I was able to chat with the writer and director, Charlotte Kennett. We talked about her Proof of Concept Psycho Baby, how she created it, her thoughts about the short film, and behind the scenes details. Here’s what Charlotte said.
1 in 25 people in the world is a psychopath. So we’re always standing next to a psychopath and we just don’t know it.
I just created my major Proof of Concept (a.k.a. POC). Basically, it’s like a short film, but it’s a way of showing people what your hope is for a feature film. The ideal end result of a Proof of Concept is a production company saying, “We love your POC short film and we’d love to fund it to be a feature film” or “we’d love to take it in a direction and make it a TV show.”
Any result is a good result in my book. I guess not every filmmaker feels that way, but to me, I’m like, “No really. If you like my idea, let’s make it into whatever you want.”
The Proof of Concept short is titled Psycho Baby and it’s about a psychopath named Aundra who falls head over heels for a love addict named Sadie. We’re watching two people, who are very different, go about trying to love each other and be in a relationship. But a love addict and a psychopath trying to be together is a disaster. They’re just so different on every level. It was really fun because you have two characters that couldn’t be more different and I wanted to create a piece where we humanize a psychopath.
I think in modern media, we only see psychopaths when they’re killing people. And the truth is 99% of psychopaths aren’t serial killers. They’re normal people. 1 in 25 people in the world is a psychopath. So we’re always standing next to a psychopath and we just don’t know it. They are just socially different than us. They just have a different way of going about things.
That was huge for me. I wanted to create a short where we are seeing a psychopath and we’re not going like, “When are they going to murder this person?” And just seeing how they actually are.
In the process of writing Psycho Baby, I should mention, I started anonymously interviewing psychopaths
In the process of writing Psycho Baby, I should mention, I started anonymously interviewing psychopaths, which was crazy. My parents were like, “Don’t do that. You’re going to get killed.” You know everyone has their stigma. I was like, “Guys, that’s precisely the point of why I’m interviewing them.” It’s so I can prove that they’re not all killers. And it’s so funny because when I would talk to them, they hated that. In media, all these shows and movies show them in such a negative light so there is this really terrible stigma.
I created a fake email and a fake Reddit. I went back and forth with so many people. I remained completely anonymous, I hope. But they’re so genuine, straightforward, and I love that they’re so honest. When I was asking them questions like,
“What it’s like to be in love?”…
“What’s it like to be in a relationship?”
And just hearing from them and their various perspectives, but it was a unifying perspective of like,
“Well we don’t feel love, but we feel loyalty. We feel like it’s a duty. Being loyal to this one person.”…
“I don’t understand why my partner’s so emotional.”
It’s very interesting and then comparing that to someone who is a love addict, which, I am a recovering love addict. It’s so crazy to say, but that’s why I brought that person in because, in my experience, I have dated someone who I was fairly certain was a psychopath. Not in a really bad way, but in a way like, “Okay, this is what I think.” And I was at this point of being so head over heels and not getting a lot back. Not because they didn’t want to, but I just think because it wasn’t there.
I wanted to write a heightened version of that story and mix in so many different perspectives and different relationships I had. It is cathartic for me because I believe, both Aundra and Sadie, I feel like both of them and neither of them. And it’s such a lovely feeling to be like, “Yeah, that does feel like me, but also that character feels nothing like me.” To put a piece of yourself in something, but also be able to step back, but they’re a really cool representation of this overall idea.
Psycho Baby was a super fun thing. It took me kind of a while to write. I had the idea, but I tried to write the script so many times and it wasn’t coming naturally. And when a script isn’t coming naturally to me, I put it aside because I don’t like to force writing. It’s usually very easy for me and I was struggling so much. I put it aside for 2 months because I was like, “I can’t get through it.” Then I picked it up again and I wrote the whole thing in 5 days.
It was a 25-page script. I completed to a point where I was like, “This is really good.” I brought it to my writer’s groups and they read it; they gave me lots of feedback. I shared it with friends who I trusted. They gave me tons of feedback. I finished it up. I finally felt so good about it.
So doing that short film/POC was a dream. I am so excited about it. It is so cool, it looks so good, it’s so beautiful, and I got to shoot an [Arri] Alexa. I shot on the same lenses as Top Gun 2 was just shot on. I had the best crew I could possibly ask for. I got to work with some of my best friends and we all just had a blast. And, of course, my two leading actors weren’t me, thank God.
It’s me AND me! I’m just kidding.
Thank God I got to actually direct two actors who are very talented and it was such a great process of learning how to be a better director, learning how to lead a crew, and make everybody feel heard and involved. I’m just so excited for everyone to see it and I hope that someone like A24 or HBO finds it, am I right? Shout out!
You can follow Charlotte on Instagram @charlotte.kennett and watch her stories to find out how you can watch Psycho Baby.