Posts Tagged ‘Director’

Three’s A Shroud – The Interview

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Three's A ShroudThree’s a Shroud is an upcoming British horror anthology consisting of three short horror films from three directors, Dan Brownlie, David V. G. Davies and Andy Edwards… but don’t let me tell you about it listen to what these three have to say…

Steve: Each director has their own part of the tale to tell but are each of you working completely independently on your own projects or is it more of a group effort with each contributing to the other’s films? The anthology is linked by a narrative, is that a joint effort?

Dan: I gave the other two directors a brief idea of what I wanted their section to be about and then just let them run with it.

They both have such individual styles and ideas that I knew that what ever they came up with would be amazing. We try to be on each others set as much as possible to help out (mainly because we can’t afford anyone else;) but as we’re all so busy it sometimes doesn’t work.

The wrap around story is based on a short film I did called Bear Scary and stars one of its leads (Louie Russo Brownlie) as well as Suzi Lorraine and Dani Thompson

Steve: The movie will consist of Don’t Open the Door, Over Developed and The Time Travellers Knife. Is there a common thread throughout the whole movie apart from the narrative? Can you tell us a little about each of the films and some of the influences that inspired them?

Dan: The stories themselves don’t have a common theme but are tied together by a film-within-a-film called Night of the Pouting Dead that will appear in each section at some point.

Don’t Open The Door is a psychological horror which was based on a weird train of thought I had one night. I lived in a flat above some shops and my fiance was running late, I don’t know why but I suddenly thought “what would I do if she called me up and said not to open the door when she buzzed up, but wouldn’t tell me why”. You can’t see the front door from any of the windows so I wouldn’t be able to tell if someone was with her or not. That thought really stuck with me and one day after watching The Woman in Black for the 20th time I decided to turn it into a script.

Dave: Over Developed has allowed me to explore an element of story telling that I am particularly fond of, that of delving into the darkest reaches of the inner mind mixed with the genre of body horror. We have all fallen victim to one or more of the 7 deadly sins and my segment explores one of those to its maximum potential. As a filmmaker I have always been fond of the works of David Cronenberg and a true believer of practical effects and puppetry, Over Developed has given me the chance to fulfill the goals of exploring them myself.

Andy: I’m rounding off things with a good-old-fashioned slasher movie. It’s very obviously influenced by Halloween and all of the million girls in peril/masked killer movies that followed in it’s sinister footsteps in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s even set on Halloween. But in a desperate attempt to give it some originality, I’ve added a time travel element, so if you think of Halloween meets Groundhog Day or Back to the Future 2 then you’re not really close, but closer than most. I’m also in charge of the film-within-a-film element, Night of the Pouting Dead, which has allowed me to delve into my zombie-women-in-prison fantasies with disturbing results.

Three's A Shroud

Steve: Why a horror movie? How have horror movies influenced your lives and which areas interest you the most? Favourite horror movie?

Dan: Favourite horror movie of all time is Killer Klowns From Outer Space and if you watch it and then watch the micro horror’s I’ve made you can pick out so many scenes and kill ideas I “borrowed” from it.

General influence for the film is old school British horror anthologies, they rock! With a shorter script you can be a lot more experimental as people will put up with a lot of weirdness for 25 minutes that they won’t for a hour and a half.You can really get to the point and come up with some fun ideas. You can also mix up (as in Three’s a Shroud) different sub genres like ghost story, evil toys, body horror and slasher that wouldn’t normally gel in a single story feature length.

Dave: I’ve been a film fan ever since going to see Jedi at the pictures at an early age, from then on I was hooked on finding out about the workings of puppets and fell in love with the Jim Henson films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. An instant love of horror creatures was born from this, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Carpenter’s Thing and I take a guilty pleasure from the Child’s Play series.

Andy: I make horror movies, because they are cheap, and it’s easier than becoming an actual serial killer – fake blood washes out of your clothes much easier than real blood. As for fave films, I love The Shining, The Thing, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and anything by Takeshi Miike.

Steve: You have all had previous experience of the horror movie industry, what brought you together for this project?

Three's A ShroudDan: About 3 years ago someone asked me to help out on a film project they were doing for fun. To give you an idea how much I knew about making films then, a film making friend mine was asking about the people who’s house we were filming. She said to me “Do they have lights?” I replied “Of course they do, they live in a house.”

From then on it was just one big learning curve which has resulted in me meeting some fantastic people. I met Andy and Dave through an actress called Sophia Disgrace who had worked with them on several projects, they both really get the genre so it was obvious who I should ask to help make this project happen.

Dave: I started my horror career when I was approached to help out on Animal Soup, a nasty film that taught me and fellow creator J.A.K a lot about film-making, from there I was noticed by GoreZone Magazine and spent 2 years working with them before moving in a more personal direction. It is while working with GZ that i came across the works of Andy and Dan.

Andy: I’ve been making short zombie films for a few years now – the Houseparty of the Dead series. Dave saw HPOTD V and stuck it on a coverdisc for GoreZone, and Dan helped me out on part 6. It became obvious that we were all society’s rejects, and as we’re all too old to form a band, we decided to make a film instead.

Steve: Give some love to the cast and crew. Who else is involved in making this movie happen?

Dan: Much much love to the cast and crew, everyone is working for peanuts (some peanut shells) and they’re all doing it for the love of making horror. Firstly you have my fiance (Lauren Bushby) who runs “Doll’s ‘n’ Skulls” fx and make up, my DOP James Fisher who has been with me since Bear Scary (if someone’s reliable a good keep them at all costs), Angie and Mark DeSpong, Michael Gyekye (who is doing sound but also acting on Dave’s section, Geoff Guardian-angel-to-my-sanity Crown who is acting as my AD. Mike Peel from Rouge Creations is doing all the creature effects so a massive massive thanks to him.

Cast you have Suzi Lorraine (who was so helpful she actually ended up co writing her section), Amber Erlandsson (aka Morigan Hel, lead singer of goth,punk rock band Nemhain) who is just amazing, The very talented Brad Moore who has also helped off screen as well as on), Dani Thompson (who is really starting to make a name for herself in horror), my long suffering nephew Louie who first died on screen age seven mainly due to me not sending his father the full script while trying to enlist his help and David V.G. Davies and Andy Edwards for helping me out and taking on roles in this project.

