By: Brianna Ward
Jennifer Trent is the Head of Post-production at Blumhouse Productions. With the extensive roster of movies she has been involved with, horror is definitely the dominant genre on her list. Some movies she’s overseen include Insidious: The Last Key, Truth or Dare, The Happytime Murders, and Get Out. As a longtime horror fan, it makes sense that she ended at Blumhouse. We were able to get an interview with her about her work at Blumhouse and what exactly being a post producer entails.
What was your first introduction to horror?
I remember I was 13 and had a sleepover at a friend’s house. Her mom let us rent whatever we wanted at the video store, and we went for it. We rented every Halloween movie that was available, Friday the 13th, and John Carpenter’s THE FOG. My friend fell asleep at some point but I stayed up watching all night long. I have visions of becoming very paranoid during THE FOG that someone might be creeping up behind me…
What keeps you interested in the genre?
I love seeing new scares, things that have never been done before. With our model, we specialize in micro budget films, our filmmakers have to be more creative which is always interesting and exciting.
What is your favorite classic horror movie?
I once saw F. W. Murnau’s NOSFERATSU on the big screen and had to walk home alone at night after. That definitely left an impression. But I think the original HALLOWEEN would have to be my #1, which is why I was so excited to be a part of Blumhouse’s HALLOWEEN that came out last year. It brought all the good feels.
What movies give you the most inspiration?
Well thought out movies set in a contained location where things spiral wildly out of control. The movie DEAD CALM is one of them, and A SIMPLE PLAN. While INSIDIOUS 3 is part of a franchise, it really is a stand alone movie about one girl’s grief over her mother’s death that takes a turn.
What is something in every day life that scares you?
Going over budget on one of our movies, haha. Just kidding, not really.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was lucky enough to have a Grandmother who worked in Post Production back in the 70s and 80s. It was through her connections that I got an interview. It was up to me to get the job though, and I did! I started as a PA, and worked my way up to where I am now.
How did you get your start at Blumhouse?
I was brought in as a freelance Post Supervisor, and was able to roll with their way of movie making so they kept me around. About a year ago they brought me in-house.
What is it like to work with an innovator in the horror genre like Jason Blum?
Jason makes very smart decisions about the business we do, but we are a team at Blumhouse. Terri Taylor is our Head of Casting, and her choices give life to the movie. Jeanette Volturno is our Head of Production who leads the charge when it’s time reality check what’s on paper with what we can do within our budget. Couper Samuelson is the creative exec who shapes the stories in both the script form and with the cut. Karen Barragan is our Head of Marketing who fights for our movies, and makes sure they get exposure. Everyone is equally important and the success of our company is directly related to the team behind the logo.
There are many different roles and types of producers during the filmmaking process. Can you tell us more about your role?
I am the Head of Post Production at Blumhouse. When we Greenlight a movie, I hire the editor and the composer. I also start to think about the finish plan and coordinate with the DP on what picture finishing facility he wants to use. I also try to hold a sound mixer and sound stages.
Once the film wraps production, Post really kicks into gear. I have to get the VFX plan worked out and on track. We preview and help create trailers which all need to be managed. While doing all of this I have to communicate with all the different teams and make sure they are speaking to each other. All the while ensuring we are on schedule and within our budget. It’s a lot of work but when you see the finished picture married to the mixed audio with score, and it all comes together, it’s really rewarding.
How does Blumhouse continue to stay fresh in a genre that has been over saturated?
Blumhouse stays fresh by always looking for original ideas. One of the things our creative team is always looking for is a script that has something in it that has never been done before. This Christmas we will be releasing Sophia Takal’s BLACK CHRISTMAS, which is a fresh take on this classic slasher film. I think people will really enjoy it.
What has been your favorite project to work on and why?
I love all the movies I work on but my experiences on GET OUT working with Jordan Peele was unforgettable. Jordan was very collaborative to the point of going around the room asking for input on scenes, then trying people’s ideas. I also really enjoy working with Leigh Whannell, who wrote and directed INSIDIOUS 3. He is such a creative force it’s fun to be on that team. Finally the experience I had working with Jon Chu who directed JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS for us was another great and memorable experience. If you ever get a chance to see that movie, you should. The imagery, the montages, and the music all converge to make a very creative and unique film.
Has/will Blumhouse offer any Internships or Programs to help people who want to get Into to horror?
Blumhouse has an internship program that is open and a few of our former interns and assistants are working in horror now. Chelsea Stardust worked here at Blumhouse a few years ago and she just recently directed INTO THE DARK: ALL THAT WE DESTROY for Blumhouse television and Hulu.
Anyone interested in working at Blumhouse as a television or feature intern can send a resume and a short cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be any collaboration with the directors that I like. Right now I’m working with Leigh Whannell again on THE INVISIBLE MAN which will be released at the end of February, and promises to be a fun ride!
Do you have any advice/suggestions for up and coming or hopeful producers?
Just keep swimming, work hard, and have a great attitude. Be open to new experiences and don’t say “no, this can’t be done.”
Are you open to collaborations with indie filmmakers?
The great thing about Blumhouse is that by working here you can work with a range of filmmakers from M. Night Shyamalan to Sophia Takal. We work with creative people within the system that is filmmaker friendly.
Jennifer will be available as a special Hollywood Mentor for the winners of the HorrOrigins Film Festival. Check out our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more info!