Horror movie tell me attends San Diego Comic-Con, living up to his name. The panel, headlined by filmmaker twins Danny and Michael Philippou, was all talk, despite a brief clip, as the film’s cast pulled out of the screening due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
But that didn’t stop the panel from being entertaining and informative, with the brothers hyperactively talking about their origins, doling out movie advice and spitting nonsense, leaving the audience at the Bayfront’s Hilton Indigo Ballroom with smiles on their faces.
The excited and excited brothers gained a large following, as well as experience, making action-horror comedy videos on YouTube before earning the Hollywood buzz with tell me, which they did independently. The supernatural horror film, about teenagers who find themselves on the wrong end of a possession gone horribly wrong, became a Sundance sensation this year before being picked up by A24. It will be released on July 28.
“We never entered YouTube wanting to be YouTubers. We wanted to make feature films,” Michael said. “Every fight scene we design is either a new platform or a new blood effect or something with music. We always set ourselves challenges for the videos we made. Just so we could see if it was possible to do something and gain experience.”
The brothers shared many details about the “do it yourself” spirit that permeated the making of Talkfrom having eight weeks of filming suddenly reduced to five, having to start his own visual effects company just to make sure shots were done on time, and even turning down a studio to maintain creative control.
But none seemed more surprising than Danny revealing the risk they took fighting to cast newcomer Sophie Wilde as the lead.
“We lost a million dollars from the budget to cast Sophie because it wasn’t a name,” Danny said. “But we really believed in it… To secure Sophie, we had to put our fee back into the film. And our producer did the same.”
The filmmakers talked about their love of practical effects: “Even bad practical effects look better than bad CG,” Michael said, and they met legendary game designer Hideo Kojima: “We talked about a little something, something,” Danny said between oohs and aahs.
And they hilariously talked about how they had to shoot a montage sequence that they were told they had two hours to shoot and involved 50 montages.
“The first AD told us that it was mathematically impossible to do,” Michael recalled. “And we said, ‘We’re going to control the set for these two hours. Give us a boombox and two cameras.’”
There were shouts of orders, actors storming in and out of makeup, and pure chaos.
“We actually got all 50 shots. So fuck off that first AD,” Michael said as the audience howled.
“No, no, we love you. It was really good,” Danny said, turning to damage control. “I just don’t want things to be taken out of context. But fuck it.
More laughter broke out.
In the end, the brothers clung to their non-traditional origins in the movie business.
“There is a stigma that comes with being a YouTuber where people typecast you,” Michael said. “That you cannot work in other media. But I feel like if you’re a storyteller, you’re a storyteller. TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, it doesn’t matter. If you want to make movies and you’re serious about it, you can do it.”