I’d also like to thank Dean Boor from Shock Horror Magazine and Scream Magazine for their support.

Dave: I’ve spent 2 years working with Emily Booth and have experienced her talents as a presenter and have directed her in role that was a caricature of herself so it was only a natural progression we work together on a film and a great pleasure it is working with her, her knowledge both behind and in front of the camera has taught me a great deal. I never wanted to be a director but having worked with her she has allowed me to progress. I also have Eleanor James in my section, Eleanor is an amazing actress who has a very impressive resume and I have interviewed her in the past for a couple of projects and then had the pleasure of directing her in a cameo for my last feature Monitor.

Over the years I have gained an invaluable crew member in Pete Kinman, he knows how my mind works and knows what i want without having to be told. His fx skills have developed so much over the 12 years we have known each other.

Three's A Shroud: Emily BoothAndy: I’ve been busy doing auditions for my section, picking the perfect line-up of girls to be stalked by a killer. I’ve felt like Simon Cowell, but with less repressed homosexuality and high-waisted trousers. I now have my dreamteam of very talented actresses, which includes two of the stars from Zombie Women of Satan (but don’t hold that against them). Crew wise, I’ve got the uniquely-named Eben Bolter on DOP duties. He worked with me on Houseparty of the Dead 6 so is well versed in making schlock look like visual poetry. I must also give a shout-out to the girls of the Pouting Dead, who happily ran around a derelict factory for me half-naked and covered in blood. I haven’t got the heart to tell them that the camera wasn’t even on.

Steve: At what stage of the movie making process are you now? What still needs to happen? When are we going to be able to see Three’s a Shroud?

Dan: We’ve shot the film within a film (Night of the Pouting Dead). We don’t start shooting the main feature until July but have shot a couple of scenes due to stars timetable clashes with other projects.

The film is aiming for a 2012 release but that all depends on post funding, so anyone out there who wants to help out financially on post let me know.

Pazuzu: You have been captured by Dr. Heiter and he is making you three into a human centipede but he gives YOU the choice of the order of the chain. Who goes in which position and why?

Dan: I go first, mainly due to Andy and Dave having shit eating fetishes. And I’m by far the gobbyest so if anyone’s gonna talk him into letting us go it’ll be me.

Dave: I’m not a kiss ass and I’ve dealt with enough assholes over the years to not want to be in 2nd or 3rd but I see Dan answered this first and took the obvious choice of being in the front, so I guess I’d take 3rd position as i’ve seen the crap Dan eats during a day and I don’t wanna be on the immediate receiving end of that, sorry Andy but you can process that shit and hopefully break it down in to smaller pellets for me, hmmm yum, not!

Andy: Being the last to answer, it seems that my position has already been chosen. However, as one of my main roles in this film is dealing with Dan’s crap and processing it into bite-sized chunks for Dave, it seems pretty apt.

Three's A Shroud

All photos used with kind permission of Three’s A Shroud and Altercarnated Photography

More here:

Official Three’s a Shroud Website
Three’s A Shroud on Facebook
Three’s A Shroud on Twitter

Interview with the Soska Sisters – Part 2

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The Soska SistersHellbound Heart: Talk to us a little about your documentary film ‘Please Subscribe’, based on popular YouTube broadcasters, how did you decide to make this documentary?
Sylvia: I love YouTube. Absolutely love it. You get to see all these real-life normal folks that are so talented, funny, and creative broadcasting through a medium that anyone can use. We were still finishing up with Hooker and hadn’t had the opportunity to do anything creative for a while. We were watching our favourite viral celebrities online discussing what we should do next, maybe a documentary, and I suggested we try to do one about people we already enjoy and would like to know more about. We got into contact with David Choi, HappySlip, Tay Zonday, and Daxflame and they were courteous enough to take part in the project. You never know how people you watch for entertainment are going to be when you meet them in real life, but all of them were so genuinely nice, funny, smart, and lovely. We still talk to them on a regular basis as friends – just the kind of people you want to have in your life. The film, ‘Please Subscribe’, is getting to a final cut and will be doing the film festival circuit soon.
Jen: I truly feel that YouTubers are the new generation of independent film makers. They are masters of the short film. The time, intelligence, and skill that goes into much of their work blows me away. I’m in awe of how so many of them can pump out so many amazing videos and so frequently. They are so dedicated to their work and their business and their fans. They’re so innovative and always coming up with new ways to entice new viewers and satisfy their fan base. It’s incredible.

Please Subscribe - The Soska Sisters

Hellbound Heart: You’ve taken part in – and done really well in – some short film contests lately, including a sharp short film titled Bad Girls and the film you made for the ‘Film Racing’ challenge. How did you get involved with these projects, and how did you find making these shorts?

Sylvia: CJ, Jen, and I all live together and usually work together on different artistic projects. If we aren’t working on something – rewrites, trying to get money together, shooting a video – we miss it. We are always working on new projects and planning what we will be doing next, but it’s not easy to just film a feature on a whim, so short films are awesome. For the timed short contests, it gives that same pressure on thinking on your toes while getting everything written, shot, and cut in a time frame. It’s great practice and it also gives you some really fun projects.


Thank you for your kind words about Bad Girls. We get a lot of shit for that one. My aunt in Europe saw it and now worries about us. I prefer there to be something realistic and awful about the violence in our films because when violence happens in reality there is no cutaway to spare the victim. Also, if something upsets or haunts me from real life – like seeing a kid’s eye get knocked out – I put it in a movie to share my horror with an audience. Most of the films in that competition were comedic horror, so Bad Girls kind of surprised people.

Jen: I love doing fast film competitions. It really keeps you on your toes and is great practice for indie film making. When you’re an independent film maker, there is great importance in problem solving and practical thinking. Truly, you never know what will go wrong or not go according to plan. When you do a fast film, you really just jump into it and give it everything you’ve got. That really is the spirit of independent film.

I’m very proud of our collective short films. I particularly enjoyed playing the Hornet. I miss her. Believe me, you haven’t seen the last of her.

