Part 2 Of An Exclusive Interview With The Soska Sisters Directors Of American Mary
By James Whittington, Wednesday 29th August 2012

soska_sistersRegular viewers to the Horror Channel will know about Jen and Sylv Soska. These talented Canadians gave the world Dead Hooker In A Trunk which received its world premiere on the Horror Channel last year.

They came to FrightFest The 13th and blew everyone away with their latest movie, American Mary which has become, for many, the best of the fest. Here, in the second part of an exclusive interview conducted before American Mary was screened,Jen and Sylv chat about FrightFest and their plans for the future.

HC: You're in the UK for American Mary's UK premiere, are you nervous about it showing at FrightFest?

SS: I'm somewhere between completely elated and terrified. I feel that way about every screening. In many ways, I'm much more comfortable with the screening at FrightFest because it is a festival that is made up of the horror community and, although I think people from different walks of life will all get something from the film, Jen and I put specific focus and content for the avid horror fan. In a lot of ways, American Mary is our thank you to all the people that supported Dead Hooker In A Trunk to give us this opportunity to keep making films. I'm very excited to see what they think of the film.

JS: I'm always half insanely excited and half crapping myself. I was much more nervous taking American Mary to the market premiere at Cannes. Market premieres are studio execs, festival heads, distributors, and buyers. You don't have fans there and even if they are fans, they're not looking to have a good time or to enjoy your film. They're there for business and all they're thinking is will this make money. We were really blown away by the response there as they did react like an audience of fans, but FrightFest is a very different beast. I've been told that these fans know their shit and if that makes me nervous. That actually makes me very happy. American Mary has a lot in there that will only be noticed by the true horror fan. There are references to some of our favourite horror films and directors in there including Dead Ringers, Suicide Club, American Psycho, and Irreversible, just to name a few. These are things I don't think just everyone will see. I grew up with Stephen King, Fawlty Towers, and Monty Python. Our sense of humour is dark, a bit disgusting, and dry. Very mumblecore. I feel the UK fans really get us.

HC: Would you like to do a follow up to any of your movies?

SS: Jen and I have been joking about a sequel to DHIAT since we were still filming it. It was inspired by and followed in the footsteps of the El Mariachi trilogy by Robert Rodriguez, so we always planned on making a follow up. Recently, we started to put ideas down, write down scenarios and content. It's going to be bat shit insane.

JS: YES! We've already very loosely been writing it. We want it to be DHIAT on PCP. Just turn your brain off and watch an absolutely mental film where literally anything can and will happen.

HC: Is it a good time for women in the film industry now? Are there more opportunities and do you think they are (finally) getting the respect they deserve?

SS: The industry is extremely difficult and unforgiving. If you work hard and dedicate yourself to your work, it doesn't matter what the outside circumstances are - you make your own opportunities and you bounce back from a lot of rejection. There are very few well known female directors out there, and even fewer genre female directors. I think there are too many reasons for that to give one distinct 'this is why things are the way they are' answer, but I know there are a lot of people asking why things are this way. Considering the population of the planet and how many women there are on it, why don't we have more women creating films? That thought process is the start of change. Kathryn Bigelow's big win as the first female director to win an Academy Award was the start of change. Women making good films and people wanting to see them is the start of change. Things are changing and I'm seeing more and more female filmmakers' work getting recognition. I think this is the beginning of a big change.

JS: I think it is. People seem to have more of an interest in what female filmmakers are doing. I always find it bizarre when people act amazed that women make movies. Alice Guy, the first director of fiction film, not the first female, but THE first, is virtually unknown, but she was a true pioneer. And it was a hell of a lot more difficult for her to get credit for her work. Many of her films weren't even credited to her because of her gender and the times so we've come a long way from there. I do hate that there's this idea out there that being a woman makes it harder for us to do what we do. I don't feel being a woman is in any way a handicap. I'm not a charity case. If the work is strong enough, it will get the recognition that it deserves regardless of gender. I feel the emphasis should be placed on making strong films. That in itself will bring recognition to the women making them.

HC: Who do you look up to in the cinema industry?

SS: Robert Rodriguez and Carlos Gallardo - we grew up on their work and they shared their secrets with their audiences, without them we would be where we are today. I have an enormous amount of respect for Jason Eisener, his work stands out in its unique gory beauty and that's a hard thing to today when you're a Canadian and that content isn't what our country is known for. Eli Roth has been a mentor and friend for years - I can't even begin to express the high level of respect I have for his kindness and support. Mary Harron is just a fantastic filmmaker and, being a Canadian and woman, she is someone I truly admire. Lloyd Kaufman is a great filmmaker - he's had this honest to goodness independent spirit and drive that has given so much to industry.

