Wendy Hill-Tout is a force to be reckoned with. As president of Voice Pictures, she has overseen the production of movies, TV specials, series, and more, and isn’t in the process of slowing down. When she is not leading the company, Wendy is also a screenwriter and director for select pictures. Taking on multiple hats, we see her work come together in the recently world premiered werewolf horror film, BLOODTHIRSTY.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Wendy, via email about BLOODTHIRSTY, about how the film’s story came to fruition, the natural beauty in wolves, and how the entertainment industry influenced the story’s development.
To start things off, could you guys talk about how BLOODTHIRSTY’s story came to fruition?
Wendy Hill-Tout: My daughter and I decided to do a project together and it was Lowell‘s concept of an indie-pop singer who goes to work with a famous music producer in the woods. At the time it was a bit of a Me Too story – I think at that time, the whole movement hadn’t really broken in the music industry yet. But it evolved over time and became more of a female empowerment film and a werewolf story where we could really explore Grey’s transformation both in art and into a flesh-eater.
In the collaborative process in making BLOODTHIRSTY, what was it like working with director Amelia Moses?
Wendy Hill-Tout: For someone so young, Amelia is very confident and knew what she wanted when directing. The script was fairly far along when she came into it, but we worked a lot together on the song choices and progression in the story and the progression of Grey in her art and transformation. As a director, she was very aware in working with the actors of the internal change that was essential to the story.
Since this film focuses on wolves (more specifically werewolves), what was your research process like?
Wendy Hill-Tout: Lowell and I certainly talked about specific reference films she liked, and I watched a bunch of werewolf movies. Lowell felt she wanted the “werewolves” to be attractive – as vampires often are, so we definitely talked about making them less hairy, and almost more “wolf-like”. We wanted them to be “beautiful”. I really tried in the script to identify with the werewolf. Not to make them evil. They have been persecuted through history. Werewolves are what werewolves are. They are animals and like other predators, lions, etc. They kill their prey but have a natural beauty because they are who they are.
In the research process, did your perspective on wolves change, and how?
Wendy Hill-Tout: I love wolves and Lowell did an album called Lone Wolf – the original title of the movie. Wolves were hunted and all killed in Ireland. And in parts of the U.S., they have been decimated as well. Animals live by instinct, and as Grey evolves she cannot escape who she is… or that part of her that is a werewolf. Its why she is such a great character to write about because being half-human and half “wolf” or “werewolf” she is always in conflict.
You wear a couple of different hats for BLOODTHIRSTY, with you taking on the producer role as well as being a co-writer. How was the process of juggling those different hats?
Wendy Hill-Tout: I think the music really became part of the script, and the progression of Grey, just as in animation, the songs tell the story. They are not filler. So it was a very organic process and in a way – still about writing as songwriting is. In terms of producing, it always sounds glamorous, but really it’s not. It’s mostly legal, accounting, and paperwork with the odd touches of casting and edit. For me, writing allows me to live my creative life, and to live the lives of the characters. But I also think having a creative background makes me a better producer. You have to put the business and financial side together with making the right creative choices along the way. Which includes the creative team and elements.
One of the topics of conversation in the film that circles back in this concept of predator vs. prey and having to make that decision to decide who you are. In terms of the entertainment industry and the arts, there’s still sort of that mentality in a way. What are your thoughts on that?
Wendy Hill-Tout: I think Lowell really put that into the script and even BLOODTHIRSTY, which in a way thematically is Grey changing into a werewolf and desiring blood and flesh is about being an artist and everyone wanting a piece. I think its really hard because being an artist like Lowell you are under such pressure to achieve critical acclaim or to sell “records/hits”. I think it’s dangerous artistically to be influenced by the “noise” around you. I believe the best creative is always from a place inside, and you have to listen to that. I think it’s hard for directors as well because you’re judged and you have to decide who your audience is and you have to please yourself, but there is also a huge pressure to succeed whether financially or artistically or both.
To wrap things up, how have you both been tackling the creative during this turbulent year? I know for myself I’ve been scribbling ideas down for when I one day have the bandwidth to tackle fleshing them out.
Wendy Hill-Tout: Our company is lucky in that we shot two features back to back. BLOODTHIRSTY was finished [on] February 20th. I flew to the Berlin Festival and when I came back everything was shut down. So we were in post and that was pretty easy to do during COVID. What is not so lucky is that we have 3 films going out into the marketplace/festivals. You can’t compare doing zoom calls for Cannes, and being in France drinking rose by the ocean and meeting people in person. Same for Fantastic Fest. I haven’t been there yet, but I heard they are known for their “events.” You can’t plan right now, because nothing is certain, at least for theatrical here in Canada. The theatres are empty. And we don’t know what the future holds. One of my films Marlene was seven years in the making, and it’s heartbreaking. You have to adapt and be nimble as Fantastic Festival has done. In my opinion, every festival that goes ahead right now should win an award.
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