Gore with Soul Interview with director Salem Kapsaski
Hugo Silva: Could you explain what Spidarlings is all about?
Salem Kapsaski: Spidarlings is the story of a young lesbian couple; Eden and Matilda who are facing eviction by their Landlord and are being tormented by a psychopath who kills young girls. All of this with a lot of dance and songs by the brilliant composer Jeff Kristian.
HS: The movie features LGBT, social satire, horror and musical topics. Is there one you consider more relevant than the others, and if so why?
SK: I would say that at its core the film is foremost about people getting caught up in a society they never wanted to be a part of. There is some social satire about the British income support and housing system but it is not too heavy handed as you would find it in a film by Ken Loach. A lot of the themes in the film come from personal anger and frustration but I don’t just want to force feed my political ideals down people’s throats. Music and Musicals have always been a big part of my life so the idea to make it a Musical came very natural.
HS: Horror indie movies are usually cursed with a festival run only and you’ve picked one that included two other cursed genres (LGBT and Musical), so clearly your motivations are not financial. What made you want to do Spidarlings?
SK: Before Spidarlings I was hired to write the script for a TV movie and I found it to be a grueling experience. After one year of interferences from producers and countless re-writes the project eventually fell apart and it left me feeling drained. So I started to write the script for Spidarlings because I wanted to write something that I would actually like to see myself.
Making any independent film is a big financial gamble; especially in Britain were funding for genre films is close to nil. But I’d much rather work on a project that I personally believe in. Raising the money that we needed was not easy, but the response we received so far has been overwhelming.
HS: Your trailer keeps the bloody gore bits behind the curtain with the titular spider making a very short appearance. Any reason you’re keeping those parts under wrap?
SK: We are still working on some of the special FX and gore scenes; I put the teaser trailer together at the beginning of production to show people that the film is actually happening. As a result two important characters from the film, Chris Repps who plays the Landlord and Gypsy Lee Pistolero who plays Ticks are both not featured in the trailer. We are going to premiere a gorier official trailer very soon but won’t give away too many spoilers. I prefer if there is still some open mystery opposed to contemporary Hollywood trailers that reveal too much.
HS: Lloyd Kaufman is a legendary figure amongst horror and indie fans. What was it like working with him?
SK: Working with Lloyd was a geeky fanboy’s dream come true. He plays Mr Banner, the character who sells the Tarantula to the girls. We shot all of his scenes in one day. Lloyd has filmed with a Tarantula before on “The Fist Turn-On” so he was one of the only cast members who felt comfortable handling our spider.
HS: Talking a little bit about your directing background, you’ve made your first horror short at 13 years old. Care to talk about that experience?
SK: My Head Hurts was my first serious attempt at making a short film. The film was shot in one weekend and I didn’t have much technical know how at the time, so the film is very flawed and for many years I felt rather disappointed with the final result. I have recently watched it again for the first time in 10 years, and have warmed up to it. It’s not the kind of thing I want out there but with the resources I had and considering my age, it wasn’t that bad after all.
HS: How has your theatrical experience helped in making your debut feature film?
SK: Working in fringe theatre has certainly helped me a lot in gaining more knowledge on how to organize a project within a short time period and with limited resources.
HS: What would you say are the most influential movies for your directing career?
SK: The films of John Waters and George Kuchar have certainly influenced me, I’m also a big fan of Fassbinder and it is my dream to one day have my own ensemble.
HS: Do you have any plans/ideas for your next feature film?
SK: There are several projects in the works at the moment. One is called “Voodoo Exotica” based on a brilliant script written by Dennis Prather who also acts as a producer, We have already managed to attach quite an interesting cast including Bloody F Mess (who will also be in Spidarlings) and Slymenstra Hymen of GWAR. We are still raising the money we need but hope to start filming in early 2014.
Another project is a collective homage to the films of Jess Franco and Jean Rollin called “Blue Noon” and will be a collaboration with Jesse Richards, Scott Barley and other directors. I’m also currently writing a surreal horror script loosely based on Medea.
HS: And finally, MOTELx the international horror festival in Lisbon, Portugal, is accepting entries to this year’s edition (September). Will I be able to see Spidarlings there?
SK: Spidarlings will premiere at the Detroit Underground Film Festival this August and at FrightFest here in the UK. I would love to take the film to Portugal.
HS: Again thank you for your time, and I wish you all the best with Spidarlings and your future endeavors. Hope I get to talk about you again!
SK: Thank you for the great questions and support.
Originally published by
© Hugo Silva (April 9, 2013)
Gore with Soul
GRINDHOUSE HORRORS: Interview with Spidarlings director Salem Kapsaski
“Its not often these days you come across a movie that truly has the spirit of independent cinema at its core,when the latter does occur however,its a pretty god darn momentous event!
I had this ‘epihany moment’ when I first read the script for indie horror film -cum- musical Spidarlings.
