Interview by Paul Salfen
As we get closer and closer to Halloween, the interest grows in scary movies and all things that go bump in the night. September brings us the beginning of the festive decor in stores and a trickle of spooky new flicks and one of those making waves already is Z, directed by Brandon Christensen (Still/Born). The story follows a mother whose son finds an imaginary friend in Z but then becomes unmanageable at school, so she puts him on medication so he can’t see Z anymore, but she can – and he wants to be her friend.
Keegan Connor Tracy is no stranger to fans of the horror genre, having starred in Final Destination 2 and appearing in White Noise and “Bates Motel,” but fans of the otherworldly shows “Supernatural” and “Once Upon A Time” will be very familiar with the actress, although Z is where she really shines.
Here’s more from Tracy:
AMFM Magazine: This is the perfect movie to get us ready for the scary movie season. Since it’s already streaming on Shudder, what has the reaction been like so far?
Keegan Connor Tracy: Good! I think overall, everyone has been very responsive to it. That’s a good feeling obviously. We put a lot of heart and soul into it. It was a little indie and we’re a small team so it’s great that people are enjoying it.
AMFM: It looks like it was fun to make!
KCT: I don’t know if it was fun because it was a difficult, emotional role. I’m not saying there weren’t times when it was fun but a lot of it I had to sequester myself and stay in the work so yeah, it was both.
AMFM: Well, were there at least some fun moments that stood out?
KCT: We certainly laughed at a lot of things in the old house like Z climbing into bed with her – and it was really our AD. Things like that made us chuckle. Brandon said he couldn’t get over that he would be watching on the monitor and I would be joking around and making silly comments and then suddenly I was be very serious and in my zone, which I can only do for certain roles or like when I was waiting for him to get in bed with me or waiting to wake up to something and I didn’t have to concentrate on the emotional journey at that moment.
AMFM: This seems like a good time for some escapism, don’t you think?
KCT: Yes, I do. I used to think the same thing about “Once Upon A Time,” where you want to make something where people don’t have to think about their mortgage, school, or whatever else. Now more than ever, I think people are going to be into escapism and have time to gobble up all of this content and I’m just glad that people are finding this movie.
AMFM: What are some of your favorite horror films?
KCT: I started watching a bunch of them because I’m signed on to direct a horror film in the film, so I really loved The Conjuring – and I love Vera [Farmiga] anyhow – they were creepy, but I loved Hereditary – it was super creepy, I loved “The Haunting of Hill House” visually – I didn’t love the finale, but I loved that whole season beyond that and loved the way it was shot and learned a lot from that. So I’ve just been trying to make my way through the genre and learn a lot from it.
AMFM: What movie was it that you saw that made you want to do this?
KCT: Oh, gosh. I can’t say that I remember but I did want to be an actor as long as I can remember – but some of those motives mixed in a way that I could understand as an adult now. I have always loved stories and I was always a reader and film has more layers to tell a story, which is why I’m really drawn to being a director now. You get to choose visually how you tell the story as well as performance and production design – I find all of that interesting.
AMFM: You’ve had a really interesting career. What advice would you give to someone looking to get into television or film?
KCT: Oh my goodness. It’s such a difficult business and you have to make peace with such a tremendous amount of rejection and uncertainty, which makes it a really hard business. You never know when your schedule is going to be and when you’re going to earn your money, which is something you need to prepare people for as much as learning the craft.
AMFM: On Drew Pearson Live we always ask people their Hail Mary Moment, or moment in their life or career where they just had to go for it. What was yours?
KCT: Geez, I don’t know if I’ve even had it yet. I think it’s maybe turning to directing and how much I really enjoy that process and shadowing on “The Magicians” and really seeing the nuts and bolts of how an episode of television is made and now making my own feature. I just love the nitty gritty work of building a story out from this kernel and that’s what’s interesting to me.
AMFM: What can you tell us about the film you’re directing?
KCT: It’s called Evil Eye and it’s about a woman that was in this cult classic first horror film when she was very young and it comes back to haunt her later on in life.
AMFM: That sounds fun. When do you think we’ll get to see it?
KCT: Well, that’s going to depend on a lot of things, especially COVID, but we hope that we’re going to shoot it in October but we’ll see. There’s a lot of stuff between here and there.
AMFM: Back to Z, did you do anything to break up the tension of working on a horror flick?
KCT: Always. [Laughs] I’m always that actor, anyway. But I remember there was one day on the shoot where we were in the old house because the one they originally wanted to shoot in caught on fire and I can’t remember why I was looking for a blanket, but I opened this closet door and something pulled it shut and it scared the hell out of me. I yelped and everyone looked over and I pulled the door open and closed again and realized they were magnetized so they snapped shut. But because we were shooting a horror film and it was the middle of the night, I was crazy by then. We laughed a lot about that.
AMFM: Given your credits in the fan favorite shows and having done a lot of really cool features, you seem like you have the perfect level of fame. Or, at least, it’s not so bad, right?
KCT: No, not so bad at all. I’d just like to get to maybe the next level up where you make more money. [Laughs]