Hellbound Heart: A lot of your stuff has a comic-book element to it – you actually play superhero characters in The Hornet, and you guys use a lot of cartoonish violence, snappy, sardonic dialogue, a dry sense of humour, where does that come from?
The HornetSylvia: Reading lots of comic books and playing video games our whole live. I love sitting down and reading a great graphic novel – Preacher is amazing as are Ennis’ Punisher comics – or having a few days off to play a new game, kill some evil, save the world a bit. My mom always used humour to deal with things that scared us (like the horror movies we begged to see). I was terrified after seeing Poltergeist and my mom came in to watch the end of it and made a bug joke of all the horror. I still laugh when I watch horror movies – it makes me happy. I use humour for a bunch of situations in life. If things are shitty and you can still laugh about them, then it’s really not so bad.
Jen: We’ve always been hopelessly addicted to comics. And passionate about them. They definitely affect and influence our work. We can’t help but add our sense of humour to our work. I feel it’s something that sets us apart from others. I guess I would attribute our dark senses of humour to our mom and mister Stephen King. My mom had (and has) every book he’s ever written. At an early age (elementary school), she let us each pick one to read. If we came across a word we didn’t understand, we’d just look it up. Never could hunt down that oh-so-frequent “fuck” word. I just assumed it was some uncommon, yet commonly used sentence enhancer. I picked Pet Semetary and Sylv picked Cujo. Stephen King has a beautiful way of adding humour to his work. It always seemed natural to us and that would be where we began to develop it.

Hellbound Heart: Female filmmakers are still a minority in the scene, although -as I can attest – female horror fandom seems to be on the rise, with more and more women represented in festivals and screenings, and things do seem to be changing, as both fans and filmmakers, do you think the horror/indie scene has been welcoming? Do you think you have faced any particular issues?
Sylvia: Going into making Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we knew that we would have to have craziness to get people interested. The title alone has gotten people fascinated in the film, but has also had people get instantly turned off from the film. The horror community has been very welcoming to us and Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Once we actually finished the film and started showing it to people, everyone had really nice things to say. Before the film was finished we had a lot of locals calling the film and our ambition too ambitious and crazy. I had a well-known actor turned teacher call storm off set and call me a cunt because I wouldn’t give in to his temper tantrum during the fake trailer and he still does today. You have to look at things like that as sad. Enemies are a waste of time and effort.
Jen: We’ve really been embraced by the horror community. Perhaps we’re just fortunate or all the cruelty is done behind our backs. I’m really grateful to the horror community for their support of us and our work.

The Hornet - The Soska Sisters

I still think that we do have a ways to go in the way of the work. Simply because a film is made by a woman we shouldn’t think it’s wonderful or crap. We should let the work speak for itself. If a man makes a movie and its shit, everyone jumps on him. I’ve seen women make crap and have their work protected because it was apparently some great accomplishment that the poor dear even tried. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for any man or woman who has the balls to go out and make a film. It’s rough and you deserve a lot of credit for pulling it off. However, I’m a feminist who believes women shouldn’t be cut breaks because of their gender. Even if it’s positive, it’s still sexist. I think men and women should be treated as equals [Amen to that! – K]. Besides, it toughens women up. And you need to be tough in this business. You ever read the Preacher comics? There’s a bit Sylv loves where one of the badasses are talking about terrorist situations and he says kill the women first. Because if a woman is standing among those men, she’s not only worked every bit as hard as them to prove she deserves to be there, she’s blown away her male competition and she is truly a threat to be reckoned with.

Hellbound Heart: Okay, some more light-hearted questions for you both – I’d like to ask, what films have you been enjoying lately?
Sylvia: I recently saw Martyrs and it rocked my little horror nerd world. It was beautiful and disturbing and epic. Every fan boy and girl should check it out. I have a huge respect and admiration for Asian horror – like Suicide Club, Machine Girl and Old Boy. We have this ritual where we go to our local indie movie rental place and we each grab a movie that looks cool from their horror section.
Jen: We LOVE going to out and renting three movies and then randomly watching them all in one night. I’m proud to say we watch something new pretty much every day. I rented Happiness Of The Katakuris recently on the recommendation of female femme fatale film maker and friend, Marichelle Daywalt. I adore Takashi Miike and musicals so when she told me he made a musical and intentionally cast actors that couldn’t sing, I was hooked. We saw Inside recently. I loved it. Aside from the cat violence. I hate cat violence. We saw Inception in the theatres with Daxflame (if you don’t know who he is, check him out!) It was visually magnificent. I’m a big fan of practical effects. We saw Deep Red, which was rad. I forced Sylv and CJ to watch Psycho Beach Party with me because it had a Buffy cast member in it. It was pretty brutal.

Hellbound Heart: What are/is your favourite…
Sylvia: American Psycho is my absolute favourite for witty satire and sexy horror and it was directed by the incredible Mary Harron. I also love Suicide Club, Audition, The El Mariachi Trilogy, Twins, The People Versus Larry Flynt, The Classic, and Ghostbusters.
Jen: American Psycho. Sylvie and I quote that movie all the time. I’ll sit down with her after going to piss and say, “they don’t have a good bathroom to do coke in” or “there are no girls with good personalities” and high five her. God, we love that movie. I love Twins (no shit, right?), Memoirs of a Geisha (on the inside, I AM Japanese), Jurassic Park (in a cheesy way, I love having “quote competitions” and am currently undefeated), State and Main, Suicide Club, Bringing Up Baby, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I’m also a big Joss Whedon fan and have been in love with Dr Horrible and his Musical Blog.

The Soska SistersHellbound Heart: Music?
Sylvia: There’s this rad indie band called The Antlers that has a wicked song called ‘Sylvia’. I’m not just being narcissistic, their whole album is great. I also like The All-American Rejects, She Wants Revenge, Chris Issac, and Jay Z. I like a variety of music.
Jen: I adore movie soundtracks. I really like Danny Elfman. I love 80s music, Rolly Teranishi, Queen, Fiona Apple, The Moody Blues, Rammstein, Glee, all sorts of weird stuff that doesn’t seem to go together, ha!

