Podcast News·Q&A

Three comedians said, 'Let's Make a Horror' — and did exactly that

The new podcast is a 10-part adventure through the creative process as three comedians try writing a horror script — with help from actors, producers and Hollywood screenwriting pros.

Maddy Kelly, Ryan Beil and Mark Chavez reflect on the latest season of their hit podcast

A composite graphic with two images. On the left is the cover artwork photo for Let’s Make a Horror. The cover artwork is an illustration of Ryan Beil as a werewolf (left), Maddy Kelly as Frankenstein (centre), and Mark Chavez as a vampire (right). On the right is a photo of the actor Ryan Beil in the film, “Close and Lock The Patio Door.”
Let’s Make a Horror is hosted by Mark Chavez, Maddy Kelly and Ryan Beil. The comedians take a stab at writing and directing their own shocking short film, Close and Lock the Door. (Podcast artwork by Ben Shannon/CBC; Image submitted by Kelly&Kelly)

The comedic co-hosts that brought you the Webby Award-winning podcast Let's Make A Sci-Fi and the romantic comedy delight Let's Make a Rom-Com have taken a stab at another genre this season — horror.

Mark Chavez, Maddy Kelly and Ryan Beil learned that the road to developing a truly frightening horror film is anything but easy. In fact, during the making of Let's Make A Horror, Maddy moved to Halifax — across the country from the writer's room in British Columbia — Mark underwent a major eye surgery that left him temporarily blind, and the director of photography wound up in the hospital

Through perseverance and the guidance of Hollywood experts such as director Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project), actor Rose McIver (Ghosts, iZombie, The Lovely Bones), comedian Ronny Chieng (M3GAN), writer Nanatchka Khan (Always Be My Maybe, Totally Killer) and many more, they created their horror short film Close and Lock the Patio Door

The premise they developed is this: Hugo (played by Ryan), a struggling alcoholic, drunkenly ruins a friend's wedding. So he heads to a remote cabin to recuperate — only to discover that it's not just his inner demons he has to wrestle with. The caretaker Mila, played by Maddy, is oddly nosy and the rental instructions have one unsettling rule: "Always close and lock the patio door."

WATCH | The team's horror short Close and Lock the Patio Door

CBC Podcasts had a few questions for the hosts about the podcast and film process. Here is part of that conversation.

Three comedians creating a horror film is a rather unlikely pairing. What inspired the gang to take a stab at the horror genre this season? 

MARK CHAVEZ: We talked about doing thriller, and action, but landed on horror because none of us consider ourselves to be major fans of the genre and thought it would be an interesting challenge and learning experience. Also, it is a hugely popular genre so that, for sure, played a factor in deciding. 

How did you manage to strike a balance between comedy and horror? 

MC: It was difficult to find that balance, especially when pitching ideas to each other. Many of my initial ideas were either confusing, or too unintentionally funny, or not scary enough. But when writing our script, striking that balance was more natural. In film, we find small points of levity to undercut the unsettling nature of the story, like Maddy dancing around outside asking to be let in, and Ryan carrying Woody the dog to the front door. 

A photograph of Mark Chavez on the set of Close and Lock the Patio. He is wearing glasses and looking at a film monitor.
Mark Chavez on the set of Close and Shut the Patio Door. (Submitted by Kelly&Kelly)

At one point during this season, the team was down an actor, and an eye — all whilst facing the threat of a possible hurricane. Tell us, what was the most horrifying part of the creation process? 

MC: A particularly horrifying part of making the short film was the very real clock we were running up against. The days and hours were counting down very fast to shooting the film and we were unprepared. We had a bunch of people involved and counting on us and I had to be the one on set calling the shots. If you're not prepared for a day like that it can be incredibly humiliating. Nothing like a deadline to get you moving. 

You all are no strangers when it comes to acting. What was it like to take on the role of writer, director and producer of a short film? 

MC: It was the first short film I'd ever directed and I loved it so much. I can't wait to do it again. I actually really want to direct another short horror film. 

Ryan, Close and Shut The Patio Door was your pitch.  While being mindful of spoiler alerts, what can tell us about the film? 

RYAN BEIL: It's about a troubled, youngish man named Hugo who decides to run away for a bit after an embarrassing night where he drank too much. Something that happens too often in his life. But when he gets to the rental cabin in the woods, something might have followed him there… 

A still of Ryan Beil as the character Hugo while in the film, Close and Shut The Patio Door. His eyes are black and is wearing a dark-coloured hooded sweatshirt.
A still of Actor and Comedian Ryan Beil as the film's lead character, Hugo. (Submitted by Kelly&Kelly)

The tale of the black contacts was one of many hot topics this season. Why did you end up wearing them? 

RB: Well, I don't want to spoil anything, as they continue to be a "hot button issue" the entire way through the podcast, but, I'll say this: The only person who ended up actually wearing the contacts was Maddy and it was not filmed! 

Maddy — during this season, you've mentioned you are not a fan of horror movies. What surprised you most about creating one? 

MADDY KELLY: I thought I would sort of be a little bit good at it but I was wrong. Ryan and Mark saved the movie. If it was up to me it would have been shot like a Nancy Meyers movie and everyone would have ended up completely fine at the end. 

A photograph of Maddy Kelly outdoors while on the set of Close and Lock the Patio Door. She is barefoot, wearing shorts and a cardigan while walking a black Russian terrier in the forest.
Writer and comedian Maddy Kelly, as the character Mila, on set. (Submitted by Kelly&Kelly)

The Let's Make A writer's room was filled with horror film aficionados. What was the most valuable advice you learned from a guest this season? 

MK: Rose McIver's nose control is something I think about daily.

If you had to describe the film in three words or less it would be…

MK: An uneasy experience. Oh wait, that's how I would describe making the film. An easy watch.  

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