Georgina Hayns interview

 Georgina Hayns interview
 By Jessie Tarter

On the outskirts of Hillsboro Oregon, there stands a madhouse.

Which is to say there exists a studio filled to bursting with mad scientists, engineers of the improbable, and imaginations churning out ideas on the regular that the rest of us could hardly conceive of. It’s called Laika, and it is a wonderland.

It’s no secret that the world of animation has been all but dominated by Digital Imaging, and while the effort and skill that particular art form requires is nothing to sneeze at, Laika stands at the forefront of Stop-Motion animation. Since their establishment in 2005, the studio has put out three feature length films, each more exquisite and extravagant than the last.

As an Oregeonian and lifelong lover of all things animated, I root for Laika with all the pent up enthusiasm one is supposed to reserve for local sports teams. So when I was told that Georgina Hayns, the Creative Supervisor for Laika, was coming into town for a special Halloween screening of Paranorman (my personal favorite of the Laika productions) I was chomping at the bit to pick her brain.

J: Well first off, what is your official title at Laika and what does it entail?

G: I am the Creative Supervisor of Puppet Fabrication, and that entails working with a group of 65 to 70 artists and craftspeople, and working with the director, the production designer, and the Head of Animation to make all of the puppets for each of the films that we make here at Laika and make sure they are able to achieve all of the actions and gestures that the animation requires of them. It goes from initial concept art, that’s what we’re handed and that’s the point that I step into a show, and I work with the sculptors to sculpt the machets, then the puppeteering team and the sculptors to break those sculptures down from a machet to a working shape that we can build into a puppet. And then work putting a skeleton in it, which we call ‘armature’, and going through all the different steps until we have a final puppet. And it’s my job to make sure that it’s keeping on style and that the colors and everything are in keeping with the look of the movie. But mainly that the performance is there to get everything that they need.

J: So you are very, very busy is what I’m hearing.

G: Yes! I’m very busy with a team of amazing artists who are as busy if not busier than me.

J: What sort of educational background or training does it take to become a Creative Supervisor?

G: You know, I was never very academic, I wasn’t a writer, I wasn’t a mathematician. The back of my math and English books were far more interesting because they were covered with doodles or drawings. I knew I wanted to do something either using my drawing skills or my craft skills. And my biggest challenge was that I liked sculpting, I liked drawing, I liked making clothes, and I was finding it very difficult to focus on how I was going to turn this into a career. And it was really through my hobbies that I ended up finding out about puppet making and Stop-Motion. My hobby at the time that I was leaving school was collecting old dolls and restoring them, and then I started to make my own dolls. And my art lecturers were actually a little horrified that I was going to go into doll making! So it was sort of a sidestep to get around my 1960’s fine art lecturers, that I came up with this idea that puppets were a much more artistic form of doll making, and that’s where it all really started. Then I started to look into different kinds of puppet making. At the time I didn’t know what puppet making for Stop-Motion was, I didn’t know it existed, but as the world opened up to me I realized that most of the kid’s T.V. that I had grown up with and loved was actually Stop-Motion animation with handmade puppets. So I ended up doing what I had loved as a child and what had obviously informed me and influenced me.

J: I really just love hearing about dreams coming true and that they actually can be turned into a career.

G: Well that’s the other thing! I have my parents to thank as well because a lot of my friends at the time were also artistic but their parents were terrified of letting them go into the arts. But my parents, they were just like ‘Yep! You go for it George. We’ve got trust in you.’ They actually ended up with two daughters who are both successful in the arts. So I think it has a lot to do with your raw talent and knowing what you want to do, and then your family accepting it and letting you run with it.

J: I’ve always believed that the media we consume when we’re young significantly influences the people that we become, and that’s why I’ve always been fascinated by it. And especially the movies that come out of Laika don’t pander, they don’t talk down to kids. They trust them with huge concepts. Do you have any thoughts on children’s media right now and the best way to speak to kids about these lifelong concepts that we learn as we get older?

G: Yeah, I mean, I think that is definitely a great thing about Laika that we do present challenging storylines and educational storylines to children. I remember being scared out of my wits when I was a kid at Doctor Who and hiding before the sofa when the Daleks came in! But actually, things that like set you up for the real world, because you are going to get scared when you’re an adult. All of this coveting of kids and keeping everything serious behind closed doors, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Children for centuries loved the stories of Grimm’s Fairytales and in their time they hit on relevant, political, and life and death matters. So I think it’s important that we introduce children to subjects that everybody has to deal with day to day, but remembering that they’re children, so not laying it all out in blood and guts. But I think what Laika does is they do tell stories that have an underscore of a different meaning, and I think children are intelligent enough to take from that and learn from that. But at the end of the day they’re rip-roaring fun adventures as well. So yeah, I think it’s important to deal with some of those real world issues that we deal with every day, but not throw it in the kids’ faces.

J: As a massive fan of the studio, what is the creative environment like at Laika?

G: It’s great! We’re very lucky that we’ve got Travis Knight as our C.E.O., he’s an inspiration. He was born with this amazing artistic talent to be able to move puppets in Stop-Motion animation, and he’s probably one of the best stop-motion animators in the world. And he’s actually got his directorial debut on the latest film that we’re making ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. So it’s been really exciting to work alongside him because he’s such a creative force. And all the people around me are amazing creators, and we’re not creators in a strict fine arts sense. I think we’re all crafts people. We are artists but I think a lot of us are highly skilled craftspeople. It’s definitely a rare opportunity for a group of like-minded people with those skills to come together and be allowed to make things and problem solve at the highest level, and then see them out there on the big screen! At times we forget how lucky we are, because you go day in and day out for nine years sometimes you’re like ‘oh really? Again?’ But when you go and see one of our films it reminds you ‘that’s what it’s all about! We all came together to work on that!’ And so many amazing craftspeople were involved.

J: Out of the three feature films that have come out of Laika, which one was the most demanding for puppet fabrication?

G: You know, I’m asked that question, and all of them for different reasons have been demanding. ‘Coraline’ was demanding because we were setting up the studio, so not only were we trying to make puppets we were trying to set up a system and a process. ‘Paranorman’ I would say actually, looking back was sort of the halcyon days. It was our second feature, we already had a process in place, we had the team who had already worked on ‘Coraline’ and knew how to work together and we were still a young flourishing company. So I feel like there were a lot of creative challenges but we just took every one as it came. And when ‘Boxtrolls’ came along it was a bigger project so we had more puppets to make in a similar timespan. So it was more about ‘can we get this done in time?’ Rather than big challenges, though we did have some big challenges. We had ballroom scenes with women dancing in big hoop skirts, and we had these boxtrolls that we got to overcome with these tiny little creatures living in boxes with retractable limbs. But that’s the fun of puppet making! And it’s interesting because right now we’ve just come to the last build on ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ which is going to be released next year, and this one was incredibly challenging! Just with the costumes and some challenges that we’ve just never had before. I can’t let too much out of the bag! But each movie that we’ve worked on has had its’ own challenges.

J: Definitely. I just wanted to talk for a second about Agatha Prenderghast from ‘Paranorman’ just because she is one of my all-time favorite characters, not just to come out of Laika, but out of movies in general. I adore her! And I think part of the reason for that is the moment when she is that electrical storm who is barely holding herself together and then just turns back into her normal human self. And honestly, I just want to say kudos. Well done! I can’t even imagine what the creative process was for making that happen.

G: It was quite astounding! It brought together all the departments. We were all involved, the then the 2D animation department added on top of that, and then of course the whole concept was Production Design. So it was a really cool character to be a part of. And it was interesting because some of the mistakes and haphazard routes that we’d gone down in past films and early on in development of ‘Paranorman’ lead to that self-illuminated body and face that she was made out of in the electrical storm. So it was quite an interesting technique that we used to build her.

J: Oh my goodness, I just remember seeing that for the first time, and seeing her face morphing and changing!

G: I’m sure that you know we use Rapid Prototyping for the faces on all of our movies. And the way in which that came about was that they had a mistake print that had gotten so thin in places that when you shown the light from behind you could see the light shining through. But it made them realize you could use that, a little bit like a night light holder where the ceramic has been layered in a way that you got a three dimensional city. That was a similar idea that we used for Aggie’s faces. So actually when they were printed, they were printed with different layers of material, so when it was illuminated from behind you got those crazy shadows! And then of course the distortion of the faces being squashed and stretched, that was all worked out beforehand in drawn animation, and then modeled and animated in the computer and then printed out.  We also in the puppet department built a tiny little skeletal body which was the core of everything, and that was shot and filmed in stop-motion without any C.G. and then the heads were replaced onto it, and then all of the effects with her dress and her hair were all made on top of that.

J: I was watching ‘Boxtrolls’ a few nights ago and I remember there’s a scene where you close up on Eggs’ hands and you can see the individual dirt particles under his fingernails!

G: Oh yeah, all hand painted! All intentional!

J: The work that you all do is incredible. Just rest assured it doesn’t go unnoticed.

G: That’s great. And you know, I think that is the joy of stop-motion. You really do see what we make on the screen, and that’s the magic. I think that’s why kids and adults alike love going to see stop-motion movies because it’s a bit like watching a movie through a view master. It’s real, three dimensional images, and these fantastical creatures that you feel really exist because they do exist.

J: Well last thing for you, do you have any advice for aspiring animators or fabricators, especially people who have been really inspired by Laika and what it’s doing right now?

G: Well I think if somebody wants to go into the fabrication side of things then they should just concentrate on making small scale beautiful things. You know it’s all about detail on the small scale with some kind of artistry and design behind it. And if somebody wants to get into animation then start animating their bendy dolls, start animating anything that they have! You have these action figures that are really quite sophisticated and jointed these days. We start to see kids coming through college, who started in their bedrooms on an iPhone on a tabletop, and they started with action figures, and now they’re phenomenal character animators. I think with every discipline we have here at Laika it starts with a love of art or movement or movies, and it’s just practice and believing in yourself, and knowing that you can make a career for yourself in this crazy world!

Bruce Campbell Interview: Ash Vs Evil Dead


Bruce Campbell Interview:  Ash Vs Evil Dead

Hey Kids,

I was lucky enough to be part of a round table Q and A with the Great & Mighty Chin, Bruce Campbell to talk about his new series Ash Vs The Evil Dead.  It was a long and candid discussion and gives some insight into Campbell and a character that he can’t seem to quit.

Here’s the full transcript!  Hope you enjoy!  And be sure to catch Ash Vs. The Evil Dead Halloween night on STARZ!

Question:  All right. So I guess I have to ask, you know, what was it like to playing Ash again after so much time and is (Sam) still torturing you the way he did when you guys were growing up?

(Bruce Campbell): The answer is good and yes. I mean it’s great to get back to this character. It’s probably the most fun character there is to play. Now we can use all of our experience to barrier on this character again and flesh him out even more. And, yes, (Sam) is just as cruel as he always is.

Question:   Well done. How does it feel putting the chainsaw back on and slightly skin?

(Bruce Campbell): It reminded me of how much I hate fake blood. That hatred it runs deep. It runs really deep. It’s one of my least favorite things is adhesive, surgical adhesive and they had to use that for appliances, make up appliances and, yes, fake blood. Because it’s chronic. It gets everywhere.

Question:  Is there a connection between the Evil Dead 2013, I know you had a cameo in.

(Bruce Campbell): No connection whatsoever. That was a director who had a whim, who goes I have this great idea. It has nothing to do with anything but I want to do it. I was like, yes, whatever. So, no, no connection whatsoever.



Question: You said in the past that the video games that had come out for Play Station were Evil Dead sequels and we should look at them that way. Will any of those story lines be referenced or did you use them for any personal reference inside your head?

(Bruce Campbell): I’m glad I’m not running for office because guys like you would dig up crap I said randomly 16 years ago. So that’s why I’m not a politician. Because to you I could say that was bologna I made up at the time. Okay. I lied. You got? I lied. So now we move onto the truth. And the truth is I’m glad we had something to finally show fans where I’m not put on the spot all the time to try to make crap up. You know I’m attracted to bombs. We got to clarify that. The bombs. The last three bombed, they were the most expensive. They were too expensive. They didn’t make any money. So people began to think we were lazy or we didn’t want to go back to it. I got news for you, pal, there’s no money in the bank for it. You’re not making anything if there’s no money. So it’s just the raw truth of it. Thankfully, the fans have stepped up through all the DVD reissues. There were 86 versions of Army of Darkness after that. It became an American movie classic, you know, on AMC. And so fans drove it. And they drove it at these personal appearances by tour since ’88. They haven’t let it go. So they finally got it. So regardless of what I said, when I said or how I said it, we’re here. And it’s a good day.

Question:  You’ve done so much with this character. What are you looking forward to doing with him now that you have all this experience and the opportunity to do it?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, you know, people have only seen four and a half hours worth of Ash. In this first season alone, we’re going to do five new hours of Ash. So I’m actually looking forward to finally seeing who Ash is going to interact with other people now. He has to be a leader. So it’s a slightly different story in that the character has to evolve. The story has to get bigger. And I’m looking forward to that so that I can take enough time to finally be with Ash. The other movies, you know, I had a week that went by without any dialogue. Like shooting, Evil Dead 2 got trapped in the cabin. So its Ash getting out in the wild, you know, getting into suburbia. So that’s the fun thing to do is interact with other people.


Question: You just mentioned how much of a bomb Army of Darkness was. And I was curious because nothing from Army of Darkness was mentioned in the theme of Pablo explaining the Evil Dead to them. Is that intentional? Are you guys not going to reference any events to that movie in the series?

(Bruce Campbell): Correct.

Question:   Correct like you’re skipping it over it? It’s not cannon anymore. Or he’s not going to be going back to the other world?

(Bruce Campbell): Correct in that that’s not material that we can do legally so we’re not going to do it. It’s a whole complicated bunch of legal mambo jumbo that’s not even worth going into. The three movies were made by three different companies. So that should tell you call your uncle the lawyer and talk to him about it. He’ll laugh. He’ll go really three movies, three companies and you want to make a TV show. This should be fun. So it’s very complicated to put together. And I’m just really grateful that it all worked out. Here we are. But it means there are things we can include, things we can’t. But, you know, everything that Ash needed was in the first two movies anyway. Anything he ever used so it’s all good.

Question:  So we have shows like Softland that have gotten cancelled and then picked up by other shows or I mean by other stations and then the ratings have gone through the roof. And then you have shows like The Walking Dead that have got turned away by other stations and then picked up and then the ratings have gone through the roof. So how does STARZ think handle like this?

(Bruce Campbell): They had what we needed. They gave the budget we were looking for and they gave us the leeway we were looking for and they give us unrestricted content that those movies demand. So they were really — out of the suitors that we had — they were actually the only company that I’m aware out there that could give us that criteria and that did it. That sealed the deal right there. And, you know, look these guys are growing as a company.

I like being part of companies that are growing and expanding rather than shrinking and contracting. And they’re willing to stay on the cutting edge. And they want to do shows that people not only like but they like a lot. And I think we provided something like that for them and I think we’re attracted to them because this show can actually play around the world. Not all TVs can. We started overseas and in the UK and then spread over the world. It makes – I think we’re good partners. I think we’re good for each other.

Question:  Concerning the Easter Eggs in hidden things. Should we be looking more than just Oldsmobile’s, the ’73 Delta 88.

(Bruce Campbell): Well, it’s not even like we’re hiding anything. You know we are bringing back all that stuff. The problem is, you know, it’s a lot of Michigan stuff mostly. It’s Michigan Easter Eggs. There’s Michigan State University, Camp Chappaqua, the place where (Sam) went to camp, Faygo Red pop, Coney Island, you know, like chili dogs that everybody eats in Michigan. And it takes place in Michigan. So, yes, there’s tons of Easter Eggs. There’s no question about it. You’ll see them in the show. We don’t hide them. The ’72 Delta 88 is the same car that’s been in all the movies. It’s the exact car. It’s not a different car which is pretty incredible. We had it put on a boat and shipped to New Zealand.


Question:   Evil Dead was inspired by part I think it said at least in part by (Sam Raimi’s) interest in H.P. Lovecraft. You guys grew up together I believe. Were you also a fan of Lovecraft when you were growing up as he was?

(Bruce Campbell): No, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about Lovecraft. I read lots of Spiderman comics. I read a comic called Sad Sack. It was a silly, farmy comedy comic. So that was me. I didn’t really get into that. You know we didn’t get into horror until we decided to make our first feature film because horror was the only type of genre that you could make cheap movies and no one cared. Like you couldn’t make a cheap drama. That would be too low budget.

No one would – drama’s had to have good photography and well-known actors and stuff. And horror films, you could still make drive in movies back in those days. So that’s what we did. And horror I appreciate now is one of the few genres that can wound the audience up and make them pay attention. I kind of like that. It’s one of the few genres that can be very manipulative there.

