Jen and Sylvia Soska are the ‘terrible twins’ who are taking the film world by storm. Their second feature, AMERICAN MARY, is enjoying huge critical success ahead of its UK release in January 2013.
For their Director’s Night on Horror Channel, they have chosen ‘Hellraisers’,’Martyrs’ and ‘Pontypool’ and here they talk about their choices, why the UK is so special to them, the therapeutic nature of American Mary and why they can’t wait to get started on ‘Bob’.
Q: Last year Horror Channel broadcast the world premiere of ‘Dead Hooker In A Trunk’. What did that mean to you?
SS: When we were in the UK for FrightFest this year, we met so many people that were introduced to our work through the Horror Channel screenings - that gives an independent an audience they could never reach otherwise on a global scale.
JS: The UK is very special to us. It's the first place the film showed at a festival and the first place it was released. It was only was fitting to have our television premiere where we've had such a stellar response. It was at the same time very surreal. We watched along via twitter with the fans and I think we crashed our twitter account half way through and had to carry on via Facebook, ha ha! And to have an intro from our horror girl crush, Emily Booth, was a dream come true.
Q: How did that film change your lives?
SS: That film and more specifically the support we received from the horror community has changed our lives. We have this amazing opportunity to create unique films and we have brilliant people standing by the work to make it possible. We're promoting our second film, American Mary, now; what's different is we're getting the chance to travel and meet the people who have made this possible and watch the film with them. I feel like we're the luckiest horror nerds on the planet.
JS: Dead Hooker In A Trunk was a massive success due to the outstanding support of the horror community. First and foremost, we're horror fans ourselves and there's nothing like the feeling of having our fellow horror lovers embrace what we're doing. It's never been more easy to make a film in the way that we have so much technology and that makes it on the flip side a great struggle to stand apart from all the others, particularly for first time filmmakers. DHIAT has made us known filmmakers and that is a huge honour. We are so grateful to the people who have believed in us from the very beginning. They're the reason we're able to keep making films.
Q: Your new movie American Mary, which opens in the UK in January, has made a huge impact across the globe and has critics clambering over themselves to heap praise upon it. Where did the idea come from?
SS: Thank you; it's a very personal story. We were fascinated about the body modification culture when stumbling upon it years ago and massively researching the subject matter. We were struggling after making DHIAT, this is before its release, poor as hell, starving, meeting monsters in the industry, and having all sorts of personal troubles. The script was very therapeutic - we put everything we were going through and ourselves into that story using mainstream medicine Vs body modification as analogies for mainstream film industry Vs the horror scene. We wanted to shift people's opinions on appearances on the surface as well as one person's struggles for success.
JS: We've always been outcasts and found friendship and acceptance with our fellow underdogs. That inability to accept people who are different comes largely from ignorance. The body modification community is largely misunderstood and seems to be the subject of modern day witch hunts. It makes no sense to me that cosmetic surgery is fully accepted whereas body modification is ridiculed. We wanted to educate people on body mod. It makes a perfect vessel for telling our story as well.
How different was it making American Mary compared to DHIAT?
SS: On DHIAT, we were every department. It was sink or swim and everyone having multiple jobs. On AM, we had experts in every department that killed themselves to make every aspect of the film excel. We had the experience from DHIAT to understand each department role and be involved, but a great full team and some money makes a world of difference, especially with an ambitious film like AM.
JS: Every project is a different experience. You learn from each, but they're all unique. The things that happened on DHIAT didn't happen on AM. DHIAT taught us how to roll with the punches which is an invaluable skill for a filmmaker at any level. Every film does come with its individual challenges. They're never the things you prepare for. You just need to be able to trouble shoot and keep going no matter what is standing in your way.
Q: Do you think you’ve grown in confidence as writers and directors?
SS: Yes. This job toughens you up significantly. I wanted to please everyone earlier on and you just can't do that. You have to stick to your guns, get your shots, and make your day. You have to be worthy of the leadership and visionary position that you have. I love collaborating with other team members to create a beautiful project, but I don't put up with shit from people who derail the process. Life's too short to deal with assholes.
JS: Absolutely. You become more sure of yourself and confident with your vision. I'm proud of DHIAT, but that film was very reflective of where we were when we made it. AM is where we've evolved to and our next film will be reflective of where we evolve to next. As a Canadian and as a woman, society trains you to tread so lightly and avoid confrontation and that's a load of bullsh*t you need to train yourself out of. You need to stick to your guns and trust your instincts. I'm very comfortable with that now. We don't compromise with our artistic vision. When you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one, especially yourself.
Q: Does it make you nervous for your next movie?
SS: I'm dying to get back to work. I love travelling and promoting a film, but I only truly feel like myself when I'm working on creating a film - I long to get back to that. And the next one is completely different; I can't wait to get it out to people.
JS: Quite the opposite. I can't wait to be shooting and prepping and cutting the new one. It's been a life changing experience to be able to travel with American Mary and have the opportunity to connect with the fans, but I feel the most like who I am when I'm working on a film. It's invigorating and exciting and there's no feeling in the world like it. I can't wait to create a new, original nightmare for the horror community.
Q: American Mary will be released in the UK in January. For the DVD; can you give us any hint of what extras we can expect?
SS: I like bringing people into the world of how the film is created. We've got some great behind the scenes goodies, a making of mini-documentary, and some other good stuff. Plus, it's our first film out on Blu-ray - we shot on the Red and it makes a big picture difference.
JS: Yup, everything Sylvie said. The behind the scenes is my favourite feature. You get to see us and the full cast and crew in the thrall of it all.
Q: You’ve chosen Pontypool, Martyrs and Hellraiser for your Director’s Night, can you explain why you picked these three movies?
SS: They are some of my favourite horror films. I don't like predictable, paint by numbers horror - these films are genuinely unique and memorable, Martyrs might actually scar your mind. I like that kind of feeling, films that make you feel something.
JS: Pontypool is one of the most original takes on a classic horror genre and it's one of those hidden little horror gems. We wanted to get it out there and share it. It's a film that too few people know about. Hellraiser is just an outstanding work of art. We saw it when we were 12 and needless to say it was quite impactful. We adore body horror and Clive Barker. It's one of those films that’s just as damn good every time you see it.
Q: So what’s next for you two?
SS: Bob is next. There's a monster in all of us, sometimes it gets out. Be prepared for something wild that you haven't seen before.
JS: I'm very excited to get going on Bob. It's a very original take on a genre that's been plagued with a lot of crap as of late. We have the remedy for that.
Jen and Sylvia Soska, thank you very much.
SS: Thank you so very much!!
From Jan 11 2013, The Soska Sisters will be in the UK for a nationwide theatrical tour for AMERICAN MARY, courtesy of FrightFest and Universal.