Indie Filmmaking: Summit the Movie Pt. 1

Summit Cover

Last Sunday I got the great opportunity to travel up to New York City and meet with independent filmmaker Christina Raia to discuss her feature indie horror film Summit. Also present was Lauren Ashleigh, the female lead. We had a really productive and enjoyable time discussing Summit, indie filmmaking, and life in New York City. Here is the first part of our talk.

A little warning: This may be a little more scattered than my usual interviews. Not only was it not over the phone and therefore not recorded and transcribed, but it took place in a busy NYC coffee shop. Combine that with the fact that my handwriting is so bad that even I sometimes struggle to read my hastily scribbled notes. So basically if anything doesn’t make sense or sounds wrong, blame my handwriting.

Although this is her first feature length film, Christina at 23 is no newcomer to the indie scene. She has worn a lot of hats, including that of script supervisor. She has also made 5 short films. Not only that but she is currently directing and producing a web series.

Heavily influenced by showrunner and director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Avengers), Christina endeavors to write dialogue that is both “quippy” and fast-paced. She admitted that horror is the genre that made her want to make films.

Her first foray into feature length films, Summit had her setting some ambitious goals for herself.

“I wanted to make a self-aware horror thriller. I’m hoping people will find the self-aware aspect refreshing.” She stated in our talk. She was looking to make a film that had a light hearted beginning and transitioned into the dramatic and ultimately scary.

Summit could be described as a “ski trip gone wrong or wrong place, wrong time” which Christina admitted is kind of a trope in horror today. When I asked she admitted that there is a perception that indie horror is easy; the standby genre if you don’t know how to make a film.

“I wanted to make it a ‘tropes plus’ and have a complicated relationship between the characters.” She said, going along with the self-aware topic. “I wanted an actual script with more depth than people being killed one by one. My friend was the one who suggested that the killer lures these friends by hacking their GPS. We wanted a modern, knowledgeable slasher. Not a Michael Meyers.” So she sat down and wrote two different takes of each scene and sent them to her friend Kelsey, who is not a horror fan.

Summit Christina

When it came to casting, Christina made few compromises. In her own words, “Casting I don’t like to settle. I have a specific vision, a specific frame and I stick to that.” She even made her friend Ryan audition, saying “I can’t put my integrity on the line.” 

There you have it folks, the first in my installment on the indie horror film Summit. Check out part 2 here.

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~ by The Falling Skies Blog on March 11, 2013.

One Response to “Indie Filmmaking: Summit the Movie Pt. 1”

  1. […] interview to independent filmmaker and director of Summit Christina Reia and actor Lauren Ashleigh. I posted the first part of this article quite a few weeks but hit a few snags with updating it. Between starting a new job and lots of Canadian film coverage […]

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