Question: So I’ve always thought that Ash appeals to genre fans because he’s sort of a societal outcast but he has one really specific skill set in his case fighting demons and I guess in horror fans I guess it could be writing or special effects or whatever. How do you feel that is? Do you think that is why the horror fans embrace Ash?

(Bruce Campbell): Yes, I think it’s the correct assessment. Plus the fact that he has no special skill. He is not trained. He was not part of any government agency. Nothing. So I think when you watch him you go that could be me. The guy that works at 7-11. I mean I could do that. Why not? I’m sick over trained heroes. I’m really bored with that. Guys that are just ripped to shreds and, you know, full of skills. That’s boring me. Give me the drive mechanic that picks up a weapon, you know. Now I’m interested. That’s my hero.


Question: In Ash versus Evil Dead are there any advancements in special effects that you are grateful for that you did not have while shooting the film.

(Bruce Campbell): Well, we tried to keep the blood real. Digital blood is not effective. We had that in a couple of cases in this pilot. You know, we’re not a big proponent of digitals. So the funny thing is we have better ways of delivering the blood but it doesn’t make any of it easier or better. It just makes them better at hitting me. Their aim is better now. The chance of getting it right on the first take is better now.

We do a lot more testing. We’ve used anything from a seed spreader to a paint brush dipped in blood, you know, splattered it on us that way to a Hudson sprayer to a beer keg that converted to a pressurized basically a blood sprayer and then we had a cannon. So the good news the systems are all better but it doesn’t make my life any easier. It makes it worse.


Question: When you’re working away from (Sam) obviously there are a bunch of different directors on the series, was there any difficulty for you to, like, move away from (Sam) when it comes to this particular character just being familiar working with him?

(Bruce Campbell): Yes, it’s heartbreaking. Because, you know, you’re used to the old man yelling at you. If somebody starts yelling at me, I’m like I’ll punch you in the face, man. So there’s definitely an adjustment. And we look we found a great set. The guys were really happy with the directors that we had. I have no complaints. So it’s hard on everybody. It was me missing the old man and probably directors going, you know, what’s with this guy. Because we had to figure everything out. But, you know, I feel I’m the voice of Ash so I can be at least a constant influence on the character.


Question: Can you talk a little bit about the ways that we’re going to Ash fighting personal demons, you know, as well as literal ones within these series?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, if it was an hour show, we’d go into his past. Thank the heavens it’s a half hour show so we’re going to get into Ash and there will be enough about Ash that will make us want him to be our hero forever and ever for all times. And in order to do that, we have to humanize him a little bit. So I think we’ll start see more of a leader with Ash — a little more of actual hero qualities — and, you know, the jerk stuff will still be there. Pure Ash. I mean you’ll get that. But I mean this time around we’re going to hopefully see a likely improved Ash. We’ll see.


Question: What are the modern day trends in horror do you wish to avoid in your show?

(Bruce Campbell): Torture porn. Just because it’s a bore. I don’t care one way or another about it. I don’t want to rail too much about torture forms. It’s just low grade film making. I would just like to focus on a variety of horror. I want to mess with people’s minds. You want to startle them. You want to shock them. You want to disturb them. And you want to keep them on edge. Horror films are great. You can grab an audience by the scruff of their necks and force them to look at that screen. I think that’s really cool.


Question: What’s been the biggest differences in filming Ash for a television series versus filming him in the motion picture world?

(Bruce Campbell): Speed is the number one only because you’re on a TV base. And TV is a very efficient median. You get in, you get out. You do it. And I love TV. I love the pace of it because nothing gets stale. Making the other Evil Dead movies, they were great and very informative and very educational for all of us but they are tedious as hell. I think movies are tedious. So bring your big, thick book to work in a big Hollywood movie. But the TV pace will never let you get that bored. You know by lunchtime you’ve given little Billy his medicine back, kissed the girl and killed the bad guy.


Question: I noticed is that Ash is very different between he’s actually fighting and when he’s just being Ash. And I’m wondering is that where that kind of comes from because I notice it as literally as a shift in personality. He goes from kind of bumbling, lovable kind of thing to badass.

(Bruce Campbell): It’s about contrast. You know I think with your characters you’ve got to do that. There’s Mickey Mantle at the plate and Mickey Mantle out to drink with the boys. I don’t know. I think its kind I think with characters – I heard a note from a director to an actor. This is related to me by a friend. And the director said I want you to be a different character in every scene. And the actor was astounding. What are you crazy? I’m only playing one character. His point was that there was so much depth to humans and each individual. So in order to come close to the complexity to the most boring average person, you’d have to play each scene as a completely different character to even start to see the glimpses of all the sides of a person or even a character. So even though I’m doing a cheesy horror series there is still some art to it.

Question:  It seems like because there are kind of where he is that this might be more of a road series a little bit maybe around Michigan or maybe beyond that too if you can comment on that.

(Bruce Campbell): Well, part of that depends on how the story evolves. The first season I think is definitely putting the genie in a bottle. After that, you got to see what roots take hold. So I think there might be some information that’s gleaned that might take it in whatever direction it goes. So I don’t know that it’s necessarily going to be a road series. But it’s definitely being a slightly nomadic situation with the car, with the trailer. Yes, there are able to roll because they kind of have to roll. So they could easily the rock can change at any time.

Question:  How much work you did on getting back to that tone.

(Bruce Campbell): We don’t. What we do is we do whatever entertains us on the set. And that’s really the bottom line. The tone meetings I think come after (Sam) leaves the directors and talks about it. But (Sam) and I never talk about films. He’s the one that’s like, you know, if you put the star of your show in a man girdle while playing sequence of the show. That takes balls for a director — a writer or director — to create that or do that with his character so, I challenge other directors. I’m like, I bet you can’t be as daring as (Sam) as far as messing with the character and really showing their flaws — their naked flaws.

Question: The huge variety of media and genres that you worked with from your responses it seems that it’s more where you can delve into, where you can extend your creativity and just goes. That seems to be what draws you. But is there any particular genre and or media that does draw you a little more or that you might be interested in working in further?

(Bruce Campbell): Interesting question. It’s funny. Yes, I go where the work is good. I had some people who represented me years ago who could not understand why I would go to Auckland, New Zealand into the southern hemisphere to work on the show Hercules and then on Xena and Jack of All Trades. They just couldn’t understand it. It was a syndicated show. There’s no network. They got no respect at all. No Emmys. No nothing. And I’m like you don’t get it. You’re not down there on the set with us. We can get away with murder. Murder. And we do. We take the script and we look at it and we see what we can do. We can work with the director, work with the other actors. If somebody has an idea, they do it. It’s the most creative set I’ve ever been on. And the last time I checked as actors, that’s what you’re looking for is creativity. You’re not looking for the Rolls Royce and, you know, the big fancy trailer. Those are supposed to be the byproducts of having fun and then getting good at what you do.

So, I’ll chase that to the end of the Earth which is one of the main reasons when I was going to be Auckland, New Zealand for this show – I mean I have crew members that I know down there that I’ve known for 20 years. These people are extremely gifted at what they do and it makes our job easy because they make it look good and we make it look easy.

And it’s only because now that I work with people that I know that make it so much better. You see them come out of their trailer, you’re cracking jokes, you punch them in the arm, you know, you’re messing with them when they’re on camera trying to get them to break up. You know there’ s a lot of work play involved. And that’s a big appeal to it too. But other than that, the comedy. The comedy can lift your spirits.

Question:  My question is about (Lucy Lawless). What was it like being reunited with her and what is her presence added to this show?

(Bruce Campbell): She’s a badass. She’s a great addition to the show. She can step in and do anything we need her to do which is spectacular. She’s a great actress with an incredible amount of versatility. She can do comedy which is great and she can kick ass. So we’re lucky, lucky, lucky. So I think you can look forward to her having an increasingly expanding role in this show and that’s critical to me because I’ve always loved (Lucy). She was great when I worked with her on Xena and knowing that she was getting available. She wasn’t available right away during this first season. So when she was, I was like her husband’s (Rob Tapert) my partner. I said (Rob) you better sit down with your wife at dinner and you better lock this in. So, yes, it’s important to get her back. We’re really happy. Lucky.

Question: I was wondering if there’s going to be any if you will, you know, you talked about some Michigan spoiler if you will if there’s going to be any really great ones like Flint or Detroit?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, I hope so. I hope that Michigan references will never end. Because if you’re setting your show in Michigan, we’re definitely going to have that. I want Ferndale. I want Royal Oak in there where I was born. But don’t – you’re going to see a whole lot of references in the show. I hold my hand like the map where I’m trying to talk to some guy about where something is. So, yes, it’s all Michigan all the time.

