It's that time again- a brand new Bloody-Disgusting feature and not enough room to fit it all in. Damn the space issues!
Recently I met Jen and Sylvia Soska, the masterminds behind Twisted Twins Productions. Their film DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK hit me in such a way that only one other film has done- KILL BILL. That's right, I'm comparing these identical twins to Tarantino himself.
Think I'm kidding? Here's the trailer- make a first judgement for yourself:
As an EXCLUSIVE for my favorite outlet, Bloody-Disgusting.com, I have a FEAR FILE running on the twins. You can find that article here. Below you'll find the full interview with both the Soska sisters AND Eli Roth. Why? Because I'm cool like that. And because I know that, deep down, you care.
1. How did you get your start, and why such crazy movies? Why a love of horror? As a girl who loves horror myself, I can totally relate... tell me what you can, your favorite movies, why the genre, anything!
S: When I look back at it, I can't even remember a time when we didn't love horror. Even as a very young child, I would love spiders - still do, as I have a collection of thirteen tarantulas right now - because of the reaction it would get out of people. I didn't understand the fear associated with these small animals, but it was there.
Around the age of ten, we really got into the film aspect of horror. Jen and I would haunt our local video store in the horror section, looking at the cases for the most blood or scariest gore. Then we'd beg our parents to rent them for us. That didn't happen, although we did manage to get to see our first horror with our mom - POLTERGEIST. Scared the shit out of us. My mom did something that changed our view on horror forever - she told us what we had actually seen - the efforts of hundreds of talented professionals who created everything we saw with the intention to scare the viewer.
After that, we were allowed to watch any horror film we liked if we read the book first. My mom loved Stephen King and shared that love with us. My first book was Cujo - the film followed with open discussions about the book and the film with a maturity that really took the scare out of it, but not the thrill.
We started acting only a little bit before then, but the roles were almost never something we were actually interested in. As we got older, the roles went from cutesy and stupid to overtly sexualized and stupid. When we got into our twenties, we decided that we would retire from acting and focus on stunt work for a change. We didn't want to leave the industry but we wanted to do something different and, with our martial arts training, we thought stunts would be perfect. Which led us to a film school that had an excellent stunt program, but after the program ended so did anything that even resembled a place of learning.
Thank God that GRINDHOUSE was in the theaters at that time. With no class planned for many number of days, we would leave and head straight to the theater to watch the film that would change our lives. The directors involved in the project were incredible, the films and fake trailers amazing, and the feeling behind the experience was totally rad. As Rodriguez had many times before with his ten minute film schools and 'Rebel Without a Crew' teachings had brought us back to the indie roots.
Our final project at the school had its funding pulled and we were pissed, and at the GRINDHOUSE for the millionth time, Jen turned to me and says 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk'. What? We make a fake trailer for our final project and we call it - Dead Hooker in a Trunk. From there, we decided we would make it on our own terms, pay for it ourselves, as well as write, direct, act, and do the stunt work for it. We presented it at our graduation as our own project and the reaction was incredible. Half the audience walked out and the other half was cheering and laughing so hard that you could barely hear our offensive dialogue.
J: There was never a time when we didn't like horror. It's almost as if horror chose us and not the other way around. As little girls, we spent much of our time playing with bugs, especially spiders. We would catch small bugs and toss them in wolf spider webs, hoping to hunt down the legendary "big one". I always laugh when adults have a fear of spiders and tell me about the "giant" wolf spiders that lurk in their basements. I've heard that they can run, jump, hunt, solve basic problems, and, on occasion, even hiss. And their sizes? Wow. Sylvie has a Tarantula collection and is quite the Arachnologist. IF these tarantula sized wolf spiders for real exist, catch 'em. They'd be ones for the records, ha ha.
Our mom had (and still has) this huge collection of Stephen King novels. Even then, they were treated very highly and we wanted so badly to read them. We began to read them in elementary school and I still remember sitting there with my dictionary at my side. My mom always encouraged us to read them. She was happy to see us so eager to read above our level. We'd bring the novels into school for "silent reading", but other students began to ask about what we were reading and, naturally, wanted to read them, too. Of course, the school library came up short in terms of King, so kids were going to their parents to score themselves some Stephen and that didn't go over all that well. The principal called our mom in to tell her how "inappropriate" our reading selections were and that other parents are showing concern for us. My mom told them flat out that we were reading at a level far beyond on our years, so why would she ever want to discourage us? We ended up having to read our novels with slip covers, but we still got to read them. It's funny how even way back then, censorship reared its ugly head.
