Cecilia Keirstead is a producer and sound mixer for New 32 Productions. We sat down with her to hear more about her experience working on Biters & Bleeders.
First of all, congratulations on coming aboard as a producer, that’s so exciting! I hear this is your first time producing with New 32, and I’m very curious about what that was like; how was your experience producing on this project? Specifically, what were your expectations about what producing Biters & Bleeders would be like, and how did that compare to the reality of it?
Thank you, I’ve been having a great time! When Raven first asked me if I wanted to join the production team, I knew it would be a “yes,” even though I was afraid I was getting in over my head. Though I had scraped together a few tiny projects when I finished film school, I hadn’t worked as a producer on something of this scale before. Having a budget of more than zero dollars? Renting equipment instead of borrowing it from school? Hiring professionals instead of begging my friends to give up their weekends? Could I handle it? In reality, being part of something bigger meant that there was always a spirit of collaboration. It was fun, and even when tough decisions had to be made, there was a team of us ready to support each other and figure it out.
Was there something specific about Biters & Bleeders (or New 32) that made you want to produce?
I had worked with New 32 as a sound mixer before and loved it. We would joke around and have fun, but if there was ever an issue on set, they would take my suggestions seriously. We seemed to be a good team, so I wanted to work with Raven and Charlie on more projects. Then Biters and Bleeders came up. I was actually on set for another film when I got the script, but I started reading it between takes. I was hooked! It gave me chills. I wanted to be a part of it.
What’s something you learned from this production, either about producing or about filmmaking in general?
I learned a lot about the process of getting everything organized for a shoot. What steps to take, when to take them, and how to make everything smoother on the day.
Pivoting to your other role on the Biters set, is there anything about this project that’s exciting to you as a sound mixer?
Even though I’m only part of the sound design, the horror genre has a lot of opportunities to go nuts with sound. During pre production, I kept getting bothered by how noisy the cicadas outside were all summer. Then it clicked: these loud bugs are for me! I recorded a bunch of tracks of them, just in case it could be useful. Now, they’re in the soundtrack and even incorporated with the score. We’ve also had fun recording screams, choking and gurgling sounds, and villainous catchphrases. Not to give away any spoilers, but there are also some fruit stabbing sounds that are super gross, which is quite exciting for me.
Aida with the unlucky apple that got repeatedly stabbed on set
If you could give one piece of advice to people who are new to the industry, what would it be?
Resilience is key. That’s not to say that you have to accept a demeaning or unsafe workplace to make it in the industry, but to say that filmmaking is tough sometimes. Being on set is hard work, so you have to keep a good attitude and hang in there when things get challenging. Biters and Bleeders was a great set to be on because everyone stayed positive and supported each other, even when we had to clear unexpected hurdles together. New 32 really prioritizes having a safe, comfortable working environment, and this has been the kind of project that reminds you why you wanted to be a filmmaker in the first place.
Do you have any closing thoughts or things you’d like to say about this project?
The crew for Biters and Bleeders has been such a wonderful group, from our director of photography all the way to our caterer. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I think we’ve created something we can all be proud of.
The cake that our fantastic caterer, Hollie, made for us our last day.