The film centres around two outsiders,a punk girl and her sassy lover Matilda as they skirt eviction,vicious psycho paths and embrace spiders…and thats just for starters!I knew i had to be in this film,it struck me as completely unique and i loved its black humour and delightful smatterings of old school gore!” – Sophia Disgrace
Grindhouse Horrors: Tell us a little about this film?
Salem Kapsaski: Spidarlings is Horror Musical centred around a young lesbian couple who are trying to make ends meet while being terrorized by their landlord for not paying the rent.
I wanted it to feel like the sequel to a great punk rock love story, my own Sid and Nancy only instead of dying they moved to Kent and try to scam the dole.
GH: What horror movies influenced Spidarlings?
SK: It’s hard to say, while Horror is one of my favourite genres I think it’s “Daisies” and “Liquid Sky” that were probably the biggest inspirations, as well as the films of John Waters, George Kuchar and Richard Kern.
GH: What made you get into film making?
SK: When I was seven years old my grandfather took me to see “Full Metal Jacket”; that film had a huge impact on my life in terms of me wanting to be involved in Film-making. It was also my grandfather who bought me my first video camera when I was nine.
GH: Getting to the f/x is Spidarlings cgi, or old school props?
SK: Old school props, most of them are constructed in my kitchen.
GH: When is this movie going to be available the public?
SK: We hope to be done with Post-Production by the end of the summer and hit the festival circuit next year.
GH: Do you think we will have another Golden age of Horror?
SK: There have been many fantastic independent horror films over the past few years, even if a lot of the films have not received the attention or acclaim they truly deserve.
I don’t think however that the next golden age will come out of Hollywood or Britain. There have been quite a number of great French Horror films in the past few years.
GH: Any movies you see make you want to stab your eyes out lately?
SK: Not since a friend of mine insisted that I watch all six “Star Wars” movies with him.
GH: Do you think Joss Whedon will ever get his sanity back, or is it lost in the Whedonverse?
SK: Joss Whedon’s sanity or contributions to the arts never interested me, so I don’t really know.
Originally published by
©Dan Cook (2012)
An Interview with Salem Kapsaski, Director of Spidarlings at (Re)Search My Trash
Your upcoming film Spidarlings – in a few words, what is it about?
At its core I believe it’s about young people having to deal with the consequences of not being able to make it in a society they never wanted to be part of to begin with, who don’t have the job opportunities they are hoping for, and about getting caught up in a system where you can’t survive if you don’t want to meet the requirements of a “standard life”.
How did the project come together in the first place, and what were your inspirations when writing Spidarlings?
A lot of it is based on real life experiences; I guess my biggest inspirations for the script came from all the unsympathetic and creepy people I have encountered in my life who eventually formed themselves into several characters of the story. For example all the landlords I ever had melted into one character.
Among other things, Spidarlings is also labelled a musical. Why, what music are we to expect, and would you consider yourself a fan of musicals as such?
I’ve always been a fan of musicals, I grew up watching Fred Astaire movies and for a while I wanted to become a tap dancer. When writing Spidarlings I thought the story demanded a really cool and original soundtrack. I envisioned every character in the film to have their own song in a different musical style suited to their personality and background, but for a long time I just couldn’t find a composer who could fully grasp the ideas behind it. At some point I heard the song “Spider in Love” by the Belgium group Two Russian Cowboys and I fell in love with it. Eventually we were able to contact them and they turned out to be amazing people and liked the concept of Spidarlings. So after we established that we are “partners in crime” they gave us the permission to use the song for free! I almost gave up on the idea of making it a musical until I met Jeff Kristian. I found working with Jeff to be a unique experience, because he’s not only a brilliant composer and song-writer, but he really got under the skin of the story and has given a lot of colour and emotion to the plot.
Fear of spiders is a very widespread if not entirely rational phobia. To what extent do you play on that in Spidarlings?
The choice of spiders was not based on the general arachnophobia but because I have always been fascinated with spiders, they are quite endearing little creatures.
How would you describe your movie’s brand of comedy?
When I first showed the script to a friend of mine he told me that the humour is too “mean spirited” – I don’t know if that is a correct assertion, there is certainly a lot of black humour in there but I personally believe that it’s more camp and tongue-in-cheek.
What can you tell us about your directorial approach to the story at hand? And do you see yourself more as a visual, a narrative or an actor-centered director?
Although I started in theatre I believe that my approach to directing is more visual. With Spidarlings I wanted to achieve an almost cartoony and artificial look and feel.
A few words about your leading ladies Rahel Kapsaski and Sophia Disgrace, and why did you choose them in the first place?
Sophia is a very interesting, intelligent and sensitive artist and is also a sweet and charming person. She has added a lot of emotions and expression to the character of Eden by being able to explore and comprehend Eden’s character in all layers. I’m so happy that we found her and it is amazing to work with Sophia.
