John FawcettDirector and co-writer
The werewolf, and the transformation that takes place at the heart of werewolf stories, was ripe for a re-imagining of the woman in the central role. Our main characters, Ginger and Brigitte, are two sisters who depend on each other. Ginger is the life raft that Brigitte clings to, but then bites Ginger and turns into this deadly werewolf. What would Brigitte be without Ginger? This question really resonated with me. My older sister was the most important person in my life, but she died in a car accident when she was only 17 years old.
Karen Walton and I were living together in Canada as a boyfriend and girlfriend when we wrote it. There was a lot of laughter. She was pretty much the lead writer and I would suggest things. The story evolved into this suburban satire, where you benefited from being a teenager and feeling like an outsider surrounded by stray sheep. The film is primarily about sabotage.the last girlA metaphor in horror movies. It was important that the balance of power shifted and Ginger became an “alpha male.” That’s why when she attacked her classmate Jason, she exclaimed, “Who’s the damn guy now?”
We were preparing for Ginger Snaps in the same year as Columbine shooting. There has been a lot of focus in the media on how movies make children violent, and the idea of a bloody high school movie didn’t work well with the casting directors in Canada. Some of them joined forces to boycott our film and the National Post published an article about it. We were rejected by all the schools we asked, but fortunately another movie production had a set of three small school corridors that we could shoot. We sent Scarlett Johansson a script to see if she was interested in Brigitte, but her mom read the National Post article and didn’t want her daughter to be involved.
The budget was only C$5 million, so we had to rely on innovative practical effects, inspired by John Carpenter’s body horror. the thing David Cronenberg is a fly.
I’m making a Ginger Snaps TV show right now. I definitely want to delve more into the backstory of wolves, and the challenge in updating the story. The original movie was fortunate because it ended up with two great protagonists – Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabel – who had great chemistry. They were like teenage girls Thelma and Louise.
CathErin Isabel, played by Ginger Fitzgerald
Emily, who plays Brigitte, was born in the same hospital, went to the same kindergarten and attended the same high school. We had three or four auditions together before we finally got the sisters roles. In real life, I was that feisty teenage girl who hates everyone, so Ginger was a perfect fit. But Emily, who is a few years older than me, taught me how film has been linked to oppression, sexuality, feminism, and shaping. Through her wiser eyes, I learned how important this story is
The female experience is perfect for horror. At puberty, your body imposes on you all these changes that you never agreed to. Then all of a sudden the sex is being done by the outside world, which you didn’t agree to either. Ginger Snaps took advantage of the pent-up worldly rage that comes with the process. It was a relief for me to get all those feelings out with Ginger.
The makeup of the werewolf took six hours to prepare. The alcohol paint made me nauseous, I had contact lenses that made it hard to see, I had a lot of prosthetics covering my face, and all the sweat was coming out of my nose. We’ve all had the flu, too, and when you shoot all night, you start to go a little crazy. I was 17, living alone in a tiny apartment on a diet of cigarettes, Coca-Cola and McCain Deep’N’Delicious Chocolate Cake. When fake blood is poured all over you throughout the day, it dries up and doesn’t come off easily — and starts pulling at your skin. I was working 20 hours and coming home and I collapsed in bed. The woman who sublet the apartment tried to sue me because I left fake bloodstains everywhere.
We shot the opening sequence, with All bodies covered in blood, in this house in a suburban standstill. There was a three year old boy living there, and we had to mark the time so he wouldn’t find us. Sometimes I wonder if he did. I hope we don’t ruin his childhood!
I once received a script with a scene where the machine guns are working and my ‘mature little’ body is ‘all wet’. As an actor, you just read that. But Ginger Snaps were refreshingly smart. The sisters are not based on any male character, while the story deals with the menstrual cycle – a pair of bloody underwear appears on screen, which we have not seen before.
Let Karen and John form the characters. I think the film’s legacy lies in how it takes the teenage experience seriously in a world that is constantly ignored. My favorite line is when I say to Brigitte: “I can’t have a hairy chest, b, that’s bad!” Black humor will never age.