Imagine breaking into the United States Mint with your high school classmates to make the ultimate steal. Think you could pull it off? Now imagine being an accomplished movie director, screenwriter and #girlboss at just 24 years old! Emily Hagins made it happen, a feat almost as legendary as a high-risk robbery. Hagins, the director of the Netflix Original Movie Coin Heist, starring one of our Pretty Little Liars favorites, Sasha Pieterse, took a few minutes to step out from behind the camera and chat.
Justine Magazine: Congratulations on the movie coming out! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in your career?
Emily Hagins: I was always a movie geek. When I was a kid, we had a home movie camera, and my dad encouraged me to pick it up and start filming, so it was really early on that I got an idea of the process of making movies. When I was 12 I wrote a zombie script and decided to make my first feature film. I didn’t really know what I could or couldn’t do, or what my limitations were, so I just kept making the movie until it was done. It took a couple of years, but once I got it done, I thought, “This is all I want to do!” So I just kept doing it!
JM: Do you have any advice for girls who want to break into screenwriting or directing?
EH: Yeah! When I was younger, nobody ever told me that it was unique to be a girl making movies. That thought never even crossed my mind because I was just working on something that sparked my passion. I would say that my advice is to not let anybody make you feel like you can’t do it, especially because directing isn’t a typical girly thing to do. Don’t let anyone limit you in any way because only you know what you are capable of. Even if you don’t have a ton of money or a lot of resources you can still get started and learn from the process. Just take one step at a time, the best that you can.
JM: What was it like to work with Pretty Little Liars’ star Sasha Pieterse?
EH: Sasha is great! Her excitement about the project really helped us get the movie going. The other three leading actors didn’t have as much film experience as Sasha, but they all worked together to develop their characters as a group. We were really lucky to have her on board very early and everything she brought to the character made the movie just that much better.
JM: Of the four leading characters in Coin Heist, the hacker, the slacker, the athlete and the perfect student, which do you identify with the most?
EH: I really like Alice, played by Alexis Zall, because she’s kind of tough and no nonsense, smart, and I aspire to be that way. But I’m probably more like Benny, played by Jay Walker, because he’s pretty practical.
JM: Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure movie?
EH: I definitely do. I love the movie 27 Dresses! I’ve probably seen it 27 times.