Question: Have you had any desire to write or direct an episode of the series?

(Bruce Campbell): No, this is really (Sam’s) baby and I’m sort of the Burn Notice territory as a director also which gives me a great position with the star because I didn’t get in any kind of authoritative figure with them. I’m a fair director when I direct. I kind of want what I want. And, no, this works great. I have so much to do with Ash, I don’t really have any desire for that.

Question:  (Sam Raimi) explained at the Comic-Con panel that other than his deed, Ash hasn’t really grown in the last 30 years. But do you think during the course of this season, we’ll get to see an evolution of his character?

(Bruce Campbell): Yes. And thanks for asking that. Because you have to. Ash is going to be, you know, he’s always sort of a pronounced character and he’s always going to have his quirks. But, yes, he has to be a leader. The other people in this show around him have to see something in him to make them to follow him on this quest. They obviously because of what’s going to happen to them, they will have a personal stake in this well. So but, yes, Ash has to be a guy who you can actually sit down and reason with from time to time and try to convince him of something. Yes, there’s a lot of decision making to be done and he will have to involve other people against his will.

Question: How do you think the fans will react once it’s released on Halloween and was it complicated to get back in the mindset of Ash?

(Bruce Campbell): No, it’s not complicated to get back in the mindset of Ash. It’s difficult to get out of the bed the morning after you do a fight scene. My recuperative powers aren’t as strong. What was the first part of your question? He can’t hear me anymore; can he? Oh, fan reaction to coming out on Halloween. Well, you know, we did it for them so I hope they like it. It’s got everything they’ve always demanded. So this time it’s maybe done a little classier.


Question: I know that you mentioned that Ash, you know, he’s no longer just by himself in the cabin. He has a pair of friends and companions and (Ray) and (Dana’s) characters. I was just wondering what it’s like to kind of share the blood splatter this time around with (Ray) and (Dana)?

(Bruce Campbell): I like it because now I only get a third of it. Now, they get part of it. Spread the love, man. Spread the blood around. And it was great to see them all being initiated. That was a wonderful experience to see the true horror and shock on their faces when they see that stuff. They just nail them. Right in your face. The reactions on each face. You could tell his expression was totally pissed. And it’s great because it works perfectly for the scene. Because when they first get hit with the blood, none of us have to act because we’re all like, oh my God, because you act just like you would.

Question:  It’s interesting that the franchise has evolved through the comics and the games and the fan fiction and that it has definitely evolved the character of Ash. Was there any of that discussed before going into the series that the expectations from fans might be a little bit different?

(Bruce Campbell): No, I don’t think the fan’s expectations have changed from the basics. We will always give them the basic which is carnage, mayhem, some good one-liners, an unusual hero. I think part of the attraction that fans will continue to like is that he’s a good guy. He might be an idiot but he’s a good guy and he’s always going to try to do the right thing against ridiculous odds.

Question: I wanted to talk about the scale of the rest of season one. Because in Evil Dead, you guys are all trapped in a cabin. This time you’re out in sort of the free world. It seems to be hinting the Deadites are going to be a more global or at least national scale. Can you talk a little bit about the overall threats?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, I don’t think it’s one of these situations where it’s like World War Z or something like that. No, I think this is something more like local regional at least for right now. But it’s definitely a threat and it’s definitely coming from one area. It’s definitely near where Ash was.

Question:  So the first episode captured that great balance of horror and comedy from the films. I was wondering if you’re going to keep with that balance or if we’re going to see more episodes that are more horror scenic and more serious or ones that are more completely slap sticky or is the balance going to be more maintained?

(Bruce Campbell): I think we’re going to keep a pretty good balance. It’s a horror show where we do take the horror seriously. So a fan of only horror I don’t think will be insulted by our approach of horror. We take it very seriously and hopefully we’ll give them some good stuff to freak out about. The comedy for me let’s everybody know that wink this is ultimately entertainment. For me, it takes the creepiness out a little bit because it’s still over the top. But it becomes nothing that you can see on the six o’clock news. That’s what has always appealed to me about this approach.

Question:  For years, there was the Ash versus Freddy versus Jason rumor floating around. Can you talk about maybe a few of the things some of the more crazy ideas that people pitched you about the Evil Dead that you’re probably much happier to have done this TV show instead of?

(Bruce Campbell): Oh, yes. I mean this TV show – look the good news here is none of us are tormented about doing some bastardized version of the show or the movie. This is going to be as true to form as possible with the kind of man the whole approach. First part of your question though, can we patch him back in for a second?

Question: Can you talk about a little bit about the crazier Evil Dead ideas you’ve been pitched over the years?

(Bruce Campbell): It was mostly the one was a conversation with New Line about doing Ash versus Jason versus Freddy. And I was interested because I wanted to kill them both but we were informed that no one is killing anybody and we would only have control over what happens to the Ash character. We couldn’t control the story. We couldn’t control what Ash does to anybody else. I’m like this sounds really not creative. So I’m so glad that we’re back to this again because we can finally do it right.

Question: My question was in the Army of Darkness uncut version you’ve got a love scene where it’s very passionate and the silk sheets and all this. And this Ash gives a woman a piece of Ash in the bathroom. How was awful for that scene to shoot for you at all if there was any awkwardness?

(Bruce Campbell): Awkward? Sex scenes are always awkward. I don’t dig them. But it works either comedic or story effect. In this case, we used it trigger a story point so I didn’t have a problem with it, because it wasn’t completely random. It was actually leading up to something.

Question:  So you’re basically the cause and solution of all of his problems. What do you think makes him so prolific to audiences.

(Bruce Campbell): Because he’s just like you. We make our own problems every time. Everything that we complain about is something we can solve. So that’s why I think Ash is universal because it’s like looking into the mirror.

Question: What I really noticed was in that scene with the doll was very much like almost the scene with your hand from Evil Dead 2. I was wondering how it was acting with, you know, that was going to be CG rather than, you know, in Evil Dead you actually had a hand, messing around, you were holding it, hitting it and all that kind of stuff because it was, you know, your hand. What was the difference there?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, everything. You have a physical thing and something ethereal in another case. It’s all acting so it doesn’t really matter whether you’re fighting with your actual hand or fake hand. It’s all fake. So the level of fakery doesn’t go up or down. It’s all fake. Like where does the music come. Whenever I get something about logic question I go, where does the music come from in the movies? There’s never any answer.

Question:  I’m just wondering, (Sam) has done cameos at Evil Dead. I’m wondering if we can expect any cameos from him at all throughout the season?

(Bruce Campbell): Oh, cameos from (Sam)? Oh my God, I don’t think so. (Sam) is more like (Howard Hughes) these days. (Sam) is Oz the great and powerful, you know, hiding behind the curtains. He just wants to work his magic back in a mysterious way.

Question: I really like the supporting the cast. I wondered how they were going to do against you. And the chemistry with you and (Ray Santiago) is really great. And I’m wondering how long it took to find him and what it’s like working together the two of you because you two are wonderful on screen?

(Bruce Campbell): You never know. You never know until you audition. So as executive producer, I pick my battles in what I get involved in. And one of them is casting because I know I’m going to be stuck on a set with those people. So we went through a lot of rigorous stuff. We had to make sure these people were healthy and rigorous and had a lot of patience and could deal with a lot of special effects — a lot of just difficult, uncomfortable film making.

So (Ray) I thought we got fortunate with. He’s got a spectacular way about him. He’s got a great mug and sweet guy. And so I think I hope my hope is to go to conventions and with those guys and watch them get swamped. That would be the greatest joy of mine is to watch (Dana) and (Ray) and (Jill Marie Jones) go to these conventions and be tormented. It would make me very happy.

Question:  I’m really glad you mentioned working as an executive producer on Ash versus Evil Dead. I’m curious what are some of the challenges as well as benefits of assuming multiple roles in a project.

(Bruce Campbell): Well, the challenge is it just takes up more of your life. But the benefits are you can control more of what your output is and try to make it something you’re happy about. And sometimes it’s just you don’t really have an input. I was in this position on Burn Notice and I knew they never really had to listen to me. So when I made suggestions they were always happy, they were very friendly.

