Interview with Screenwriter/Actor Pippa Hinchley (KILLING CHRISTMAS)

KILLING CHRISTMAS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the March 2020 DRAMA Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Pippa Hinchley: I originally wrote it as a play for a one act play season at Studio C in LA. The core of it is my own personal story – losing a loved one at Xmas sucks! – and I wanted to give a nod to the many women especially mothers and those with big families who do nothing but cook and look after people like a servant over Xmas! It is essentially a wish fulfilment film – what I wish I could’ve said but wasn’t able to due to sudden death. Existenial questions (and angst!) features in much of my writing whether comedy or drama and I love to write about serious issues, like grief, using that knife edge that sits between comedy and drama, using and getting the benefit of both, though it’s quite hard to pull off.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you
to make this short?

I wrote it in a matter of days – as a play – a few more drafts to convert to a film script – again, days. The shoot was 2 nights and the prep a few days beforehand. The post was about 3 weeks but took a whole year as we waited on favours from editor and others. 6 days of editing was spread over about 9 months!

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Humorous heartache?

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The post process and being the producer/funder. I was learning post for the 1st time and lost my co-producer and director during it, as it all took so long. So just as I needed expertise from others who knew about post because I had no real clue about grading/sound edit/design etc I had no help. STEEP learning curve!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking
about your film in the feedback video?

Thankful and proud and delighted by them, frankly! I loved that they specifically mentioned the writing, the twist, that it was so RELATABLE and how it made them FEEL – most importantly. Also that 2 at least said they could relate to the desire to escape Xmas!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Personal story of ‘regret’ as mentioned above and need for wish fulfilment – so redemption really – been in my head for years – needed to get it out and it has popped up in other bits of writing, in various guises, before as a ‘redemptive’ story. All I needed to get it written was the impetus to write the original play and to follow the brief that it had to be set in a ‘living room’. As I brainstormed living room scenarios, I came up with the idea of Holly being in a store that initially appears to be her own living room and so providing a little opening twist and some comedy.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

A little known film called MIDNIGHT STING (aka DIGGSTOWN) and FIELD OF DREAMS – which mine owes much to in the ‘magical realism’ department! Great writing that also utilizes a lot of humour within the serious redemption story. (I suppose it spoke to me as it was the SAME as my own personal story.)

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings
of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Good but there a some unethical people and festivals out there that are more or less scams to take filmmakers’ money, and I wish we could pressurize film freeway to ban them or at least investigate them when we tell them about it. IE: act on the reviews if they are really unethical.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Probably ‘Hotel California’ as it’s the only one I’m brave enought to do at karaoke!

10. What is next for you? A new film?

yes, I’m filming another darkly comedic piece about a woman who experiences her 1st psychotic episode and the onset of mental health issues. #MENTAL !


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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