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Jessica Curtright and Santiago C. Tapia’s short film IT BEGAN WITHOUT WARNING drops you into immediately into a bad situation. A woman lies on the floor in a bedroom, bloody and near death, a man steps out around her, also bloodied, carrying a some kind of weapon, heading down the hallway in our direction with serious intent, where we soon see there is a little boy hiding in the kitchen, carrying a large knife for protection and anticipating what’s to come. And that’s all you need to know, other than this: things are about to get worse in ways you will likely not imagine – and they are not as they seem. There will be more kids, and there will be creepy, gross monsters, and none of the gory mayhem will be explained. So, while none of the characters have been warned (apparently), you have. Enjoy. I did.

1. What was the inspiration for the story and did it have anything to do with a bad babysitting experience?

Ha.  No bad babysitting experience.  Just love creepy kids


2. How does the division of responsibility work between you both as directors? Who does what and is a coin flip ever involved?

We write and edit together – 2 people but like one brain really. We read a while ago that the Coen brothers edit with 2 keyboards plugged into the same computer. We thought, “that’s interesting, why not give it a try,” and it stuck. That’s how we write and edit. On set, Santiago is also our DP. We don’t really divide labor per say but have an organic way of each of us taking a turn at doing something. No coin flip.


3. There seems to be a playful (in the horrific scenario you have built) style with the storytelling utilizing dates and chapters that is knowing while also amping up the scary and dramatic. Where did that come from?

Inspired by storytellers like Lovecraft, Stephen King. Also we like our films to always drop the viewer right in the middle of an event and showing the date and time was part of that experience.

Nesting dolls. Creepy or lifesavers..?

Nesting dolls. Creepy or lifesavers..? (IT HAPPENED WITHOUT WARNING)

4. Let’s talk about the special effects. Being careful not to offer up spoilers, but being honest here, did your “monster” result from a mistake with the prosthetics that you ended up going with since it was still gross and creepy as hell?

No mistake. It was deliberate. We spoke a lot to our special effects dynamic duo, Sierra Russell and Josh Russell, about our little creature. They really worked miracles on a super small budget. When going to the feature we’re excited to work with them further developing the design and “science” behind the creature.


5. What was fun about working with kids and what was a pain-in-the-ass?

The kids were great! We spoke to a lot of kids and really wanted to make sure they were kids who would enjoy working within the story we were telling. It’s pretty horrific, but the kids had a lot of fun. They would pretend to talk to the creature between takes. It was cool. And they worked really really hard with a lot of choreographed storytelling – no dialogue so a lot of it was them getting their blocking down.

What kid hasn't had to hide in the kitchen while cradling a big knife? Or is that just the way I was brought up?

What kid hasn’t had to hide in the kitchen while cradling a big knife? Or is that just the way I was brought up? (IT HAPPENED WITHOUT WARNING)

6. Because horror filmmakers never seem to get as much credit as they deserve for the art and skill it takes to make good and effective genre films, can you name the filmmakers that have influenced you and directly influenced this particular film (and why)?

Kubrick, Cronenberg, Kim Jee-woon, Park Chan-wook, Hitchcock… too many to list from Carpenter to Fessenden. Newer to the scene, love the films of Mike Flanagan, Ti West, and… again too many to list haha.  Jordan Peele!


7. Popcorn or Candy?

Both!  Film going tip: buy popcorn and Reese’s Pieces, then pour the candy INTO the popcorn and enjoy.

Tapia and Curtright, directors of IT HAPPENED WITHOUT WARNING

Jessica Curtright and Santiago C. Tapia, directors of IT HAPPENED WITHOUT WARNING


IT BEGAN WITHOUT WARNING screens at the 2017 SXSW on….

Alamo Lamar D Mar 10, 2017 11:30pm —1:10am

Alamo Lamar E Mar 12, 2017 8:30pm —10:10pm

Alamo Ritz 1 Mar 16, 2017 9:00pm —10:40pm