ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview With Jovanka Vuckovic Director Of The Guest
By James W, Monday 26th August 2013

JV 1Last year at FrightFest we were treated to an astonishing short from Jovanka Vuckovic called The Captured Bird. This year she has delivered the equally impressive but totally different piece The Guest. Here this talented artist chats about her work and future plans.

HC: We first chatted last year when your beautiful short The Captured Bird was shown at FrightFest 2012. You must be pleased how this piece has been received across the globe?

JV: Pleased is an understatement! It has played over 60 festivals around the globe, earned four Best Short Film awards and opened theatrically for the Soska Sister’s American Mary in 25 theatres in Canada. I never dreamed it would have so much life. And it continues to thrive on DVD and iTunes rentals. I’m so grateful for everyone interested enough in the short film format to give it a look. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has supported it.

HC: Has it opened doors for you at all?

JV: Well, because it was so arty and didn’t have any dialogue, it’s not the kind of thing that lands you a 60 million dollar feature. But it’s the movie that I wanted to make. Of course there was the initial flood of interest from agents in Hollywood but I didn’t start making films so that I could score a gig directing Final Destination 7 or the sequel to the remake of Carrie. I’m making the films that I want to make, with my friends. If Cronenberg can do it, so can I. [Laughs]. At any rate, yes, of course The Captured Bird was an incredible experience that introduced me to so many great people that I worked with again on a tiny short called Self Portrait and again on The Guest. I also learned some hard lessons on that film. But you do on every film.

HC: Where did the idea for The Guest come from?

JV: I made this short as an assignment for the Toronto International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. They gave us a tiny budget, two months and a theme: MEMORY. One of the first things that came to mind while I was thinking about memory is how unreliable it is. And by extension, how much I love stories and films that feature unreliable narrators. So I started writing a brief script – it had to be under five minutes – about a man who trades his memories for something that is never revealed to us. We all do this in our lives. Subconsciously we block memories that are not favourable and distort and inflate memories we judge as pleasant. We construct our own reality this way. As far as films, my biggest inspiration was, believe it or not, The Mothman Prophecies; remember when Richard Gere is having that phone conversation with Indrid Cold (the Mothman) in the hotel? “Chaaaaap stickkkk.” That’s always stayed with me so The Guest is very much a direct homage to the basic creepiness of that scene: A man having a conversation with something that may or may not be real. I was also inspired by Session 9, another film that never reveals whether the protagonist is suffering a psychotic break or actually tormented by a supernatural menace. There are a few more subtle nods in there to other films that can be quite revealing about the main character, but I’ll leave that to the horror aficionados to discover. It’s a movie that asks a lot of questions and offers subtle answers. Who is Barlowe? Why did he trade his memories? What did he trade them for? Who is The Guest? What’s great about ambiguity is that it leaves stories open to interpretation, which gives the story more longevity. Look at Blade Runner, we’ll be arguing whether or not Deckard was a replicant until the sky falls.

But he IS a replicant!

HC: How long did it take to get the story and script right?

JV: Like I said, TIFF didn’t give us a lot of time so I wrote it in a few days. I sent the first draft to some filmmakers I trust who gave me some very valuable feedback. It was reading too much like a Faustian bargain, which isn’t what I wanted, so I made some changes to get it right.

HC: What sort of budget did you have?

JV: We had a small grant from TIFF and the rest came out of my own pocket. I’m actually amazed at how good it looks given the money I had to spend on it, which is a testament to the talents of the crew, especially our DP, Ian Anderson. He’s one of the busiest DPs in Toronto for good reason. I’m so lucky he said yes. His shots pretty much looked exactly like the photos in my look book. Unlike The Captured Bird, everyone worked for free on The Guest and we got a ton of gear for next to nothing. But they gave it their all and we’re really proud of this little film.

JV: It has some stunning imagery in it, were those scenes difficult to shoot?

