Interview with producer Christopher Giroux and actress Annette WozniakDecember 14, 2015
The indie horror movie Bite has been enjoying some wonderful success, appearing in film festivals all over the world. Recently we had the chance to sit down with producer Christopher Giroux and actress Annette Wozniak to talk not only about Bite but the state of the horror industry as well.
So can you tell me a little bit about where the idea for Bite came from?
Christopher: Well Chad (the director) wanted to do something different after The Drownsman, a kind of body horror type of film and it’s kind of inspired by true events, in a sense. He had a family member stay in the jungle and got bitten with so many bug bites and because they find over a hundred new species of bugs every year, Chad thought of an idea that what if one of these bug bites turned into something, because she was getting bit by bugs she didn’t recognize or know and it kind of just spawned from that.
As an actress, what attracted you to the script when you first read it?
Annette: I actually auditioned for The Drownsman for Black Fawn Films and I really loved Chad, just his personality, Chris was in the audition room when I auditioned for that and I thought wow, I hope I get to work with these guys in the future on something.Then I guess about a year went by and I auditioned for Bite and they liked my performance so I went to a call back with Elma, our main lady of the film, and it was good, we had some great chemistry.
Christopher: Yeah it was fun, during the callbacks. We started pairing the actresses up together and it was fun because it worked out that Annette and Elma got to do scenes together before actually going into production.
How were you with the creepy and disgusting bug moments you had to deal with in the film?
Annette: I was ok, I don’t really have a fear of bugs or anything like but I do know a lot of people who do have a fear of bugs. Some of the prosthetics on Elma, the little holes and things, people actually have a fear of holes and I never even thought about how many little things in this film that people have a genuine fear of, many things that they may have issues with. It was things like that which made this such an interesting and different movie and the possibilities of a very unique experience came across when I read the script.It’s funny too because I actually hate horror, I can’t watch it at all. Action and comedy is more my thing so maybe being in a movie like this will help me with my fears!
Christopher: During Fantasia it definitely bugged a few people, someone passed out, another threw up. That was a few months ago now and it still gets brought up, everyone’s ok that got sick during the screening so that’s good but as a filmmaker, to have people have such a physical reaction to the film, we’ve never had that before, it was very interesting.
It was very interesting watching not only Elma transform but her apartment transform along with her. How important was that to the overall story or feel of the film?
Christopher: I think the apartment is an actual character in the film, that’s her hive, the place that transforms with her. Our art director Cameron Nash and production designer Vincent Moskowec worked very hard on the colors, some of the colors inside the apartment foreshadowing what was happening. The color was actually cockroach orange so there were subtleties that were and already happening, already changing when she was still human and they were foreshadowing what was going on, the apartment slowly got messier and dirtier and grosser and stickier as her stages changed with her. We were all certainly messy by the end of it.
Annette: All of those days that I was on set I was damp and cold and gooey and I said you know what, I love this. This is fun, no matter how messy and uncomfortable it got it was still fun.
It has been great to see more women getting better roles and more attention in movies. How do the both of you see the role of women these days in the horror genre?
Annette: I think it is changing, yeah. Just look at Elma in this film, she plays a kick ass character that is both the good and evil of the film, kudos to her and that is my favorite kind of role. It was nice to see that kind of well written character go to a woman and to see woman in general getting better roles and more recognition. It’s really awesome to be a woman in horror right now.
Christopher: I have actually never produced a film with a male lead. I’ve worked on films with male leads but I’ve never actually produced a film with a male lead, only female leads. Antisocial 1 and 2 was Michelle Mylett, The Drownsman was Michelle as well, the top three billings in Bite are female, Bed of the Dead the top two billings are female, The Sublet the top billing is female and our new movie has a female as top billing.
Has that been a conscious decision by you to go in that direction?
Christopher: Yeah, I think it’s interesting to have strong female characters, I think it’s important and we’ve always enjoyed the process of writing and producing strong female characters in our films as well. They actually did a report in Variety on how strong female characters are winning at the box office, Hunger Games and Divergent, things like that and movies with strong male leads are not. The best example is the new Peter Pan remake, that absolutely tanked and they were hoping that it would be a new launching platform for strong male characters but they couldn’t make it happen so with all the strong female leads and characters hopefully that is changing Hollywood.
Annette: It’s really been a blessing, I am hoping that this trend stays around and keeps going because then it gives all the hard working actresses a chance to showcase their talent. I think the fact that the strong female characters are appearing in different genres is also a good sign as well.
Christopher: I think Canadian filmmakers have been doing this for a long time, a good example is one of my favorite horror films I’ve been watching since I was a little kid, Black Christmas, and that has a lot of strong female characters in that as well and more recently American Mary, movies like that have females at the forefront, fighting the villains as a team.
I want to thank Christopher and Annette for taking the time to talk with us