Your new movie Theresa
& Allison - in a few words, what is it about?
the short answer is that it's about what happens when a regular person
finds themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Theresa (Arielle Hope [Arielle
Hope interview - click here]) is
our lead. Theresa's girlfriend, Mika (Kerri Sohn), breaks up with her. She
has a one night stand with a mysterious woman (Pooya Mohseni) she meets
and everything goes to hell from there. The mysterious woman turns out to
be a vampire and before the night is over, Theresa is one too. Then she
meets another vampire named Allison (Sarah Schoofs
[Sarah Schoofs interview - click
here]), who she falls for.
Theresa finds herself torn between this new exciting world and her
personal morality. Hilarity ensues. Basically, I wanted to show what would
happen if your average every day human being suddenly found themselves in
a situation where they have to murder someone on a regular basis to
survive. Theresa's reactions to everything happening around her are as
realistic as I could try to be and Allison is kinda the wild person who
has lived this lifestyle for decades. It doesn't bother her. She loves it.
It's who she is now. And how those two worlds kinda clash. Always bothered
me in vampire fiction to see someone get turned and then, immediately be
okay with feeding off a school bus full of children. I wanted to explore
how a regular person would react to these circumstances. That's the short
answer. Believe it or not, there's a longer answer, going into metaphor
and symbolism and life, the universe, and everything, but that's the short
& Allison being a vampire movie, is that a genre at all dear
to you, and some of your genre favourites?
it or not, when it was first suggested to me by a friend of my late
father's that I should write a "lesbian vampire film", my very
first thought was "Why the fuck would I want to do that?"
Vampire films, when I first wrote the script, with things like Twilight
and Vampire Diaries and Underworld and such, had become
really safe and stale and boring, really toned down for a tween audience.
And then I remembered that I used to love vampire films and instead of
looking at a genre that had lost so much of what I loved about it, I
thought it might be fun to try to write a vampire movie that I'd enjoy
again. Strip away all the shit I hated and make something that I would
want to see. Thus, this film. As for the ones I did enjoy, I think the
more modern ones I liked were stuff like Let the Right One In or
Lovers Left Alive or Byzantium, which were the only more modern
vampire films I can think of that I enjoyed, while stuff like Near Dark
or Interview with the Vampire or The Hunger or Salem's
Lot were stuff that I liked, from back in the day.
(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Theresa
always influenced by David Lynch. His slow, decaying Americana is
something that I can really relate to, as someone with a bit of bleaker
outlook on life. Also, Clive Barker was a big influence on me. There is
this wonderful perversity to his stuff that I think not many writers have.
So many writers are afraid of sexuality and all its different flavors and
I remember reading stuff like The Great and Secret Show or seeing
and wanting to tap into that forbidden fruit in the way he does. Takashi
Miike is also a big influence. There's that sadistic weirdness that he has
about his stuff and there's a touch of that in Theresa
Also a lot of 70's cinema. Tobe Hooper, Abel Ferrara, William Lustig. That
grime and experimentation and despair that I saw in so many of those
films. I wanted to try to combine all of those things when I wrote the
about Theresa &
Allison's approach to vampires, and what do you think makes Theresa
& Allison stand out of the crowd of vampire flicks being
vampires are not romantics, they're not gothy ancient golden haired
wolfkillers in velvet pants and capes who can read minds and turn into
mist. They're killers. They're vicious, ruthless killers. Their predator
side is very strong. They're predators and humans are cattle to them. They
don't sparkle, they can't turn into bats, they can't read minds. Crosses
and holy water mean nothing. They show up in mirrors and they don't need
an invite to enter your home. But some of the myths are true: They're
stronger than us, they're faster than us, they can, theoretically, live
forever, as long as they keep feeding, and they do react exceedingly
poorly to sunlight. And they need to feed off us, at least, once a week,
or they'll go through withdrawal and eventually descend into madness. I
tried to compare their condition to drug addiction in some ways. And
there's that... I wanted to show what would happen to you if you had to
murder someone once a week for however many years, how, after you did it
for long enough, it would stain your psyche. I don't care who you are, if
you have to kill that often for that long, you'd eventually just become a
sociopath, if not a psychopath.
