Writer and director Cory Choy delves into the immersive world of Terror Films’ mother-daughter thriller, Esme, My Love, in an exclusive interview with Bleeding Cool. Drawing from his background in sound design and producing, Choy intricately weaves together a psychological journey that follows Hannah (Stacey Weckstein) as she grapples with her aloof daughter Esme’s (Audrey Grace Marshall) terminal illness. In a desperate attempt to forge a connection before it’s too late, Hannah takes Esme on a poignant trip to their ancestral family farm. Choy shares insights with Bleeding Cool about the supernatural true story that inspired the film, his collaboration with screenwriter Lauren Allen, the rigorous auditions that led to the casting of Audrey and Stacey, and how his previous projects shaped his directorial approach.
The inspiration behind ‘Esme, My Love’ is rooted in two distinct sources. The first is a chilling anecdote told to Choy by a woman who encountered a mysterious presence in her home while her young daughter looked on. Despite the terror of the situation, the woman described it as a beautiful encounter with an angel. This paradoxical perspective deeply resonated with Choy and found its way into the film. The second kernel of inspiration came from the real-life experiences of the DeLarm family, who owned a property in Haig, New York, where the film was shot. Choy and his team immersed themselves in the family’s history and folklore, drawing inspiration from characters like Sally, Sherry, and Susan DeLarm, as well as the story of Hannah, who narrowly escaped kidnapping. While the character of Hannah in the film is not solely based on one individual, she is a composite of various elements from the DeLarm family’s rich history.
Choy’s creative process with screenwriter Lauren Allen was a collaborative journey marked by serendipity. Searching for a writing partner who could bring a mother-daughter dynamic to life, Choy found Allen through a friend and invited her to visit the shooting location with another potential collaborator, Lily Johnson. During their visit, Allen felt that the project was better suited for her friend Laura, who ended up joining the team. Choy appreciated Laura’s devout Catholicism and her ability to embrace spirituality, which aligned with the film’s themes. She also brought a dark and empathetic perspective to her writing, enriched by her background as an English teacher and her love for literature.
The casting process for the roles of Esme and Hannah involved a rigorous audition process. Audrey and Stacey emerged as the standout choices after three rounds of auditions. Choy was impressed by their talent, especially considering that working with children can be challenging. He credits his casting director Catherine Corcoran for her invaluable insights and guidance throughout the process. As a filmmaker, Choy recognizes the importance of collaborating with a talented team, and he is grateful for the contributions of everyone involved in the film.
When asked about the impact of his previous project, ‘The Best Little Coffeehouse in Maryland,’ on his directorial approach for ‘Esme, My Love,’ Choy highlights the lessons he learned during the post-production phase. While ‘The Best Little Coffeehouse in Maryland’ was initially intended to be a feature film, it ended up being made as a documentary short. Choy’s experience with this project informed his decision-making process and offered unique insights, despite the differences in genre and format.
Overall, Cory Choy’s journey in creating ‘Esme, My Love’ showcases his ability to bring together various elements and perspectives to craft a gripping thriller. With a compelling story inspired by real-life events, a collaborative approach to screenwriting, and exceptional casting choices, Choy’s talent as a writer and director shines through in this thought-provoking film.
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Basant Kasayap is an entertainment aficionado who delves into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry. From Hollywood to Bollywood to regional cinema, she offers readers an insider’s perspective on the world of movies, music, and pop culture.