8.-What leads you to set up Twisted Twin productions?
S: Once we started work on DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we knew that we had finally found our place in the world. We incorporated Twisted Twins Productions on December 11, 2008. At that point, we had a few more scripts underway and we knew we wanted to start branding what we did so people could start to associate the name with our work.
J: It’s a necessity, especially for an independent film maker. You need to be able to protect your work. Sure, it costs a bit, but the peace of mind of having your work protected and legally, fully, 100% owned by you is priceless. I highly recommend any independent film maker do the same. And do take time to think about your company name. You’re going to be stuck with it for a long time. For us, Twisted Twins came naturally. It wouldn’t have made sense to call ourselves anything else and it does have a nice ring to it.
9.-How emerge the idea of American Mary? What is the film budget? The film target? Why a film about surgery and appearences?
S: The script came from a conversation with very good friend, Eli Roth. We had sent him DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK and he had been incredibly supportive and helpful. He also asked if we had any more ‘straight forward horror’ scripts – as HOOKER was more of a grindhouse style mashup of genres film. We pitched him a couple ideas – none of which were written and he said he’s like to read the medical horror script. When I was seventeen years old, I came across an image of voluntarily medically mutilated siblings. It really frightened me. If anything has the ability to haunt my mind, I know it’s something that I want to put into a future script. We wrote a wonderful dark story that focuses on human beings – what we see on the surface and the underlying intents below. I think there is such a focus on outward appearances in today’s society. There is a lot of weight put on success, looking beautiful, and getting lots of money – but with today’s economy, the struggle to break even is even harder and the struggle to break the mold is almost impossible. The situations in the film are fantastical, but the underlying themes are going to be something everyone can relate to.
J: AMERICAN MARY is a story that is perfect for right now. It couldn’t be more relevant. I think the story we are telling is going to be very personal for a lot of people.
10.-When is planned to having finished the production? Do you have a release date?
S: We’re aiming to shoot this summer and have the film cut shortly thereafter. We have already received some generous offers from some very impressive festivals to premiere, so we are working hard to make it in that time frame. The goal right now is a September festival premiere.
J: The film will be shot and completed this year. September at a certain film festival is where we hope to premiere the film.
11.-Might you be in Sitges Film Festival 2011 with “American Mary”?
S: I would absolutely love that. I have a lot of respect for the Sitges Film Festival, especially in the recent events surrounding the screening and backlash of A SERBIAN FILM. Sometimes a filmmaker feels like screaming to bring awareness to a huge problem. There is a huge sex trafficking problem in Serbia that includes children and it’s disgusting. Surprisingly, more attention is being given to the film for showing what is happening in real life through a film rather than focusing on the actual child pornography problem. Will AMERICAN MARY play at Sitges this October? It would be an absolute honor, but that decision will depend on what the committee thinks about the film. Hopefully they will like it, but I am expecting a lot of shocked reactions to the film as well.
J: I agree. I would love to attend.
12.-Which do you prefer, “Let Me in” or “Let the right One In”?
S: I prefer LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. It’s a very bad habit that Western society has where it can see a great international film and then remake it for American audiences. There is only so much money being put into film these days and to put some of those resources into remaking a film that was already perfect feels wasteful to me. More originality is something we need in film today.
J: Definitely LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. I feel too many people are too lazy when it comes to reading sub titles. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is the sad truth. It’s crazy to me. I like to see the originals of any film. I think far too often something is lost in the translation. REC was by far superior to QUARANTINE. To think they’d rather waste all that money to remake a film that has already been made. It would make much more sense to me to just release a foreign film in North American theatres. Some of the best films are coming out of Europe and Asia. It’s a shame that so few people know about them.
13.-In the horror cinema and less in the independent one, femenin talents are not very common. However, there have been some pioneers as Mary Herron or Mary Lambert, who have made great films. In Spain are very limited examples of women that have chosen the Terror cinema, although there is a good number of directors in active the have been doing a succesful career. Is terror cinema a matter exclusively of men? Why there are more men than women in the terror cinema? We must change this situation. You can be a good example for new generations and contemporany women. A message for they?
S: I think there is a common misconception that women do not like horror and that the genre is made by men for men and that simply isn’t true. You can talk about women’s accomplishments in film and what they have to offer all you like, but the only thing that will actually change anything is a good film. It is a huge struggle to make anything – I know just as many male directors as women who are extremely talented but struggling to get their work out there. I think you have to be very stubborn, driven, and ambitious to even stand a chance. When Jen and I started, almost everyone thought we were crazy. We had these huge ideas and no money. We didn’t let that stop us and we used creativity to fill in where funding couldn’t. I’m very proud with what we were able to accomplish with DEAD HOOKER, but I want to make something bigger. Something that would be so strong in its message and so carefully calculated that the film would really touch people. AMERICAN MARY is that film. My greatest ambition is that little girls (and little boys, too) can see this film, hear our story, and realize that they can do this, too. If you out your heart into your work, if you have yourself in there making your stories unique, if you are willing to sacrifice every personal comfort, then you will be successful. It is not easy. We have been working for over three years on the first film and still haven’t seen any money back. You have to do this because you love the art and if you can keep steady and focus on that – nothing can stop you.
J: Little girls are told they can be actresses or singers, rarely are they told, «you can be a producer» or «you could be a director». Women have come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go. This generation is chalk full of women that won’t take no for an answer. That’s why you see so many women film makers, directors, and producers these days. Especially in horror. I feel horror has always embraced women. I’d say one of the biggest moments for women and horror was when Ridley Scott cast Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley. It was almost like saying, «it’s okay for women to be just as strong as men.» Some of the strongest roles ever written for women have been in horror. My advice would be to never let anything or anyone stop you from chasing your dreams. Too many people settle in life when they have a real opportunity to be happy. Most of the people who try to dissuade you are people who have given up on their own dreams and are just as miserable as hell over it and dead set on seeing people around them fail. Ignore them. And don’t think horror is a boy’s club. There’s this really amazing horror community out there and they are excited to see women doing horror. Don’t get stuck in your own head. Put the emphasis where it belongs, on your work, not on your gender. Let your work speak for itself. If your work is good, it won’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.* *
14.-Have you ever been pushed away or felt offended for you sex when you’ve presented a project? How do you see the position of women in the canadian cinema direction?
S: We’ve been very lucky with the generous welcome the horror community has given us. They understand the industry and they are excited to see new voices. Outside of the horror community is a mixed group of reactions. I’ve been told that I’m very talented and shouldn’t ‘waste my time’ with making horror movies. There is a fraction of the general public that has all these pre-conceived notions of what horror is and what kind of people are associated with it and it’s so wrong. People from every walk of life can enjoy a good horror film. It fascinates people because death is one aspect of life that we only know so much for sure about and there are so many questions about it.
J: I don’t think horror has been treated fairly. It is looked down upon. Perhaps a few people have shied away from our title, DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, but that’s only natural. It’s impossible to make everyone happy and foolish to try. If you do, you’ll end up with a nightmare version of your original vision and still not everyone would be happy with it, least of all yourself. We’ve truly been embraced by the horror community. I hear horror stories of women being treated unfairly, but I haven’t been the victim of such behavior. Because we’re fans of horror ourselves, people who love horror have really gotten behind how we’re trying to breath a new life into the industry. We want people to get excited about going to movies again. I remember when i was a little girl and I’d be so excited about movies coming out I’d mark them on my calendar with countdowns to release dates. I want our films to get people excited again. Horror has been made by people who aren’t fans of the genre for far too long. Now it’s our turn.
15.-What do you think about ilegal downloads? Do you think that we can change the stupid roads of market in distribuition enterprises?
S: It’s a really sad situation. We had our film pirated from screener copies we sent to reviewers and festivals. You put a certain amount of trust in people that they will respect your work and not do something like that and it really stings when you see that trust abused. Especially, when they know the story behind how we made the film with maxing out our credit cards to pay for the film. It does have another positive side, though. The film is being released May 23, 2011 by Bounty Films in the UK and Australia with the rest of the world distribution being finalized as we speak. DEAD HOOKER has played around the world, but only so many people have actually seen the film but many have heard of it. I’ve received a number of messages from people who have downloaded the film, watched it, and loved it. They tell me that they will buy the film once it comes out and how much they enjoyed watching it. That’s what we really want – people to watch the film and have a great time. That’s a positive that is sometimes overlooked because if people like it, there is a good chance that they will buy it to support it.
J: People don’t realize how much illegal downloading has hurt the film industry. It’s reached everyone and as a result, even established and proven film makers are having to either work with reduced budgets or, more commonly, aren’t able to get funding for their films. The returns on films are what they used to be. It happened with Napster and the music industry a few years ago in a big way and now the film industry is being hit hard. We need to find a real solution to this problem. I understand that with the way the economy is right now across the globe, people don’t necessarily have the money to spend on dvds and films. It’s the people who do have the money that are downloading that are causing the problem. If someone didn’t have the money in the first place, it’s not really lost revenue. I think we’ll see some big changes happening in the next couple of years.
16.-What do you think about iniciatives like Netflix.com, Hulu.com or Mubi.com?
S: I think they are brilliant because it brings the comfort of watching films to your home. It’s a new market and there’s definitely a lot to be learned when it comes to sales and distribution of your film. I’m very much looking forward to having our work available at the press of a button for audiences, but I will miss the video stores. There was something romantic about going through the aisles, reading the boxes, and finding a treasure to bring home with you to watch.
J: Times are changing. The film industry is having to really heavily on video on demand. No one goes to video stores anymore. It’s not as convenient. If you go into one these days it’s like a library. Abandoned and quiet. The film industry will have to start utilizing these new tools to their maximum potential.
17.-Do you think that this iniciatives can improve the distribuition of independent cinema, or that they continue with the same line of distributing only the “great” films”?
S: They are definitely great for independents because unlike the video store layout, it doesn’t really cost them anything extra to ‘shelf’ the product in their rosters. That said, I have seen quite a few bad movies that I chose because they were independent and looked interesting. Hopefully, there will be some sort of rating system to gauge what you’re going to get. That said, you can always google a film to get that gauge as to what to expect.
J: The fans will have the final say on whether or not independent films make it big or not. If they show there is a demand for a film, distributors will react to that. If fans pick up independent titles, go to see limited theatrical runs of independent films, like HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, these films will be given a life and the film makers will be able to keep making their work. The best thing anyone can do for an independent film? Tell their friends about it. The power is, as always, in the hands of the people.