What can you tell us about the challenges of
& Allison to the screen from a producer's point of view? And how
hands-on or hands-off of a producer are you, actually?
the biggest challenge was having absolutely no idea how I was going to do
it or pay for it or any of those minor little details, but being
determined that I was going to make a movie. I always believe if you want
to do something, you just jump into it and figure shit out later. When you
wait for everything to be perfect, you'll never get anything done. I spent
a great portion of my life having people tell me I couldn't do things and
then proving them wrong. I was very fortunate that I had already met
director Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah
Kipp interview - click here] through a short film I did, one I must admit to not being
particularly proud of, because it came out very poorly. But the ideas I
had for it, like so many of my ideas, were perverse and wrong, so Jeremiah
seemed to be impressed with it and spoke to me about working together. I
had just gotten the lesbian vampire idea a couple weeks before, so it
seemed like the right time to do it.
I learned so much from being on his set. And I was very hands-on. I worked
as AD whenever we had extras to work with, and script supervisor and so
many of the deranged things in the background during the later part of the
movie were me. I did casting with Jeremiah. I was all over the place. I
think there was maybe only one day where I wasn't on set, and that's only
because the set was ridiculously tiny and I felt I'd just be in the way. I
also rehearsed every scene and choreographed a lot of the violence or the
sex, to make sure everybody would be safe and comfortable by the time they
got on set. But having Jeremiah and having skilled crew people like
Christopher Bye as our DP and Jake Bjork as our sound guy, it made
something great where we could have had a disaster if I had tried to
handle it on my own. I learned more watching Jeremiah than I ever did in
any of my film classes in college. As for paying for it, my girlfriend,
Leanna, served as executive producer and paid for production, and then my
business partner and the star of 21st Century Demon Hunter, Chelsea
LeSage, served as my co-producer to help us pay for post. So, those were
all big problems that were solved because I was fortunate enough to know
some awesome people. It took us a few years to get it done, but I was
determined it was going to get done, even if it took me ten years.
What can you tell us about Theresa
& Allison's director Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah
Kipp interview - click here], and what was your collaboration
is a brilliant director. I think sometimes, he errs on the side of good
taste more than I'd like, but that's because he's order and I'm chaos. I
think we both acknowledge that. He's from Rhode Island or someplace small
like that and I was born in Hell's Kitchen, back when NYC was Taxi
Driver. I grew up with a porn director dad, who had previously played
Weasel in Wes Craven's first film, and spent the first few years of my
life living right near Times Square, when that used to be a place tourists
were afraid to go to. Then, when I got older, I used to spend a great deal
of my time in fetish clubs and sex parties and have been homeless and once
got lice from a pile of coats I fell asleep on at CBGB's and have
experienced real violence in my life, multiple times, and spent 12 years
of my life living in a van, playing dark music and having all those type
of adventures you hear about when you think of what happens on the road
for a band. Alcohol and arson and groupies and losing a tooth during rough
sex and all that. I feel like Jeremiah had more stable formative years.
He's very organized and very thoughtful and appreciates little details. He
seems to come from a very studious background. A very thoughtful
background. He's a scalpel and I'm a hammer. I doubt he's been in a bar
fight. In fact, if anything, I'd see him as a peacemaker in that sort of
situation. He has an amazing mind and is a wonderful teacher and has a
real sense of compassion and understanding about him. Yes, he did rein
some of my more "out there" ideas in. Sometimes, it was
frustrating; sometimes, it'd be like, "Ooooh, that is a better
idea!" But I think that's the nature of collaboration. He believed in
this project and I'm very thankful for that. I also would not be able to
direct any of my own things if I hadn't had the learning experience that
was being his producer. He was definitely the captain of the ship
when he'd be on set. And he knew how to steer it through some of the
rockier waters I wouldn't have known how to, at the time.