And I would send them to the executive producer knowing that I didn’t expect anything. In this case, it’s a little more, it goes beyond suggestion. You know it’s more like, let’s do this and do that. But I have two great partners (Rob Tapert) and (Sam Raimi) and we never really hit an impasse because we have three people. If anyone ever wants a partnership, go in with three people. You’ll never hit an impasse.

Question:  I wanted to ask the show is only a half hour show. Why isn’t it an hour long drama? Curious. An hour long show?

(Bruce Campbell): Because then it would be boring.

(Anthony Krogas):      Oh, okay.

(Bruce Campbell): And not what we wanted and not a comedy. A half hour is the only format that gives us the pace that we need and the tone that we need and I think it’s perfect for a modern audience. I don’t know if we need a ponderant Ash. We need a quick witted fast moving Ash.

Question:  I was wondering you’ve been with Ash on and off for several years now. What personally would you like to change about his character on the series from which we see on the movies as he grows, evolves and change?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, I don’t want to get too ethereal about it. There’s not a whole lot I want to change. He’s just becoming more of a leader. More of a guy that’s going to, you know, inspire people and you know he’s going to be like a teacher, educator, kind of mentor tormentor. So there will be a little more of that. You know kind of an Ash figure to some of the characters in the film between (Dana) and (Ray). You’re going to have a little bit of that, like an uncle father type. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.

Question: What is some of the fan reaction been like since you’ve been promoting Asher versus the Evil Dead?

(Bruce Campbell): They’re like it’s about time. I mean there really, they’re not angry but they’re like okay, finally. I think they’re really resolved. They’re like okay. I think they feel like they’ve marched. Their years of tormenting us have finally paid off. And I think they’re actually satisfied that it’s as close to the real thing as you’re going to get of putting the original elements back together again.

Question: I was also wondering as the show starts off, you’re in a trailer just as you were in My Name is Bruce. So what’s the deal with the trailer?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, that’s your own parallel. One is a movie and one is just Ash. But trailers are typifying at least in people’s minds low budget situations. And that was the goal there. So I wouldn’t draw too much into it.

Question:  I was surprised to see that Ash still has the Necronomicon in his possession after all he’s been through. Will we find out why he had it? Did he have a choice in a flashback? And also is this season self-contained in case there’s not a second season?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, every show that’s designed as a TV show has to be designed for multiple seasons. It will feel contained. I think you will feel very satisfied by the end of the season but there’s no question about it. It’s designed for more. And as far as the nepinoncon I wouldn’t get too much into why Ash did or didn’t have the book. I think it’s an Ash thing not to do anything, to chuck it away. He tried to burn it and it didn’t work anyway.

Question:  Ash versus the Evil Dead has the perfect feel for Halloween. And I was just wondering are there any favorite horror movies that you like to watch around this time of year?

(Bruce Campbell): I like the original Exorcist. The very first one done by (William Friedkin). It’s just so well done. It’s a professionally made movie but it’s really, really disturbing. And (Linda Blair) is just off the charts great.

Question:  After completing your first film, you know, after the first film, did you guys expect to get this big? And the second part of that question is why now instead of like ten years ago that you decided to produce this show?

(Bruce Campbell): Well, no one can expect anything to happen. The film industry, the entertainment industry. It’s always, you never know what’s going to happen next. So, no — no one had any idea. We didn’t think we were going to finish the stupid movie. It took at least three years to finish the movie. Second part. That was the second part. Let’s go back. Patch me in. Don’t ask two part questions, reporters, because I’m going to forget the second part. Just ask a single question. It will be a lot easier on all of us.

Question: Why not let’s say ten years for this show.

(Bruce Campbell): Well, because I think TV finally caught up to us. TV until you had these premium services where there were not worried about content our show wouldn’t have worked. It wouldn’t work as a TV show. This show would not work on cable. And this show would totally not work on broadcast. The only way it worked under these circumstances which are now. Plus we realized economically making a $200 million feature was not the answer here. If you want to entertain people continuously with Ash, it’s got to be in a form of a TV show.

Question: You have the opportunity to expand upon the mythology of it and to kind of expand what kind of creatures Ash will face. Is that going to happen in season one?

(Bruce Campbell):       Well, absolutely. You know it’s not like we’re going to have a creature of the week but Ash is going to need many new demons and entities and forces he had not encountered before. That’s the cool thing of doing a weekly TV show. You can hit him with a bunch of demons.

Question:  Do you think Ash has ever used his chainsaw for yard work and what do you think the recipe is for the perfect Evil Dead episode?

(Bruce Campbell): Well the recipe is the right mix. It’s like baking a cake. You know if you use baking powder instead of baking soda, it’s a disaster. So in our case if our floor gets a little dark, we can lighten with a little humor. And if we get a little loopy, we can hit it with some horror, you know? But pace and a sense of fun is also very important too.

Question:  If you could expand on another character that you played, who would that be? Would you expand Briscoe, Ace, Boomer, Fantail. Who would that be?

(Bruce Campbell): I would expand Briscoe for sure. Because you know every actor wants to be a cowboy. That was a great year. It was one pretty much solid year of being a cowboy and promoting and doing this stuff. If I never did it again, I’d be okay with it because it was a very fulfilling year, very hard working year. But I wouldn’t mind going back to that. He was a good character. He was really fun. It’s probably the closest to an actual good guy like a real heroic type who hopefully, you know, was smart enough to be interesting.

Question: Yes, you know looking at the first episode we see Ash trolling for some last call ass and just happened to grab some magnum condoms. Was that your personal contribution to the beginning of the episode?

(Bruce Campbell): No, mine was that he was going to take two condoms. He goes to take one condom, he thinks about it and he goes, no, I think I might need two. It might be a two condom night. The magnum is what it is.

Question:  Are you like Ash in every way?

(Bruce Campbell): Oh, dear God. Every actor is going to have a little of something of them in any character they play. Any actor says they crawl inside their role and disappear they’re not telling the truth. I think what you do is with a character you take the worst sides of yourself and you amplify them or you take the best sides of yourself and you amplify them or you kind of mix it all around. Yes, there’s going to be a little bit of Ash in me and a little bit of me in him. No way to get around it.

Question: It raises the stakes when there is something for the hero to lose. Is Ash going to have a significant love interest in the series or is he going to be satisfied with having two condom sex with the strange?

(Bruce Campbell): You’re going to see. Ash considers himself an aging Lazarus. He’s not giving up on that. You’re going to see a little something-something from the old man.


(Bruce Campbell): And thank you very much for all of you fine journalist for your time and attention. We appreciate it. We need your support. Some of our fans. Some of you don’t know anything about that series. Hopefully, you can find out and enjoy it. This is for the fans. It’s for the fans.

Tourist in Halloweentown – an Interview with Kimberly J. Brown

by Jessie Tarter


Good evening Fan-Ghouls! After months of restless waiting, we have finally arrived at the pumpkin spiced flavored, costume adorned, most wonderful time of the year if I have anything to say about it.  The pumpkins are carved, the candles are lit, and Halloween specials from all across time and space are trotted out and viewed with eyes brimming with nostalgic wonder.

And in my house, no other movie quite encompasses that feeling of Halloween’s gone by as the 1998 Disney channel classic ‘Halloweentown.’  A quintessential coming of age story about a young witch who, with the help of her unconventional grandmother (Debbie Reynolds) learns of her true heritage after a lifetime of being told she was ordinary. As she learns to understand and control her powers, she must fight against unimaginable odds not only for herself, but for the safety of the entire magical world.

This movie shaped my whole perception of magic as a child. My parents didn’t worry about my interaction with strangers on Halloween night. They were more preoccupied with keeping me away from any buses still running after dark, for fear I would board one on the sly and demand a ticket through the interdimensional portal to the land and characters I so loved.

Well after years of praying to The Great Pumpkin, my wish has finally been granted. I had the honor of having a chat with Kimberly J. Brown, the actress who played the lead character, Marni, in the first three ‘Halloweentown’ movies.  At the time of our speaking, she was gearing up for a flight out to the set of the original movie to bring some authentic Halloweentown spirit to the yearly celebration. Here are some of the highlights from our bewitching conversation!

J: The word is you’re heading up to Saint Helens to visit the set of the first movie.

K: I am, this weekend. I’m heading up on the 10th, and I’m going to help them light the pumpkin in the town square and kick off the Spirit of Halloweentown festivities they have running throughout the month.

J: Is this your first time visiting Saint Helens since the movie was made?

K: It is. It’s my first time coming back since I was thirteen, so it’s going to be surreal for sure.

J: Are you looking forward to visiting the old stomping grounds?