I have worked with Rahel before on different projects, and she is a marvellous actress with great comical timing, I wanted her to play the role of Matilda from the very beginning and she became very involved in the creation of the character
Of course, you also have to say a few words about the glamorous Tiffaney Wells and the very unique flavour (s)he brings to your movie?
Tiffaney Wells is a real Star, not only on stage but in every aspect of her life. She was wonderful to work with. Tiffaney has got an incredible voice and created an unforgettable atmosphere on set from the moment she walked into the room as Gena.
What can you tell us about the rest of your cast and crew?
In my whole life I have never worked with so many creative, passionate and enthusiastic people on a single project. I feel very lucky to have met people like Kjell De Kerpel, Allan Groves, Suzanne Coleman and of course Theofilos Vandoros, who will play Ticks and is a very well-known director and theatre and TV actor in Greece. We had a few setbacks during casting and I also had a very interesting response from a former Kubrick actress who had originally auditioned for the role of the fairy godmother! I knew Lynn Ruth Miller, who plays the fairy godmother now from previous years at the Edinburgh Fringe. Our crew came together one by one. We are like a big family with a lot of trust, passion and fun, and I hope we will be together on many future projects to come.
The $64-question of course: When and where will Spidarlings be released?
Beginning of Post Production is scheduled for end of April. We are still looking for a foreign distributor but are planning to have the film ready for selected Festival screenings this summer.
Let’s go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
When I was seven years old my grandfather took me to see Full Metal Jacket – the experience completely blew me away and it had been my dream ever since to be involved in film-making. I originally studied to become a sound engineer but it never enticed me in the same way that film has, and although I’m not a believer of Film Schools I eventually switched to Film Studies at the New York College in Athens.
From what I know, your first film as a director was the short My Head Hurts. What can you tell us about that one?
My Head Hurts was a Horror Short I made when I was 13 for a short film competition that took place in Stuttgart, Germany. We shot most of the film in two nights and I edited it myself straight from the camera to video tape. Because I didn’t have the equipment or know-how I needed, I was rather unhappy with the finished result at the time; but it was my first film so I think of it as a learning process.
Other movies of yours you’d like to talk about? Any future projects?
I have several film projects in mind that I want to pursue in the future. It all depends on how I can finance them and which project we can afford to start on our own if we don’t get any funding.
Besides making movies, you are also involved quite a bit in the theatre scene. Want to talk about that aspect of your career?
My mother is a theatre producer so I was introduced to the world of theatre at a very young age. When I was 18 I started to do light design for various plays in London, Athens and Edinburgh and got to work with great directors like Andy McQuade who now runs the Second Skin Theatre and Victor Sobchak, a friend and mentor who has accepted to play the role of “The Bear” in Spidarlings. I think that working in fringe theatre has also helped me to be more inventive and spontaneous and was a good training on how to create something on a very small budget under constant pressure. I certainly love theatre as much as I do cinema and I appreciate both for what they are. I have only acted on stage once when I played Ian Brady in an adaptation of Fassbinder’s “Pre-Paradise Sorry Now” and directed several plays, my latest being called “That Abortion Play” written by the brilliantly satirical Greg Moulder. After Spidarlings I am planning to stage a new play called “Cat Killers” and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It is play about abuse and how abuse is perceived by society. That is sadly all I can reveal about it at this point.
Your production company is called Àpres-Vague. Could you please explain the name, and your company’s mission statement?
The name is inspired by the movement of the Nouvelle Vague together with the image of the after-shocks that occur after an earthquake or seaquake. So Après Vague in a way stands for the vision of a New Wave of Independent Cinema and will hopefully also create a lot of after-shocks.
I’ve read somewhere that you have also been production assistant on Giallo by Dario Argento. Since I know many of my readers are fans of his, you just have to talk about that experience for a bit!
I’ve only worked on set for a couple days but it was the most amazing experience of my life, I’m a huge admirer of Mr Argento work. On my way to Italy I thought of the millions of questions I would ask him if I get to talk to him, but once there I found myself much too shy to ever approach him.
But I got an unbelievable and invaluable insight to a big production and the chance to see one of my idols at work.
Directors who inspire you?
There are so many fantastic directors whose films, style and approach to cinema inspire and fascinate me, I am a big admirer of Fassbinder, Cassavetes and John Waters. But the biggest inspiration and encouragement comes from directors like George Kuchar and Joe Christ, who have managed to create original and honest cinema on a Nano-budget and against all the odds.
Your favourite movies?
This is always a hard question to answer. My current Top 10: Freaks, Love Streams, In a Year with 13 Moons, Phenomena, Themroc,Polyester, Orphée, Daisies, A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Santa Sangre.
… and of course, films you really deplore?
I hate films with an overly reactionary or moralist attitude.
Originally published by
© Mike Haberfelner (February 2012)
(Re)Search My Trash