Sophia Takal creates tension that’s fun to watch in New Year New You

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The latest episode of Blumhouse Productions Into the Dark, New Year New You, is currently streaming on Hulu.

New Year New You is co-written and directed by Sophia Takal (Green). Fascination with celebrity, addiction to social media, and self-help gurus manifest in the lives of old friends at a New Year’s Eve party. Sophia was kind enough to talk to us about her film.

The Interview

1428 Elm: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us at 1428 Elm!

Sophia Takal: Oh, no problem!

Sophia Meets Blumhouse

1428 Elm: Most of your films like Green and Always Shine have been smaller productions on the festival circuit. What was it like working with a bigger production company like Blumhouse?

ST: It was really different. But, in a good way. For me there was much more support. I had a bigger crew. And knowing that it would be available for people on Hulu right away. I didn’t have to take years and years of toiling away without anyone knowing the movie before it gets seen. It’s a really exciting, new experience for me.

1428 Elm: How did you get involved with Blumhouse?

ST: I think that they had seen my last movie, Always Shine. They had this particular project in mind and I went in and met with them. They sent me the script for [New Year New You]. And then we talked about the script and the direction that I would take it. They were really supportive and encouraging. They wanted me to make my version of the movie instead of some slotted-in director that would do whatever they said. For that, I think Blumhouse is a great company that let me bring my own vision to the project.

1428 Elm: That’s awesome. Let’s talk about New Year New You. From the start of the episode, I got a real 1970s horror movie vibe. But, this isn’t a slasher movie. This is more like a battle royale. Was that where you wanted to focus?

ST: Yeah. I’m really drawn to movies with a character dynamic where people are vying for status and vying for dominance. Being able to build tension through relationships is a goal of exploring the horror of everyday life and relationships. So, that was kind of the thinking and then having that build to something that’s not slasher, but violence. That was all all part of the original conception. It starts with these micro-aggressions that builds to something more extreme.

New Year New You-Into the Dark-Courtesy of Richard Foreman/Hulu

1428 Elm: And along with building that tension was the way the camera moved. When it was on Alexis or Danielle, it struggled to focus. It’s like it was having trouble figuring out who those characters were. Was that your decision or something you worked on with the Director of Photography Lyn Moncrief?

ST: It’s something that we approached together. I had never worked with Lyn before, but we had talked about what you said about the horror movies of the 70s and 80s. I loved their tone. And we worked together to interpret that and to figure out the language of the film that we wanted to make. And then piecing it together with the characters. I wanted the camera to add tension and to add to the subtext of what was going on with the characters. It was really important to me to ground the camera work in the character’s experiences. So, what you’re talking about is just that there’s so much unspoken tension especially between Danielle and Alexis. And Alexis has this whole plan. And the others don’t know about it. So she’s creeping towards that. This was a visual queue that there was a lot going on beneath the surface.