K: Oh absolutely! I loved shooting there, and being there for the five weeks or so that it took to shoot the movie. I’m really excited to see it again.

J: How does it feel to be coming back as the Master of Ceremonies? You’ll be lighting the pumpkin, is there anything else you’ll be doing that you can tell us about?

K: I’ll be talking to the crowd a little bit. I’ll take photos with fans, and welcome everybody to the start of everything. I’m really honored that they asked, and that they even recreate everything, and pay homage to the movie. It’s really flattering.

J: Visiting the set is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now a part of my month long gear up to Halloween. Do you have any Halloween or October traditions? Mine happen to include watching the first Halloweentown movie.

K: Well, I always have to have my favorite Pumpkin Buttercream candle. So I get excited when all those spicy fall type flavors come back out again. I have to have that type of smell and feeling in the air. I love that and miss it throughout the rest of the year. But I think decorating in general and adding a bit of spooky magic to everything is probably one of the best parts.

J: You’ve said that you have a copy of the picture book from the first movie, which is wonderful. Is that something you read often or is it just nice to have it on your bookshelf as a souvenir?

K: It’s a souvenir. They had an artist make a drawing of me as the end photo that Marni flips the page to. And I also actually have the bigger version of that drawing as a poster I believe we used in the third Halloweentown movie if I remember correctly, in Marni’s room. I got that after the third film and I have that framed. I love having little pieces from the different projects that I do.

J: Far and away, my favorite scene in the movie is where Marni and Aggie take the Windsweeper 5000 out for a spin. Do you have an all-time favorite scene from any of the movies?

K: That’s definitely up there! Because really, how many people can say that not only have they pretended to fly on a broom, but pretended to fly on a broom with Debbie Reynolds? But I also loved the scene where Marni climbs the pumpkin to put the talisman in.

J: Stories like Halloweentown, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Buffy and of course Harry Potter all feature witches who learn that not only are they magical, not only are they special, they’re very powerful in and of themselves. Personally, I think that’s a really important message for young people, especially young girls to learn. Do you have any thoughts of the witch genre, and how it affects young people?

K: That’s a great question. I do have to say that what I always loved about Marni and what I loved about playing Marni was that she knew she was a little bit different, she knew there was something else going on in her life, and she was determined to not only figure it out but to use it and fully be who she knew that she was and who she wanted to be. You know, what other myth has a message for young girls to not only embrace who you are but enjoy it? You bring up the ‘powerful’ aspect which I think is so important. There’s so much in our culture about how girls should look or be a certain way. There’s too much comparison of girls to each other and to people in the media. And I appreciate these stories that can bring light to the power of being yourself and embracing that and loving it for every aspect that it is.

J: Do you have a favorite monster you ever dressed up as for Halloween?

K: My brother and I dressed up as these dead farmers. Not quite the Walking Dead, think somewhere between that and a skeleton.  That was a lot of fun, and probably the goriest thing I ever dressed up as. But you know, thinking it about it, I always loved mummy’s. I would have loved to do that, but it to do it properly would have taken so much time and effort.

J: If you could make anything from the movies real, what would it be? Merlin’s talisman, the magic broomsticks, the amazing clothes?

K: Flying on a broom stick in real life would be amazing. And certainly living in L.A. as I am now, it would make my life a heck of a lot easier! And Marni’s ability to change clothes with the snap of a finger. I think for a lot of women it would make their lives easier. Just making the magic real would be a great start!

Some of Kimberly’s work as an actress can be found on her Youtube channel

Stay tuned for further coverage of the Halloweentown festivities taking place up in Saint Helens!

Sinister 2: Shannyn Sossamon Interview


Sinister 2: Shannyn Sossamon Interview

By Jessica Dwyer

Hitting theaters today, Sinister 2 brings us back to the world of Bhughul.  Bhughul, AKA The Boogeyman stalks young children and inspires them to kill their entire family.  The first film was inherently creepy and terrifying and it wasn’t a happy movie by any stretch of the imagination.

Sinister 2 looks to expand on Bhughul’s method of madness and gives us a closer look at his legion of ghost children and how he seduces the kids he chooses.  This time around his sights are set on twin boys and a single mother trying to run from an abusive relationship.  Shannyn Sossamon stars as Courtney, the mother trying to keep her sons safe. Returning to the franchise is James Ransone as Deputy So & So who is out to stop Bhughul after the events of the last film.

I got a chance to chat with Shannyn Sossamon about the new movie and her introduction into the world of Sinister.

FG:  What attracted you to Sinister 2 and the character of Courtney?

SS:   I hadn’t seen the first one when I had the meeting with the director.  I hadn’t experienced its horror yet.  Really what it was was meeting with Ciaran Foy, the director.  I read the script and I thought there were things I could work with.  But I wanted to talk to him to see how he was going to execute it.  Because these types of films are really draining and I don’t want to put myself through that if it’s not being held by masterful hands.

I had such a great meeting with him.  I felt so much trust leaving the room that it turned into excitement to work with him and to help him tell the story and breathe life into Courtney.

FG:  So did you watch the first film after that?

SS:  I did but I didn’t finish it.  Not because it wasn’t good but because it was so scary I didn’t want to finish it.  I got the gist of the tone and the boogeyman.  I got what I needed from it and then I stopped watching because I just didn’t want to put myself through that.

FG:  That’s testament to the film.

SS:  Exactly.  And Sinister 2 is just as scary.

FG:  I’m curious what was some of the most difficult scenes for you in this movie.  I know you’ve got two children of your own and I can only imagine it because I’ve heard about some of the kill recordings in this and they sound horrifying.

SS:  My character for the majority of the film is dealing with a different kind of horror.  Dealing with the horror of an abusive father and husband.  Trying to keep her kids safe and being on the run and being in survival mode and not wanting anyone to touch them.  That was my main focus.  So I didn’t see kill films like my kids did.  I just always thought my kids were kind of off due to their father.

And the truth was it probably was because of their father.  And that sort of brings me to another part that I think is beautiful about this film is that Ciaran has beautifully intertwined…and he said this in the meeting…was that the real villain of the piece was the father.  And that Bhughul attacked kids from dysfunctional homes.  And that Bhughul represents evil.

And if you think about it that’s true.  In our world, evil…as human beings we are more succeptible to evil if we were raised in dysfunctional homes because your faculties don’t know as much.  You weren’t around as much light.  You weren’t around nourishing life experiences.  So you are open to evil to come in.  And I think its amazing what he’s done to show those truths together.


FG:  Did the filmmakers give you any kind of history or mythology on the character of Bhughul?

SS:  I kind of stayed out of that actually.  That wasn’t my main focus.  If you were talking to James Ransone he could probably talk about that more since his character is obsessed with Bhughul and solving the mystery and stopping him.  That was his objective as an actor was to really think about that.

But I know…I know that that they could go into Sinister 3 and Sinister 4 and go further into it.  I thought it was interesting in Sinister 2 how the fans are going to get to see…you see more of his clan of those children that he’s gathered.  And you know  think that’s interesting.  That could be almost a whole other film.  How many are there total?  Where are they all hanging out?  And how is he talking to them?

FG:  And how they’ve changed.

SS:  Yes!  Who they were before…

FG:  That’s what creeped me out the most in the first film.  That’s how you get me…creepy children.

SS:  Yes.  Yes it’s very effective.

Sinister 2 is in theaters today!

Jemaine Clement Exclusive Interview- What We Do in the Shadows!


Jemaine Clement Interview – What We Do In the Shadows

By Jessica Dwyer

What We Do In the Shadows was one of my favorite movies last year.  You can read my review of the film here.

The film was just released here in the US on Blu-ray this week and you need to get it NOW.  It’s packed with extras as well as the original short film the full length feature is based on.

I was given the opportunity to interview actor/writer/director Jemaine Clement about the film which I think is probably one of the best vampire movies of the last few years.  Enjoy!


FG: The film, while being a comedy, was actually more of an homage and true vampire film than many in the last few years.  Can you talk about finding the balance for that and what led to you wanting to do a vampire film?

JC: I felt the film, while being a comedy, was an homage and true vampire film more than than many in the last few years.  

It spends more time with the vampires because it follows them rather than the vampire hunters or the victims. Part of the idea of the film was imagining what life would be like for vampires when they aren’t being cool and brooding. Dealing with the logistics of their lives, so we really tried to pay attention to all of the rules surrounding vampires.

They have so many rules.

FG:  How did you choose what sort of vampire characters were represented in the movie and did you always plan on being the “Vlad the Impaler” inspired one?

