Writer and actor Jeffery Self and director Jim Hansen are currently getting ready for the release of their new horror comedy You’re Killing Me. The film stars Self and Matthew McKelligon as George and Joe, two young gay men in a newly found relationship. The only problem is that Joe is a serial killer. Despite the fact that Joe constantly tells George about his killings, George plays them off as a joke. That is, until Joe inevitably shows George his work. You’re Killing M is a fun journey filled with dark humor and an incredible cast of characters.
Jeffery Self slayed the role of George with his nonchalant attitude towards everyone but himself. Not only is his performance fantastic, but the writing was great and the story was a unique play on horror and romantic comedy.
You’re Killing Me comes to DVD and VOD on March 8.
We were lucky enough to chat with writer Jeffrey Self and director Jim Hansen over the phone about their film, and they were just as exciting as we thought they’d be.
WAIH: What made you guys want to make a horror film?
JH: I’m a big horror fan. I’ve always been into horror movies. You know, I like the idea [that] there is something with low budget [horror movies], you’re able to access peoples emotions a lot easier. When you offer that threat, people are automatically so engaged in a story when has that threat to it, so I definitely wanted that and Jeffery wanted some romantic comedy, so [we] fused the two together!
WAIH: I think it actually worked out really well. It wasn’t shot like a horror film, it was shot more like a rom-com. Even more, when the horror does happen, the shots get brighter, the music gets happier. Was that your intentions; to make it an anti-horror film?
JH: What I was thinking was that by things getting more beautiful, and the music getting really pretty, everything getting more colorful, you become more complicit in this crime. You’re really seeing these murders from Joe’s point of view. Nobody is really running away screaming, they’re hypnotized and staring. You’re into his world now, and it’s a beautiful world, to help you understand that Joe actually is not so much the villain. I mean he is obviously, but having to be put in his shoes a little bit and see his perspective, that was the intention of the film.
JS: We’re seeing [Joe] come into himself. When he’s killing these people, as horrifying as that sounds, he is finally living what he wants to be living; his truth.
WAIH: We definitely caught that. I guess it’s open to interpretation, but I saw it as an American Psychoidea, where he felt euphoric doing it; this was his release, his escape.
JS: It was exactly that, yeah.
WAIH: That leads me to my next question about your inspirations. Clearly there was Norman Bates from Psycho, and American Psycho. Were there any other horror films that stood out to you as inspirations?
JS: Sex and the City 2
JH: No, ha ha, not as much. We talked about Funny Games by Michael Haneke. You’re sort of forced into this awful situation, and you’re made to watch this. It’s almost a bit torturous because you like these people.
JS: I also think the movie You’re Next. It starts out in such a different way that it ends. I really like a movie like that. [It] gets you comfortable and pulls the rug out from under you and forces you into a whole other situation with these people you’ve grown to actually like and care about. Those kind of movies was what we kept coming back to. Movies that shift genres in such a drastic way that you’re forced to go on the ride with.
JH: We wanted to tell the story in a different way, a little more mumblecore, or as we call it mumblegore. The story isn’t about chasing people down, it’s about certain people being forced to be together. It’s not like a horror movie with a big chase scene, it’s a more intimate portrait of a psychopath.
WAIH: Would you say You’re Killing Me is more about Joe and George’s relationship, or of Joe coming into himself as a serial killer?
JS: I would gravitate more to [Joe] coming into himself. I think George is being sort of a narcissistic, self absorbed person. That is allowing to explore sides of himself that maybe other people would not have let him explore before. George is helping Joe explore himself.
JH: You find out the true nature of George by the end of the movie. I think by Joe being around somebody that’s that evil is allowing him to become his dark side.
WAIH: LGBT films and horror seem to be two genres that seem to never touch. Especially when both have such similar themes. Do you think you guys are onto something, making more LGBT horror films? Do you think this genre has been untouched for a particular reason?
JH: I think that’s definitely part of the reason why we decided to do this kind of movie. We wanted to do a gay movie that we really don’t talk about being gay or deal with gay issues. It’s just these people are gay, it’s just who they are. To do that in a horror movie feels like you said an untapped field, nobody’s doing it. When I’m on Netflix, I first go to the horror section. I think I’ve watched every horror movie that I can, that’s my go to. I like it. Even if it’s bad, you’re going to have a good time.
JS: The same can’t be said for all gay movies, ha ha. That was the whole thing for us. We didn’t want to make a stereotypical gay genre film.