As Sylvie was saying, acting can be limiting. You never truly have control over your future or the roles you play, at very least not until you've been at it long enough to get some say in the matter. It's shitty how actors spend so much time auditioning and chasing down roles they don't really have a connection to. Sure, it pays the bills and everyone has to start somewhere, but it is so easy to get type cast and stuck doing parts that don't really leave you feeling fulfilled.
Back in highschool, we did a little directing. We loved acting, but had already taken every single other acting class available, aside from their directing and screen writing class. Was it heavy in theory? Nah. We basically got to run an acting class and put on plays as final projects. That was by far our favorite part. I did an adaption of an excerpt from Stephen King's THE GREEN MILE. I started it when Wild Bill gets brought in and I ended it on a low note when Del gets electrocuted with the dry sponge. I was especially proud of our electrocution effects. I had a strobe light, a smoke machine, off stage guttural moans, and electric sound effects. The result? Admittedly, some not so impressed parents. Mine, however, were beaming. They've always been so supportive.
I can remember Halloween being a big production at our house. We decorated the house in cob webs and with cardboard skeletons. Our yearly costumes were objects of great pride and joy. We never settled for store bought ones. We had to make them from scratch. Many we wouldn't have been able to even find in stores. Often we'd pick stand out characters from the last year of films. You can bet we have quite the KILL BILL collection.
2. What and who are your inspirations?
S: I want to kill the term 'chick flick'. We joked that HOOKER would be our anti-CROSSROADS (the roadtrip, coming of age film starring Brittany Spears). I think women are a lot more interesting than many films and shows give them credit for. I think that is part of the reason why I like directors like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth, and Takeshi Miike - they write interesting female characters. I think I've wanted to be the girl in almost all their films. Who wouldn't want to face off against a shitload of Crazy 88's, or stitch up a wounded El, or buy your way out of a torture room in Hostel, or be the scariest fucking chick to ever audition for a boyfriend?
Good filmmakers and films inspire me. When I saw MARTYRS, I felt like a new world opened up for me - it was horrible but captivating. Lar Von Trier's work is my one of my favorites. It is impossible to watch his films without feeling something and that's very high quality filmmaking. Mary Harron is a huge inspiration as a Canadian female director who made one of my favorite films - AMERICAN PSYCHO - and she did it with class when dealing with the outrage that came with the production of the film. Watching her defend the brilliant film with her eloquence was amazing.
With Twisted Twins Productions, our company, we intend to make unique and memorable films for a very long time. I'm afraid we're terribly addicted to it now and there is no cure. Horror nerd heaven.
J: Robert and Quentin are cinematic Gods. I could literally write novels singing their praises. On set, we had a copy of REBEL WITHOUT A CREW at hand at all times. We called it the "Bible". At grim times, we would ask, "what would Robert do?". The book is an incredible inspiration and an absolute must have for any and every film maker. If you're reading this and don't have, go grab yourself a copy. It's the journal Robert kept during EL MARIACHI, from beginning to end. It wisely warns readers that finishing your film doesn't mean that your film is done. Far from it. From there, you've got the tremendous task of getting your film out there and that is vital.
Eli Roth is outstanding. We've long admired how he's pushed the envelope despite receiving mixed reviews for it. North America seems to embrace censorship and "watered" down horror, whereas in, say, Europe and Asia, there are so many provocative pieces being released that challenge and provoke thought in their audiences. As a result, they've produced some very powerful films. MARTYRS, INSIDE, SUICIDE CLUB, and I SAW THE DEVIL are among many titles that have really breathed life into horror. Eli Roth has sparked that reaction in North America. I heard hundreds of stories about HOSTEL long before I even saw the film itself. It caused such an uproar and good for Eli. He wasn't afraid to produce the kind of work that most would be too scared to even touch. He's an inspiration to all of us, and that's not even getting into the strong female roles he writes. HOSTEL 2's Beth is a personal favorite of ours and that blood bath scene? Wow. It's nice to see a woman written as deadly and powerful as any man. It's quite a refreshing change.
In addition to, of course, the directors Sylv mentioned, I also love Joss Whedon for writing women who tear apart the conventional stereotypes, brilliant and witty dialogue and use (and intentional misuse) of the English language, and amazing music and cheeky lyrics. I am a real nerd not-so-deep down and feel some of the best stories ever told have been in comic books and video games. I have so much respect for Stan Lee. The man has forever changed the world with a multitude of characters, each deeper and more complex than many care to realize. These characters are still going stronger than ever, though I must say many of the movie franchises are somewhat lacking the depth of the comics they were pulled from. I adore Hideo Kojima, the genius behind the METAL GEAR SOLID series. I think he beautifully bridges the gap between film and video games. I hear he's going to be taking the series to the big screen. And I simply cannot wait. It would be an honor to be any part of that production.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourselves- anything you'd want your fans to know.
S: Every single person who checked out the film, spread the word about us and our work, those reading this piece right now - are the best people on the planet. Ours is not a typical story. The horror community has really stepped up to make sure our story is heard and our films are known. We made HOOKER by maxing out our credit cards, being creative in place of funding, and by having a great team working with us because they love making movies. I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet to be where I am today.
I am an identical twin. My sister and I were born on our mother's birthday - April 29th. We were always a little odd - school was hard, not academically as we were honor roll students throughout school, but we stood out. Being twins and loving horror, we got dubbed as 'weird' very early on. We went to private school for one year where we got spat on (literally) and called witches. I think people are too fast to judge what they don't understand.
We were the first female altar servers in Western Canada at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church. The church donated locations to our film and have been very supportive of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK - which says a lot about not judging a book by its cover. Religion fascinates me - I love it. There were quite a few religious undertones in HOOKER - the best part being Carlos Gallardo, the original EL MARIACHI, who made a cameo in the film as God. When you meet a hero of yours and they are that nice and down to earth - it's an indescribable honor.
I'm a pretty normal girl. I love video games, comic books, and horror movies. I have a pretty filthy mouth - I like swearing, but that's probably because people often say ladies shouldn't swear. I say, why the fuck not?
J: We're very down to Earth. We do our best to respond to each and every email we get. The only ones we just delete are anything along the lines of "make me famous" or "have sex with me". Thankfully, that's not all we get. I love hearing from people who took the time to make it out to a festival to see DEAD HOOKER or heard about or story and said, "dammit, if they can do it, I can, too". I absolutely encourage that. People give up too easily on their dreams and ambitions. You've go tot fight hard for what you want in this life because, believe me, any minute your not going after your dreams someone else is.
I think a lot of people are surprised to find out we're Roman Catholic. People seem to think that Catholics are very condemning and judgmental, but that hasn't been the case in my experiences with them. You should have seen the first time we showed DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK in Vancouver. So many people came out from our church. And they loved it. In a lot of ways, I'd say it's advantageous to have a religious background and work in horror. Just think of all the exorcism stories we've heard first hand. I'm storing those up for sure.
I am a nerd. Big time. I taught myself to read Braille because at a time I was dead set on marrying Daredevil. I have had to deviate from my original plan, of course. Sylv and I have pretty respectable comic collections. Sylvie's got a Spider-man collection that would put most to shame.
We've heavily studied martial arts, specifically sport kick boxing, karate, self defense, and Okinawan Kobudo. Like any wanna be super hero, I have a massive weapons collection that includes numerous swords (mostly katanas that I purchased off the set of ELEKTRA), throwing axes, knives, and stars, nunchucks, staffs, bokens, kamas, tonfas, a collection of military knives, butterfly knives, switch blade knives, whips, and, my personal favorite, sais. I have a few specialty weapons, too, like a replica of Sting (from LOTR), Gogo's spiked ball and chain (KILL BILL), and a set of "claws" for my customized catsuit (BATMAN RETURNS). I've trained with each of these and firmly feel that every girl should be able to defend herself. Not that someone is just going to pick a fight with you because you're a girl, but it's nice to know you can end a fight should it ever come to that. I'm also a decent shot, though I'm out of practice.
4. Did you always want to make such awesome movies, or was there another plan for you guys? (For instance... hey, I'm Ms. Disgusting but I used to work for the men's basketball team at UNC. True story :-P)
S: Ha ha. That's awesome. I've always come back to movies - there are have been a bunch of other occupations in between. We are certified baristas (thank you, Starbucks), certified personal trainers, we used to instruct special needs adult and children classes in martial arts, we worked at a horse camp as counselors (our camp fire ghost story got banned - very proud moment, apparently cannibals that eat children is too much), and we used to work for a dating company (we worked in promotions and it was our job to get phone numbers - it was fun).
I wanted to be an arachnologist, but there isn't that big of a demand for it. I keep tarantulas with a secret goal of growing one to over thirteen inches. In captivity, eleven inches is the largest recorded size, whereas in the wild, they have been seen at thirteen inches. Some rumors of even larger. Nerd joy.
I really liked acting, but I feel like we've done as much as we can with it and there are only so many roles identical twins can play. In AMERICAN MARY, we are doing our last performance in a small cameo before focusing on writing and directing. I love writing and directing - it's my dream job.
J: I think the first career path I was dead set on following was super hero. I wanted to be an X-man, but the powers never kicked in. I wanted to join the military for a while. I gave up on that when I attempted to sign up on multiple occasions, always having someone try to talk me out of it. My final attempt was when I went down to their recruiting offices. I went alone and they sat me somewhere watching a long instructional video on room cleaning. Another girl came in that was bigger than me and looked more the stereotypical type with her mom and they treated her very respectfully and talked to her like I had hoped they would talk to me. I thought, "fuck this shit" and walked out.
I had a desire to be a lawyer for a while. I couldn't do all that schooling. I'm not especially patient. I couldn't justify being a professional student for all those years. I knew I'd get too restless. And yes, it had a lot to do with Daredevil being a lawyer.
I've long loved martial arts. Not just smacking a fool, but the art behind it. To me, it is an art form and that's something that seems to be brushed aside too often these days. I loved reading THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS and THE ART OF WAR. At a time, I wanted to be a martial arts instructor and professional stunt woman. I've found, however, that the kind of martial arts that I believed in doesn't exist in the schools I've interacted with. If you want honor, self discipline, and inner strength, you're far better off taking in a Bruce Lee movie.
We love acting. It was the first true love for us that brought us into film. We love story telling and it was always a real joy to be able to bring stories and different characters to life. But it's very limiting. You don't have much say in which roles you take. Especially when you're just starting out, you take whatever roles you're offered just to make a name for yourself. I'm a bit of a control freak. I don't like leaving my career in the hands of others. When we ultimately found film making, it felt so right. Like coming home at the end of a long day. I have so many odd skills and interests that never seemed to go together until we found film making. Then everything just kind of fell into place. It's a wonderful feeling when you find that.
5. Give me some details on how you made DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK! I fucking LOVED that movie- it's the first screener I've watched in a long time that made me go wow, these chicks are going to go far. It was fun, it was bloody- it was everything a good movie should be. How did it come to be?
S: That is so kind of you to say, thank you so much. We learned a lot from Rodriguez's first hand account of making his first feature, EL MARIACHI. We had it on set always as 'the Bible'. His ten minute film schools are insanely informative. We used his locked off shot lesson from ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO to make our eye gag in the film. The big message in the book was that you don't need lots of money to make something good - use creativity in place of funding and you can go far.
We knew that the film would have certain budgetary limitations, so we made a script that was exciting and had things we knew we could produce. It was also a wild story line, so we had a certain level of things we could get away with. We knew we could get a horse, so we made a Cowboy Pimp with a crazy showdown sequence. The violence was messy, but that gives it more of a feeling of realism. We wanted to make an experience that was filled with outrageous situations but had characters that you could relate to and language that was current and fun.
After the graduation, we had a lot of interest from people about the feature film. It was perfect timing because at the end of 2007, there was a writer's strike in LA which meant all those talented Vancouver local film people now had some free time on their hands which they generously donated to the film. Almost no one has paid for the film. Everyone waived fees and worked their asses off for this fucked up film from two first time filmmakers. I highly suggest anyone who wants to do this for a living, save that film school money, and make a film. I learned so much. Thinking fast on your feet without money to bail you out is huge. If you can do this, it will save your ass every time.
