Your new movie Dacryphilia
+ Hematolagnia - in a few words, what is it about?
It's mostly meant to be open to your interpretation, even though I knew
exactly what every shot meant in my eyes during post production. So,
let's just say, it's about a girl struggling with a sickness that's
inside her, and how she experiences this sickness in both her life, and
after her death
those of us uninitiated, could you explain what the words
"dacryphilia" and "hematolagnia" actually mean? And
why do these two words make the perfect title for your movie?
Here's a direct definition of each meaning: Dacryphilia is a form of
paraphilia in which one is aroused by tears or sobbing. Hematolagnia is
a sexual fetish for blood which evokes arousal when present on the
fetishist's sexual partner. It is often accompanied by licking or
drinking blood through bloodletting or biting.
On the surface level this title deals with these things obviously and
clearly in the film. But really it's about much more than that.
+ Hematolagnia was an meditation on death and mortality - would
you at all agree, and could you elaborate on that?
I suppose. I was focused more on how I treated her paraphilias,
which was as a sickness; there's an immense and overwhelming guilt
involved, and she's on a spiritual quest to fight it. Her illness
operates as a drug, so we witness her reality of the abuse of it, as
well as the hallucinations in her head when on it, plus the shame and
guilt of trying to fight off her addiction.
sources of inspiration when dreaming up Dacryphilia
Basically I was asked to do a segment for this upcoming anthology
called Philia, so the original intention was to come up with something
just instantly and get it done and submitted, so I wasn't really
thinking at the time, co-director Lilith Singson and I just went and filmed the scene pretty
quickly. But it was in editing that I surely grew inspiration. I was the
most depressed that I'd ever been. I've always suffered with depression,
but for the first time I was really thinking about suicide. Not really
contemplating doing it, I just basically was somewhat comforted with the
dreams and ideas of doing it. I, for the first time, really imagined it,
like it was actually happening. And, like a drug, I somehow felt better.
Well, maybe not better, but it relieved the tension for a moment each
time. And during this time period, I was having to force myself in front
of the computer to edit the film, because I didn't want to edit, I
didn't want to do anything but die. Luckily it was just a short film or
else I might not have survived the post-production process. This was a
month ago. I feel better now that it's over. But I think that pain,
those thoughts of just ripping my arms open and letting the blood pour
out of me and cover the floor in the color of my anguish, well, that was
the biggest inspiration of all for this film.
+ Hematolagnia is a film that's very associative in approach - so
to what extent was everything pre-planned, to what extent improvised on
The opening scene in chapter one, which you see throughout the first
chapter and then at the end of it; that was totally planned. But
originally that was supposed to be the full segment, just about 2-3
minutes of a pretty simple and single act of a blood fetish. But when I
was editing it I thought about adding some shots from another film I'm
doing with Lilith, called Red Oedipal. And then once I started adding to
it, I couldn't stop. I have endless hours of footage from Red
Oedipal so it
was a monster of time and work to sort though it all so quickly, but I
felt like I had a much more artsy, meaningful, spiritual, emotional,
bloody and ambiguous approach that I could take with the segment, let
alone enhance it visually so much more. As far as anything improvised on
the Red Oedipal set for that footage, well, that's a whole other story that
goes back almost 2 years as we've been filming that movie for that long.
It's been a combination of shooting things/locations/people as we find
them, experimenting tremendously with practical effects (fires, rain,
fog, blood, make up, etc), planning certain things, and so on.
Do talk about the film's look and feel for a bit!
That was the hardest part, tweaking the colors. My computer's 10
years old now, and with certain formats it works very fast, but with the
DSRL footage it really hiccups and lags (even though I've used footage
from superior cameras and it played smoothly). And since I'm not
technical enough to figure out ways of making a computer run faster nor
do I have money to afford updated equipment, I was massively overwhelmed
with the slow speeds in trying to achieve the looks. It was endless
trial and error, tweaking various colors and contrasts, and then having
to wait around for each one to render to see clearly what it looked like
in motion (I tried hundreds of looks), so it was super tasking. And it
was also incredibly hard to be subjective after looking at thousands of
variations of the same basic things, I kept having to take hours to days
off at a time to gain perspective. I tweaked a lot to make the blood
look darker and the backgrounds more solid black, the rain to pop more,
whilst trying to achieve a more filmic look the best that I could.