Hellbound Heart: Food?
Sylvia: I love Hungarian food like any good Hungarian girl. Spicy food rocks, but I’m also a dedicated fan of Burger King’s Whopper.
Jen: Sushi! Good God, I love sushi. Yam tempura, Salmon and Tuna sashimi, I’m salivating as I write this…

Hellbound Heart: Drink?
Sylvia: I live off of energy drinks – Redbull, Rockstar, and 5-Hour Energy are great. Coca Cola is my favourite pop and Malibu Coconut Rum is my favorite big-girl drink.
Jen: Jack Daniels. Single or double shot and don’t you dare put it on ice.

Hellbound Heart: Locations?
Sylvia: I really would like to travel more. I love my hometown, Vancouver, it’s beautiful – mostly when we get a break from the lovely rain. We’ve been going to California a lot lately and I would love to move down there in the next couple of years. It’s got such a history to it and some incredibly interesting and entertaining people live there.
Jen: I love Vancouver. It’s my home and it’s absolutely beautiful. I love it here. I’ve always wanted to visit New York (for comic book nerd reasons), Egypt (because it’s always interested me), and, more than any other, Japan. I’ll be so happy the day I finally get to go.

Hellbound Heart: Who are your role models?
Sylvia: I have also wanted to meet Robert Rodriguez – his book and films have had a huge impact on our lives. I really admire Vincent Price’s work and contribution to horror – he made it so interesting and classy. Mary Harron made my all-time favorite movie and she had to deal with a lot of shit for the subject matter, but despite the controversy made a smart, edgy piece that is still hip today.
Jen: Sue Sylvester.

Hook penis bathtub acidHellbound Heart: Steve asked me to ask you both for nude photographs. My question therefore is, how do you think Steve should be killed?
Sylvia: There’s a saying if men misbehave with women they get a daughter and if they are really bad – they get twins. Tread carefully, Steve. And please name them Jen and Sylvia. I read that there was this little boy fucking around in his bunk bed who tripped and fell out. The real zinger is that his dick got caught on a hook and he hung there until it the weight of his body made it rip clean off. I could always get a hook.
Jen: I had a morbid friend in high school that was always thinking up ways to commit suicide or kill people. To my knowledge, he never did either. One method has been stuck with me. I know nothing about chemistry like he did so bare with me. It was something like this… Drug your victim and put him in a metal bathtub tied and holding a rope. The rope is connected to a bucket over the tub that keeps it from tipping into the tub. In the tub is part of a solution for a highly concentrated acid. The missing ingredient is in the bucket. As the drugs kick in, the victim loses his ability to hold onto the rope. The bucket tips, the victim melts, and Steve learns to be careful what he asks for ;)

Hellbound Heart: What are you girls working on at the moment; what are your future plans?
Sylvia: We have a screening in Vancouver of the final cut of Hooker in the next two weeks that we are organizing as a thank you to everyone who locally supported and pimped the film. As an added bonus, we are showing a teaser which is the first glimpse to our future project, ‘American Mary.’ We’re filming this week – we have a wonderful actress and great prosthetic team to make something weird and memorable. We’ll have it up on the site after the screening on August 13th.
Jen: The screening is our current obsession. We want to thank our town and fans for all their support of us and the film by giving them a night they’ll never forget!

Twisted Twins - The Soska Sisters

Hellbound Heart: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sylvia: Thank you very kindly for talking with us. With an independent project like Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we don’t have the kind of money to promote the film with commercials, billboards, or magazine advertisements, but through interviews like this, people reviewing the film, people requesting it in their towns, people telling their friends about it – it gives the film this life that it could never have without the support. This was a totally fun interview to be a part of, so a big thank you to you. Also, if you are reading this and want to see the movie send us a message through our website - and we’ll do our best to get it to a screening near you!
Jen: Thank you so much for your time! It has been a pleasure!

You can find out more about The Soska Sisters and Dead Hooker in a Trunk at the following links:

All photos used with kind permission of Jen and Sylvia Soska

Interview with the Soska Sisters – Part 1

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The Soska SistersTwin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska are a force to be reckoned with: they have recently written, directed, starred in and edited their outrageous feature-length movie Dead Hooker In a Trunk – and they ain’t done yet, as they’re touring the film on the festival circuit as well as getting new indie projects underway. The girls took some time out to chat to Hellbound Heart for Horror Extreme…

Hellbound Heart: Hi Jen, hi Sylvia – thank-you for taking the time to talk to us!
Jen: Thank you for talking to us.
Sylvia: We like talking.

Hellbound Heart: I want to start by asking you a little about your background. Obviously it’s unusual to have sisters, let alone twin sisters, who are so driven to work within the indie film scene. What were you into as kids, and did you always know what you wanted to do?
Sylvia: I was really into bugs, horror, video games, and comics. We were always fascinated with movies, but horror movies always had this weird draw. When we were really little, Jen and I would hang out in the horror section of the video store and check out the back of the movie cases for best gore or scariest looking thing. Then we’d find some awful treasure and beg our mom to rent it for us. She and our dad have always been really supportive of anything we’re into, so my mom made a horror rule. She said if we read the book first, then we could see the movie. Maybe because she’s a fan or maybe because she is like the coolest mom on the face of the planet, she loaned us her massive Stephen King collection to read.
Jen: I was a bit of a geek when I was little. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t and aren’t still to this day. Big comic nerds – we’d watch all the cartoons and read the comics and when there weren’t any new stories we’d talk to each other about what the characters might do next. Maybe Spider-Man is going to run into Venom and they’ll have to team up?
I think we always knew we would end up doing something creative and, with us being identical twins that are best friends, we knew it would be something where we could work together.

The Soska SistersHellbound Heart: I had the pleasure to see your first feature-length film – the madcap, grindhouse-flavoured Dead Hooker in a Trunk – at the Ghouls on Film event this year in Birmingham, UK. Firstly, congratulations on your film! How has the film been doing?
Sylvia: Thank you so much! The Ghouls on Film event was gracious enough to invite us to be on the bill during last February’s Women in Horror Month. A big thank you to Nia-Edwards Behi, who was kind enough to have our Hooker at the party. It’s a big year for Dead Hooker, she’s been going from festival to festival around the world and she’s been getting lots of good responses.
Jen: She just played at the Viscera Film Festival – the trailer – and Bleedfest – the feature – in LA a couple of weeks ago. She won an award at Viscera and won three awards at Pollygrind – Audience Choice, Best Screenplay, and Everette Hartsoe’s Badgirl Award which was given to Sylvie and me.
It’s so rewarding to have so many people enjoying the film like they have. When you make a movie you never know what’s going to happen when it goes out there and what people are going to say. We have really awesome supporters; they’ve given this huge life to the film.

