Vanessa Hudgens is going on a spiritual, supernatural journey — and wants to take viewers with her.
Hudgens teamed up with Bunim-Murray Productions to produce an unscripted film, “Dead Hot: Season of the Witch,” Variety has learned exclusively. The project documents Hudgens’ journey in Salem, Mass., along with her best friend, musician GG Magree, as they set out to learn about witchcraft, ghost hunting and connecting with the spirit world.
“Dead Hot” is in post-production, and the project is currently being shopped to outlets. Banijay Rights, the international distribution division of Banijay (which owns Bunim-Murray), is handling distribution.
Hudgens and Magree recently wrapped shooting their eight-day journey in Salem. The duo stars in the 90-minute reality film, which is described as an “intimate journey into the supernatural realm” that serves as a “coming-of-age story that explores identity, feminine power and sisterhood.”
Both Hudgens and Magree are self-taught students of witchcraft, who have been experimenting and connecting with the spirit world for much of their lives. After an experience in Northern California somehow went awry, they realized they needed to seek out proper mentorship and training. That’s when the best friends set out on a pilgrimage to Salem for a masterclass in witchcraft — and brought the cameras along to chronicle their journey.
“They’ve been doing little spells since they were kids, and they were just really interested in that world,” said Julie Pizzi, president of Bunim-Murray Productions.
Initial conversations with Hudgens and Magree revolved around doing a ghost hunting show. But as cameras were rolling and the two women were on their journey, they realized they wanted to produce something more spiritual. “They’re so into it,” Pizzi said. “As we got to know them, we realized that their curiosity in connecting with the spirit realm and paranormal and supernatural exploration was so much deeper than ghost hunting. It’s an exploration in the spiritual realm. It’s a lot about self love, and them finding their inner strength and power.”
The executive said the best way to describe the film is “The Craft” meets “The Simple Life,” noting the antics that Hudgens and Magree get into together. (According to Pizzi, one day they both showed up in sweatshirts that said “I’m A Witch.” And another day, they wore matching jackets that said “Creepers.”)
“It’s entertainment first, but there’s a real, personal, spiritual journey that they both have together,” Pizzi added. “It’s so emotionally raw that it really created such a beautiful narrative. It’s a lot about female empowerment.”
For Bunim-Murray — the shingle behind “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” “The Challenge,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and Lizzo’s Emmy-winning “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” — the project brings the company into a different genre with its spiritual subject matter. “Dead Hot” also moves Bunim-Murray back into film, a platform it has dabbled in the past, including 2003’s “The Real Cancun.”
“We’re storytellers. We can tell stories at all different lengths for all different types of consumers,” Pizzi said. “I hope this is the beginning of us being able to do more long-form. We’re working with so many streamers that don’t necessarily have a clock, so it does give some freedom and flexibility of how you can tell stories.”
Hudgens has discussed her fascination in the supernatural world before. During an appearance earlier this year on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Hudgens spoke about the paranormal experiences she said she’s had since she was a child, and revealed that she talks to ghosts. “I’ve accepted the fact that I see things and I hear things,” she told Clarkson. “The unknown is scary, but I recently was like, ‘No, this is a gift and something that I have the ability to do, so I’m going to lean into it.’”
Hudgens, whose early credits include Disney’s “High School Musical,” starred in Netflix’s hit “The Princess Switch” movies and was recently seen in the Oscar-nominated “Tick Tick Boom.” She is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, The Lede Company and Ziffren Brittenham.
See the key art for “Dead Hot: Season of the Witch” here: