Alix & Keir met 10 years ago and have been making films together ever since. They are currently campaigning to raise funds for their horror feature, KILL YOUR LOVER.
You’ve been filmmaking and life partners for nearly a decade now. How did it all begin?
ALIX: This is one of my favourite stories to tell! TL;DR is Keir and I met on a music video shoot and he asked me out afterwards.
The more fun version: we met via a casting call that Keir put together. I was mostly an actor at the time and got the part. Apparently everyone on the set, apart from me, could tell that Keir and I were going to end up together. But Keir was the epitome of professional, so it came as a complete surprise when he asked me out after the shoot!
Afterwards, we soon decided it would be a good idea to make 48hr film projects together. That should have broken us, given the pressure that comes from them. But happy to say it made us! And we’ve been making films together ever since.
KEIR: What can I say, I loved working with her and I just didn’t want the adventure to end.
How have you made it all work so well — both on set and at home?
ALIX: Keir’s family comes from a psychology background, and we’ve always made it a priority to communicate as honestly and fairly with each other as possible. People on set have even commented that we talk to each other like we’ve been to therapy.
KEIR: I think we also recognise each other’s strengths and we know how to play to them. We balance each other out. I think working together takes a lot of intense empathy but also extreme and compassionate honesty.
On the flip side, what’s the hardest part of sharing both your life and career together? Any tips?
KEIR: Switching off. It’s hard sometimes to draw the line between discussing work and personal things, especially when your work is your passion. It’s far too easy to allow the two to bleed together and find yourself discussing prep or production when we should just be spending time with each other.
ALIX: We are pretty good at keeping Saturdays work free. That’s our ‘us’ day.
In theory we have a rule that we aim to put down tools at 6pm, in a bid to reflect ‘working hours’, as we often work from home. This is a loose rule though, and I’m the most guilty party of bending it (oops!).
Best advice I can give? Individual duvets! So comfy — and I’ve since found out, typically Scandinavian!
Being on set brings a whole new level of stress. How do you two divide co-directing responsibilities?
ALIX: We make sure we’re aligned long before we get onto set — everything from storyboarding, to special effects and overall direction of the film.
Once on set, our agreement for the KILL YOUR LOVER project in particular, is that Keir will be the lead voice when it comes to liaising with our cinematographer Oscar Garth, whereas I will be the point person for the actors to talk to, and for the all-important practical make-up effects. We see this as a huge plus, as we think it allows us both to give that extra attention to detail where it really matters.
KEIR: When it comes to editing as an example, I do the heavy lifting, and then Alix comes in and refines. Best way I can describe it is I hammer away at a big chunk of marble till it resembles something, and then Alix comes in with a chisel and rock polisher and shapes it into the finished statue.
ALIX: This usually also happens in the scripting phase, but for KILL YOUR LOVER it was a true marriage of the minds.
As dark as it sounds to ask this, did you draw any inspiration from your marriage for KILL YOUR LOVER?
ALIX: It draws from our relationship as a whole: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’d be lying if there weren’t some very powerful deep cuts of ours buried in the film.
There are also sweet moments woven in that are either ours or borrowed from friends and family. Part of the horror is that these elements make the film both devastating and relatable, beyond the gore. The true monster in the film is the relationship itself.
KEIR: I see Dakota and Axel, the main characters, as versions of us that were less emphatic and conscientious to each other. I recognise the ways we’ve strived to always work on our relationship and we’ve actively changed with each other over the years. But if we didn’t put that work in, we could’ve ended up like Dakota and Axel.
What draws you both to horror, compared to other genres? Why is it an important genre?
ALIX: I’ve really come to appreciate the spectrum that lives within horror. It can be as serious or fun as you want it to be. As an audience member, it’s exciting to see what you’re going to get.
Horror is a fun proving ground for filmmakers as to whether someone really understands timing, from the building of tension to the payoff and the eventual catharsis.
KEIR: I love the idea of a ghost train — horror as a fun thrill ride that takes you on a trip. Getting a reaction out of the viewer that’s either emotional or visceral.
It’s something I always see us striving for as filmmakers. If you can get that kind of audience connection and proceed to build into something that makes them think? That to me is perfect cinema.
Why did you look to crowdfunding to help get KILL YOUR LOVER to production?
ALIX: We’ve made several successful shorts, but there are certain doors that remain shut unless you’ve already made a feature. But we also don’t want to make a feature for the sake of making a feature.
We knew that if we were going to make a feature it would have to be quintessentially us, in order to prove that we have confidence in our vision — and that we know what we’re talking about.
A good example is our hit horror short RETCH
. No one understood the appeal of RETCH on paper, so we went ahead and made it anyway. It ended up touring festivals globally, winning Best Horror Short at Cinefantasy before premiering on Horror Platform ALTER.
KEIR: We see this as a real opportunity to make something outside the norm and that sort of freedom requires a certain amount of independence. Any time bigger financing comes in, you have people you have to answer to. Ultimately, we want to prove this film can survive with all its unique qualities.
Lastly, what types of films do you want to see more of?
ALIX: I would love to see more grounded action films, where the action is there in support of the narrative and relationships within the story. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE is a great example – I’m obsessed.
KEIR: I miss mid-budget movies for grown ups, thrillers, dramas, comedies that were given the production and resources to tell engaging stories for adults and didn’t have to solely rely on intellectual property. I think so much of that stuff has now gone to TV, and I do find myself thinking, ‘I wish this was just a two hour movie. It doesn’t need to be 10 hours long and set up another season.’
A huge thank you to both Alix and Keir for their time and wisdom. You can learn more about KILL YOUR LOVER on the film’s Greenlit page.