Ever dated a girl named Erica? Better watch your back. You could be one of her several ex-boyfriends who has a film crew plotting her revenge right now.
Miami-grown film producer Camila de Onis is coproducing what she's calling the world's first docu-vengeance, a documentary in which director Kat Hunt will get revenge on the men who have mistreated their friend Erica's heart. One by one, each ex-boyfriend will be made to feel how they made Erica feel, in a series of vengeance schemes tailored to their specific offenses against her.
"At first, I thought it sounded juvenile," de Onis tells Cultist. "But as Kat and I kept working, things got wierder and more surreal and it grew on me. So far, only one of her exes seems to know what's going on. He got in touch with us, which is fitting because he's a total egotist and that has a lot to do with how he treated Erica."
The film, What's Revenge, is in its last days of raising funds via a Kickstarter campaign. Benefits include mixtapes curated by Neon Indian and Spank Rock, as well as a vengeance of your own against the ex of your choice.
Cultist: How did you get to know Erica?
Camila de Onis: I didn't meet Erica until the day of the shoot for our teaser trailer. And I actually don't know her at all. She's kind of an enigma but I'm okay with that distance as a producer. I'm okay with knowing her as a character through Kat.
To me, she's a person but she's also a symbol for the story's premise which is to have women speak their voices and to experience this feeling of facing your hurt. I think that's a universal thing to think about and relate to.
Kat Hunt: We're friends from college and then got closer when we lived in New York. We both worked office jobs in front of a computer, doing work for someone else. It's good to have a friend doing the same thing when you're doing something like that.
She would tell me about the guys she was dating and the stories weren't just about annoying breakups. They were truly strange and they made me think and make me curious about why it was happening to her. And honestly, they began to artistically inspire me because the elements were beautifully surreal.
So how are you going to get back at them?
de Onis: The vengeances are being plotted by Kat and Erica. I'm not part of that process. All I can really say is that they'll relate to the "crime" that the heartbreaker committed and to that experience. It's all conjecture, really, if they deserve it and you trust them.
You're either going to find Erica frustrating or you're going to empathize. Kat and I are interested in how, when people create narratives of their lives, it's always a bit dubious.
Hunt: We've come up with hundreds of ideas but rejected most of them. It's sort of fun to fantasize about doing dumb ones but that's not the point.
But if you're really angry, sometimes you go, "We should just poop on his stuff!" And that serves as a release but what we're trying to do is make something that really replicates how they made Erica feel.
l to r: director Kat Hunt, breakup victim Erica, producer Camila de Onis
Are you worried it might go too far?
de Onis: It does make me a little uncomfortable to not know how extensive they will be. I have confidence.
And how have Erica's exes responded so far?
Hunt: We've only heard from one of them but there are also guys she is still seeing now that live in fear or are excited by it. Erica will be in Miami for vacation in July and we're not shooting until August, so any guys who want to break up with her and be in the film should be on the lookout for her.
What about people who hear about the project? Do responses divide by any sort of gender lines?
de Onis: Gender does have something to do with this. Firstly, though, people are polarized by the subject. It's seen as a negative endeavor. Some people are really into it.
Hunt: I think those people are attracted to the spectacle. And while we're going to be using this story to really understand how people feel pain and why they want revenge, there is a bit of spectacle to it.
de Onis: Men see it in a more abstracted way. They're interested in the idea of revenge and thinking of it from a bird's eye view. Like, "It's so interesting that these girls are doing this. I hope I'm not that guy." Women, I think, if they're into it, tend to divulge a story immediately or completely know what we're doing and think it's awesome. I think it's people relating to other women and that not a lot of women are involved in vengeance in film and media.
This is being shot in New York because that's where the exes and Erica are. But you guys seem connected to Miami all the same.
de Onis: I moved to Miami when I was three, from Cartagena, Colombia. I have a conflicted relationship with Miami. It's a great city that goes through phases. Throughout my life, I've seen many great moments in Miami and a lot of bad ones. A lot of interesting people come and go but they don't really stay.
I just finished research for a book about a certain mall in Miami. I can't say which one just yet but it's one of the smallest in the country but also one of the most lucrative. I spent months in a little dusty room with no windows, with tons of boxes of old stuff.
All of the mall's ephemera and the founder of the mall's old things, trying to find stories for the book. The mall is really the story of his life and it was interesting to see how Miami changed throughout his life, how all these big fashion houses started to come to Miami as the city grew.
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Hunt: I love Miami. My favorite thing is that you can check out your reflection in a window and not be embarrassed because the person next to you is probably doing the same thing.
To support the film or to learn more, visit their Kickstarter page.