JS: Everyone Sylv mentioned, of course. Robert and Carlos are massive inspirations to us. Without them and the work that they've done, we wouldn't be where we are today. Everyone should treat themselves to a copy of his Rebel Without A Crew. I really love Joss Whedon. The way he writes just has this beautiful depth and is so thoughtful and real. His characters smash stereotypes and are so unique and original. I love how he can have you laughing one moment and in tears in the next. He is a master at what he does. I've loved him since Roseanne, ha ha

HC: What advice would you give to people wanting to make their own horror movie?

SS: Don't talk about it, do it. Rodriguez's first hand account of making El Mariachi, Rebel Without A Crew, is a must read and his Ten Minute Film Schools are a must see. Lloyd Kaufman's Make Your Own Damn Movie series is also just awesome. We are living in a time where knowledge is so easily accessible - you can learn from your favourite filmmakers directly from interviews, DVD commentaries, and even speaking to them online. You can learn how to make a good solid film with very modest means. You can use social media to get your work out there. Make something that is unique to you - something you aren't seeing be made right now, but also something that not only you would want to see. Be brutal, but not sloppy. Think of the high production value items you have at your disposal and integrate them into your film so that it looks like you had money. Don't write a ten million dollar space saga, write something you can make f*****g rad with what you have and then make it.

JS: Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. We did it and there's absolutely no reason why you can't do it for yourself. Don't wait around for someone to come along and make it happen for you. Don't bitch that you can't get funding. It's tough for everyone and people are not likely to take a chance on an unknown and unproven filmmaker. You have to show them what you're capable of. Go out there and make your own movie. Come up with something, some concept, that really excites you because you will be talking about it for the rest of your life and it will have to drive you. Write a list of your assets. It will amaze you how much you have available. People who will come out and help, people who will act for you, wardrobe you own, props, exotic animals, a business or a friend's business, a local church, your school, just anything. Write it all out and try to put as much of that stuff that you have into your film to bring up your production value. Welcome advice. Someone telling you your film is the bees knees won't help you improve it. You need to be able to take criticism, especially in the editing process. If something isn't working or if people bring up the same thing over and over again, you're not getting what you want across right. You have to change it up or cut it. Be critical with yourself. Be your own hardest critic. By the time you show your work to someone and its less than perfect, you've already made your first impression. And please choose a title that sticks out. There's a lot of competition out there. You owe it to yourself to set yourself apart from the rest.

HC: So what's next for you two?

SS: We're very lucky to have a lot of opportunities for the next project right now. Bob is a story that is very dear and near to our heart. He almost went ahead before we got the green light to American Mary and we are excited to get to work on him next. We are collaborating with the fantastic team at First Comics to bringing our stories into the graphic novel world, being huge comic nerds, it's a dream come true. Right now, it's all about American Mary. She starts her first big screening at FrightFest and I'm dying to get her out there and in front of people.

JS: It really depends. Being horror fans ourselves, we'll always listen to our viewers to hear what they want to see from us next. they'll always be surprised. We like to shake things up. We want to leave you guessing what we'll do next. And we're just getting started.

HC: Jen and Sylvia Soska, thank you very much

JS SS:Thank you SO much!!!

Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
Posted on Saturday 20th February 2021
Gary J. Tunnicliffe doing SFX make-up on the set of Hellraiser Judgement

Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.

HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?

GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...

Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, director of Redcon-1
Posted on Wednesday 17th February 2021
Director Chee Keong Cheung

Fast-paced British zombie thriller, Redcon-1 will be having its UK TV premiere on Horror on Saturday 20th February so we decided to chat with its writer and director Chee Keong Cheung about this acclaimed movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?

CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...

Interview with Scott Reiniger star of the original Dawn of the Dead
Posted on Sunday 15th November 2020

On the eve of a stunning new 4K box set of George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead from Second Sight Films, we chat to one of its stars, Scott Reiniger about this incredible film.

HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?

SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...

Interview with Steve Speirs, star of Concrete Plans
Posted on Sunday 1st November 2020
Concrete Plans poster

Welsh, Scottish and Ukranian dialects clash in Concrete Plans, a stand-out movie from Will Jewell which has just been released by FrightFest Presents via Signature. Its a super and very dark thriller with an outstanding cast headed up by Steve Speirs. Here he chats about this amazing piece.

Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!

HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?

SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...