WAIH: LGBT film really has it’s own way of storytelling, its own kind of humor. It alienates a lot of non-LGBT people. But You’re Killing Me speaks out to a wider audience. I’m not sure if that was your plan or not, but I thought it was pretty cool.
JH: I think maybe a little of both. We were also realizing if we tell our owns story, it’s going to be better than telling someone else’s story.
JS: And I don’t know if this comes across in the movie, but the way Jim and I met was we were dating and I was the serial killer and I killed all his friends.
JH: Luckily I survived.
JS: And then we decided to collaborate on movies together.
WAIH: You guys just got distribution on DVD and Netflix through Wolfe Media, congratulations on that, it’s great.
JH: Thank you, yeah.
WAIH: Can you elaborate a little more on the process of the path to distribution?
JS: We’re really lucky. We did a bunch of festivals and that was so fun. We had such a great time because we went to a lot of them together, sometimes with the cast members. That was just the best part of the movie; to go on the road and celebrate this movie, show it to people in different places. From that I think different distribution people saw the movie at festivals and different online buzz that we had going. We were already fans of what Wolfe Films distributed in the past, and we had friends that worked with them. We were really excited when they stepped forward and were interested.
JH: That was pretty exciting when we found out about Wolfe. You make these things for people who make their own stuff, you can do that now. I mean, you can just make a movie. And that’s what we did.
JS: That’s sort of where both of us come from. That’s the way both of us work. We collaborate, but also separately as well. The way we approach things, it’s sort of like, “we’re just going to make stuff,” because we want to make something. The fact that it happens to sell is something we think about after we’re done making it. We weren’t trying to make a movie like “OK, these are the components that someone would buy this movie if we hit these five key things.” Let’s make a movie we want to make. Worst case scenario it plays at a couple film festivals and we force people to watch it when we have dinner parties.
JH: Well, the male nude scene we did because we had to add that in there. That I think is our only pandering moment.
WAIH: Do you think you’re going to make more horror movies now that you’ve made this one?
JH: I’m into it.
JS: If we come up with a good idea, you know. This was Jim’s idea, it just made sense in so many different levels of what we both are good at. It made sense on the horror level, but also on the comedy level, the casting, it just made sense. If we find another idea like that, that would be exciting.
JH: We started working on a couple different ideas. We both loved It Follows a lot. That sort of element that they’re doing, that unseen but you’re always scanning the frame to look for any impending threat, I love that feeling.
JS: That’s the long answer, but I guess the short answer would be yes! I’d love to make another horror movie!
WAIH: What do you guys have coming up? What are you working on next?
JS: Together we wrote a teen film that we like. It’s not necessarily the kind of movie we’d make ourselves, just because we don’t know teenagers, but we wrote a movie like that on spec. We both continue to create a lot of web content that Jim directs other peoples videos and web series. I bounce around and appear in different peoples stuff. We’re working on a short film right now with some friends just for fun. I have a book coming out, it’s a young adult novel called Drag Teen that’s available for pre-order anywhere books are sold. We’re both the kind of people that are just always creating stuff. muddling over ideas and trying to figure out what the next thing is.
WAIH: That’s the way to do it I think. Every successful filmmaker we talk to or know of they say “You’ve got to make a movie for yourself, something you want to see” and that brings the success, as opposed to the studio’s “Well people like this so let’s throw it in there.”
JH: That’s the thing, nobody gave us money to make this, we could do whatever we want. No one gave us notes.
WAIH: So you guys didn’t crowdfund or anything. Did you guys fund You’re Killing Me yourselves?
JS: We did a little bit of crowdfunding, but it wasn’t that successful. We had to figure it out otherwise.
JH: It’s tough.
WAIH: To wrap it up here, do you have any advice for our community that can help them become their own filmmakers and do their own thing?
JS: Just make stuff.
JH: Make stuff. Make a short. You can make it with any camera, you can use an iPhone. By doing that you’ll learn what you need. That’s how you learn, that’s your school. And edit.
JS: Neither one of us went to film school or anything. We both believe in just doing it.
JH: Jeffery had a show on LOGO that was just basically they just filmed videos in their apartment and it ended up as a sketch show on LOGO.
WAIH: The Jeffery & Cole Casserole right?
JH: That’s the epitome of doing it yourself, doing personal stuff and people respond to that I think.