JC:  In the short we made in 2005 of the same idea I was trying to be like Antonio Banderas in Interview with a Vampire. Looking at that footage now, I can see that I really failed.

 FG:  How much of the film was improvised and what improvisation, if any, do we see in the final product?

JC:    Taika and I wrote a script which we wouldn’t show the actors. We wanted it to have a documentary feel which usually isn’t as smooth as something scripted. As Taika told the crew what they were shooting I would tell the actors what would happen in the scene. So, the story is scripted but all of the dialogue is improvised.

FG:  While the film shows us a lot of the history of the characters, did you and Taika write back stories for each of them apart from the script and if so, is there a chance of ever seeing something published of them?  (I personally would love a book of their histories because they were all so great.)

JC:  A lot of the histories of each character came from improv too, we made and found artwork to match the things each one said. Deacon has different versions of his history where he was a Manure salesman, a grass cutter (with scissors) and a cardboard box repairman. None of which were used. 

FG:  The special effects in the film are well done and in some cases subtle (like the werewolf eyes reflecting the light) was it a challenge for you to work with these effects?

JC:   It was fun. We had a limited budget so we could only use effects sparingly but because we live in the same city as Weta Digita there are a lot of people around here who are great at FX at the moment.

 FG:    Much of the film takes place in the roommates’ house…was this a set or an actual filming location?  Also what were the challenges of filming “documentary style” when making a film like this?

JC:   The outside is a real house, the inside a set made to look like it was the same era. It may not be realistic to have a camera person there to conveniently get the shot you want so you have to think whether what you want to show would have been seen by the camera.  


 FG:  I was surprised by how moving the film was and  how much heart was in it, especially with the subplot involving Viago.  Did you realize how effecting that was while writing it?

JC:  Even in a comedy you want the audience to care about the characters, so yes. I think this might have even been the first plot line we thought of.

 FG:  I loved the costumes in this film…did you keep any of yours?

 JC:  I didn’t. You think it would be okay to wear them in real life even with glasses?

FG:  Lastly, I would love to see these characters again but part of me is hesitant to wish for a sequel.  What are the chances of a sequel to the film happening since it was such a success?

 JC: We have just pitched for a series for the two cops in NZ. We are also mulling over an idea for a sequel following the werewolves. It’s the same for us too though, it would be fun doing something more with the characters but we also don’t want the great experience with the first one ruined somehow. Personally as an audience member I don’t think that even the worst sequels ruin the original movies though.


Uncovering the Pyramid: An Interview with star Ashley Hinshaw


Uncovering the Pyramid

An Interview with star Ashley Hinshaw

By Jessica Dwyer

When people think of horror films set in Egypt they typically think mummies.  Undead creatures unleashed via a scroll or a curse that’s been uttered by an unwitting digger or grave robber.  But that’s not the case in The Pyramid, hitting Digital HD on 4/17.  This new take on Egyptian based horror goes a different route through the buried secrets of an ancient tomb.  In the realm of found footage horror The Pyramid stands out due to the subject matter as well.

A modern archeological dig finds a 3 sided Pyramid, a very unique discovery. The father/daughter team leading the dig, under pressure of time and results make the poor choice of entering the tomb for a “quick look” and things go as well as you can expect.

The Pyramid has a healthy horror pedigree.  It’s produced by Alexander Aja (Horns) and is the first directorial project for Gregory Levasseur who’s written the new version of Maniac starring Elijah Wood, The Hills Have Eyes, as well as High Tension.

Star wise it’s headed up by Ashley Hinshaw, who you may as the woman who turned Jason Stackhouse’s life around on the final season of TrueBlood.  Ashley plays Nora, the smart and tech savvy archeologist at odds with her father.  Along with Ashley is another TrueBlood veteran, Dennis O’Hare who plays Holden, Nora’s more old school archeologist father whose ambition leads both he and his daughter on a dangerous path.

I got the chance to talk with Ashley about her work on The Pyramid and also of having played one of the few “normal” women in TrueBlood.

FG:  What were the locations like for this?  It looked very claustrophobic in some spots and then there were these sweeping desert panorama shots.

AH:  We filmed in Morocco.  It was actually really great.  When something is set in such a remote location it helps to be filming in a remote location rather than the back lot at Warner Brothers.   It was really great.

We spent our first week in the middle of the desert, the Sahara where we’re in the desert before going into the pyramid.  And then once we get inside it was all sets in a soundstage in this tiny town in Morocco.  And there were many claustrophobic moments and I’m really lucky I don’t have a small confined spaces issue.  It was a rough shoot.

FG:  You had some real physical things that you were doing in this.  Were there any instances that will stick with you that you’ll never forget?

AH:  OH yeah.  I got two concussions on this film.  Only because I was I very persuasive and convincing to try and do my own stunts on this movie.  I mean it’s totally my own fault.  But it’s certainly the most physical I’ve ever been in a film.  But I’m really interested in that type of stuff.  But half way through filming I was a wreck.  I was beat up; I was just one massive bruise.  I had to work through it. 

But I’m really interested in doing these sorts of physical things.  I mean, there’s a scene where I’m being buried in sand.  What other type of movie are you going to get to do that in?  And I told them I really wanted to do it.  And they were like “No, we’re using a stunt double.  Are you an insane person?”  But I really wanted to try it.  A normal project you don’t get to do cool things like that.


FG:  Were there any moments where you were in your head doing the Indiana Jones theme music while filming this?  Because I would have totally been doing that.

AH:  That was happening straight away.

FG:  Research wise for this did you study any of the mythology or books on this subject of archeology before filming?

AH:  Oh yes.  Playing an archeologist is something that I took very seriously.  I wanted to make sure I came off sounding like I knew what I was talking about and wasn’t just an actress saying words that she didn’t know what they meant.  So I read a lot about it and I watched a lot of documentaries about it.  And I was just always really fascinated by Egyptian mythology and the pyramids.

So it was actually really interesting for me to do.  It didn’t really feel like work at all.

FG:  It sounds like that is a lot of what attracted you to this project.  And plus I haven’t seen a lot of films set in the supernatural aspects of Egypt that utilize the Gods of their mythology…usually it’s a mummy.

AH:  That’s what I thought it was going to be.  I was going to turn around and there was going to be a mummy there wrapped up in toilet paper coming down the hallway at me.  But it didn’t happen.  And I love horror films and I love archeology and I thought what an interesting pairing of the two.

It is a typical horror film at some points.  So audiences are sitting there thinking “oh I know what’s coming…”  But it does take a few different twists and turns on that road.  It was really interesting as an actress to be a part of that.

And I think as horror movies go, I’d rather do something that is a little bit different than the average scary film.


FG:  It was neat to see you paired up as a father and daughter with Denis O’Hare.  How was that to get to work with him?

AH:  I got so lucky to get to work with him.  He’s a great actor and an even greater human.  We became friends and it was just a learning experience for me.  He’s such a fantastic actor and he’s got very strong opinions on what he wants to bring to the project.  And it was such a blessing.  His involvement took the script from being a little more generic to a little more interesting.

FG:  Well one thing I have to say was I loved the fact that you and Dennis are in this and you were both in TrueBlood.  I just had to say I really liked your character and the fact that you were a normal person and not a supernatural but also…and this is going to sound really bad…but you weren’t out to bang Jason Stackhouse.

AH:  (Laughing) I have a lot of friends on the show including Dennis.  But I didn’t watch every episode before I got cast…but I kind of knew what the girls who got hooked up with Jason were typically like.  And I was just glad I was going to be a refreshing character.

And I think what I do as an actress best is very natural characters.  And I think I was really lucky that they let me do that.  Because that show is fantastic but very kitschy and every character has an agenda.  I think it was refreshing that at the end they let someone come in and change that up.

I was so excited to be a part of that show.  That was such a fantastic series and I wish I could have been on it longer.

FG:  And like you said I like the fact that you weren’t out to have like some insane vampire werewolf three way with Jason or something.

AH:  They actually shot a sex scene with us but they didn’t air it.  They decided it’s so nice as it is and we’re giving his character growth by showing the flash forward scene with his character end up with a girl who’s so different than the women he’s been with.  So you’re making more of a statement by not seeing them hook up.

FG:  You saved Jason Stackhouse!  Yay!

AH:  I just want to save people!