During filming (for the Red Oedipal footage) we were trying and
experimenting with so many things in regards to the rain and fire. We
put some kind of metal tray behind Lilith and started a fire on that.
For other footage not used in this short we had used gun powder in one
scene, so it was these quick bursts of flames that set off around here
while she walked through a set of trees in a backyard which looked like
a forest, meanwhile with fog machines going off around her to create the
illusion that she's walking through a forest fire (hence the actual
burnt down forest that you see in Dacryphilia
+ Hematolagnia). For the rain, we got
very little tries as it was absolutely freezing, and getting the girls
to not shiver to death was anything but easy. It would happen very
quickly, and rarely did it look like rain (it usually looked like what
it was; a hose hitting them). I got only a few good seconds, which is
then how I came up with ideas for duplicating the images when it showed
Lilith. When it shows Lilly she's solo because that time it looked
pretty good. Lilith was doing the rain, as was I, though my hose ruined
part of the shoot while Lilith got it perfectly. When I had shot
Lilith's rain sequence I believe it was just me, so I had the camera on
a tripod while I stood to the side to try and work the rain. We tried
using up to three hoses at once and had bought various nozzles to try it
with, though ultimately the best look came from using just the one hose
that Lilith used on Lilly, and I believe she didn't even use a nozzle. I
think she just put her finger over it or something. In both cases the
camera was on a tripod so nobody could actually watch the monitor, and
we had to cover the camera up as best as possible to not get wet, as
well. Also figuring out how to light it was interesting. The best way
was by using one single main light on the right side of the actress, and
a very small filler light on the lower left side. We attempted the rain
on one day and had a whole production set up, with much more
professional lights surrounding Lilith, and a dolly and everything, yet
you could hardly even see the rain. And we spent hours setting that up
with a huge carload of equipment. But all in all, it was just putting up
one simple light which worked best. But trying to keep the water off the
lights and cables was another headache.
For some of the fog sequences we set it up in the garage. And for
the burnt down forest, well that fire happened just behind Lilith's home
in 2017, so we quickly shot there once the fire was out. It looked
perfect at blue hour but that gave us just about 20 actual good minutes
a day (maybe it was only 10 minutes, as there were so many trees
surrounding her, it definitely felt more like 3-5 minutes during
filming), so we went back there multiple times throughout the months to
try and get enough footage. For this particular short it seemed to suit
it to make that portion black and white. The darkness of the forest
against Lilith as she's perfectly lit, given shooting at just that right
time of the evening, worked so well.
can you tell us about your co-director Lilith Singson, and what was your
Her grandma and my mom have been best friends for like 30 years, so
I've known of her forever, but never really got to know her until she
started living near me around Christmas of 2016. At that time she was 15
and posing as a boy (she had moved out of state for about 8 years or
so). I thought that that would be interesting to film, her experiences
of being transgender, so we started filming This Girl, This Boy, which
is what that's basically about (though fictionalized). And shortly after
we also started shooting Red Oedipal. A few months later she came out as
being a girl (as in decided to let people know that she was actually a
girl posing as a boy), in which case she became more gender fluid but
eventually she crossed back over into being simply a CIS girl (her
biological state). This was all basically documented in a way in the
film. At the beginning of 2018 she had to move in with me since
she didn't have a place to live anymore so it made filming certain
things a bit easier though it was the downfall of us having a good
relationship, both as friends and creatively. So, that part has been a
living hell. For the most part our collaboration is a nightmare,
constant fighting. Now it's like the set of Blade: Trinity; leaving
notes on each other's doors instead of real communication. It's some of
the most stressful filming situations I've ever been in. But hey, they
say with great pain comes great art. She was actually crying during some
of those shots as we were really in the middle of fighting (though she
learned how to master fake crying super well during our productions -
she's outperformed real actors with expensive training in some scenes).
