‘The Babysitter Must Die,’ a coming-of-age horror film made in Park City, invades digital streams on June 22
Movie produced by Top Dead Center Films
When members of a cult take a group of children hostage after breaking into a home to find a secret within its walls, babysitter Josie Jane must use her skills as a Mustard Seed scout to save the day.
This is the premise of Kohl Glass’s “The Babysitter Must Die,” a home-invasion horror and coming-of-age film produced by Park City-based Top Dead Center Films that will be released on cable and video-on-demand platforms on June 22.
Los Angeles-based actress Riley Scott, a recent USC graduate, had a lot of fun in her breakout role of Jane.
“A coming-of-age story is unique and they have always spoken to me, because I like watching young adults transition over the course of 90 minutes,” Scott said. “When you think of these kinds of movies, you usually think of kids and teenagers, but with Josie you get the opportunity to see a young woman in her 20s come of age, which was like me in college. So I wanted to portray this woman who is going to make that transition. Also, my side gig in L.A. was babysitting, so I could relate to that right off the bat.”
Top Dead Center Film owners Julie and Gary Auerbach believed Scott was right for the part because of her personality.
Scott appealed to Julie, who wrote the script with Kevin Tavolaro, known for his work on “The Prophets of Science Fiction” TV series, because of her versatility.
“Riley had this beautiful vulnerability, and she had a feeling of wisdom, which is a little unexpected because she looks very sweet,” Julie said. “And when I watched her fighting, she was really tough. She showed she can do both, and it was fun to watch her take that turn.”
Gary liked Scott’s ethos.
“We knew Riley was a great actor, because she is classically trained and had the chops to do what we needed her to do,” he said. “But she also had that spirit to make the journey in a nonverbal way, which is difficult for an actor. She is the only choice we could think of now.”
Scott’s spirit showed in her work ethic, and she relied a lot on her dance background to enhance the physicality of the role.
“I was excited for all the physical stuff — the fight scenes, the stunts — and the chance to be a badass,” she said. “Dancers are used to doing things over and over again, even if it is hiding or just looking around a corner. I’m comfortable throwing my body into something, which is what I’ve been doing since I was 3.”
Although the film is a fictional horror story, Scott did shed some real blood on the set.
There is a moment in the movie where she has to climb a tree to get to a phone upstairs to call 911.
“To make it look legit, I had to shimmy up by wrapping my legs and arms around the trunk,” she said. “The crew also used a harness to pull me up, and as I was sliding up the tree, I sliced open my thigh.”
In addition to the gash, Scott’s legs suffered numerous bruises, due to the demands of the role.
“It was so colorful, the makeup crew had to put makeup on it for the whole shoot,” she said with a laugh. “But when I looked at the take, it looked like I was really climbing the tree, and I’m really proud of the scene.”
Julie Auerbach conceived the storyline for “The Babysitter Must Die.”
“My best friend always tells me that my head is an interesting place to visit, but she wouldn’t want to live there,” Julie said with a laugh. “I always think about what could go wrong in any scenario, and I would drive Gary crazy when I would think of the worst-case scenario when we would have a babysitter watch our daughter Lucia when she was a child. So, to me the story of a cult that invades your home and takes your family hostage while you’re out is one of those scenarios. So I just went with it.”
“The Babysitter Must Die,” which first screened at UK’s Fright Fest in October, is Top Dead Center Film’s second project, the first being “Stay Out of the F****** Attic,” which was filmed three months before “Babysitter.” Gary Auerbach is pleased with how the projects have turned out.
“Julie and I ran a big television production company in Los Angeles for a long time, and while it was great, our goal and love was to start making narrative features again,” Gary said. “Things worked out in a nice way, due to the market opening up more because streaming platforms needed more original content at a lower price point. So our idea of making quality films at a lower budget coincided with the demand.”
Gary also praised the local crews who worked on the films.
“These were our first productions in Utah, and I think we (scored) with the amazing talent here,” he said. “Most of the same crew went from the first film to the second film in a three-month window, and a lot of us was already used to working with each other, it was nice we didn’t have to bring everybody in from Los Angeles. I think that gave us an edge to do a really quick turn around.”
Like with “Stay Out of the F****** Attic,” filming for “The Babysitter Must Die” took 15 days.
“A lot of people worked hard, and it’s nice to see the product of the hard work everyone put into,” Gary said.
As for Scott, she will not forget her experience as the lead of her first feature film.
“It was a wonderful opportunity that (Gary and Julie) gave to me,” she said. “I love performing and telling a story, and I’m so grateful to have this chance.”
For information about “The Babysitter Must Die” and other Top Dead Center Film productions, visit topdeadcenterfilms.com.
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