FrightFest 2023 - Interview with Alice Maio Mackay director and co-writer of T-Blockers

A chat with the incredibly talented creative of the emotionally charged movie

James Whittington
August 27, 2023

We chatted to the creative of the acclaimed trans hangout film.

NYX: Where did the idea for T-Blockers come from and what was the writing process alongside Benjamin Pahl Robinson?

AMM: So I think the original idea for T Blockers originally came from my want to kind of center a horror film around a trans lead character, and those experiences that are kind of unique to trans women. and I really wanted to do that through like the lens of a hangout/character focused film and then have those horror elements be more secondary, and underlying. Without spoiling it, the ‘chasers’ in the film felt like it really leant itself into the slimy kind of gross body horror/possession type stuff, and it was also like a subgenre Ben and I hand’t explored yet.

NYX: The cast are very strong and in particular Lauren Last as Sophie, was it written with a cast in mind?

AMM: They were all so phenomenal to work with, but I think for the most part it wasn’t really written with a specific cast in mind outside of like a few characters. Like Lewi who plays Spencer, and Joe who’s Sophie’s brother, both actors I’ve worked with a lot and kind of knew when I was writing they were who I wanted.

NYX: There are so many levels to the film, part satire, part horror, part social commentary, how would you describe it?

AMM: I think the way I’d personally describe it is like a trans hangout film, mixed with horror and sci fi elements?

NYX: The film mixes horror genres such as found footage and revenge do you have a favourite horror genre?

AMM: I mean like queer horror is my fave aha but I’m kind of open to any genre really.

NYX: The parasite which infects the gullible and ignorant, turning them into even more vile creatures is an incredibly powerful metaphor, who came up with this concept?

AMM: I think it was probably both Ben and I. I know when we originally were starting to write this I didn’t want to do like generic zombies as that’s like not really a subgenre I wanted to explore, and as I mentioned earlier I think it just kind of fits in really well with the context.

NYX: The hatred experienced by the heroes of the piece, though set in a fantastical situation seem all too real, were these be born (unfortunately) from actual situations?

AMM: I mean they weren’t taken from actual situations, but there are things in the film that my friends or myself have definitely experienced.

NYX: Empowerment and the right to be yourself is the real weapon against the “infected” here, how did you ensure the message got through the horror?

AMM: I think just writing and making a film that I would want to watch helped ensure the message got through the horror.

NYX: There’s a wonderful giallo tone at times with the lighting used, was this deliberate?

AMM: I don’t know if my inspiration was giallo for this film, but I definitely wanted to create a really colorful palette and a vivid heightened world for these characters to live in.

NYX: How difficult is it for Trans people working in the film, or any industry today?

AMM: I think it’s a little bit dire at the moment, not just in film but where the world is right now and politically with trans rights. But there are so so many amazing trans filmmakers in independent and mainstream scenes who manage to keep creating amazing work despite all that.

NYX: Will you be nervous when the movie has its European premiere at FrightFest 2023?

AMM: I mean I think I’m always nervous to play any of my films anywhere aha, but I am beyond incredibly grateful to have my European premiere with FrightFest such an established and incredible fest. So I just hope my film can connect and resonate with its audiences.

NYX: So, what are you working on at the moment?

AMM: I have my fourth film in post ‘Satranic Panic’, a super campy trans, drag, road trip type film with some cute musical elements too, and have my fifth feature ‘Carnage for Christmas’, with Vera Drew editing which was just announced too. & my other films ‘So Vam’ which is available as a SHUDDER exclusive & Bad Girl Boogey which is out to rent/buy DVD/watch now too. There should also be an exciting announcement for So Vam’s physical release soon in the near future.

NYX: Alice Maio Mackay, thank you very much.

AMM: Thank you so much for talking with me :)