The Global Search for Education: Roadkill: An Interview with Director Ava Fumarolo on Blending Comedy and Horror
This month, audiences can screen Roadkill on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated for the Planet Classroom Network by Planet Classroom
Roadkill, directed by Ava Fumarolo, is a comedic short film that explores the unsettling aftermath of hitting something on the road. Through a series of title cards and unexpected moments, the film keeps viewers on edge, balancing between scares and laughs within its brief runtime.
In the interview that follows, Ava Fumarolo, the talented director behind Roadkill, shares her inspiration for the film, the challenges she faced during production, and her strategies for blending comedy and horror.
The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Ava Fumarolo.
Ava, what inspired you to create Roadkill, and what were your main goals or intentions with the film?
Roadkill was originally an idea I had for the start of a TV show where two kids are coming home for Thanksgiving when they encounter a body on the road, leading to a bigger mystery in their town. However, it was always intended to be a dark comedy. My main goal for this short film was to create something enjoyable and easily understandable, even with limited information. The story unfolds in real time with periodic time jumps, so I wanted the audience to be on the same page as the characters, figuring out what to do together. After forming the idea, my overall goal was to convey it thoroughly and ensure the audience understood the situation, despite being thrown into the middle of it.
Could you share some of the biggest challenges you faced during the production of Roadkill and how you overcame them?
There are always challenges in filmmaking, as without them, everyone would do it. For me, the lack of help has been a significant challenge. Finding someone willing to sacrifice their time to assist me on a project has always been difficult. I was supposed to have two people for sound and camera on Roadkill, but an hour before shooting, they had to cancel. To overcome this, I had to pivot and woke up my 14-year-old sister, offering to buy her lunch in exchange for recording sound. Although she was initially angry, she saved the day. Talent is hard to find, especially in high school. People express interest but often can’t commit due to not fully grasping the work involved in making a short film. Fortunately, I was lucky to find the other lead fairly easily and avoid that challenge altogether.
How did you approach the blending of comedy and horror in Roadkill, and what techniques or strategies did you employ to achieve that balance?
One effective technique is not actually showing the “scary” thing or monster in the film. It could even be a person. Spielberg used this trick in Duel by never showing the truck driver, adding suspense. I employed a similar effect with the body in Roadkill. By not showing it, viewers are left to imagine its appearance and what really happened. To balance the uncertainty, I used the characters as comedic relief. I believe the best approach is to let the characters be funny through their words and actions. Situational comedy is present, but I love it when humor arises from the characters themselves. For example, when Patrick switches to an English accent, it’s funny because it’s unexpected. It’s a result of the character’s nervousness, and it just slips out. He’s doing the opposite of what’s expected, which is acting normal. Ultimately, having a darker story with characters that provide comedic relief creates a balanced dark comedy.
What was your strategy for releasing and promoting Roadkill, and what advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers navigating the distribution process?
When I first started making short films, I didn’t know what to do with them because I didn’t care. If I and my family liked them, I didn’t feel the need to share them. As I grew older, I wanted to share my work. Submitting to film festivals is a great way to gather feedback and share your films with others. There are numerous youth film festivals, including free ones. Having a YouTube channel is also beneficial, providing a centralized platform to showcase your work. These are the best approaches to navigate the distribution process as a young filmmaker. Research festivals and platforms that can showcase your work and gain exposure.
Thank you Ava!
C.M. Rubin and Ava Fumarolo
Don’t Miss Roadkill, now streaming on the Planet Classroom Network. This film is curated by Planet Classroom.