HC: The stuff inside Anastasia Masaro’s house wasn’t too bad. She’s our production designer. Her place is so beautiful, she made it easy. But the white void stuff was shot in a make up school in Toronto – pretty much the only place that was willing to let us spill gallons of fake blood onto the floor. That was a set and you can imagine how difficult it was, with each blood effects take, not to splatter blood all over the white muslin! It’s was a technical nightmare to stage with fake floors and machinery that had a mind and direction of its own. But I had a blast doing that stuff. I tortured poor Jordan Gray by making him vomit blood for hours! And that’s my niece Izzy with the bleeding heart. What a trooper she was!

HC: The Captured Bird and The Guest are at opposite ends of film production, which was the hardest to make?

JV: I had to write, direct and produce The Guest so in many ways that was more stressful because I was holding the cheque book! On The Captured Bird, I was so well protected from that stuff. All I had to do was show up and be prepared and know what I want. I had a crew of 50 on that short – it looked like a feature and they really took care of me. So making a tiny movie for a sliver of the budget was in many ways much more difficult. What I’m learning is there’s never enough money – whether you’re making a 6000 dollar movie or a $60 million dollar movie.

HC: The Guest is existentialist horror at its best and stands up to repeated viewings, are you a big fan of this sub-genre?

JV: I don’t even know if it’s really recognized as a subgenre but I do love ambiguous stories about characters in existential crisis. Isolated physically, mentally, emotionally – or a combination of all three. Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, Jacob’s Ladder, Bergman’s The Hour of the Wolf, Kafka’s The Trial, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw are all superlative examples of existential horror. So yes I guess you could say I am a fan of those types of stories.

HC: Are you worried some people might not “get it” and are you nervous about it showing at FrightFest 2013?

JV: Not at all. People will bring their own experience to it and make their own determinations about the story. The same thing happened with The Captured Bird. Some people thought it was a metaphor for sexual abuse while others thought it was about fear of mothering and most saw it as a visual poem about the loss of innocence. How they responded to the film depended on their life experience. Interesting, isn’t it?

HC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to shoot their own short?

JV: I’m still new at this. I’ve only made three short films so I am not really in a position to be telling other people how to do it. But what I found helpful was surrounding myself with optimistic and inspiring people who knew what they were doing. That way I was the least experienced person in the bunch and I had plenty of people to ask for help.

HC: You’re a person of many talents; do you have a favourite job that you do?

JV: Yes. Unequivocally. It’s being a mother to my daughter.

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

JV: This week I am traveling to Providence, Rhode Island to unveil the bronze bust of H.P. Lovecraft with my friend Bryan Moore on the 123rd anniversary of the author’s birthday. I’ve got a fun little pocket book coming out full of some of my favourite facts, trivia and lists called Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany. But I should say that I’m actually retiring completely from non-fiction writing so that I can focus on my creative endeavours and film work. I find it takes up too much time I could be doing the work I really enjoy. I’ve never felt more at home than when I first stepped on a film set. So that’s the direction I want to keep going in. I have a very exciting film project that just got green lit, it should be announced very shortly now. I’ll be associate producing, writing and directing the project and we’ve assembled a tremendously talented group of people for it. We can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!

JV: Jovanka Vuckovic, thank you very much.

HC: Thank you for the support, Horror Channel and FrightFest! Big love from Canada!


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Hattie Smith, star of The Axiom
Posted on Sunday 24th June 2018
Poster for The Axiom

The Axiom is a tense and disturbing chiller from director Nicholas Woods. The film concerns a woman who travels into a National forest, in search for her missing sister. Once in the wilderness, they discover they have entered a multi-dimensional world full of monsters. The film is an adrenaline infused experience with some cool effects and a smart story. We chatted to lead actress Hattie Smith about The Axiom.

HC: How did you become involved with The Axiom?

HS: I went to school with Nicholas, the director. We both graduated from Chapman University, and I was a year or so behind him in the film school. At some point, I was recommended to him as an actress for the 48 Hr Film Festiv...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Jessica McLeod, star of The Hollow Child
Posted on Friday 8th June 2018
Picture of Jessica star of The Hollow Child

If you like your horror movies to have a strong paranormal theme to them you'll need to look out for The Hollow Child when it gets released later this year. It stars the incredibly talented Jessica McLeod so we decided to have a chat about this and her career to date.