The Pyramid is on Digital HD right now and able to be purchased on Amazon digital download here

Check out the trailer:

Steven Moffat Talks to Fangirl Magazine about Christmas and the Doctor

_AC_3793.jpg  Steven Moffat

Your friendly neighborhood editor got a chance to talk to Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffat late last week about the upcoming Christmas special during a conference call.  During the chat Moffat defended the Doctor against some naughty accusations about the Doctor being the cause of some companions having their lives destroyed:

“I mean that’s not true about all the Doctor’s
companions. It’s maybe what the Doctor thinks in his darker moments and
when he’s dying in “Let’s Kill Hitler.” He worries that he might’ve done them
terrible harm.

But Rose is off in a parallel universe. She’ll be with her – with a human 

version of the Doctor. She’s fine. Martha learns to stand up for herself and got
over her crush on the Doctor and she soars off.

Yes Donna has a more miserable thing. But she doesn’t know she’s miserable.
She ends up actually quite happy and married to a good bloke. Rory and Amy
are perfectly happy in New York. They’re dead, but, you know, everyone
from that year is dead so that’s all right. They lived to a ripe old age and had a
lovely time.

The Doctor – so he’s not – they all don’t leave under terrible circumstances at 

all. I think the tragedy when Amy and Rory went was the Doctor lost them not
– and that in the end they, you know, of course that, you know, Amy would
choose Rory over the Doctor in a heartbeat. And he actually had some trouble
quite dealing with that.

But the fact is, no he doesn’t ruin their lives. He can induce a certain amount
of trauma, it must be said. But no they’re not all destroyed by any means. And
no, every time, every time the Doctor loses a regular character from this show
it will happen in a moment that makes people talk. Because the episode that
you described no one would talk about that. That wouldn’t be thrilling.”


One of the more interesting bits though was when ComicMix turned the  conversation to the companions again, but this time it involved the recent discussions around the web of when we might see a different companion that WASN’T from modern day earth.  The response was practical and also made sense from a writers perspective when it comes to modern Who.  

“Now in fact, the old series doesn’t do a hell of a lot of it. If you looked at the
vast majority of the companions come from contemporary era. Even the ones
who don’t come from contemporary era are pretty much normalized ones like
with Jamie and Victoria. Then it’s hardly any time at all before Victoria is
wearing short skirts. No Victorian would actually do that.

You know, so the problem is – and I don’t say it’s an unsolvable problem, but
the majority solution will always be a contemporary companion. But the
problem is you need an anchoring point for the audience. You need someone
who represents their world and their point of view. And the simplest, purest
and best answer to that is somebody from their world.

Now somebody who’s watched Doctor Who for an unseasonably long time
like I have, like possibly you have, I don’t know, might get bored of that and
say I wish it was, you know, a two headed alien from the planet Prang. The
new audience don’t think that. They want an anchoring point on that
mysterious alien the Doctor. 

Doesn’t mean we’ll always do it this way. But the reality is it’s always going
to be somebody from contemporary era or somebody who ends up being very
like somebody from contemporary era.

I think it was great – the one that broke the mold really I would argue was
Leela. We actually went for somebody who was quite different. I would sort
of say that Jamie and Victoria ended up – when I was a kid watching I wasn’t
particularly aware that they were historical characters. And I do remember
watching them.

And Romana just came across as, you know, in the end like a very, very
clever young woman. She wasn’t that different from Liz Shaw. It’s going to
be – it’s going to be the relatable half of the partnership.

Keep in mind Doctor Who has to not just appeal to sci-fi fans, it has to appeal
to a huge mainstream audience who dwarf the sci-fi audience. You sort of
need that way in for them. Having said that, you know, who knows maybe
there’ll be a robot dog next. I don’t know.


 My question though was more central to the issue at hand, which was the Christmas special itself and how it was about time Santa Claus was involved.

Jessica Dwyer:  So as a writer what is the process of planning and

plotting a Christmas Special every year for a series like Doctor Who, and what

are the challenges? And kind of as a backup to that as well, why did it take so

long for someone to use Santa as a plot point in a special?

Steven Moffat: What did it take – it’s not massively different from just writing an episode of

Doctor Who. The thing about Doctor Who and the way we approach it, and it

sort of has paid off is – I’m always saying to every writer and often myself

when I’m the writer – every episode of Doctor Who has to be an event. It has

to be an event. It has to be the thing the paper is talking about that day.

So when you come to do the Christmas Special, which has to be an event

episode obviously, I kind of think we’re fighting fit for that. We’re used to


 The additional things that are different about Christmas, though they’re not

massively different, is that we have to remember that a lot of people will be

forced into watching it that don’t normally watch Doctor Who. Probably, you

know, there’s people – you know, your parents getting dragged in, grannies

getting dragged in. You have to sort of – you have to have a sort of quite basic

version of Doctor Who.

 But when I say that I know I’m lying because actually that happens with every

episode of Doctor Who. And people certainly in Britain know Doctor Who

incredibly well. So it doesn’t need a lot of introduction even to people who

don’t watch it that often.

 The other challenges – I do think a Christmas Special should be Christmassy. I

think there’s no point in trying to pretend an ordinary episode would pass

muster on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t.

 You know, it’s a highly sugared day. People are exhausted by six o’clock on a

Saturday. They’ve had food, they’ve been drinking champagne since 10

o’clock in the morning. They’re not – and they’ve probably eaten an amount of

chocolate that would kill a horse. You know, it’s not – they’re not in the same


 So you have to sort of cut through an even louder living room than normal

with your story. And I can admit all these things are just exaggerations of

Doctor Who. Doctor Who is always like that.

 I don’t know how clear it is to an American audience and sometimes in the

way they react to it I wonder if it’s very unclear to them that Doctor Who is an

early evening Saturday show in Britain. It’s surrounded by shiny floor shows.

It’s shown in houses full of children all yelling and talking at once. And mum

and dad doing the cooking and maybe a Hoover. It has to be a loud clarion

call of a show to survive all that.

 I know you guys watch it later in the evening and I sometimes think it must

feel a bit loud for nine o’clock. But it seems to be going very well so I

shouldn’t complain.

Jessica Dwyer: And why did it take so long to have Santa be a plot point in a Christmas

Special for Doctor Who?

Steven Moffat: Well the simple dull – the dull answer is that it took me this long to think of it.

And so, no big deal. I think it’s oh so true that now that this is Doctor Who’s

tenth year at the heart of the Christmas schedule he’s now earned the right to

go toe to toe with Santa, you know? It feels about right.

 It’s one of those ideas that when you have it you just – for goodness sake why

has it not happened before now? Why haven’t we seen them, you know, in a

buddy movie together before now? They belong together. And it’s something

in the hearts I’m sure of the younger part of our audience Doctor Who and

Santa Claus live – and Robin Hood – all very much live in the same place.

 So that’s – it’s irresistible once you’ve thought of it. But, you know, and also

because of the format of the show we can contrive anything to happen. So

here we are.

Jessica Dwyer: That’s awesome. Thank you so much. And thank you for casting Nick Frost.  His name screams Christmas and Santa.

Steven Moffat: Yes, Nicholas Frost is a name Santa would choose isn’t it? If he was going for

a nom de plume. He’d call him – and it fit’s much better than Kris Kringle –

Nicholas Frost.

Jessica Dwyer: Exactly. Thank you so much.

Steven Moffat: Pleasure.

The Doctor Who Christmas Special airs Christmas Day!

Jessica’s Archives: David Tennant for Fright Night

I’ve been doing the writing gig for a while now and I’ve been blessed to have talked to some pretty amazing people over the years.  So starting with this entry I’m going to do what I call “Jessica’s Archives,”  some of the best and most interesting interviews I’ve done over the years.

The first I’ve chosen is David Tennant because he is simply amazing and is one of my favorite actors ever.  I was beyond thrilled to get to talk to him because of this and the fact I love Fright Night.  As it turns out I think I was one of only a few writers here in the States to get to talk to him about the film due to his schedule and locale in the UK.

A few facts about this interview:

1.  He’s just finished rehearsals for Much Ado About Nothing with Catherine Tate.  And by just finished I mean literally only a couple hours before.

2.  I sent the DVD of Fantastic Journey and they never gave it to him.  I sent it AGAIN to his agent and they never gave it to him either.  I know this because one of my co-writers for HorrorHound saw him over a year later and he remembered I was going to give it to him and told him he’d never gotten it.  So David, someday…I’ll just put it right in your hand.

3.  My friend’s kids are HUGE Doctor Who fans and David was kind enough to do the shout out to them.  Their faces upon hearing it were amazing.

4.  This was for HorrorHound issue 30 which you can purchase here

And here is David Tennant: