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Dec 19, 2019

Welcome to The Nick Taylor horror show! As always each episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show explores and deconstructs the success strategies of established horror directors while summarizing the key insights and resources that you can use on your own horror filmmaking journey.

Today we have Jennifer Reeder on the show. Jennifer is the writer/director behind one of the latest movies from IFC Midnight, Knives and Skin. Knives and Skin is a movie that I don’t even know where to begin describing. You just have to see it.

It’s on one hand, a trippy, David Lynch style nightmare, while being a deeply disturbing portrait of suburban America, reminiscent of Todd Solondz - but it’s not derivative of either of these directors, Knives and Skin is very much it’s own beast.  In it, Jennifer created a beautifully surreal and ironic world that had the kind of clarity of vision, confidence and cohesiveness of someone like Charlie Kaufman or Spike Jonze, all while being entirely an entirely unique voice.

All in all, Knives and Skin is a real treat and a real experience and hands down one of the most exciting new visions in horror to date. 

I had a great time having this conversation with Jennifer and honestly can’t wait to see what she does next. 

Here as usual are some key takeaways from this conversation with Jennifer Reeder. 


  • Consider casting theatre actors. Jennifer hails from Chicago, which doesn’t have as much of a film scene but does have a very dedicated theatre scene. As such, just about Jennifer’s entire cast consisted of theatre actors, as well as standup and improv comedians. Theatre actors and comedians not only bring a very strong work ethic to the set but are usually adept at a very unique level of nuance that can seriously serve their performances. A lot of directors have spoken about the benefits of working with theatre actors, among them Stuart Gordon who’s entire Reanimator cast were, at the time, stage actors. So if you’re making an indie film and don’t happen to live in New York or LA, you might want to consider hitting up your local theatre or comedy club for a casting call.  


  • Learn story. Jennifer spoke about the importance of learning story and structure and how the book Story by Robert Mckee benefitted her when she approached Knives and Skin. Despite the fact that Knives and Skin does not follow traditional any story structure, it defies the rules in a way that is indicative of understanding the rules. In other words, despite operating on its own unique and surreal plot trajectory, the movie delivers the character arcs, catharses, and payoffs that come with understanding how stories work. So Jennifer recommends that you check out Story by Robert Mckee.


  • Stick to your vision. Throughout this conversation, you hear me talk a lot about how specific this movie is and it’s because the vision behind it feels so refreshingly raw, unique and un-compromised. This is how films should be made. A director with a signature as strong as Jennifer's comes with sticking to your guns and not compromising. These are the  kinds of uniquely voiced films that we need right now, so if you’re an indie filmmaker and have a specific vision, please stick to it and follow it all the way to the screen. 


Produced by Simpler Media