The documentary Living With Chucky has just debuted for the first time anywhere in the world at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival.
On the other hand, we can’t wait for the second season of the Chucky television series, which will make its debut on October 5 on both Syfy and USA Network. One can’t help but think of the Child’s Play documentary that is going to be released soon.
The director Kyra Gardner, together with Jason Strickland, contributed to the writing of the documentary that she went on to direct. The typical style of talking heads is broken up by animated opening titles, the sewing of Good Guy doll clothing, and the filling of molds with Chucky body parts. These elements give interest to the film. A VCR is seen with a collection of franchise cassettes sitting above it. When you start playing each one, a conversation about its corresponding movie will begin.
I started the journey of making this film several years ago as a class assignment in film school. One semester we were asked to make documentary short films, which was a genre I despised as someone with ADHD. That was until I watched, “Stories We Tell,” which is a fascinating film that unravels a family’s secrets all from the perspective of the filmmaker. It showed me how intimate documentaries could feel and inspired me to focus my film on something personal. I originally intended making a short on what it was like growing up with a special effects makeup artist as a dad. I used to think I had a very normal childhood, but as I grew older I realized not every other kid came home from preschool to monsters, aliens, or fake dead bodies that their father took home from work. Most notably Chucky, the killer doll from Child’s Play, was something I would constantly come home to at the ripe age of four, and would give me nightmares for years to come. When I pitched the short in class, a teacher pointed out how often I referred to Chucky as my own brother and encouraged me to focus on that subset of my life since it is something that has been ingrained in my family for the past twenty years.
In creating the short film it felt like I was piecing together missing bits of my childhood. I was finally meeting the other families surrounding these films that became a second family to my dad while he would be gone for several months at a time in Romania or Canada. They all referred to Chucky as an existing family member and as they revisited their own memories, my seemingly isolated childhood from my dad felt less lonely. It was an incredible experience that resulted in feeling more involved with the “Chucky family,” as my film opened for Cult of Chucky‘s premieres in London and Toronto that year. From there, it was ultimately the fans who inspired me to sit down and turn the film into a feature. They had so much passion and love for a character they considered to be their icon, yet to me is just my little brother who always gets to ride shotgun (I’m not joking, you have to buckle up Chucky anytime you travel). I knew other eighties slashers like Freddy and Jason had their own documentaries, but there wasn’t something out there that was solely dedicated to the Child’s Play franchise in its entirety. It was my chance to show fans, either new or day one die-hards, a glimpse into my reality.
Little did I know the behemoth task I had just given myself of trying to cover a beloved thirty year old franchise in just under two hours while fresh out of film school. Not to mention the many challenges faced along the way such as the editing process, legalities, and a global pandemic that not only halted the filming process but also affected the entire independent film market. “Living With Chucky” has truly been a love letter not only to the franchise but to the people who work so tirelessly to continue to bring Chucky into the homes of horror fans everywhere. I hope people are able to feel just how much heart was poured into creating this film and possibly take away a newfound appreciation for their favorite franchise.Kyra Elise Gardner
The well-known Child’s Play series is dissected from both an individual and a societal point of view in the show Living With Chucky. LIVING WITH CHUCKY is a documentary that was directed and conceived by Kyra Gardner, who is also the daughter of Tony Gardner, the chief puppeteer for the majority of the Chucky franchise. The documentary uses new and archival interview footage to expose the series’ cultural impact over the years, with principal cast and crew members such as Don Mancini, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Tony Gardner, and David Kirshner, as well as fans of the Chucky franchise such as Marlon.
It is wonderful that the stars of the franchise will be featured in the documentary and that they will share their personal tales as well. In addition to that, the filmmaker receives a vast quantity of archive footage to use in the film. The combination of the knowledgeable talking heads and the film that has never been seen before gives us reason to believe that this one is going to be pretty dope.
In the latter part of this year, Living With Chucky will have a screening at Frightfest in the United Kingdom. We should hear the official release date sometime in the Fall.