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EXCLUSIVE: A Chat With The Star & Creative Team Of Netflix's 'A Babysitter's Guide To Monster Hunting'


Oct. 29, 2020

There's a new Halloween movie on Netflix, A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting . Based on the popular book series by author Joe Ballarini, the movie follows a teen girl who has to save the little boy she's babysitting after the boogeyman steals him to harness his nightmares. Moms.com got the chance to have exclusive chats with the film's director, Rachel Talalay, the screenwriter Joe Ballarini and star Tamara Smart about what it was like making the film, and what they want everyone to take away from it.
Rachel Talalay (director)
Moms.com (MC): What drew you to A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting ?
Rachel Talalay : First, it's a wonderful series of books. But particularly female empowerment, really great girl friendship, which is really important. To working together making babysitters awesome, making their friendships awesome. And then I love a monster movie. And the opportunity to create these new works that balance between scary and funny. Trying to walk that balance between being just scary enough that kids can really love being the right amount of scared, and then break it up with that amount of funny and entertainment while giving this female empowerment message which is really important to me.
MC: As a director, what was the hardest part of taking like a established and well known entity, like a book series and transferring it into films?
RT : There's never enough money to do everything that's in your imagination. I was fortunate because I was working directly with the book writer. So when we needed to make changes, there was very much the policing of canon to make sure that it's acceptable. We didn't just take it away and create a whole new world, we expanded on what was in the book, and, and made the kind of changes that he was happy with as well.
MC: What were some of the technical challenges of making this movie?
RT : There are many imaginative challenges. Where is the Grand Guignol and what does his palace look like and how do you build something that big? And then the toadies are completely computer generated characters. So how do you interact with characters that are all CGI? What does the cat lady look like? Where's Where does she live? How do we how many cats can we do? Then training the girls to do just enough action but make it believable action. It's much easier in many ways to do fantastical action rather than have it look like they're actually fighting and yet it doesn't look too violent. But it looks real.
MC: If you could have the audience take one thing away from the movie, what would it be?
RT : You're stronger than you think. And that you need to use your own talents to see all your monsters.
Joe Ballarini (screenwriter/author of the book series)
Moms.com (MC): How did it feel to be able to adapt your book series into a movie? Not everybody gets the luxury to be able to do that.
Joe Ballarini : It felt pretty wonderful. I understood what would have to go, what would have to stay on, the limitations that I would have. Because if we were to directly translate the book to screen, it will be a $300 million movie. There's so many more monsters in the book, there's some really massive moments in the book. So it was, it was wonderful because, you know, a collaborative medium, and you really have to embrace that as a writer. A movie is such a team effort. So many wonderful people put so much great effort into making a film, that it's to be expected that changes will be made along the way.
MC: What was one thing you knew had to make it from the book to the movie?
JB : Definitely the relationship and the friendship between those characters, they really stayed the same course from the book to the movie. I'm very proud that that is a lasting relationship. Because we can throw in all the cool monsters we want. But if you don't love the characters you're following, and you're not feeling excited and inspired and discovering a friendship, all the all the cool stuff in the world isn't going to save you.
MC: Why did you write the book?
JB : I had a really, really big health scare. And I thought, 'oh my gosh, well, if I died, what would I want to leave behind?' [in writing the book] I discovered this the sense of empowerment and a sense of helping kids overcome their past traumas and fears. While Kelly helps Liz overcome her past, I realized, 'Oh, this is something else. There's something bigger here than I imagined' and at the end, I realized I wrote this for myself. But I also wrote this for other kids who probably are terrified of nightmares and and the rest of the world to help them overcome them.
MC: If you could have the audience take one thing away from the movie, what would it be?
JB : That you're not powerless against the monsters of the world. You don't need to let your fears control you. And a nightmare is scary. But with with bravery and the right amount of courage and the right friends you can you can overcome a lot of obstacles. We can overcome a lot of fears.
Tamara Smart (actress, Kelly Ferguson)
Moms.com (MC): What drew you to the part of Kelly? Did you feel any pressure taking on a well known book character?
Tamara Smart : I loved the idea of having outcasts and her being rejected for her math skills. And I love to see her grow into a strong young woman who finds a passion and builds relationships with all of her friends. I think there's always nervousness, but I think Rachel and Joe were really helpful. And I think I got to know the character a lot more while playing her. She was a real joy to be.
MC: What was your favorite scene to film?
MC: If you could have the audience take one thing away from the movie, what would it be?
TS : I think it would be teamwork, because it's really the community. It's really about bringing people together to become a sort of indestructible force of nature. It's really important to know you have friends and family support you and I think this is really what this movie is about.
A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting can be viewed on Netflix now.
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