Q&A: USC alumnus talks about co-writing horror film ‘Killer Kate’

A bachelorette party goes awry in “Killer Kate,” an upcoming film written by USC alumnus Daniel Moya and Elliot Feld. The film stars Alexandra Feld as Kate, and the cast also includes Danielle Burgess and Amaris Davidson. (Photo from IMDb)

Slated for limited release on Friday, “Killer Kate” is a new horror movie co-produced and co-written by Elliot Feld and USC alumnus Daniel Moya. Moya graduated from the School of Cinematic Arts in 2017, where he studied film and television production, and Feld studied feature film production at the Brooks Institute.

The film focuses on Kate (Alexandra Feld), who attends her sister’s bachelorette party at a cabin booked on an Airbnb-style app. The weekend slowly turns into a vicious fight for survival as family members are pitted against each other. “Killer Kate” was showcased at four different film festivals in 2018, and received three awards, including best feature film at the Chicago Horror Film Festival.

In a phone conversation with the Daily Trojan, Moya provided insight into the making of “Killer Kate,” as well as his burgeoning film career.

Daily Trojan: What differentiates “Killer Kate” from other horror movies?

Daniel Moya: What we latched onto from the get-go [were] technological advances. There’s always this little worry of how secure it is. We were especially interested in the 24-hour news cycle, which is debilitating to people

We combined what passes for news and these technological advances, which seemed like a good place to start. People are riled up all the time, so I think they might relate to the anxiety of the characters’ motivations. Twenty-four-hour news is dangerous and cheapens what is actually of note in the news; it’s becoming oversaturated.

DT: How did you and Elliot’s tastes in film influence “Killer Kate?”

DM: “Killer Kate” was outside the box for me, but it was also fun to write. Elliot and I have almost opposite taste in movies, but value the same ideals. Our tastes complemented each other because we’d be throwing various ideas back and forth, and they’d go through our individual lenses. We don’t know who wrote which scenes anymore because there is a bit of both of us in each scene.

DT: Was there anybody at USC, whether it’d be a professor or student, who helped you develop your skills as a filmmaker?

DM: In film and television  production, three professors have equal standing: James Savoca, David Maquiling and Mary Posatko.

Everyone from film school is coming from a different place artistically, and it can be stifling to complete something exactly how everyone else does because people have innately different ideas of what they want to do.

Those three [professors] were honest when I did something badly and helpful when I did something outside the box. I learned the most when I followed my gut and failed. If I fucked up something I believed in, I could learn from their critiques. If I made things throughout film school that I didn’t believe in at all, I would’ve missed all that education. The benefit of film school is not the movies, but the people you make the movies with. The artistic benefit is trying your stuff, seeing what works and meeting people better than you at things you don’t know or like.

DT: Where do you see your career headed?

DM: I just like making things and don’t have a master plan. If you keep to this, I think people will start to watch. If they like it, you’re in a good place. You don’t know what’s going to be your big break. I’m not interested in making something I don’t like just to be known. I want it to be a dialogue between me and the audience.

If you like the movie, we have something in common because I make things from a personal place. If you’re true to what you want to do and you do it long enough, people eventually catch on. It happens sooner for some people than others, but you can’t forgo the work because the recognition will fade. Someone, somewhere, long after you’re gone, will stumble upon your movie, never having heard of you, and get to form their own opinion that you can’t control. To me, that’s exciting.