Hellbound Heart: How did you come up with the idea for DHIAT, and what was your experience of seeing the project through, from the writing stage to completion? Tell us about your inspiration, and then moving into casting and shooting…
Sylvia: The whole thing came about while we were going to film school. It was a new, not very organized school and, although it managed to hire some of the most talented people in the industry to teach, they did a lot of questionable things. Our final project’s budget ($200) was cancelled and we were told to just merge with another group. We thought it was complete bullshit. Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse was in theatres at the time and we had been seeing it a lot. We walked out of the screening talking about the fake trailers and Jen said, that’s what we should do – we should make a fake trailer and call it ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’.
Before we knew it we were throwing ideas for the trailer back and forth. There was a list at the school of all material that was considered too offensive to be in any of the student’s projects, so we decided to throw all of them in and a few that they forgot for good measure. We wanted to create something that was fun to watch.
Jen: We had the title before anything else, then we came up with the scenes that we would want to see in a movie. We created four stereotype girls – we wanted our movie to be the anti-chick flick road trip movie. We gave them stereotypical names instead of real names – Badass, Geek, Junkie, and Goody Two-Shoes.  We had a scene of them finding the hooker, then all sorts of crazy shit that could happen after that.

Dead Hooker in a Trunk

We put in a big action sequence since the draw of ‘stunt acting for film’ was the course that got us to enrol in the school. We had just finished two years of intensive martial arts training and were ready to kick some butt. We shot a few cool scenes, cut them together trailer style, and presented it at graduation as our individual work. The reaction was insane – half the room got up and left while the other half was cheering so loud that you could barely hear it. We knew we had something special then, so our make-up artist, Maryann Van Graven, and our editor, Loyd Bateman (our stunts instructor, Lauro Chartrand, had introduced us to Loyd to help us pull off the trailer) were on board for the feature.
Sylvia: We thought a lot more people would be available from the fake trailer, but there were other commitments, scheduling conflicts, and lack of interest. There were so many people saying that we ‘couldn’t just make a movie’, that we had to do things ‘properly.’ But the naysayers couldn’t stop our crazy little plan. We had Robert Rodriguez’s book ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ which chronicles how he made his first feature – ‘El Mariachi’. We felt so inspired and excited. We took his advice through the entire book. We wrote our big scenes down on cue cards and moved the order around to make the film’s sequence.
Jen: Once we figured out what was going where, we picked scenes. Each of us had particular scenes that we were excited to write and we decided we would share the outline. That said, if either of us ever hit writer’s block we’d tag in the other twin. It was and is really fun writing together. There are stressful bits, but it’s really cool to write with someone who thinks like you and can understanding what you were getting at or trying to say in different scenes.
Sylvia: Then came casting. We had a few people still interested, but things kept falling through. I had people flat out refuse because they felt the script was too edgy or offensive. There’s nothing as awkward as someone reading your dialogue – ‘Have you ever been skull fucked after an ass rape’, and then looking over at you, the writer, in disgust. Now that line might seem a little extreme, but we try to do everything with a tongue-in-cheek, good humoured sort of way.
We found some excellent talent for the film – John Tench would be our Cowboy Pimp, Tasha Moth would be our Hooker, Loyd Bateman would act in the film as would many friends we had from growing up trying to get work in the film and television industry. During shooting, our new Junkie had a previous commitment and couldn’t stay involved in the film. We hired Rikki Gagne to take her place. Two days before our first day of shooting, our Goody Two-Shoes dropped out. She didn’t want us to be upset by telling us earlier. We were pretty fucked. We called around and couldn’t find a girl to replace her.

Dead Hooker in a Trunk - The Soska Sisters

At that time, I was hanging out with CJ Wallis who brought me to see some of the short films he had done. He had a small cameo in one that embodied exactly what I wanted Goody to be. I asked him if he would be in our film and he said yes. I went home with Jen and we wrote the entire thing that night with Goody as a boy.
Jen: I’m glad that it worked out that way because he is just wonderful in the film and I couldn’t imagine the film without a male Goody. He is the perfect devil’s advocate to all the crazy women characters. The cast that we did end with was great. A lot of them had stunt backgrounds which was important because we wanted to have a lot of action in the film and we wanted actors who could do their own stunt work. Sylv’s character, Badass, was involved in almost every action sequence in the film. We had a double, Maja Stace-Smith, for her for the big showdown between her and the Cowboy Pimp. There is a horse drag in that scene and when we shot it for the fake trailer, she got cut up really bad and our stunt coordinator, Loyd, didn’t want to take the risk. That said, she’s really proud of those scars.
Sylvia: I think Jen had fun writing insane things to have happen to Badass just to see me have to do it. When we made up Geek and Badass, we discussed who should be who. Jen said that I should be Badass because I’ve never had the chance to play the tough girl before. She would be Geek, which was kind of a homage to the cute little nerds we were when we were younger. She was just a tad geekier than me. Still is. Damn cool Jen.
Jen: To pay for everything, we maxed out our credit cards on movie costs. Loyd had his own camera, but we had to rent everything else. We had wireless mics that were a fifty/fifty chance that they would work. There was a real indie feel to the whole thing, though. Actors would act as crew. We would be the first to come in and set up everything, then be the last to leave after cleaning up our bloody mess. It was such a cool group of people to work with. We shot in each other’s houses, used our own animals, kids, clothes, and other friends’ homes to create this project. We shot in back roads, parks, and parking lots. We asked two local bars if we could shoot in them and they let us for free. Despite a few problems, we felt like the production was blessed.
We even got into contact with the ‘El Mariachi’, Carlos Gallardo, who agreed to a well-deserved cameo as God. There were a lot of sleepless days and nights, long days, unexpected costs that would clean us out, not being able to afford food, stacking up bills, but to be honest, we would do it all over again in a heart beat. There are things that you can only learn when you are working on your own film. Rodriguez said in his book you have to think creatively on your feet to fix problems when making your own movies because you can’t just throw money at the problem to fix it. We learned so much fast thinking on set.
Sylvia: Our biggest ambition was to create a movie that had that sense of fun and excitement like the original grindhouse movies. Hooker had to have blood and guts, wild stunts, crazy characters, good humour (or at least our fucked up sense of humour), and some heart. To keep it as indie as possible, we contacted some of the most talented musicians in the Vancouver scene – Fake Shark- Real Zombie!, Incura, The Awkward Stage, The Stalls, our own overly skilled CJ Wallis composed much of the music that you hear in the film, Adam Nanji, and (for Japanese punk) we found the Titan Go-Kings for our Triad scene. We tried to get a song from our childhood favourite band, The Moody Blues, but their record label passed on us. It’s ok, we’ll be back. Maybe even with money next time. Ha ha!

The Soska SistersHellbound Heart: You had a shoestring budget for the film – how did you finance the film, and how did you make a little go such a long way? It really didn’t feel like you’d skimped on what you wanted to do…
Sylvia: We maxed out our credit cards. We have an impressive debt. There were a lot of unexpected costs – equipment needed to be replaced, things turning out pricier than we were quoted, and other random troubleshooting. Loyd took care of some of the costs for us, but by the end of the shoot we were so broke, not eating, being buried alive by bills (a lot coming from spending all our time working on the film with no income) when our key makeup artist, Maryann, and her husband, Don, came forward to offer us some money to help us get out of trouble and have some money to take care of expenses while we finished the film in post. Then our parents took us out to dinner to give us a check to help us be able to stay home and finish the film. So, we gladly welcomed Maryann Van Graven, Donald Charge, and Agnes and Marius Soska to our producer team. They saw how much shit we got ourselves in and selflessly wanted to help us and the film – I’ll never forget their kindness.
There were a couple things that we wanted in the film, but just couldn’t arrange on our budget. We wanted Badass to punch out a bear and say ‘Fuck you, bear!’ We also wanted an explosion. In ‘Rebel Without A Crew’, Rodriguez mentions how badly we wanted to put an explosion in ‘El Mariachi’ – it made me want a big one too!
Jen: We always felt, as weird as this sounds, that some greater power was looking after us. Y’know how in Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood were on a mission from God? DHIAT just had to be made. We were very fortunate that the Writers Strike happened. A lot of extremely talented and usually very busy people suddenly became free. Indefinitely. No one knew how long it would take to resolve and it freed up lots of very amazing people. Some of our crew that usually wouldn’t have ever been able to help out suddenly lost their creative venues and were available and very interested in donating their time to our cause. We were blessed.

The Soska Sisters - Dead Hooker in a TrunkHellbound Heart: You mentioned that you decided to use ‘˜types’ rather than named characters in the film, and you obviously enjoy playing around a bit with the sorts of stereotypes you get in underground films – did you have any sort of precedent in mind for this, and do you think the types of role each of you play reflect anything about you in real life?
Sylvia: Jen and I watch so many movies. We’re like cinema junkies. When you watch a lot of films you start to notice certain similarities, certain types of characters that show up. We thought of our favourite stereotypes – Badass, Geek, Junkie, and Goody Two-Shoes for the leads. The Hooker was just called Hooker. We got so into this simplicity as a starting point for the characters that we ended up giving everyone a descriptive name, like Cowboy Pimp, Weirdo, Killer, and God. The only character in the film with a ‘normal’ name is the Hooker’s dog, Billy.
As for real life comparisons, I think I have a little of Badass and Geek in me. A lot of Geek – I’m a die-hard nerd, geek and damn proud of it. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with Spider-Man since I was nine years old – we are still good friends to this day. I have a little Badass in me, I’m very protective of my friends and mix that with a sometimes fiery, European temper – I can be a real one. But I don’t know if anyone can actually be like Badass in real life. I played her and I still watch the movie and think how cool it must be to be her.
Jen: We really wanted the film to be epic. Larger than life. You ever watch a movie and not get a character’s name and end up describing the film to your friends saying, “Then the bad guy did this” or “The detective goes and does that”? We wanted the characters of our characters to be so legendary, for lack of a better word, that the word be their stereotypes. We wanted Badass to be the toughest, baddest, take-no-shit bitch you’d ever seen and so on. We felt that not giving them “real names” helped with that.

Dead Hooker in a Trunk

I guess everyone has a little Geek and Badass in them. Heck, everyone has a little Goody, Junkie, and Hooker in them, too. I’ve always been a nerd at heart. I love comics, video games, TV, and film. I get giddy when a new Metal Gear, Silent Hill, or Final Fantasy comes out. I dream of meeting Stan Lee. However, I have a rare condition I’ve lovingly dubbed “bitch face”. If I’m not trying to look happy or smile, I look pissed off. I often get people asking, “Jen, why are you so mad?” or “What’s wrong?”, but then I just explain my medical condition. I may look like a bitch, but I’m actually very sweet. That being said, I do have an extensive weapons collection and can skilfully use everything I own. Shucks, I had to learn to be a badass if I ever wanted to seduce Daredevil. I’m very adept with Sais. And, sadly, reading Braille.


You can find out more about The Soska Sisters and Dead Hooker in a Trunk at the following links:

All photos used with kind permission of Jen and Sylvia Soska

Interview with Tony Elwood

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Interview with Tony ElwoodOne of the most striking modern horror films I’ve seen in recent years has to be Cold Storage (2006), a film which showed at the Dead By Dawn festival in Scotland in 2009, and blew me away with its slick delivery and deeply-unsettling plot. The film charts the short-lived freedom of a woman named Melissa, leaving her deadbeat boyfriend and deciding to go it alone before a sudden accident cuts her new life brutally short, and throws her quite literally into the path of a solitary and disturbed loner by the name of Clive Mercer… the rest of the film unfolds in a way which had me on the edge of my seat, surpassing all of my expectations. The director of Cold Storage, Tony Elwood, is a veteran of the indie horror scene and since making his debut feature, Killer (1989) has cut his teeth on many aspects of film work, such as editing, writing, visual effects and acting roles including a small role in Evil Dead 2. Tony was kind enough to talk to us about his work to date.

