatics and Desire."

Pigskin - Official Trailer from Jake Hammond on Vimeo.

Interview With Director Jake Hammond and Co-Writer Nicola Newton

What inspires you as filmmakers? 
JH: Growing up watching horror films from all decades, I’ve found myself drawn to stories that explore the dark underbellies of places, ideas, and people that otherwise appear ‘normal’. Films like ‘Halloween’ and ‘Carrie’ take a setting that we maintain as safe and secure and flip it on its head – infusing it with something of total contrast. I aim to create films that have a similar effect. The most genuinely frightening thing to me is witnessing something sacred, or someone who appears to be complacent, turn out to be the exact opposite. 
NN: I’ve always had the immediate instinct to capture the world around me, but as I evolved as an artist, it was the emotions that arrive from unsettling and disturbing situations that fueled my passion as a cinematographer. It drove me to seek out the beauty in the uncomfortable, creating a visual landscape that of which, for some reason, you couldn’t take your eyes off. It’s the nature of losing yourself in something so unsightly and striking at the same time that inspires me to create.   
Where did the idea of the film come from? 
JH: ‘Pigskin’ spawned from a yearning to create something that paid homage to the horror films Nicola and I grew up watching and adoring, and also a desire to incorporate a genuine story of a subject we both feel passionately about. Nicola and I are both consistently drawn to the nostalgia of a high school setting – a place where love and insecurity and confusion is all jumbled together as teenagers try to figure themselves out. It can be an amazing time in someone’s life, but also a terrifyingly vulnerable one. This film takes the idea of body image, something that’s so universally personal, especially for young women, and transforms it into a living nightmare. There’s this idea that not only is Laurie being haunted by her own insecurities, but also by one of the things that fuels them – a boy – and that’s important because there’s an underlying evil in the fact that the one person from whom she’s seeking acceptance is actually exploiting her insecurities. 

Why is telling this story so important to you? 
JH: Everything within ‘Pigskin’ comes from deeply personal insecurities, experiences, and memories. The outlet of turning these experiences into a film that can be watched and discussed and shared with a cast, crew, and audience is a way to force a voice from these insecurities, of which it is hard to talk about unfiltered. Nicola and I feel passionately about the issues we’re exploring and, in the same way the making of the film has given me confidence in my own insecurities, we hope that it has the ability to touch people who may feel similarly.  
What was the most challenging part of making this film? 
JH: One of the most challenging aspects of making ‘Pigskin’ was finding the proper balance of horror genre fun and authenticity of the underlying subject matter. Nicola and I knew we wanted to make a fun movie that was both scary and energetic, but didn’t want that to ever interfere or gloss over the very real issues we were discussing. It was very important to us that we primarily tell a compassionate story of this confused, deeply struggling teenage girl and, secondly, find a way to weave that into an entertaining horror film. Along with this, we knew we needed the right actress. In writing, it felt as if we were coming up short, like there was another dimension to Laurie that just couldn’t be scripted.  But thank the gods we found Isadora Leiva – our first audition with her was over Skype and the minute we hung up, we both knew she was our leading lady. 

What was the most exciting / funny / incredible situation you faced during production? 
JH: On our final day of shooting, in the last few hours of the night, we were setup to begin shooting the remainder of the final sequence on the football field. But as it turns 10 PM, the sprinklers on the field go off. The entire crew rushes to pull the dolly and camera off the field and onto the track. It was then that we realize it’s programmed to water only sections of the field at a time, changing it’s location every so often – and so the rest of the night was spent dancing do-si-do with the sprinklers, avoiding the water at all costs. It didn’t cause too much of a headache, and was honestly pretty amusing. 
Talk about your method and/or any extraordinary or unusual aspect about your creative process?
JH: The visuals of the film were extremely important to us. It was specifically important to Nicola, in this production and many of her cinematographic endeavors, that every image advanced the story. Because of the minimal dialogue, it was necessary that we create a simultaneous visual narrative that supports it. The visuals can make or break the tension, which is the driving force of the film. Nicola and I designed precise imagery that communicates directly to the audience without calling outright attention to it. It’s definitely about finding that balance. Paying attention to the preexisting light and enhancing that is important to Nicola’s own creative process, as it’s crucial to create a natural environment that only helps immerse the viewers – That’s really what it’s all about. 

Talk about your upcoming projects. 
JH: Nicola and I are currently on the festival circuit with ‘Pigskin’, looking forward to Screamfest and the Rhode Island International Vortex Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Film Festival. 
While working on a handful of short films, Nicola and I are also currently outlining a feature adaptation of ‘Pigskin’. We feel ready to explore a lot more of the character, the setting, and the subject and hope to get it off the ground in the next few years. 
Where are you at in the process? What are you still looking for? 
JH: The short is obviously complete, so right now we are looking for an awesome online distribution platform that would get the short lots of exposure, views and interest that could hopefully promote the eventual making of a feature adaptation. 
Thinking of releasing the film online near the Super Bowl (Football….? Pigskin….? Hmmmm)  

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