the insider: emily hagins

“i was twelve when i directed my first feature film”

by ali hoffman

From Shirley Temple to Anna Paquin, the film business has seen its fair share of talented youngsters. But unlike the two previously listed kids, Austin native Emily Hagins is not an actor. At 19, Hagins has already directed not one but three feature films, the most recent of which premiered at SXSW in 2011. Dubbed My Sucky Teen Romance, the film is now playing in four different cities across the U.S., and (as of yesterday) is out on Blu-ray Disc/DVD and iTunes.  We sat down with the talented teen to discuss Spy Kids and whether or not she made it to prom.

How old were you when you started making movies?

Twelve for my first feature--like, fifth or sixth grade. But I did some shorts before that, starting at about nine. My dad used to work in advertising in the '70s, so he just walked me through it one day. I really liked that whole process and started to make my own short films based on what he taught me.

What was your first short was about? The one you made at age nine?

It was a commercial for dog food that I made with my dad. My dad had all this advertising background...he was mostly trying to teach me about advertising tricks. The movie's definitely made by a nine-year-old.  I didn't show it to anybody.

What do you want to do next? What are your plans?

There are a couple of projects I'm working on, but the next immediate one is a Halloween coming-of-age story. It's kind of a sweet but sad, John Hughes-esque story.

Have your always parents been supportive throughout all of this?

They're both very creative, so when they realized I wanted to do something creative, they were never telling me, 'Well, you still have to go to college and be a doctor!'

Did you watch a lot of movies growing up?

I always watched a lot of movies. Before i started making movies, I saw Spy Kids every weekend--I was in second grade. When i was in third grade, Lord of the Rings came out and I went every weekend for the duration it was in theaters. I saw it 23 times! Lord of the Rings was a huge inspiration. Not like, 'Oh I can make that movie!' But it more just opened up my imagination.

Did you ever feel like you missed out on high school stuff because you were busy making movies?

Well, I always knew I wasn't going to make straight A's because i knew i wanted to make movies.  But I really liked my high school experience as much as you can like your high school experience. I didn't feel excluded or anything. But I would make sure, like, 'Okay, I have to make time for prom. It's like the high school thing.  I'll never do it again!'

Buy a copy of My Sucky Teen Romance here!