We maxed out our credit cards to pay for anything that needed to be bought. A lot of people donated their time and equipment and locations. It was a very close film family - everyone was there for the right reasons and it was a great experience. CJ Wallis, who played Goody Two-Shoes, was a wonderful addition to the team as a performer and as a filmmaker. His post production work on the film brought it to a level that many independents don't have.
J: Before we had anything, we had the title DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. We were enamored with GRINDHOUSE. The style of grindhouse films themselves really lends itself to making films with a modest budget. Rodriguez is the king of DIY film making. He proves that you can creatively overcome your obstacles in situations where you simply can't just throw money at them. We knew we wanted to make DHIAT big. And epic. Having much obvious love for comics, we wanted to make our characters iconic. After the title, came the heroes. We decided right away to never name them. We wanted their characteristics to become the characters themselves. We wanted them larger than life. That's also why we decided to keep them in one wardrobe change. It made them more iconic.
Having started with a faux trailer, we had our starting point. We couldn't remove any of the trailer scenes because it's those kind of utterly ridiculous, WTF scenes that made DEAD HOOKER special. Rodriguez writes in REBEL WITHOUT A CREW about how he would write his scenes on cue cards. We did the same. We started by writing the stand out, show case scenes, and built our story around them. We knew wanted the semi truck gag, but we had to find our way there. I hate going to a movie and guessing the ending in the first five minutes. We never wanted anyone to be able to guess what was going to happen next or how it would all end. We laid our cue cards out across floor and place blank cards, each representing a scene to be written to get us to where we wanted to take the story.
When we embarked on our indie mission, the writer's strike happened. I'm not sure if people even recall it at this point, but I bet you remember it if you were working in the film industry at the time. Everyone was hard up for work. Actors that would usually work solid were only getting day player roles, shows were halted, and as a result so many astoundingly talented individuals found themselves with time off. The people that came out and donated their time to this project are the best of the best. And they're also the ones that are in this industry for the right reasons. They love what they do.
6. How have people been responding to the film?
S: Very graciously. The horror community is incredible. Truly fucking incredible. They have so gotten behind the film that when it was time to go to market to distribute the film, huge companies were coming in looking for it. They already had heard of it and wanted to see it themselves. The reaction to the film has been so generous and overwhelming that it will be released in the UK and Australia this May 23rd by Bounty Films, the rest of the region distribution is in its final stages, and we have been given a good budget to make our next feature which we will be filming this year. The horror community has made all of my greatest ambitions come true and it's really important to us to make sure that AMERICAN MARY is a proper thank you to all the people who have been standing by us and our crazy work.
J: There is no force in this world like the horror community. Our story, ourselves, and our DEAD HOOKER have truly been embraced by the people. Word of mouth about this project spread like wild fire. It amazes me. There are people all over the world who know about the film. So many people have gone out of their way to tell their friends about the film and make their way out to festivals. It makes my day to get a message from someone who just saw the film and loved it. We've had some people flat out hate the film, many of which have never even bothered to watch it. The title has divided our audience to some degree, but the people who are pro-DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK greatly out number the nay-sayers. I can't wait for the film to come out in the UK and Australia on the 23rd. Both have really supported us and our work and I'm excited that after all this time people will finally be able to bring the film home.
7. I know that you guys have been having quite the censorship battle recently. It's bullshit- what are your views on censorship and what are you doing in the fight to preserve filmmakers' rights?
S: It was a very ridiculous situation that we just faced in Saskatoon. Our film was banned from the Roxy Theatre by a man named Tom Hutchinson, who never bothered to watch the film - because of the title of the film. There had been some anonymous calls calling the title 'shameful' and then those same people took it upon themselves to rip down all marketing that the festival promoter - John Allison of the Dark Bridges Film Festival - had paid out of pocket to put up. The basis of the complaint was that there had been street walker slayings in the area that some citizens believed were going unavenged by local municipalities because of the ethnicity of the victims. Now that is a huge, real life issue that should be taken a serious look at by the local government but as often happens, and as did happen in this case, those frustrations were misdirected onto our film.
The most shocking aspect to me is that they never looked further than the title of the film. It would be absurd to name a film - Dead Hooker in a Trunk - without it being satirical, to actually suggest that the film has the intention to promote violence against women is insane. The title was created to grab attention, but the way the subject matter is handled in the film I believe is an honest and heartfelt look at the end of this woman, the title character. The lead group is made up of twenty-somethings who don't really seem to care about anything, but finding a proper burial and avenging this stranger despite her occupation is the main driving element of the film. The violence throughout is very tongue-in-cheek, excluding the death sequence for the title character as we wanted the severity of the loss of her life to sit heavily with the audience.
The film itself could have cleared up almost all of the misunderstandings that the title ignited, but it was never given that small dignity. It was a case of judging book by its cover like so often happens with the horror genre. Horror can easily be misunderstood by those not well-versed in it, so it makes an easy scapegoat. Remy Couture - a Canadian special effects artist - is in court because his work displayed on his site are considered 'morally corrupt'. This is a man who makes fake gore for film and he's being treated like a criminal. Look at all the shit that Angel Sala - director of the Sitges International Film Festival - is facing for screening A SERBIAN FILM. The film deals with the darker side of the adult film industry in a poverty stricken country where the more obscene adult films are created. It's a real life issue and problem - but it's the film that is being attacked not the real issues.
We have certain rating systems in place to inform audiences what they are about to watch. If an individual is uninterested in a certain material for whatever reason, it is their right to choose not to watch the film. It is not anyone else's right to dictate what others should be allowed to watch. From our recent incident with our film, it is quite evident that the nay sayers were not expecting well thought out and intelligent responses and that's the proudest moment of all this unfortunate business - we had the opportunity to show what people the horror community is made up of. They are smart, well spoken, educated, and socially responsible people and it was an honor to be in a situation where we could educate people on a culture that is too often misunderstood.
J: It was entirely ridiculous. I was especially shocked because DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK has been everywhere. It's toured the festival circuit for over a year now and won critically acclaim and praise. And, more often than not, the title itself has been spoken very highly of. One of the many things that were over looked in this sad affair is that we are independent film makers and having a title that sticks out, is unforgettable, and evokes a strong emotional reaction is key. I know there are people who checked out the film based on the title alone. That title alone has opened so many doors for us. We live in a day and age where literally anyone can make a film. We need to stand out because standing out in the crowd is crucial. Especially for an independent artist who is trying to establish themselves in this business.
I have never heard of another case where a film was banned based on it's title alone. I find it incredibly disrespectful that Tom Hutchinson refused to even speak to us on the matter. I think he expected to make a quick judgment call to prevent further controversy and he ended up taking on more than he anticipated. He jumped to an affair conclusion. He very easily could have looked into our story or, better yet, watched the film. Our characters kill indiscriminately, in a satirical fashion, leaving bodies wherever, but they go out of their way for seemingly no good reason at all to ensure that the Hooker is put to rest. I believe that he and the theatre are in the wrong and I feel that they got in over their heads. Perhaps their pride stood in the way. It's never easy to admit when you're wrong, but had they done so, it would've shown a great deal of taste and personal strength.
I'm very disappointed that this happened in Canada. We're so proud to be Canadian and were so happy to be playing in a Canadian city outside of our Vancouver. We feel that we've been working hard to produce work that every Canadian can be proud of. We want to show that Canadians are just as capable of producing strong work as our American neighbors. To add insult to injury, not only was our screening canceled, but so was HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN that was slated to play at the theatre in the following weeks. Jason Eisener is a Canadian who has come so far with his film. He was also an inspiration for our HOOKER. It disgusts me that Canadian film makers would be treated so shamefully in their own country.
Censorship is bullshit. Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist out in the world. After all, art imitates life. Censorship breeds ignorance. And the film was rated for adults. Adults should be given the opportunity to chose for themselves. Don't like the title DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK? Fantastic. Don't see it. However, it's ridiculous to say that everyone who wants to see it can't. We're big kids, we can decide for ourselves and we absolutely should have that freedom. And that's really what it is. A very basic freedom. One of my very favorite film is THE PEOPLE VS LARRY FLINT. Anyone who has seen can clearly see why. "Unpopular speech is absolutely vital to the health of our nation."
I am happy that this story has a happy ending. The people did not end up losing out. The Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon stepped up and showed DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK to a very happy audience. And when they heard about HOBO getting kicked out from the Roxy, they opened their doors to that film as well. It's nice to know that some people will allow others to decide for themselves and not feel entitled to make those choices for them.
8. Where does TWISTED TWINS go from here? What are some of your upcoming projects? (I got the teaser poster from AMERICAN MARY the other day- looks awesome! Include whatever you want about it!)
S: Thank you so much. We are all very excited about AMERICAN MARY. I have to put proper credit where it is due and the project came from a conversation with Eli Roth. He asked what other scripts we had - at the time we were just finishing a final cut on HOOKER and had only a couple ideas for next projects - something that was more straight forward horror than our grindhouse homage. Jen and I both like to write about thins that stay with us. If something gets under our skin and scares us, that's enough basis for a film right there.
I pitched a rough idea for the AMERICAN MARY script and he said he'd like to read that one. With no actual script, but now a self-imposed timeline, we wrote the script in two weeks and got it over to him. I have since confessed this story to Eli - who is one of the coolest guys you can ever meet in this industry. It's a huge help to be able to talk to someone who has been there before and knows what it's like to make a good horror film. He knows the process and his advice was been invaluable as we go from an extremely modest level of filmmaking with HOOKER and go to the next level in independent filmmaking with a good budget.
AMERICAN MARY follows medical student, Mary Mason played by the intoxicatingly talented Katharine Isabelle, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the school and the surgeons she once so wholly admired. The lure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries that leaves more marks on her than her so-called freakish clientele. I've been obsessed with this story for a couple years now. It was nerve-racking to find a perfect Mary because so much of the story falls on her performance and we put her through hell. Katie is beyond perfect for this role - as soon as we sat down to talk about the film, I knew we had our Mary. She's such a brilliant actress and so often overlooked - I think a lot of people are going to very happy to see what we do in this film together.
We shoot in June, we're in full prep right now. We're keeping a lot of information pretty quiet right now because I feel the film can express itself best and there is such an originality to it that I don't want to spoil any surprises.
J: AMERICAN MARY is our everything right now. We wake up to MARY and go to sleep thinking about her. If I'm staring off, deep in thought, you can bet it's MARY I'm contemplating.
We have several scripts completed and have already began casually discussing what will come next. It'll depend a great deal on what people want to see from us. After DHIAT, people wanted to know what we could produce with a bit more of a budget and if we could do horror that isn't GRINDHOUSE. We love grindhouse and are far from through with it. AMERICAN MARY couldn't be further away from that. this early in our careers, the last thing I want to do is pigeon hole ourselves into a corner. It's hard to get out of there. MARY is very sophisticated and stylish while maintaining our dark humor. It's very much a Twisted Twins Production.
There are some many stories we want to tell. I'm excited to see what will come next.
9. Where would you ladies like to see yourselves in 10 years?
S: Jen and I have lots of scripts - about seven ready to go. One of them is a television series that we have been working on since we were fifteen years old. We have our next film after AMERICAN MARY planned out with early prep already done. One of my greatest ambitions is co-host the Scream Awards with Jen. It's our horror nerd version of hosting SNL - which would also be a dream come true. We are extremely ambitious, but you need that in this industry. I would like to grow Twisted Twins Productions to the point where we can self-finance our work and give new filmmakers the means to make their projects.
J: The Scream Awards co-hosting is a big dream of ours. We love to put on a big, flashy show and we love everything about the awards. We'd put on a show no one would ever forget. I hope we get the opportunity to do so sooner than later.
In ten years, I'd like to have several more films out. Which ones is still up in the air. We'll always make the films that people want to see because, after all, we're film and horror fans ourselves. I'd like to see Women In Horror month as an even bigger event along with our annual Massive Blood Drive that takes place during it. I'd like people to just know that February means it's time to give blood. Heck, even if everyone donated once a year it would make a world of difference.
