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Kiah Roache-Turner Discusses Sting, Spiders, and Being a Stepfather


Kiah Roache-Turner Discusses Sting, Spiders, and Being a Stepfather


Australian writer and director Kiah Roache-Turner has been a fan of creature features his entire life, so it’s no surprise that he would eventually make one of his own by way of Sting, which hits theaters on April 12, 2024. Influenced heavily by the films he grew up watching — most notably Ridley Scott’s Alien — the movie tells the story of an extraterrestrial spider that makes its way to Earth, growing bigger and bigger as the film progresses. However, Sting is much more than just your average monster movie, dealing with themes of familial strife and the difficulties of being a stepparent, two things that elevate the movie beyond schlock cinema.




MovieWeb recently caught up with Kiah Roache-Turner to discuss Sting, and what went into creating not only the titular spider, but the elaborate sets that mirrored a Brooklyn apartment building. Along the way, we also talked about what it’s like being a step-father, and how important those familial relationships are. We also touched on his real-life phobia of spiders, and how Sting only intensified his arachnophobic fears, something that began when he was just a toddler.



Kiah Roache-Turner Was Bitten by a Spider… and Didn’t Get Any Powers

Sting 2024 Movie Poster

Sting

4/5

Release Date
April 12, 2024

Director
Kiah Roache-Turner

Cast
Alyla Browne , Penelope Mitchell , Ryan Corr , Jermaine Fowler , Silvia Colloca

Writers
Kiah Roache-Turner

Studio
Align, Pictures in Paradise, See Pictures

While a lot of people are afraid of spiders for one reason or another, true arachnophobia only affects between 3-6% of the general population. Kiah Roache-Turner happens to fall in that percentage thanks to a chance encounter with a spider when he was a child. Though he doesn’t remember the exact moment his fear began, subconsciously it’s always been there, and would ultimately lead to the creation of Sting:

I got bitten by a spider when I was a kid, and I didn’t get any powers. My power is to be scared of spiders. That is my power. So, unlike Spider-Man, all I can do is make a movie about it.


“I don’t remember because I think I was two, but apparently I was sitting in the sandpit and I got bitten by a giant Australian spider, and if you know anything about Australian spiders, they get really big. As an arachnophobic, I couldn’t think of anything scarier than
a panther-sized spider that’s going to drag you into air conditioning ducts, and slowly devour you in a basement
. And so, yeah, I wrote a film about it.”

Facing his fears wasn’t the experience he hoped for, as having a giant spider on set and researching the arthropods only intensified his arachnophobia rather than cure it. “It was really hard,” he continues. “I was hoping it would be curative, but it actually kind of made it worse. All the research I did just made me more scared of spiders, and I still hate them. It hasn’t helped. And walking on set…it bothered me.”

Related: Sting Review | Excellent Creature Feature with an Emotional Backdrop


Ryan Corr and Alyla Brown hug in the spider movie Sting
Well Go USA

The old adage for writers has always been ‘write what you know,’ and with around 15% of men being stepfathers, including Kiah Roache-Turner, it made sense for him to put that relationship into Sting. The script was crafted at a time when the world was under intense pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Australia was facing its own hardships. For Kiah, it was the first time he’d incorporated his own family into a screenplay.

“This is the first time I took my family and just wrote it into a script. I mean, obviously, all the drama is made up, me and my stepdaughter get on actually really well, there’s not much drama, so you have to kind of make that up, but all of the feelings are there. I was writing during COVID. So that was a dark time. It was right after the fires in Australia.
The country was in a mess, the economy was problematic. So I just took all that stuff and put it into a script
.”


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The family at the heart of Sting includes actors Ryan Corr and Alyla Browne as step-father and step-daughter, and Penelope Mitchell as mom, as well as a newborn baby. Kiah had recently had a child of his own when he went to write the script, and knew all too well the pressures of not only fatherhood, but life in general. For him, the giant spider in the film not only serves as fodder for a great creature feature, but also acts as a metaphor for the stresses of living.