You also play a key role in Theresa
& Allison - so do talk about your character, what did you draw
upon do bring him to life, and have you written Tony with your self in
mind from the get-go?
is based on a couple people my parents were friends with, growing up. That
kinda NYC pimp/dealer/shady character that I used to see hanging around
Times Square when my dad would go to Show World or who come to the
apartment to sell my parents pot or whatever. I wanted to try to capture a
bit of old New York and I thought a character like Tony would be a good
example of that, but I had to update his look a little, since it's not
like he'd be still wearing bell-bottoms and such in 2015, when the story
takes place, so I figured if someone from that era had managed to stay the
same age forever, he'd probably adjust his look a bit over the years. And
I kinda settled on him looking like a guy who would sell ecstasy at a rave
in the 90's. "How much of a douchebag can I look like?" And so,
I immediately decided, he'd never wear a shirt, he'd wear a cowboy hat,
because I remember those being really big among sleazier guys when I was a
little kid, and his pants would have to basically painted on. He'd have to
just look like a scumbag from first sight. As for playing him, I
definitely wrote him with me in mind. A few years back, I used to see
myself as more of an actor that wrote and I was just trying to give myself
more work, when I wrote the script. It's just turned out, as the years
have gone on, that I now tend to do more behind the camera stuff than in
front of the camera stuff. I love acting and I totally hope that playing
Tony leads to me getting more roles, but I think my ultimate niche is in
the production side of things, really.
Do talk the rest of your movie's
key cast, and to what extent were you involved with the casting process?
main characters Jeremiah and I cast together and then I'd cast the
supporting characters by myself, with him giving final approval. I think
we have an amazing cast. Sarah Schoofs
[Sarah Schoofs interview -
click here] came into her audition and, within
two minutes of reading her lines, pretty much got the role. She just owned
the character of Allison. She was amazing, in every single sense. Amy Jo
Jackson, who plays Sakkara, was another person who just blew me away with
her audition. Sakkara was very different in the script and I rewrote the
character to match Amy Jo's performance, I thought she was so strong.
Alexandra Frantsevich as Paisley is probably my favorite character in the
entire film. She's in it for so little time, but she just grabs the
audience by the balls and doesn't let go. We shot a short that expands on
her character's history a bit and I am anxious for people to see that and
see more of her. But yeah, overall, I think we had an amazing cast. Sarah
Kraus was just so dry and witty and made my dialogue sound so much better
than it did in my head. Pooya Mohseni was just seductive and deadly at the
same time as the vampire who turns Theresa. She's also a very important
activist and I'm proud to have had her in my film. Victoria Clare was a
literal last minute addition to the film, as the original Aurora
Nightshade got strep throat the night before we were supposed to shoot, so
we had to recast the day of shooting and Victoria just nailed it with only
a couple hours of exposure to the script. Alyson Danielczuk, who played
Miranda, had that Daria vibe going that I wanted for the character. The
great Venezuelan actress Marisa Roman as Santa Yara had this wonderful
mysterious energy about her. Alina Gerasimova as Polina had such a calm
menace to her. Arielle Hope [Arielle
Hope interview - click here] was a wonderful audience surrogate to all the crazy
shit happening around her. Everybody was great. Except for Tony. Guy who
played him sucked. Fuck that guy.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was freezing pretty much every day we shot. If it was arctic conditions
in the Five Boros, you knew it was a day we were shooting Theresa
$64-question of course, where can Theresa
& Allison be seen?
submitting it to 2019 festivals, as I write this.
Anything you can tell us
about audience and critical reception of Theresa
& Allison yet?
positive and that's something I'm proud of. It's not your typical vampire
film or horror movie, for that matter. it doesn't rely on jump scares. It
has an emphasis on dialogue and character. Pacing-wise, it's more a
rollercoaster than a speeding car. And so, to see the positive things
people have been saying makes me very happy. Not everyone will like it and
I get that. I've seen one negative review. It is a slow burn at first, and
some people can't handle that, because they need constant stimuli, they
need Michael Bay shoving Megan Fox's ass in their faces while blowing up
things and playing Kid Rock at full volume, while giving them constant
jump scares so they know THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE SCARY PART, but I
think for people who are open-minded and like their horror smart, with
equal parts art and exploitation, they'll really be into it.
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
currently working on season 1.5 of a webseries I wrote and directed called
21st Century Demon Hunter, starring Chelsea LeSage, my co-producer
& Allison, as a demon hunter named Julie. She's from
a long line of demon hunters, blah blah blah, the typical chosen one
trope, but her goals in life revolve more around getting high, drunk, and
laid, than fighting the forces of darkness. Season one has, I think, its
first eight episodes (of thirteen) on Amazon Prime. It was shot
guerrilla-style, with a point-and-shoot camera and two person crew,
because we wanted to get a DIY punk vibe to it. Season 1.5 and season 2
are a totally different vibe, where we're upping the quality, big time.