HC: Was there a certain person you saw who inspired you to become an actor?

JM: I don't think I had seen a movie by the time I had wanted to be an actor. But Reese Witherspoon continues to inspire me, although my career has been entirely different from hers at my age.

HC: Can you recall what it was like to be on a movie set for the first time?

JM: I believe I got to wear a prin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Steeve Leonard co-director of Radius
Posted on Monday 21st May 2018

In the chilling movie, Radius, a man wakes from a car crash with amnesia and what's more anyone who comes into contact with him instantly dies. This FrightFest favourite is receiving its UK TV premiere on Friday 25th of May so we chatted to its co-director and co-writer Steeve Leonard about this celebrated and cerebral movie.

HC: How long did Radius take to write?

SL: Radius took about 4 years to write, on and off. We had the radius of death idea first but we didn't know what to do with it, and so we shelved it for a while. Later we came up with the more interpersonal twist we have now and we weaved it together with the radius idea.

HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?

SL: No....

SHARE: READ MORE
Exclusive: Director Johannes Roberts talks 'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2018

This weekend sees the release of a long-awaited sequel to one of 2008's most beloved slasher films. Yes, nine whole years after The Strangers premiered, UK cinema-goers will be met once again by Dollface, the Man in Mask and Pin-Up Girl in The Strangers: Prey at Night.

Starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, and Lewis Pullman, son of the late Bill, the film sees a family of four being stalked and tormented shortly after arriving on what was supposed to be a quiet family trip to a remote mobile home. The family must decide whether to take on the dreaded strangers hell-bent on wreaking havoc, or to run for their lives.

We had a chat with the film's direct...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andy Nyman, co-writer, co-director and star of Ghost Stories
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018

I've met Andy Nyman on many occasions over the last decade or so, and over that time I've watched his career constantly go from strength to strength. To call him multi-talented would be an understatement and along with Jeremy Dyson has created the must-see horror movie of 2018, Ghost Stories. Here he chats about the stage play, Ghost Stories as well as how it changed on its way to the big screen.

HC: When did you first meet co-writer and co-director Jeremy Dyson?

AN: Jeremy and I met at a Jewish Summer Camp in 1981, and you just get thrown together in dorms of four people and Jeremy is from Leeds and all my family are from Leeds so I used to spend most of my weekends up in Leeds so we instantly ha...

SHARE: READ MORE
John Krasinski talks directing and starring in 'A Quiet Place'
Posted on Friday 6th April 2018


In case you hadn't heard, A Quiet Place has opened in cinemas nationwide.

The film, starring real-life couple, John Krasinski (US adaptation of The Office and 13 Hours) and Emily Blunt (Sicario, Wind Chill and The Devil Wears Prada) takes place in a post-apocalyptic(-ish) environment, in which strange wild creatures that hunt by sound have destroyed a significant amount of the population.

Krasinski and Blunt's characters, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn try to lead a life with their family as quietly (and by that we mean literally) as possible, in able to ensure their survival.

We sat down with the director and one half of Krasinski-Blunt to talk about the film, what scares him the most, and which...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with David Howard Thornton, star of Terrifier
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018

If you're a fan of slasher movies then you'll have to check out the bood-splattered shocker Terrifier. The movie is a full-blown, hair-raising homage to grindhouse slashers that introduces a new murderous icon in the form of Art the Clown. Art id surely destined to become a true horror anti-hero and here David Howard Thornton, the guy who plays art, chats about this brilliantly brutal movie and what he's up to at the moment.

HC: What movie or person inspired you to want to work in the film industry?

DT: I would say that would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit film wise. I was obsessed with that film when it first came out, and still watch it at least once a year when I need some inspiration. It meshe...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018

Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.

HC: How did 88 Films start?

RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018

One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?

PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018

There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan?

AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018

Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.

HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?

KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018

There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.

HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?

PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
Wake In Fear
WAKE IN FEAR
Friday 27th July
9.00 PM
The Dyatlov Pass Incident
THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT
Thursday 26th July
9.00 PM
Wind Chill
WIND CHILL
Tuesday 24th July
9.00 PM