Vanessa Hudgens has a new season: Season of the Witch.
Hudgens is known for her triple threat talent, from performing on “Spring Break” to singing on “Tick, Tick…Bang!” Danced in “Grease Live!” and starred in such franchises as Netflix’s “Princess Transformation” and Disney’s “High School Musical.” But her latest project is her most personal yet — she’s embarking on a spiritual journey in Salem with her best friend, musician GG Magree, to film the unscripted film “Dead Hot.”
More from Variety
“Dead Hot” (premiers April 14 on Tubi) was a truly passionate project for Hudgens and Magree, who were fascinated by the spiritual world and came up with the idea of documenting their experiences together. In the film, the duo travels to Salem, Massachusetts, where they explore witchcraft, catch ghosts and connect with spirits.
“It’s more personal than anything I’ve ever done,” Hudgens said type“I’m not hiding behind a character like I usually do in movies—this is who I am, exploring things that I’m very passionate about.”
“I know it’s going to be very personal and I’m going to leave no stone unturned in doing so,” Hudgens continued. “But I hope it inspires other curious people to open their hearts, minds and souls. Trust their instincts and find more peace in the unknown.”
The creative team behind “Dead Hot” explains that it’s not some ghost hunting game. Both Hudgens and Magree were self-taught students of witchcraft who spent most of their lives experimenting and making connections with the spirit world. During the pandemic, they watch shows together about the afterlife while in quarantine and explore how ghost hunters, psychics and witches deal with the spirit world.
“In 2020, I think we’re all looking for ways to improve ourselves, grow and become better people,” Hudgens said. “I was really starting to gravitate toward rituals and manifestations. I was actually hosting small gatherings over Zoom with a few other wizarding friends. It was an exciting community and it made me more curious about witchcraft. This exploration seemed A special event worth documenting and sharing.”
But after Hudgens and Muggery embark on a ghost-hunting trip gone wrong, the two friends realize they need proper guidance and training, so they’ve been filmed traveling to Salem for a witchcraft masterclass pilgrimage. They first filmed one episode of Ghostbusters, but when Hudgens and Magery’s curiosity about the spirit world deepened, the production shifted to focus more on spiritual connections than ghosthunting.
“The stigma is very serious, so we wanted it to be more of a friendship, a lighthearted approach to self-taught people like us,” Magery said of witchcraft.
Julie Pizzi, president of Bunim-Murray Productions, which produced “Dead Hot,” said the project’s tone isn’t necessarily the witchcraft-centric one you’d expect. Hudgens and Margery “really wanted to live in this space of growth and positivity and love and kindness,” Pizzi said. “Combining it with ghost hunting feels pretty magical.”
Of course, the journey between these two friends is full of fun. “It felt like The Simple Life met Buffy,” Pizzi said.
“We know that the way they deal with witchcraft is very healthy and positive,” added executive producer Farnaz Farjam. “We didn’t hold them back or ask them to do anything in any other way than the way they usually handle themselves.”
Hudgens and Magree are determined to approach the genre differently, highlighting their personal friendship, and their connection to femininity. “A lot of ghost-hunting shows are run by men, and this was an opportunity to show that from a really feminine perspective,” Pizzi said. “There’s such a huge amount of power inside of everyone, and it’s really great to see two young women really grow and embrace their own abilities and unfold their own destiny, and capture that wisdom and strength that’s inside you. Not always encouraged.”
As Hudgens and Magree prepare for their journey, it becomes clear that psychics and spiritual advisors are essential for self-taught witches. Pizzi and Farjam turned to spiritually gifted producer Leslie Garvin of Shark Tank, who says she’s been able to connect with those who’ve passed since she was 8 years old. Garvin joins “Dead Hot” to guide and guide Hudgens and Magree on their journey deep into the invisible world.
“We need talented people with us to help guide this,” Farjam explained.
With Garvin on board, the entire production team felt like they were in safe hands. “Leslie came to this earth to heal and make the world a better place,” Margery raved. “Within the first five minutes of seeing her, I was talking and pouring my whole being into her because you could feel her energy being so pure and so light.”
Garvin says, “The first time I spoke to GG and Vanessa before going to Salem, I fell in love with them immediately. The enthusiasm, excitement, ability to focus and adjust, and their desire to grow and learn was palpable of.”
But the whole journey has not been smooth sailing. As Garvin guides Hudgens and Magree, they both stumble across a series of sensitive moments, from connecting with dead relatives to getting in touch with darker energies. While they’ve been through harrowing moments, Gavin sees the film as proof that “it’s time for women to use their power and make their voices heard.”
Hudgens realized there might be opposition to her passion for the spiritual world. But she hopes her films will inspire and empower audiences.
“I think there’s always some kind of resistance when you do something that goes against the grain,” Hudgens said. “But the overall message is so powerful that hopefully — whether you doubt it or not — you can come away feeling more empowered.”
“Dead Hot” is produced by Bunim-Murray Productions and distributed by Banijay Rights. The movie premieres on Tubi on April 14.
Sign up for Variety’s newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.