Patricia Chica on A Tricky Treat and why it’s the best time to be a woman in horror

Film maker Patricia Chica is certainly one to look out for. We have loved hearing about her film A Tricky Treat, that will have it’s World Premier at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Just from seeing the poster that this little film will be a gorey and gruesome delite!  Who better to talk to us about the film, than the women herself.

Can you tell us a little about the film?

The script of A Tricky Treat comes from the twisted mind of my writer, Kamal John Iskander, who came up with the concept years ago. When I was invited to direct a segment for the Soska Sisters’ Women In Horror Month Blood Drive anthology of horror shorts, I approached him looking for an idea. He gave me the script for this, we developed it further to fit the requirements, and somehow as if by magic, everything afterward fell into place – from our visual and practical effects teams to our cast, crew, and locations. It was a true collaboration between Kamal, myself, and our excellent producers Tara Kurtz, Grace Santos, and Byron A. Martin, with the support of HNI Productions and Australian artist Morris Umali.

What can we expect from the film and what does it offer the audience?

The film is very short, approximately 3 minutes long. However, don’t let that fool you. This one packs a punch, and if you stick around till the end, you’ll be in for a truly tricky little treat!

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Were there any challenges or limitations while filming?

Having just moved to Los Angeles, I had to build a team from the ground up. My recent films, Serpent’s Lullaby and Ceramic Tango, had just screened at HollyShorts and ShockFest where Ceramic Tango won the top prize: Best of Fest, the “Shocker Award.” As a result, some very talented producers, technicians, crew, and artists were eager to collaborate with me on something new.

The process was actually easier than I expected considering the very short turn-around time we had for pre-production. A Tricky Treat would not have found its success without our excellent special effects team led by Danny McCarthy of 800lb Gorilla Films (in San Diego), the visual effects team led by Henry Lipatov of Fame Cube Productions (in the Ukraine), the post-production team led by Ahmad Ismail of RedLab Digital (in Toronto), as well as our wonderful cast consisting of Leonard Waldner, Steven Brewster, Andrea Fletcher, Keira McCarthy, and Marco Reilly.

Moreover, when you’re doing something so short that needs to happen fast it can be a challenge to create a stylized “look.” But our director of photography, Imad Rhayem and gaffer Adonai Interiano, along with production designer Gabrielle Giraud and Makeup/Hair artist Valentina Badaracco, really brought their A-game and put forth a world class artistic effort on this one. I’m really happy with the way things turned out.

You are a rising name in the Women in Horror scene, how do you feel about this and what do you think of other female horror creators?

Right now it’s a great time to be a woman directing genre. You have the Soska Sisters, who are a tremendous influence, taking the world by storm with everything they do from branding to movie-making. They are the full package. The recent releases of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook and Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is very exciting and underscores the fact that the freshest voices in genre right now are those of women!

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I come from an art film background and my film education started in my teens when I discovered the films of the French Nouvelle Vague filmmakers, the Italian Neorealism filmmakers and also the more edgy, provocative indie films coming out of Mexico, Argentina, Spain, the US and the UK. I have also been a big fan of Hitchcock.

I rarely watched horror movies before I made Ceramic Tango. For some reason, extreme gratuitous violence and blood splatter doesn’t appeal to me. I became more aware of the genre when I started touring the festival circuit with Ceramic Tango and discovered the works of the Soska Sisters, Alexander Aja, and many other brilliant contemporary filmmakers. What makes me tick is a brilliant story with outstanding performances. I saw that in their work, so I got more into the horror genre.

It definitely excites me to be part of a movement. I take it as a responsibility to do my best to tell good stories that will empower, entertain, and make the viewers think within the horror genre.

Have you ever been treated differently being a woman in the film industry?

In production, I have not been treated differently because I am a woman. It has actually been an asset for me to be in a lead position. When your vision is clear and when you are well prepared, you will inspire and motivate your team to achieve what you have in mind. It doesn’t matter what gender you are when you know what you are doing, are in control of your set, and can collaborate well with others. To be a strong leader, you must know every single aspect of your profession and be able to communicate your vision clearly and efficiently to your actors and crew.

However, there are still many misconceptions about women directing movies in Hollywood. Decision makers who believe women can not direct higher-budget films are the ones with no balls. They lack vision and are not willing to take risks. Luckily, I am surrounded by strong men in my team: my producers, writers, and key collaborators are all men who trust my expertise, intelligence, and humanity. They support and respect me 100%, and vice versa. I want to work with people who embrace who I am not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a good director.

What emotions were you trying to evoke with this film?

A Tricky Treat is a horror comedy. So given those hybrid ingredients, we hope that it not only scares the viewers, unnerves them with it’s lurid horror, but finally allows the audience a chance to laugh at themselves! The end will hopefully elicit a reaction of catharsis, since what better catharsis is there than laughter?

You have worked on films in the past which were dark and psychological, how was it working within the comedy horror genre?

It’s something new for me, so naturally, I was excited about the prospect. I’m always looking to do something new, have new experiences, new sensations, try new techniques. I love to challenge myself. Filmmaking is an ever evolving process for me, so the idea of working with a new palette is certainly a driving force in my decision making when choosing a new project to do.

Kamal John Iskander and yourself have been described as a “gruesome twosome.” What was your initial reaction to the script and how did you find inspiration for visuals/bringing the story to life?

Kamal has a dark sense of humor. He’s the most clever writer I’ve ever collaborated with, in a twisted and funny kind of way. He tells stories in a very quirky manner, and in this particular case, with a surprising ending. This is all right up my alley, so as a director, a vision for it emerged very quickly in my mind. What resonated for me most is the metaphor, using role reversal, about how humans become voracious in their consumption for the sake of ceremony and tradition: i.e. slaughtering millions of turkeys for Thanksgiving, leveling vast acres of trees for Christmas, and harvesting fields of pumpkins for Halloween.

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It seems Patricia Chica and Kamal John Iskander really are a match made in heaven, or rather, should we say hell.on

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