Things for Julie are going to be a lot bigger and a lot darker and so we
felt it made sense to give it a real professional sheen this time. The
first season starred Chelsea and, as our antagonist, the wonderful Madison
Humes, this great actress from Kentucky, who played this Southern
sorceress named Desiree. We're very proud of 21st Century Demon Hunter
can't wait for people to see it with actual cinematography. I should note
it also takes place in the same universe as Theresa
because I'm a big nerd. Some Theresa
pop up in small roles in season one, which takes place about a year and a
half before the film.
Besides that, I have the novel of 21st Century Demon Hunter coming out in early
2019, which season 1 pretty much was written as a prequel to. I'm also
writing a couple feature scripts, with the hope to be able to start
shooting, at least, one of them in the summer of 2019. I want to direct my
first feature next year so I'm hoping we can get the funding for one. Or
all of them. I'd love to be that busy.
What got you into the filmworld in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
dad. Growing up, he emphasized the art of filmmaking to me. He used to get
me all those of old Starlog magazines where they'd show you how they did
the SFX for stuff like Deadly Spawn and Alien and The
Thing. I grew up never being scared by horror films because I knew how
they did all the stuff. I knew how the sausage was made. I wanted to BE
Damien Thorne when I was a little kid. I still hear "Ave Satani"
and I get that nostalgic feeling in my chest, you know? That said, I was
more focused growing up on making music, so I did that for twelve years
until I went deaf from a condition called Meniere's Disease that made me
have to refocus my life. I mean, back after high school, I went to college
for film at a college I won' t name, because it sucked, and it was such a
negative experience, I kinda wrote off film as something I'd never do.
Then a little bit after my father passed away in 2013, a friend of mine
named Tibbie X, who is the bass player for Reagan Youth and the former
vocalist of Gash and The X-Possibles, asked me to be a sleazy pirate in
her music video. I had such a good time that it kinda rekindled my initial
interest in film and I started acting from there.
As for formal training, I had it, technically, but I learned nothing. Once
the other kids in my classes learned that I was good with improv, I became
the talent in everybody's projects and I never learned how to do any of
the behind the camera stuff. People figured out that they didn't have to
do their homework if I was in their projects, because they could just tell
me what it was about and who my character was, and I'd fill in all the
rest, so nobody had to actually write a script. It was a lot of fun, but I
didn't go to college to have fun. I went to learn, which I didn't do.
The only thing I got out of college was massive debt. I learned more on
the set of Theresa
& Allison, in our 13 days over a year, and
from watching "making of" featurettes on DVDs, than I did in
the two and a half years I wasted in college. So, drop out of school,
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Theresa
music video for my old band. A short film where I learned pretty much what
not to do. That's the extent of my filmwork prior to Theresa
& Allison. I know most people start with a ton of shorts and try to
build and build, but I've always felt if I am going to do something, might
as well do it big, so I wanted my first real writer/producer job to be a
would you describe yourself as a writer?
think dialogue is my strength. My stories always start with a conversation
and then I'll write the story around that scene. In the case of Theresa
& Allison, it was actually the first scene with Theresa and Ms.
Solenz. The concept of a vampire having to register with the city and then
thinking of how did we get to this scene? What happened before it? What
happens when she leaves the office? I try to start with a single scene
that is either interesting or funny or powerful, and then I go from there.
I try to let the stories write themselves, rather than forcing an outline
or something. My original ideas for Theresa
& Allison were a
very different story, probably more akin to a Jess Franco film set in
1970's NYC, but the characters tell me what they're going to do, not the
other way around. I think I can definitely improve. In fact, I think if
you think you can't improve, you probably suck and are overrating your own
stuff. I think I'm always learning how to be a better writer. I'm always
looking at life around me and listening to how people talk and trying to
incorporate that into my stuff. I'm also always open to changing things if
I feel they'll make the story better or they'll fit an actor better. I
believe the script is a breathing document. It's not stone tablets, down
from a mountain transcribed by a god.
Born Killers, Return of the Living Dead. I think I've seen
Born Killers and Return of the Living Dead
several hundred times each. There was a period of my life
in high school where I definitely watched one or the other every day for a
year. Ichi the Killer,
Full Metal Jacket, Blue Velvet, the original Alien, the original Omen, I Saw the Devil, Re-Animator,
Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
2. The horribly underrated Life Force.
The French version of Martyrs, Oldboy,
Sympathy for Mr.
of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead. Paul Verhoeven stuff, especially
Troopers and Robocop. David Lynch. Lost Highway, Wild at
Heart. The MCU stuff, because, as I stated before, I am a nerd. Some
fucked up 70's stuff like Maniac,
Freaks (which is one
of the few movies I would love to remake. I could do so much with Bloodsucking
Freaks), Clockwork Orange, Caligula, The Dark Knight,
and of course, films you really deplore?
the Hellraiser movies after
3. Hahaha. Kevin Costner's
Postman is such a cinematic abomination that I think if more people
had seen it, angry mobs would have stormed Hollywood and burned it to the
ground. Battlefield Earth - I saw that for free and still felt
ripped off. Dracula 3D, which felt like Argento had never actually
watched a movie prior to making. Mother of Tears, while we're on
Argento, which was a very disappointing end to the Three Mothers trilogy.
I love Suspiria. I love
Inferno, and then...
that... Ugh. I
don't know what happened. I loved his earlier stuff. Deep
Red, Tenebre -
So good. And then Mother of Tears
and Dracula 3D. No idea
what happened there... Also hate Showgirls - I know people like it
ironically these days, but I've never believed in the concept of a movie
that was so bad it was good. A bad movie is a bad movie to me. And once
again, it's another case of being super disappointed in a great director
because I love everything else Verhoeven did. It's a shame that movie
seemed to derail his career, because I'd love to see what he could be
doing now, but that movie was fucking awful.
Let's see... the original I Spit on Your Grave, which I just find
distasteful and basically just a really gross rape porn movie with some
castration thrown in at the end, to pretend it has a message. The remake
wouldn't be one of my favorite movies, but I think it handled the subject
matter so much better. Batman & Robin, Batman v Superman,
ghost stories. I'm not a ghost story guy. They all basically have the same
plot. Someone sees something, no one believes them for 2/3rd of the movie,
shit goes down and people believe them, but it's too late. The end. Just
not my cup of tea I guess. I think the only ghost story I can say I
really liked was The Innkeepers, and that was more that I loved the
main character than the movie around her.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
anyone who doesn't hate me after I talked shit on their favorite movie
last question, our Facebook page is www.facebook.com/theresaandallison/,
our Instagram is at @theresaandallison, our Twitter is @TheresaNAllison,
and our website is www.theresaandallison.com,
which will be relaunched on December 15th.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that if people like the film, they should spread the word. These days,
there's a million horror films and if you like something and want it to be
successful, the best way to do that is to let people know it. The more
positive word of mouth, the more we get to do things like this. And if you
don't like it, keep your mouth shut. In fact, recommend it to your
enemies. That'll show them. Hahahaha.
than that, I hope to be able to keep bringing cool stuff to people. I'd
love to be hired to direct somebody else's scripts. I'd love to be able to
turn 21st Century Demon Hunter into a full fledged series or to be able to move
forward with some ideas I have to continue the story we started in Theresa
& Allison. I'd love to do a lot more acting. On my way, way far
off ideas column, I'd love to direct a Marvel film. One of the weird ones.
If Kevin Feige is reading this, which I am sure he isn't, he knows he
wants to give me $300 million to direct a NextWave movie before DC
snap me up to direct a Section 8 film. They want that sweet sweet
Dog Welder merch cash.
But yeah, if you have funding and wanna make something fucked up, get in
touch with me, because my brain is a field of very very unpleasant ideas.
for the interview!
you, may you be an hour in Heaven before the Devil knows you're dead...
because we all know if there's one thing the Devil would hate, it'd
be paperwork... Ha. Just kidding, he would have invented it and he'd know
on the dot when you died. Because the Devil, if anything, is efficiency.
That's the take away from this interview. Drop out of school and the Devil
is efficiency. Goodnight, kids!