Justin Lockwood discusses the satirical horror short Girls Night In and Skylar Benton's first starring role.
Tribeca Festival’s Call Me Crazy genre shorts program kicked off with the devilish Girls Night In, an enjoyably absurd take on the infamous “Bechdel Test.” The test examines works of fiction to see whether there are interactions between female characters that don't involve discussing a man.
The horror short, directed by Alison Roberto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), an award-winning Director and Creative Director who specializes in original short-form content, from concept through post-production, and written by Landon LaRue, seems like it might pass the test, albeit in classic slasher movie fashion. It centers on two women talking to each other about the man trying to kill them! Skylar Benton stars opposite Jess Adams as outspoken and sassy Delaney. Benton is an acting newcomer and professional dancer.
Skylar took time away from her busy schedule at the Tribeca Festival and a dancing tour in Australia to talk horror movies, acting, and bloody Valentine’s Day commutes. Of course, during our conversation, I couldn’t help recommending that she check out Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018), it being a dance-oriented horror film.
[THIS INTERVIEW CONVERSATION HAS BEEN EDITED FOR CLARITY]
Justin: Were you a horror fan before making this short?
Skylar Benton: I’m terrified of horror films and don’t watch them because I’m a super big baby. People said, “but how can you make a horror movie then?” But I know what’s happening, so I’m not like crying in my seat the whole time. [Laughs]
Justin: What appealed to you about the characters and the script?
Skylar Benton: Landon is one of my good friends. She posted that she was looking for some actresses for a short [film]. This is my first speaking role. I was initially reading for the role of Becca. They had cast Delaney at that point. I was like, “Gosh, I really like Delaney. She’s so sassy and in your face!” But I didn’t know that I was allowed to ask to read for her. They [later] asked me to read for it, and her lines just came out so naturally.
Justin: What were your thoughts on the Bechdel Test before making this film?
Skylar Benton: I honestly didn’t know what it was. Landon said, “I thought it would be hilarious to take that test and put it in the most unlikely place.” I don’t know if people caught it, but our names are Bec and Del. At the end, we’re just saying “Bec,” “Del,” “Bec,” and “Del,” over and over again. I was really hoping somebody would bring it up at the premiere Q&A.
Justin: Tell us about the shoot?
Skylar Benton: It was super fast. We had a 12-hour overnight shoot, just one day. All the other people [in the Call Me Crazy program] said they had two or three-day shoots. [The Girls Night In shoot] was on February 13, and the next day at 5 am, we wrapped on Valentine’s Day. I was driving home with blood on my face. I was like, “I hope people notice me; this is going to be a great story!”
Justin: What was it like being directed by Alison Roberto and working with Landon LaRue? Have you had the chance to work with female directors and writers before this?
Skylar Benton: My first big job in LA was with a female director. She gave me my first big break as a burlesque dancer in a film, alongside Dita von Teese! She kind of steered me into the entertainment industry.
On Girls Night In, Ally [Roberto] had a crazy mood board and vision, and then they brought it to life. She and Landon let me run with this character, and how she reacts, and what the tone is. I come from a dancer background, so I’m used to asking people to tell me exactly what they want me to do, but they said, “Just do what comes naturally for you and the character,” and I found that super freeing and awesome.
Justin: Tell us about your current projects?
Skylar Benton: I’m on tour dancing. I’m a full-time dancer. We shot this short during the pandemic when we had no work. It was a good time to try something new. I’ve been in Australia for the past year, and it’s been great.
[The pandemic] was rough, but being in the entertainment industry, you kind of overwork and don’t give yourself time off because you never know when there won’t be work. But I sort of thrived in the pandemic. My friends and I had camping trips to national parks, [things where we were] together, but isolated. I tried to do something with an opportunity that I knew probably wouldn’t happen again in my lifetime.
Justin: What advice would you give to aspiring actors and creatives in the film and television industry?
Skylar Benton: It sounds cliché but know your worth. Know the worth of your craft and skill and what you put into it. I think people lose that and take things that don’t pay you what you’re worth and [wind up regretting it].
Justin: Will you continue to pursue acting?
Skylar Benton: I love dancing and don’t think I could ever live without it. I definitely wouldn’t mind pursuing acting, though. People keep me reminding me that your first acting work doesn’t usually get into the Tribeca Festival!