Interview with South Fellini About Upcoming Horror Film, Alpha Girls
I first discovered Johnny Zito and Tony Trov when I reviewed Moon Girl issue 1 about 6 months ago. Fantastic comic book, stunning art. As is custom for nerds, I googled these guys, tracked them down on Twitter and kept an eye on them for new comic announcements. I was super excited to see tweets popping up in the following weeks from them announcing they were producing an independent horror movie in their home base of Philadelphia. Johnny and Tony are the founders of South Fellini, an “intellectual property studio“. I asked the guys to give Nerds in Babeland readers a little inside info on Alpha Girls and what it was like producing a horror film.
Alpha Girls is about a sorority house with demon issues. Can you elaborate a bit on what we can expect?
JZ – There’s a coven of witches and they make a pact with a devil-ish monster that feeds on death. Every sacrifice grants them untold power and wealth. After a hundred years the craft has gotten watered down and all that remains is a crumbling sorority built on the old traditions.
TT – The story really focuses on the new pledges, four girls who discover there’s some truth to the old ways. They set out to make their wildest dreams come true and it costs them dearly.
JZ – We shot the whole thing in Philly at an actual frat house that’s over 120 years old. So there were all these creepy rooms to explore.
TT – It was supposed to be like Susperia but I think it turned out more like Beetlejuice. Can’t wait for the edit.
Besides you guys, are there any other comic book community names involved in this project and what do they do in comics?
TT – Christine Larsen (Kung Fu Panda, LaMorte Sisters), Paul Maybury (Strange Tales, DOGS of Mars), Mark Fionda (Carnivale De Robotique) all contributed demon art to The Charter; a supremely holy book of voodoo and black magic. This was the book all the witches kept their spells in. They passed it down between graduating classes. A lot of the art contributions will be on screen.
JZ – And the Alpha Girls Movie Poster was done by Rahzzah (Moon Girl) in the style of a classic, 80’s horror films. Alpha Girls is at least a lil inspired by that B Movie era of horror films. It’s what we grew up on. So, we plan to release a REALLY limited edition run of VHS copies. Rhazzah’s art will grace the cover.
Alpha Girls was partially funded by Kickstarter. What was that experience like and did you find it as supportive as you’d expected?
TT – It’s been fantastic. The idea that we can pre-sell movie tickets for $20 is very appealing. It could change the way movies get made for the better. No one has to ask “how did this get made?” because you’ll know. You green lit it.
JZ – The Kickstarter is still going; 27 (editor’s note: at publishing, 15) more days left to pledge in exchange for really cool rewards. The aforementioned Poster, VHS Copy, Props from the film and copies of the soundtrack are all up for grabs.
TT – The movie is already shot; every frame is backed up on 4 hard drives and magnetic tape. Each copy is kept in a super secret location below the Mason-Dixon Line for safety. All we have to do now is put it together.
JZ – The proceeds from our Kickstarter will go to post production costs; hard drives, dedicated computers, mastering the sound track, ADR, sound design and digital effects.
You’ve also been blogging the entire process. Was that more for your own documentation and enjoyment or something you wanted to do for your followers?
TT – There was so much amazing stuff going on all the time, it was really more for us. If we weren’t taking a million photos and vids, we might forget how much fun we had making it.
JZ – Almost everyone on the crew blogged or tweeted, it was a group effort. Follow the hash tag #alphagirlson to see what everyone is talking about. And behind-the-scenes content is part of the film making process. You can rent a movie on Netflix but you buy the DVD for the extras.
Was there any specific inspiration for this film for either of you? Anything in particular that made you feel like THIS movie had to be made?
JZ – This is a very personal story for us. It’s about college and all the mistakes people make trying to fit in. We like to play with stories about the cost of friendship.
TT – Writing Alpha Girls felt different from any other project we’ve worked on. It started out as an idea for a comic but during the process we fell in love with the characters.
6. Are both of you lifelong horror fans, or was the interest born of some other venue/experience?
TT – We are pop culture obsessed. We grew up consuming cable television; Saturday morning cartoons, music videos and movies of the week. Really we’re lifelong fans of the weird.
JZ – In the last few years our interests have gotten further off the beaten path. Once a month we get together with friends for Shit Movie Fest and gorge ourselves on bad horror and cheesy sci-fi.
What were some of the biggest challenges in getting this film produced?
JZ – Feeding people is a huge undertaking; an army runs on its stomach. We were working 15 hours a day and keeping people healthy is top priority. I learned so much about nutrition and body chemistry. You can literally reanimate a person with a spoonful of peanut butter and a shot of vitamin water.
TT – The heat was the worst part. We’re under a dozen lights trapped in a giant mansion with no air conditioning. And as it turned it out this was the hottest July of all time in the history of the world. A new record high temperature was shattered every day. At a certain point we even had a kiddie pool on set just so people could dunk their heads and eat popsicles.
JZ – Everyday was awesome for completely different reasons but the first time we got to see all four actresses in their pledge uniforms stands out to me. It was 5 days into production so we’d done scenes with one or two actresses in costume but not all four. The pledges all wear matching uniforms and pink, argyle sweaters. It was surreal seeing this image we had in our heads for months suddenly brought to life. Trov and I slip behind the monitor and you can’t see the dance of lights, camera and boom pole going on around the actors. It’s a movie all of a sudden. Very exciting.
TT – Shooting around Philadelphia was amazing. There are so many locations to explore past The Museum of Art. Everyone around the city was very supportive and encouraging. It really feels that people are excited to have films shot in their neighborhood.
Is Alpha Girls your first feature film project? Has the experience motivated you to try another one in the future?
TT – We’re addicted. Plotting lots of projects now.
JZ – Chew coffee. Make movies.
I know Alpha Girls filming just wrapped up. When can we expect to see it and how can we find it?
JZ – The Kickstarter wraps up on September 6th and we hope to have a lil teaser trailer before then. Maybe some clips by NYCC and a finished product by SxSW.
TT – After that we’d like to find a home on Netflix/Hulu/On Demand. We love the internet distribution model; it’s done right by us in the comic book market. We’ll do collector’s edition DVDs and VHS for… collectors.
Would you like to tell us what’s next for South Fellini?
TT – Mystery!
JZ – Adventure!
TT – La Romantica!
JZ – DANGER!!!
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