“Vivienne Again” is the story of a young woman who’s recently begun working in a funeral home and finds her life has settled into a place of daily disappointment. One night, while alone at work, one of the dead bodies comes back to life – another woman, close to her age, whose own life had been so reckless, it led to her death. “Vivienne Again” is a supernatural thriller about what happens when these two women are thrust together to uncover how the one died and how they will both escape the killer who is closing in to complete the job.
“Vivienne Again” was shot in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, at a funeral home owned by writer/director Kim Garland’s parents. Ms. Garland grew up as part of the local funeral home family and when the time came to direct her first film, she wrote a story that could be shot entirely inside and outside of this unique location. Playing off of the understandable jitters that can sneak up on a new funeral home employee – “What if a dead body came back to life?” – Ms. Garland crafted a 10-minute story about death and rebirth, the casualties of betrayal and living to fight another day. You can check out the original lookbook created in pre-production for design ideas and inspiration for the film here.
“Vivienne Again” is one of three films from a trilogy of shorts that are set in this world where people can resurrect from the dead. The second film, “Deal Travis In,” is currently in pre-production and will be shot in NYC in August 2012. You can find out more at the film’s Facebook page. While this is a trilogy of shorts, they are also stand-alone films, which means each film tells it’s own story, about its own set of characters, but the unifying aspect is that they are all set in this world of resurrection.
Kim Garland is a screenwriter and director from Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. She is a
co-owner of City Kid Films, a co-founder of Scriptchat, and a columnist for
Script magazine. At Script, she covers her ongoing experiences writing and
directing her first films in the column, Write, Direct, Repeat.
Kim graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Creative Writing
and began her career in book publishing at Random House while continuing
to write fiction. She studied screenwriting at The New School University in
NYC and transitioned to the film industry through her work in literary
acquisition at Braven Films.
Kim made her directing debut in 2012 with the award-winning, short
supernatural thriller “Vivienne Again,” which she shot in her parents’
Manhattan funeral home. Shortly after, she directed her second short, “Deal
Travis In,” a supernatural drama starring Nick Sandow. Find out more here.
We asked Kim a few questions about the film.
Would you mind telling us more about growing up in a funeral home? Any creepy stories?
I grew up in the brownstone building above my family’s funeral home in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. When I was growing up, the neighborhood was a very traditional, old New York, working-class neighborhood. When other kids would find out I was part of the funeral home family, they’d basically fall one of two ways: They would either tease me, making fun of me for being around dead bodies and often nicknaming me Morticia, OR, if they’d had a family member buried through our funeral home, they would be very respectful toward my family and the business. It was interesting to watch that split.
But I definitely did grow up around dead bodies, no question about that, and if you stare at a body long enough, you’d swear you’d see it move. I guess my imagination was the creepiest thing about the funeral home because otherwise it was a really low-key business overall.
When I decided to direct a short film, I first got permission to shoot in the funeral home and then came up with the story idea. I finally got my chance to see what would happen if a body did come back to life and from that VIVIENNE AGAIN was born.
What message did you want to communicate with the film?
I don’t think I had a particular message in mind but when I created the character of Vivienne I definitely reached back to the time when I worked in the funeral home as a night receptionist when I was in college.
It was a very difficult time in my life: I had dropped out of college years earlier, struggled to find work, had some rough personal relationships, and when I finally went back to school, I felt very isolated from friends, family and the world in general. And there I was working alone at night in a funeral home – not exactly party central!
Would you want to take your trilogy further?
Yes, I am definitely planning to continue telling stories from this world. The shorts are meant to crack the door open to allow a peek inside. I’m developing the full story as a series to go deeper into this world of resurrection and the conspiracies to control it. At this point, I do see setting the main character’s world in a funeral home and I’m envisioning it as kind of a Six Feet Under meets The X-Files show.
What are some of your favourite horror films and have they inspired you?
I like a variety of horror films, including Alien/s, Candyman, 28 Days Later, Poltergeist, Scream, The Ring, The Sixth Sense, Let the Right One In, Cloverfield, The Others, etc, etc. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason there except that I tend not to go in for a lot of gore.
I’m also a huge Science Fiction fan, especially TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Firefly, Star Trek: TNG and the new Battlestar Galactica. My current fave is Orphan Black.
I think I’m more influenced by my combined love of Horror and Sci-Fi than by any particular film or show. When I come up with a concept for a story, it often blends elements from both genres, including aspects of the supernatural, shady conspiracies, world altering events, revenge quests… and then all funnelled through the lens of the characters that are affected by these situations and phenomenons.
Tell us about your zombie survival plans.
I have no zombie survival plans because I live right in the center of Manhattan so I’m clearly going down in the first wave! I just hope I end up as a fast-moving zombie, and not one of the lumbering ones, because if I’m destined to be undead then I want to be the crazy, scary, badass undead.
Watch the film on Popcorn Horror here.