Hellbound Heart: Firstly Tony, thank you very much for talking with us.
Tony: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for doing this.

Hellbound Heart: I’d like to start by asking you about your early filmmaking days. You mention on your website getting into filmmaking through making short films on an 8mm camera. What sorts of films were you making back then? Do any of them survive?
Tony: Back in the 70s I was fortunate enough to get my first camera, an 8mm film camera. My Dad bought it for my birthday. I started searching for film stock the next day and found some at my local Camera and Hobby shop. I got together with my brothers and shot a Sci-fi film called YOG, The Creature From Outer Space. It didn’t matter to me that a Sci-Fi film for my first film was way over my head. I just started building the spaceship out of pot lids and anything I could get my hands on. I made the creature out of a large plastic bag filled with red water… It was such a mess, but the excitement that I derived from seeing the frames projected on my bedroom wall caused me to go into a filmmaking Nickcoma. I was hooked. That was the best thing my dad ever did for me. After that I migrated to Super 8mm film. I was fortunate to have met 3 amazing people as a kid: Mark Kimray, Mike Kale and Michael Prevette. We started our own Super 8 film companies, shooting films almost every weekend. Most were 3 to 8 minutes long, everything from kung fu films, horror to stop motion animation. Creating these films were what I think helped me become a film director/writer/editor. They were my film school. Many of them do still survive, although the colours in them have faded somewhat. At some point, I plan to put them on DVD, before they crumble to nothing.

Hellbound Heart: Was there ever any question about what type of films you wanted to make?
Tony: Not at all. I knew that the horror/thriller genres were my cup of tea. I love the design of these types of films, from the scripts, music, effects and cinematography… you get to experiment a lot more with these genres… make the genre your own. You can see a John Carpenter film and know immediately that John Carpenter made the film. Same with Hitchcock, Spielberg and Raimi.

Hellbound Heart: Your first feature length film Killer (1989) was made on a shoestring budget – less than $10,000 in fact – which must have been a very steep learning curve! In hindsight, are you pleased with how Killer has stood up?
Tony: Has it? I still like that film. There’s a grittiness to it that’s a factor of both the lack of money and the fact I shot it on Super 8. After working on Evil Dead 2 with Sam Raimi, he kept telling me to just make a movie. I was trying to get a larger budget film off the ground at the time, but had no luck obtaining the funding. Sam kept telling me to grab my Super 8 camera and just shoot a film… so I did. I partnered up with a good friend from Gastonia, Tony Locklear, and we went door to door and raised the budget on our own. The actual budget was $9,500.

JoelleHellbound Heart: Is there anything positive to be said about working to a very tight budget?
Tony: Yes, it keeps you on your toes. I had to wear many, many hats. Not only did I direct, but I also lit, did sound, and props. I also did the make-up effects, along with Andy Boswell. He played Ashe, the lead in the film; I met him on Evil Dead 2. He was such a talented person; I knew having him involved would take the film to the next level.

I also had the luck of having worked on about 8 motion pictures before doing Killer. I worked as a make-up artist, built miniatures, worked in the optical lab and even acted. Having worked with so many actors made getting Duke Ernsberger, Jeff Pillars and Terry Loughlin on my side an easy task. I just told them that I was making an ultra low budget film on Super 8 and that I couldn’t pay them. I asked them if they would come on board. Did they ever. They even helped lug lights and C stands around, whatever was needed. It was so great. I’ve used these guys in all my films. They are my posse.

Hellbound Heart: Let’s talk about Cold Storage (2006): I saw this film at the 2009 Edinburgh Dead By Dawn Festival, where it deservedly won the audience award for Best Picture. But you had a hell of a wait to make this film. Could you tell us a little about the film’s background?
Tony: First, let me thank you for saying that. I was so nervous about being at that festival. I wasn’t sure how the audience was going to handle the film. All the films that led up to the screening of Cold Storage were amazing. I just didn’t know if audience would accept it.

Fortunately, they did. Thank God. I enjoyed watching the film with that crowd, they were having such a good time with the film that I was able to relax and enjoy the film myself for the first time ever.

My writing partner Mark Kimray and I wrote the script shortly after Killer. I think it was 1989. I had come up with the idea back in ’84, while on a 3-day trip back from Los Angeles to North Carolina. It was night and I was travelling through the curvy Appalachian Mountains at 3AM and Cold StorageI kept thinking to myself, “What if I was to lose control of my car and go off a cliff and die?” Who would know? Then I started thinking about, “What if someone found me and decided to keep me as a buddy?” The rest is history.

Then Misery came out in 1990. Oh well. No way in hell that we could compete with that film. Even though I knew Cold Storage was a very different film, everyone we tried pitching the film to would say that it had been done. So, we sat on the script. Once in a while, I’d try to resurrect the project, but because of the subject matter, we couldn’t find funding. Who wants to invest in a love story about a mountain hermit falling in love with a dead girl?

In 2003, Executive Producer Bert Hesse, Producer Paul Barrett, and I began raising money for another script called Cold Chill. Don’t ask me why I keep using ‘cold’ in the titles. It just worked for this project so well. It was a higher budget “haunted school” picture. We had a partner who was going to come up with half of the funding if we could get our half. Well we got our half raised, but the other half feel through. Two years down the tubes…

2005 came and we went back to the drawing board. I asked Bert if it might be possible to go back to our original investors and see if they might be interested in Cold Storage. It could be done for the half we raised. It was an amount I felt comfortable spending on the picture. I knew it was still risky, but a risk I was willing to take. Almost all the investors came on board. We suited up and started preproduction of Cold Storage, 21 years after it was conceived.

Hellbound Heart: Nick Searcy’s performance as lead character Clive Merser was brilliant – he lent humanity to what could have otherwise been a ‘bogeyman’ role. How soon did Nick come on board with the project?
Cold Storage PosterTony: In 1992 I had begun working on my second picture, Road Kill. Sean Bridgers, who played the lead in the film, told me about his best friend Nick Searcy. He thought Nick would just kill the part of Stupid the Clown. I said ‘get him’. I had seen Nick in Fried Green Tomatoes and loved what he did in that film.

