Poster by Mondo
If you ask any filmmaker working today, they are likely to tell you that the only thing harder than making a film itself is convincing people to give you money to make said film. These days, if you’re not already adapting an existing property, selling an original idea can be somewhat difficult. Even if your idea is excellent. Even if you’re working with a smaller, indie budget.
Filmmakers are forced to create new and unique ways to show the people with the money that their idea is worth the investment. It’s more than simply writing a script and drawing up some storyboards. We’ve seen filmmakers create graphic novels, self-finance short films and create test reels using patchwork sets and skeleton crews. In the end, what matters is that the message is received and the green light is given. What matters, at least for those of us who are watching, is that we eventually get a movie that we can enjoy.
One particular movie that we’ve enjoyed a great deal in 2015 is Todd Strauss-Shulson’s The Final Girls, a razor-sharp, visually inventive, love letter to the slasher films of the 1980s that feels more like Back to the Future than anything else. We first caught it at SXSW in March and have been tracking it all the way up to its current limited release.
“The Final Girls is more than just a brilliant, high-concept setup,” explained our Rob Hunter in his review. “It’s also an incredibly fun homage to ’80s slasher films and their tropes as well as a surprisingly sweet look at grief, moving forward and the things we sacrifice for those we love. Director Todd Strauss-Schulson‘s film shows genuine affection for the genre and its characters, and he brings that heart along with a gleeful sense of humor and real creativity.”
He’s right. It’s a lot of fun. An inventive concept paired with sharp execution. But if we consider what this film would have looked like as a pitch, it might be a tough one to describe. How do you convey in a script or pitch meeting the tone that you’re trying to strike? For Strauss-Schulson, the challenge was met by creating a little mashup to give the financiers a better idea of how The Final Girls would feel.
This video got the assist:
“As I was working on the Script with Mark and Josh,” explained Strauss-Schulson via email. “I cut together this reel to help explain the vibe and tone of the movie to money people and actors cause no one totally understood what ‘The Final Girls’ was… was it funny, scary, emotional… I was like ‘YES! It’s all those things.’ They were like… ‘well that’s confusing.’ I was like ‘No it’s not! Have you seen E.T.!?!?!’ So I spent a long weekend cutting this and we started sending it out with the script and it began to make sense to people. Bone Thugs under Heathers and My So Called Life is a personal point of pride.”
In addition to cutting together bits of existing properties, Strauss-Schulson also included some of his own early work. The section with the credits is from a video he directed in college, while the widescreen gag is something he came up with for a music video in 2004. Or as he explains, “Final Girls is full of rip offs of my own ideas I’ve been secretly obsessed with.”
Thanks to a little bit of inventive pitch-work (and the talent to make a killer film), the end result is a movie that completely kicks ass. It’s a movie you should absolutely, no doubt, 100% seek out and see at the soonest possible moment.
No really, everyone on the staff here who saw it at SXSW flat-out loved it. Here, watch the trailer:
The good news for you is that The Final Girls is currently in limited release and it’s available on-demand and digital HD. It’s available for purchase or rental on Amazon Video, YouTube, iTunes, CinemaNow, Flixter, Xbox Marketplace, Vudu and via Cable on Demand. You have no excuse. And if you live near one of the theaters listed below, grab some friends and go have a good time.
Once you’ve seen it, go out and spread the word. This is the kind of movie that needs your support. It lives and breathes on word of mouth (and Tweets), so get out there and make some noise about it!