Interview with Shayne Ward, star of The Ascent
Posted on Thursday 22nd October 2020

A special ops team on a mission in a war-torn country find themselves trapped on a never-ending staircase that they must climb - or they die! This is the premise for Tom Paton's superb, action-packed horror The Ascent which is having its UK TV premiere at 9pm on October 23rd. Here its star, Shayne Ward tells all about his career to date and how he became involved in this sci-fi shocker.

HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?

SW: Oh, like anyone can say who has been on it, who has done well on the show, it does change your life because it catapults you into the limelight, into the public eye. One day you are relatively unknown...

Interview with Ryan Kruger, writer and director of Fried Barry
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
Fried Barry

Anyone who as been to Grimmfest will know that the team behind the event try their very best to bring to their audience films that challenge and push as many envelopes as possible. Fried Barry from director Ryan Kruger is such a movie. Packed with mind-bending imagery and and emotional punch, this polarizing movie has to be seen just for its creativity and strong storytelling. Here, Ryan chats about this incredible movie.

HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?

RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...

Interview with Deiondre Teagle, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020
thumbnail_Brandon Blood

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with new talent and one actor that stands out is Deiondre Teagle who styars in Charlie Steeds' grindhouse homage, Death Ranch. Here Deiondre explains his role and what it was like being part of such a bold movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?

DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...

Interview with Faith Monique, star of Death Ranch
Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020

Grimmfest 2020 is packed with world premieres and none so bold as Charlie Steed's Death Ranch. We chatted to one of its main stars, Faith Monique about her role in this brutal and brilliant movie.

HC: Was there one person you saw at a young age who inspired you to want to become an actress?

FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.

HC: Are you a big fan of horror movies and were you aware of grindhouse and e...

Interview with Charlie Steeds, writer and director of Death Ranch
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020

Horror movies and controversy always go hand in hand but when they tackle serious issues by using extreme violence to hammer home a point they can be very worthy. Death Ranch from Charlie Steeds is having its world premiere at Grimmfest so we chatted to him about this very strong movie.

HC: What inspired you to write Death Ranch?

CS: I'd always wanted to try making a movie with a 70s Grindhouse/Exploitation style and was watching old Grindhouse trailers for inspiration. I came across the movie Brotherhood of Death, where black characters fight back against the KKK for some of the film (the tagline is 'Watch these brothers stick it to the Klan!') and that conce...

Interview with Nicholas Santos, writer and director of It Cuts Deep
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
It Cuts Deep Image 2

At Grimmfest we're used to comedy horror but none as well written as It Cuts Deep from writer/director Nicholas Santos. Here he chats about this true dissection of a romance going terribly wrong.

HC: Have you always been a big horror fan?

NS: I've been a big horror fan since I was a little kid. Some of my favourite childhood memories are seeing Event Horizon with my dad when I was in second grade, being absolutely terrified by Chucky from Child's Play at every waking moment and watching Psycho for the first time on VHS when I was 7 years old.

HC: Where did the idea for It Cuts Deep come from and did it take long to write?

NS: It Cuts Deep is a hor...

Interview with Robert Woods, director of An Ideal Host
Posted on Saturday 10th October 2020
Robert Woods

Ever had the dinner party from Hell with people you don't really relate to and seem alien? Well this is the premise of the the hilarious horror comedy An Ideal Host from director Robert Woods. Here he tells Horror about this cracking movie.

HC: What did you think of the script when you first read it and what made you decide that this would be your first project as a director?

RW: Tyler and I had been writing theatre together for a decade, but movies are our first love and we wanted to give it a crack as well. Tyler came up with the initial idea but we worked on the story together and it evolved a great deal from the initial pitch. As it was my first time directing, I think we were j...

Interview with Chad Ferrin, writer and director of The Deep Ones
Posted on Friday 9th October 2020
Jeff Billings and Chad The Deep Ones

H.P. Lovecraft's influence on horror cinema is immeasurable and continues to this very day. In fact, today at Grimmfest a movie called The Deep Ones is showing so we asked its writer and director Chad Ferrin and how the great man himself has influenced his work.

HC: When was the first time you heard or read anything by or about HP Lovecraft?

CF: My parents worked nights, so the television was my babysitter. I must have been around six years old when I saw an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery called "Pickman's Model". Seeing that monster carrying off Louise Sorel terrified me beyond belief and seared the name H.P. Lovecraft into my...

Interviews Archive: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
Tomb Invader
Saturday 8th May
6.55 PM
Paranormal Activity
Saturday 15th May
9.00 PM
Monday 17th May
8.00 PM