Kate Hollowell | Any Chance You Can Spare a Square… From Beyond? 

Via Issue 191, Fresh Cuts

Written by

Oliver Heffron

Photographed by

Lance Williams

Styled by

Donna Lisa

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FASHION BRAND COMPANY shirt, coat, and tie and stylist's own boots.

Kate Hollowell has a funny way of depicting grief. The director’s new short film, Say Hi After You Die, manifests the absurd, reality-breaking aspects of loss through an exploration of reincarnation via a mystical porta-potty. Produced during the Hollywood strikes with the cast, crew, and earnings from a fast-food commercial she directed, Hollowell turned a spontaneous, two-week production into a distinct, hilarious, and affecting film. Say Hi After You Die went on to premiere at Sundance to critical acclaim, winning The Short Film Jury Award: US Fiction to the director’s astonishment: “I think I’m just as shocked as anybody else that the short went to Sundance and then won,” Hollowellshares. “Pretty, pretty crazy....I definitely need to thank Popeyes chicken.”

Filled with sharp humor and moving visuals, Say Hi After You Die follows Gloria (played by Hollowell) as she struggles to adjust after the sudden, tragic death of her friend Ruby (played by Ruby Caster). When a construction crew sets up shop on the empty border between her house and the overgrown hills beyond, Gloria becomes convinced the crew’s porta-potty is Ruby, reincarnated and reaching out from the afterlife. 

FASHION BRAND COMPANY top, pants, and hat and RACHEL COMEY shoes.

Hollowell lost her parents to cancer at 23, both passing away about a year apart. She describes how her perspective on grief has grown over the years: “I always felt so kind of like... alone in it. Then, as time went on, I realized and took comfort in the fact that we’re all going to experience what I experienced, to different degrees, throughout our lives. It’s unavoidable.” Hollowell views Say Hi After You Die as “a culmination of everything I’ve been doing... I think thematically, I’ve always been making things about death and grief that are comedic. It’s woven into all my art. I have a comedy show, and there are a lot of dead parents jokes in there. I think I found my niche, which is just death and comedy.”

Hollowell explains why she wanted to imagine grief and reincarnation with something as polarizing as a porta-potty and how that artistic challenge excited her. “If you can tackle something that’s theoretically gross and taboo,” she considers,“and kind of a topic most people don’t want to even touch upon, and you can do it in a way that still tugs at someone’s heart, I think you’ve made something that sits on its own... I don’t think the film is making fun of reincarnation, but more entertaining and exploring it. But I think poop is important. It’s part of life and death, losing people. We’re all going to lose everyone. Everyone we love is going to die. And we also all take a shit, so why not explore both at the same time?”

FASHION BRAND COMPANY top, pants, and hat and RACHEL COMEY shoes.

Going into production with a rough draft (written with co-star Ruby Caster) and only a few days to shoot, Hollowell and her team had to create the film as they went. She describes the spontaneous, intuitive tone of the set: “We really just went off of instinct that whole film. I never once watched playback. We just like fucking shot and moved on because it was such an ambitious project that we were just keeping our heads down and just going as fast as we could to get through everything.” The results are impressive, marked by Hollowell’s ability to create massive moments despite her logistical and time constraints, like mastering the complex, pivotal dance scene with choreographer Kat Burns without rehearsal. 

In one of the many fantastic moments added to the script mere days before production, the frustrated, surprisingly insightful construction worker Dave (played by George Basil)delivers the central, sentimental thesis of the film: “We’re all just friends walking each other home.” Hollowell explains how that line summarizes how grief can create a more spiritual, optimistic perspective of everything saying, “I do think that we are actually all walking each other home, in the sense that there is something on the other side. I think we’re all just having a human experience together. But the real home is on the other side, and I think that at least, like, even if that’s not true, I’d rather believe because it’s more comforting than it not being true. So when I wrote those lines, that’s what I wanted to convey... Your pain isn’t unique to you. We all will experience losing somebody. At the end of the day, we all are just friends walking each other home.”

Coming off the Sundance win, Hollowell is busy making the most of her opportunity. She aims to adapt Say Hi After You Die into a feature while securing the rights for a 1950s LA-UFO-Cult feature. While she’s excited to ride the momentum, Hollowell has a clear vision for her cinematic career, concluding “I’m only interested in making stuff that I want to watch.”


Photographed by Lance Williams

Styled by Donna Lisa

Written by Oliver Heffron

Hair: Erika Vanessa for Exclusive Artists using Tangle Teezer and T3 Micro

Makeup: Agostina for Exclusive Artists using about-face Makeup

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Flaunt Magazine, Kate Hollowell, Fresh Cuts, Issue 191, Say Hi After You Die, Oliver Heffron, Lance Williams, Donna Lisa, Fashion Brand Company, Nodaleto, Rachel Comy