The employees of a stylish clothing store are dying to unload the latest trendy pair of jeans in the new horror comedy, ‘Slaxx.’ Filmmaker Patricia Gomez Zlatar is showing that making a killing in sales is ultimately harder than it appears, as the titular pants are sending an important cultural message that no one could have anticipated
Zlatar, who was a producer on the movie, also served as one of the co-writers, alongside director Elza Kephart. ‘Slaxx’ features an ensemble cast that includes Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani and Stephen Bogaert. The comedy is now available on on VOD, Digital HD and DVD, courtesy of RLJE Films.
In ‘Slaxx,’ a possessed pair of jeans is brought to life to punish the unscrupulous practices of a trendy clothing company. Shipped to the company’s flagship store, the killer jeans proceed to wreak carnage on staff who are locked in overnight to set up the new collection.
Zlatar generously took the time recently to talk about penning and producing ‘Slaxx’ during an exclusive interview over the phone. Among other things, the filmmaker discussed that the screenplay went through multiple incarnations over the course of a decade before she and Kephart were happy with the direction they took the story in. Zlatar also mentioned that she enjoyed reuniting with her co-writer on the movie’s set as a producer and the director while they were bringing their vision to life.
The conversation began with Zlatar discussing why she was inspired to pen the script for ‘Slaxx’ with Kephart, and what was the scribing process was like on the screenplay. “I’ve known Elza for a long time, and we had this idea awhile ago as an inside joke,” she revealed with a laugh.
“The script was quite a process to get to; when all was said and done, I think it took us about 10 years of non-consecutive work to finish. We worked on it in little chunks,” Zlatar continued.
“We also went through several reiterations of the script together. We knew the concept would be a killer pair of pants, but we didn’t know much beyond that,” the filmmaker admitted. “So our first draft was set in a high school, and was a very generic slasher, which we both weren’t very happy about when we finished that script. So we put it on the shelf for a long time.
“When we later decided to work on it again a couple of years later, we decided to put in the corporate element. I had worked in a retail store for about two or three years when I was younger, so we decided to add that element into the story,” Zlatar also shared.
“But we felt that there was something missing, so we put it on the shelf for another couple of years,” the writer added. “I then saw a documentary about fast fashion, and realized that was the key for the story. We were then able to crank out the script very quickly after that.”
Zlatar then followed up on the fact that she and Kephart set ‘Slaxx’ entirely in a store, and how they captured the real experiences that retail workers have in the script. “That was a huge turning point for the script. When it was previously set in the high school, it didn’t make sense, and it was really silly,” she divulged.
“But setting the story in a store was inspired by my time working retail. We would change collections overnight-that’s not a far-fetched idea. We would be locked in the store overnight.,” the filmmaker revealed.
“A lot of the characters are loosely based on people that I worked with. The manager in the movie is basically a patchwork of a bunch of managers that I had at the store; it didn’t take that much thought to create this crazy, evil manager,” Zlatar revealed.
“I think putting the story in a retail environment really helped with the story. I think that was a huge turning point for the script…Looking back, it should have always been set in a retail store; I don’t know what we were thinking, putting it in a high school,” the scribe admitted with a laugh.
Zlatar also delved into the fact that the comedy takes place entirely in the clothing store where the jeans begin targeting the employees. She described what the process was like of figuring out where she and Kephart would set and shoot ‘Slaxx.’ and working together to create the look of the store.
“I think it was a real challenge to create the look. Elza had some great ideas about the production design,” the filmmaker shared about the experience.
“Creating a fake store and campaign was more work than we expected. We found an empty store and had to dress it completely. We were pretty much doing that until the night before the shoot, to be completely honest, ” Zlatar admitted with a laugh. “We were working to make the store look perfect. There was a wall that had shirts that were perfectly folded, which was a nightmare to do.
“It was a big effort to create the store, with the help of the crew. But in the end, I think it turned out pretty well,” the writer also noted.
Besides the look of the store, the film is notable in part because it incorporates humor into the serious subject of how trendy clothing company can rely on unscrupulous practices in order to succeed. Zlatar explained what the process was like of incorporating the comedy into the serious repercussions that occur when companies begin to be held accountable for their actions.
“I think finding the right balance of humor is always tough. I think you try to find it when you write it, and then you try to find it again in the editing room. But it doesn’t always convey. When you’re writing, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is great,’ but then when you shoot it, you realize it’s not quite what you expected,” the filmmaker admitted.
“When we were writing, we had no idea about the limitations we would have during the shoot. We were writing our hearts away, and thought we were going to do this and that during the shoot,” Zlatar continued.
“Then when you get in the editing room, you think, that was horrible. So it was a very tricky balance. During the editing process, we had to be very strict with ourselves, and make sure everything wasn’t too campy or cheesy,” the scribe continued.
“But we also had to make sure that the story wasn’t too serious. I think that was definitely one of the hardest things we had to deal with in post-production. That was definitely something that we worked on until the end,” Zlatar added.
The filmmaker then delved into how in addition to writing the screenplay, she also served as a producer on ‘Slaxx.’ She discussed what her experience was like of working as a producer while Kephart was directing the movie on the set.
“I tend to often write and produce, so it’s a natural thing for me. So when I write, I don’t think about numbers. But as soon as the script is done, I do the switch,” Zlatar shared.
“Since I’ve known Elza for so long, I really trust her as a director. She has such a strong vision, but also knows that she can adjust things when I ask. But I also know what I can’t touch that’s important to her as a director,” the producer shared. “Since we’ve worked together for so long, we have that shorthand. It was a really pleasure to produce this movie.”
Zlatar then delved into what the experience was like of casting ‘Slaxx,’ which features an ensemble cast of characters. “With the casting, we didn’t know what to expect, as we were casting a horror film about killer pants. We wondered if we were going to get anyone who was interested,” she admitted with a laugh. “But we did, and we really lucked out with the cast. Everyone was so into it and willing to go all out.
“I’m also glad that we were able to get such an ethnically diverse cast. The movie really represents where we’re from, which is Montreal. It’s a really ethnic place. I’m Latina, so I felt it was important to have a cast that actually represented the real world,” the filmmaker continued.
“We were lucky enough to have these great actors that were really able to give us what we wanted. Everyone was in great spirits, which shows that most people really want to work on a killer pants movie,” Zlatar concluded with a laugh.