Director Emily Hagins is riffing on the “Twilight” phenomenon a bit with her new film, “My Sucky Teen Romance.” In the movie, 17-year-old Kate and her friends are spending the weekend at SpaceCON, the local science fiction convention. When she's there, she meets Paul, dressed as a teen vampire — but Paul's not just in costume. He's a real vampire. When he accidentally bites Kate, it's up to her friends to find a way to turn her back and defeat the other vampires taking over the convention, using their knowledge of pop-culture as a weapon.
“I really wanted to tell a story that takes place at the convention setting,” Hagins said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. Hagins, 19 and from Austin, Texas, was hoping to make a film that would appeal to teens, especially the “geeky” ones.
“I was a big horror fan in general,” Hagins said. “When I was 14, I read the ‘Twilight' books and I was into them, of course.”
In making her own vampire movie, Hagins chose the bits of the mythology she liked best.
“You're able to pick and choose what kind of rules you want,” she said. “It's kind of like shopping.”
Teen cast, crew
Hagins had a cast and crew made up primarily of teenagers. She began making the movie at age 17. Even more impressively, it's Hagins's third feature film. She hopes to have a long career as a filmmaker, a career that started at age 12.
“This is something I'll continue to do as long as I can,” she said. “I was just very lucky that I started young.”
Her father, who used to work in advertising, showed Hagins the basic steps of making a commercial, from planning to shooting to editing, when the family first got a video camera.
Her time directing her first feature film, “Pathogen,” became the story of the documentary, “Zombie Girl: The Movie.”
Her second film was a mystery, “The Retelling.”
Her third, out on DVD on Tuesday, features geeks versus vampires, and was partially funded through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. She said it was helpful in raising funds, especially with the short timeline she was working under to turn this film around during the window for a film playing on the “Twilight” zeitgeist.
“I think there's room in the future for crowdfunding to exist with ways people have been making movies before,” she said.
Though she's a young filmmaker, she'd rather people focus on the second word in that phrase.
“I want to move past the idea that I'm just a young kid filmmaker,” she said. “I like to use my young perspective to tell my stories because I feel like that's what I have to offer ... (but) I would much rather people look at the films as the films. I don't want people to say ‘That was pretty good, for a kid.'”
Following “My Sucky Teen Romance,” Hagins' next film is a John Hughes-influenced film about a goofy teen, set on Halloween."My Sucky Teen Romance" is available on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, iTunes and On Demand.