The TV series Sylv mentioned is something very close to our hearts. We've been working on it and talking about it for so long that I don't even remember a time that we weren't. It's a game changer. I can't wait. Sometime we have these great ideas and we say, "no, we gotta save that one for ____". It's been a long time coming.
10. WILDCARD! Did I miss anything?
S: Nah, your interview was tight! We love to hear from people and try to get back to every email and message that we get - the only messages we do not respond to are sexually inappropriate ones and ones where the sender is requesting that we make them famous. We have a website - http://www.twistedtwinsproductions.net - and you can click on the contact button to say 'what up'. We also maintain a blog on our site to keep everyone up to date on everything we have going on as well as facebook, twitter, and youtube accounts.
For all my fellow horror nerds out there - if you want to do this for a living, you can. Work your ass off, sacrifice everything for your work, and be original and creative. At the end of Rodriguez's 'Rebel Without A Crew', he said you make the movie and I'll bring the popcorn - that inspired me so much to just go out and do it. I hope our story can inspire others too.
J: Nope. Sylvie took the words out of my mouth in typical identical twin fashion, ha ha. I want to say a very special thank you to the incredible horror community for standing so firmly behind us and our work. AMERICAN MARY, in so many ways, is our love letter and thank you to all of you. We promise this is only the beginning. Watch out world, something wicked this way comes...
As an added bonus, I reached out to director Eli Roth to get his thoughts on these beautifully twisted ladies. This is what he had to say:
A few years ago Jen & Sylvia found me on myspace and sent me the link to a trailer they had cut for DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. I watched it and was very impressed, and asked them for a DVD. I watched the film and thought that it was smart and well done, especially considering the budget, but that there were some scenes that were weaker than others and that it played more like a short that was feature-length than an actual full story. I was very honest with them, and not only were they appreciative of my comments, they went back and re-cut the film, and I have to say, it got better. But there were still things I thought they were glossing over and could make work better, because they were clearly talented and wanted to make it the best film possible. So they cut it again, and then I think one more time after that. I was so impressed that they understood that I was giving them notes because I cared, and didn't take it personally if I didn't like something. We became fast friends, and while they were getting AMERICAN MARY ready, they knew they could count on me for direct, honest advice. These girls have incredible talent, and they are smart both on the filmmaking and the marketing/publicity side which is hugely important. If they ran into a situation with a financier that was driving them crazy I could tell them ten similar stories and how I dealt with it, and suddenly the problem didn't seem so crazy anymore. People often ask me for advice, and truthfully, a lot of people don't want to hear an answer like "try again" or "it takes years," they just want everything solved instantly. The Soskas are the opposite. They Soskas are very, very smart, and if they don't know something they learn it fast. I have also seen how they handle themselves in interviews, and how they face the attacks for their feature, which is a very self-aware and absurd title, and they can eloquently defend what they do and why they do it. I am always willing to help those who help themselves, and Jen and Sylvia are a great example of two horror fans who became filmmakers by working on sets to make friends with professionals and then putting together a labor of love project that was in their wheelhouse and was certainly their taste, and then pulled favors from everyone they know to get it done make it great. And now this $2,000 idea has distribution, and they used that momentum to launch their first feature with a real budget. They make films they themselves would want to see, they worked on sets to gain experience, they write projects they know they can do well for a low budget, and they interact with the fans and press in a way that really gets across who they are and you just can't help but love and support them. But most importantly, their films are fun. They don't just do all this to make a lame ass movie, their films have real teeth, and I cannot wait to see what springs from their twisted minds in the future. Also, people have asked me why I didn't produce their feature, and truthfully, I kind of wanted to see them do it on their own. They know they have my help if they ever need it, but I also know it will be better for them to break through as their own brand rather than have people think I somehow opened the door for them. Make no mistake about it, these girls do it all themselves. They always approached me as friends asking for help, and never pushed for anything more, which I greatly appreciate and cannot tell you how rare that is. People who don't know me tweet me "Hey, produce my movie," which of course is understandable, but it's never going to work. If you want to see a great example of how to take your idea from a conversation with your friends to something audiences enjoy in a cinema, watch these girls and learn because they are very smart, incredibly hardworking, and also really sweet and appreciative that the fans are embracing them.
Peace, Love and Heartbreak ♥