We only had Nick for a day… so we did all the dialogue stuff first. Then we came back and dressed Andy Boswell up as Stupid for the non-dialogue pieces. Worked like a charm. Nick and I hit it off immediately. I remember pitching him the idea of playing Clive Merser while he was getting his clown make-up on. I know he must have thought, “Right kid, you’re going to make another film after this turd hits the fan? Dream on.” But he was very gracious, and said, “Send me the script.”

So, fifteen years later, once I got the word we had the green light for Cold Storage I sent Nick the script. He accepted the part, even after doing such amazing work in so many blockbuster pictures. Nick still has that “Let’s make a damn movie” attitude that I just love. No matter what the budget, if the concept is worth doing, Nick will do it, and put all his effort behind it. We worked for several months on Clive’s character. Nick wanted him to be sympathetic, as did I. I wanted the audiences to root for Clive. He’s not a monster… he just does things his way. And his way can be seen as monstrous to some, but not to Nick and me.

I’m so glad Nick accepted the part. If anyone other than Nick had played Clive Merser, the film would have been a disaster. I really believe that.

Hellbound Heart: You made a late addition to Cold Storage by adding an opening scene that frames the relationship between two of the characters. Tell us about this. Were you happy with the outcome?
Tony: I did in fact shoot a new scene. I’m not sure how I feel about it. We had no money at all left to do it the way I really wanted to. But all the sales reps and distributors kept saying that we needed some type of effect at the beginning, something to catch people’s attention, so I came up with what I thought was the best idea, and that was to show Clive and Luther [two characters who meet again in later life during the film] as young boys, to get a taste of why Clive is so terrified by Luther. I think the scene works, but I still don’t feel it’s necessary to the story. Conor McCullagh, my amazing special effects make-up genius who did all the effects work in the film, created the shotgun-damaged head of the dead hunter from scratch. He did it for free, because he believed in the film that much. He was such a blessing to have on the film. His work is top notch!

Nick again

Hellbound Heart: Often in films, horror or otherwise, it seems to be acceptable to portray characters from the Southern states of the US in a very stereotyped way. You seemed to be questioning this misconception in Cold Storage; the characters may be flawed, but they’re not just two-dimensional ‘hicks’. Was this deliberate at all, or did it happen organically?
Tony: I grew up in the South. I know these people like the back of my hand. Stereotypes do exist, but all stereotypes have many layers. I love when someone see a character and think they know how they are going to be portrayed, and then the character does something against their expectation. I give them a bit of the stereotype, and then show the other aspects of their character. Everyone is a stereotype. I don’t care who you are; we all fit into a mould of some sort. But as you know, moulds are always broken… patched back together again, so when you pull the next character out, there are small cracks in their surface. That’s the stuff I like. The small cracks.

Interview with Tony Elwood

Hellbound Heart: Tell us a little about the “decay” special effects you used on Melissa (Casey Leet) – which were pretty sickening, by the way…
Tony: Thanks… Again, the amazing work of Conor McCullagh.

Conor and I set down and talked about how Melissa’s beauty would slowly begin to fade. I told Conor that after Melissa took her last breath in the front seat of Clive’s station wagon, we’d never see much of her face again. I didn’t want the film to be about seeing a rotting corpse. That would have made the film unbearable. I wanted the audience to see Melissa, who Clive calls Rosalie, as a character in the film, even though she was dead. I wanted people to get inside Clive’s head and see the body as a living entity, just as he saw her, so you would totally forget she was dead. But when Clive begins to see the clues that Rosalie might be turning, we allow the audience to see along with Clive. This was planned out to the T. Conor started out using just makeup on a double’s hand, then he created a full size replica of Melissa, so we could start to see deeper effects of the decay.

We actually had 3 Melissa bodies. One we nicknamed Spongy. She was for the neck-breaking stunt. The other 2 bodies were for the two stages of decay. The work was amazing. I remember coming into the set one day by myself and seeing the badly-mutated body of Melissa laying on a table, dressed in the wedding dress, and it totally creeped the living shit out of me. That’s how good Conor’s work is.

Decay - Cold Storage

Hellbound Heart: What have been the reactions to the film in general so far? Will it get a UK/Europe release?
Tony: We’ve just been out on DVD for about a month here in the US. So far, so good.

We still are being asked to screen the film at festivals even now that it has been released. We got asked to screen at the Fantaspoa Film Festival in Brazil this July, and we have a special screening in October in Los Angeles for the Film Courage Interactive.

Our Sales Rep is actively pursuing the UK/Europe and Asian markets as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed.

Hellbound Heart: Horror movies can often be looked down upon by mainstream audiences, and definitely by critics. If you wanted to make someone think again about the genre, what are some of the films you might recommend, and why?
Tony: I’m really a big fan of Hitchcock. His films really were the catalyst that made me decide to become a filmmaker. Psycho, The Birds, and Rear Window, so many classics. Critics really didn’t care for these films because they were considered popcorn movies. But today, they are considered classics. Time has a way of changing options. Look at Halloween. When it came out, most critics ignored the film. Some hated it, but after it became successful, changed their minds and gave it praise. That’s cool. I’ve done that myself. But my opinions don’t make or break a film like a critic’s review can, or, should I say, could. Critics are becoming a thing of the past with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Fans can tweet instantly, in less than 140 characters and within seconds their opinions are sent out to thousands of followers. Now their words can make or break a film. You can’t worry about that sort of thing when you are making a movie that you are passionate about, like I was with Cold Storage. I knew many critics and people wouldn’t care for the film. It’s a hard film to swallow for some. That’s fine. I didn’t make it for them. I made it for me, and the hopefully millions of people who dig it. That’s the best you can expect these days.

Hellbound Heart: Finally, can you tell us a little about planned future projects?
Tony: I’ve got several projects that I’m working on currently. Nothing real solid as of yet, just writing, pitching scripts, trying to raise money. Same old story. It never gets easier, that is, unless your film makes millions the first weekend. I’ll let you know as soon as I get the green light for the next one!

Hellbound Heart: THANK YOU Tony, and we wish you the best of luck!

The Official Website of Tony Elwood