Just in time for Halloween, Blumhouse Productions and Columbia Pictures will be bringing The Craft: Legacy to VOD platforms on October 28th, and I was fortunate to join a handful of journalists on the set of the film in Toronto last year. During my time on the set, we got to see the young cast in action, and hear from the incredibly passionate cast and crew, including writer and director Zoe Lister-Jones.

Like many teens in the 90s, The Craft had an enormous impact on Zoe Lister-Jones, and she talks about the process of making this film and honoring the original classic, while making the movie feel relevant to today's teens:

What was the journey of getting to write and direct The Craft: Legacy?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “Blumhouse and Sony were pairing to reboot it, and so I went in and just gave it my take on what I thought the reboot should look like, and I got the gig. That was the long and short of the journey. And then I had to write the thing and then get the green light, which is not an easy process, but it has been thrilling.

I'm just so deeply honored to be handed this torch because it was such a seminal film for me having come of age in the nineties as a real weirdo. I shaved my head when I was 12 and was bullied as any young girl with a shaved head would be at that age. And so The Craft spoke to me as I think it spoke to so many people who felt outside of the norm and I'm really excited to continue the legacy of speaking to those who don't feel heard.”

What can you tell us about the themes of this story? What elements were important for you to include in this version of The Craft?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “A story that centers on young people and, young women specifically, coming into their power in today's current climate is really important to me. [It’s giving a] voice to narratives that sometimes have other otherwise been marginalized, and really prioritizing representation, representing young people and young women authentically, and really showcasing the struggles that young women are up against, and creating a world that really feels current and fresh, while still paying homage to everything that was so incredible about the original, which was really about centering voices of those people who are otherwise considered outsiders. And so I think that particular story is more important than ever to tell now and I'm really excited and honored to be telling it.”

How much of the DNA of the original are you keeping in the story? And do you consider this more of a re-imagining or a continuation?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “Without giving away any spoilers, I think it's important to me to honor the original. So there are definitely moments that are an homage to it, but it's also really important to me to represent today's youth authentically and the world that we're living in today. So it’s somewhere in the middle.”

The original movie was so great because it dealt with issues about, race, class, and self-injury. What are some of the big concepts that you're focusing on in this version?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “A lot of those same themes are tackled in this. We also have a trans witch, so there are also some topics around trans-inclusivity and intersectional feminism. I think in the way that the first one was very much ahead of its time, because it was intersectional in many ways, including a trans voice in this group of young women was really important to me...

...Outside of that, we do deal with sexual fluidity in the film. Especially young people today are embracing fluidity in a way that is really exciting and it gives me hope for the future. And so part of what I also wanted to represent with this film was the hope that I feel and seeing what youth culture is pushing in the face of so much bullying and oppressive culture that they're witnessing.”

You seem to have created an artistic community that you work with. You're working with a lot of the same actors and creators over a long period of time. Can you talk about what it’s important as an artist to cultivate that?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “One of the most exciting things about being an artist is finding other artists who you love working with and who are incredible collaborators over long periods of time. I feel very lucky to have experienced that. From my last film Band Aid, I've brought producer Natalia Anderson, my DP Hillary Spera, my production designer Hillary Gurtler, and my editor Libby Cuenin. I love going from a movie that was much smaller and really taking all of the incredible women that I worked with in the past on this ride. And, and it is such an incredible blessing to find people who not only work in concert with my vision, but elevate it.”

Can you talk about the horror elements, especially compared to the original, how scary is this version? And what is your approach to practical effects?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “It's witchy in the best possible way, and there are definitely horror elements to it... It's a combination of, of practical effects and special effects and visual effects. I love practical effects as much as possible, but then there are obviously times when that's not possible. One of my favorite facts about the original is that there were 600 insects and snakes in that final sequence, which is so crazy. I love hearkening back to old school horror and fantasy movies that use more practical elements than post.”

How are you representing witchcraft from different cultures in this movie?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “It’s so easy to see it as only this one lane of a Wicca, and I wanted to make sure that our coven has to their own particular brand of witchcraft, which is what's so exciting about witchcraft… it's a DIY. You do what works for you and your coven.

I wanted them to each come from traditions that were representative of varying communities that practice witchcraft and other traditions that are more voodoo-Hoodoo related without naming them specifically. I wanted to make sure that we were seeing that witchcraft means so many things to so many different communities and is still so stigmatized in so many communities.”

Can you talk some of the research related to witchcraft that did while writing? Can you also talk about your work with witchcraft consultants on-set?

Zoe Lister-Jones: “Pam Grossman, who is a practicing witch, hosts this amazing podcast called Witch Wave, and just wrote a book called Waking the Witch, has been my consultant throughout the screenwriting process. I really wanted to make sure that I was getting everything right, and that witchcraft practitioners who were watching the film would not say, "Well, that doesn't feel authentic to my experience or to the practice," and to make sure that I was honoring all traditions. She has been incredibly helpful.

And then I've also been working with Bri Luna, who's more commonly known as the Hood Witch, who comes from more of a Brujeria and Hoodoo-voodoo traditions in her lineage. And then Erin Vogel who's here today is our local Canadian witch, and she's been amazing to have on set to make sure, as you saw with scenes where we're actually practicing rituals, that we are practicing them authentically. She's also been really helpful in opening and closing circles because magic is real. And she’s making sure that everyone feels safe with the spells that they're casting.”