We just had a baby and there were stresses around that, and I just put the giant spider as a metaphor for familial strife, depression. Anything black in your life was kind of defined by the metaphor of this black thing that comes down from space and lands in the middle of your family.


Unlike the relationship between Corr and Browne in the film, which is strained for dramatic purposes, Kiah and his stepdaughter have a wonderful time together, and she’s even helped him with his work. “She’s a brilliant artist, and she’s a brilliant writer, weirdly,” he says. “So even though she’s a kid, I’ll take her aside and go, ‘Hey, I’m working on this. Can you help me with it?’ She’s like, ‘That’s a dumb idea. That’s a good scene. Why don’t you try this?’ It’s so funny. She’s just like a 35-year-old screenwriter from LA.”

Sting’s Setting Was the Biggest Thing Kiah Roache-Turner Ever Built


Having directed Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, and its sequel, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, you would think that those two films would be the biggest things Kiah Roache-Turner has ever worked on. However, while Sting doesn’t take place on such a grand scale as his previous movies, its setting of a Brooklyn apartment building turned out to be a greater challenge than the director was expecting. It may seem deceptively claustrophobic on screen, but a lot went into creating the world of Sting.

“It was so much bigger to build because we had to build multiple apartments. We had to build all of these corridors. We had to build the exterior of the thing and have all this fake snow going everywhere and create a storm. We had to build a basement. We had to build a garbage compactor that an entire family could fit in.
We had to build a huge labyrinth of air conditioning ducts that people are crawling through
…bedrooms, and it was just mammoth.”


The realization of just how big Sting was going to be hit him while he was writing the script. “As I was writing it,” he continues, “I was like, ‘This is so small. It’s great. So contained.’ Then we start actually mapping it out, and my production designer is like, ‘dude, we have to build all these.’ And I’m just like, ‘Oh my God.’ And actually, it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever had to build.”

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Richard Taylor of Wētā Workshop Is One of His ‘Heroes’


To create the giant spider that would wreak havoc over the course of Sting, Kiah Roache-Turner turned to the one company he knew would be able to handle the job better than any other: Wētā Workshop. Co-founded in 1987 by Academy Award-winner Richard Taylor, Wētā is best known for creating the effects and creatures seen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, his film King Kong, and working on the effects for the Avatar movies and Blade Runner 2049. For Kiah, it was a chance to get to work with one of his heroes.

“I love Richard so much,” explained Roache-Turner. “It’s like getting to work with Superman. Not only do you get to meet your hero and work with your hero, but I immediately liked him. And I think he immediately liked me. At first I was like, ‘Well, this guy’s just really polite.’ But eventually I’m like, ‘Oh, I think he’s enjoying himself.'” He continued:

“It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. We had a shorthand. I would say a thing, and they just go ‘yep.’ And he got it immediately, and just gave me exactly what I wanted without having to talk about it. It was a beautiful experience.
Those guys are the best, and there’s a reason why they’re the best
.”


10:59

Related

Richard Taylor Discusses Making the Giant Spider Sting and His Oscar-Winning Wētā Workshop

MovieWeb caught up with the Academy Award-winning co-founder of Wētā Workshop to discuss the creation of Sting in Kiah Roache-Turner’s new movie.

As someone who has been writing and directing movies and short films for over 15 years, Roache-Turner knows all too well the struggles that filmmakers face in this day and age. “Film ambitions are getting bigger, but the budgets are getting smaller,” he says. “It’s getting harder for directors like me to pull this stuff off. But nobody cares what the budget is. Nobody gives a crap about the schedule. Is it good? Is it scary? Is it entertaining? That’s what people want to know.”

Thanks to Richard Taylor and the team at Wētā Workshop, Kiah Roache-Turner was finally able to achieve his dream of creating a creature feature the way he wanted to. He says, “I’m just lucky that we had such good puppeteers and I had Richard, and such a great puppet. If it hadn’t been so good, I think I would have been in a lot of trouble.”


Sting hits theaters on April 12, 2024, from Well Go USA Entertainment.

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