This has happened multiple times, so I try to suck it up and hit record
and capture it. Though it usually pisses her off, but she gets pissed if
I miss the chance to capture it, too. So! Hopefully people end up liking
the rest of our work, though. I think she has an amazing look for the
camera, and her own eye behind it. She doesn't seem to take any interest
in acting but she's had more acting offers since she started making
films with me than I've had my entire fucking life, so maybe she should
try it. But perhaps something behind the camera will suit her. She's
very creative in many ways. I think she's still exploring her options.
If we could ever begin to start getting along again I think we could
have made a great team artistically, but at this point that might be a
bit far-fetched and way too hopeful. It was never supposed to be more
than a few days of filming though, and we've been at it for two years
now. So, maybe just the length of time involved has been our biggest
Do talk about your cast, and why
exactly these people?
Basically that just leaves Lilly. And well, it's because she showed!
Haha. Actors never show up nor even agree anymore to do my films. It
seems to be an epidemic. I've been hearing this more and more from lots
of filmmakers. I think due to sites like YouTube that filmmaking has
sadly lost most of it's meaning. I used to put a casting notice up and
get 500 submissions. Now I gotta post 500 times to get 1 submission (but
I've been banned from all of the casting sites now anyways, so I have to
just find people off the streets or use referrals, friends, etc). Very
challenging and sad times for independent film. Most people would rather
just sit in their rooms and become 'Instafamous' or some YouTuber. Like
that crap means a goddamn thing, but whatever, eventually people will
see how they failed to give the right things attention.
But yeah, Lilly showed! And was willing to put in the work. Plus, I just
love her look. I got so many ideas I could use her in. Like Lilith,
she's a bit of a chameleon. She could play so many things. And, like
Lilith, she's got so much pain in her. I think Lilith tries to suppress
it but lets it pour out (in some cases fight out) here and there,
whereas Lilly suppresses it all, and it just creates this layer, this
lightly disguised sort of mask that pulls right over her face while
still leaving the true and vulnerable her open, in a very intriguing
way. A lot of actors in indie films just aren't interesting to watch.
They're basic, they're boring, there's just nothing to their faces. With
Lilly and Lilith, that couldn't be more the opposite. If I were watching
people as they performed whatever kind of mundane activities by
themselves, they're the types of people I would feel compelled to watch.
Put them in a scene with anything more than that, it only gets better.
A few words about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
I think I've covered most of it aside from working with Lilly. She's
very quiet, and very hard to read. It makes her very cooperative and
easy to get the shots, but I could never tell if she was okay. If she
was too cold, if she was having fun, if she didn't know what to do.
She's just super quiet. Not really shy, just silent. Like how she holds
in her pain, she literally would hold in everything. But it works for
The $64 question of
course, where can your movie be seen?
It will be released in this anthology called Philia, by the makers
of Phobia. Phobia was released by Artsploitation, one of my favorite
indie distributors, so I'm really hoping they take Philia as well. So,
Anything you can
tell us about audience and critical reception of Dacryphilia
+ Hematolagnia yet?
No audience yet as it's just been completed and awaiting release, it's
just got some critical response. Mostly good, though a very harsh one by
one critic who seemed to just have it in for me. He was well aware of
who I was and my work and clearly is not a fan. So, you can't really win
those people over, like ever. Otherwise it's received amazing
comparisons to Clive Barker, Kenneth Anger, Dario Argento - actually all
filmmakers I don't much care for or whose films I'm not too familiar
with as I'm not really into horror films myself. I prefer Terrence
Malick, i.e., the golden and blue hour footage that consists of most of
my films of late. But I know those are all great comparisons, so I'll
Any future projects you'd
like to share?
I'll be starring in a new film next month, it's based on a character I
created for two separate trilogies (if you're familiar with my films you
probably can figure that one out). Somebody else will be directing it,
and it will be like an actual movie this time, not amateur found
footage. Then the same producer will produce a film that I'll be
directing this fall. Plus I'm still working on a shit ton of films: The
Owl in Echo Park, Ted Bundy Had a Son, Red Oedipal, God Got Ill (the
feature from the Paper Kids footage),
American Virgins, the anthology
which includes my 80's short Guerrilla called
Awesomely Righteous & Radical, and This Girl, This Boy.
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any of my partnershops yourself
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Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
Nope, think we covered a lot.
Thanks for the