Sunday, 7 September 2008
Elske McCain 'Jessicka Rabid' interview
Was it always your ambition to become an actress? What kind of upbringing did you have and how did you get your first break in the industry?
"I never actually thought I could make it as an actress. I was more of a film geek and dreamed of being a movie critic of all things. I did take drama from Jr High into college, but it was mostly just for fun. I had gotten work as an extra in a few films thanks to my best friend Cici. Her mom had a modeling agency in Yuma, Arizona, and when films would come to shoot there, they would often call her to do the extras casting. That's how we first got our feet in the door. I had dropped out of college in order to be more independent and live on my own out in Tuscon. In 2004, I happened to meet Lloyd Kaufman of Troma films, and that got me back into the acting game."
How were you experiences with Troma and what was it about their style of filmmaking that appealed to you so much?
"I really appreciate Troma for helping me as an artist, and find out what I really wanted to do with my life. I love the combination of over the top gore and comedy in most Troma films. That is what makes them so unique. They will pretty much do anything they want to do in a Troma film and don't really care what the critics will say. It's that kind of attitude that I admire."
How did you first make the acquaintance of Matthew Reel and how were you introduced to the Jessicka Rabid project?
"I first met Matthew through a horror dvd review website. When I needed somebody to come and film a screen test for Poultrygeist, he came to mind. His partner had actually filmed my initial meeting with Lloyd, which had become an extra feature on one of Matt's dvds. I was happy with the way the Interview with Lloyd had turned out so it made sense for me to ask Matt to come and help me with the audition. Though I didn't get the part (I had read for 'Micki'), Matt had a short film coming up and asked me to be a part of it. The experience was so fun that we just ended up working together over and over and as a result became great friends. Jessicka Rabid was the result of a combination of things. Mostly a project that Matt and I had worked on that had ultimately failed and we wanted to use our resources to make something better."
What can you reveal about the story and what kind of tone are the filmmakers aiming for?
"The story revolves around a dysfunctional family living in a house where lots of disturbing things take place. Jessicka has an unspecified mental disability and as a result often ends up taking on the most abuse. I want the movie to feel like a vintage piece that brings back memories of the old school movies we used to rent on VHS back in the 80's. Alot of people lately refer to this type of movie as "grindhouse" a term that I am extremely hesitant to use. However sometimes it is just easier to tell somebody it is a grindhouse film instead of coming up with alternative explanations."
Was the character written specifically with you in mind and how much input did you have on the script?
"Yes the character was definitely written specifically for me. I had used the name Jessicka Rabid as an internet moniker and myspace url. When I got tempted to make a film about a female serial killer, it just made sense to take advantage of the name. I gave Matt the initial outline of what I wanted from the script and during one of my out of town trips, he was house sitting for me and wrote the script in under two weeks."
How did you prepare for the role and what was it about Jessicka that you found so interesting?
"I didn't really have too much time to prepare for the role. I had gotten into character during the original teaser trailer and some promotional shots we had done in pre production. Jessicka has a mental handicap and I thought it would be a cool challenge to play a type of role not normally found in these low budget movies. I had to use alot of facial expressions and body language in order to bring Jessicka to life. It's pretty hard to snap in and out of the character really quickly. I find myself staying in character alot of time when other cast and crew members were joking around and being themselves."
From the promotional footage released the movie seems to be in the vein of late '70's/early '80's exploitation features. Which movies in particular were the main influence on it?
"Originally, I think I wanted Jessicka to be more of a Freddy Krueger-ish type character with humor. But after reading Matt's script, I really like the direction we took. The most influencial movies would probably be Carrie, Deadly Friend, The Last House on the Left, Thriller a Cruel Picture, Halloween, The Baby and Bad Boy Bubby. There are really too many infuences to try and list , but these are a few of the main ones."
The trailer featured strong sex and nudity, and hinted that Jessicka's vengeance would be violent. Just how graphic will the movie be?
"I really have not thought about whether or not the movie will be rated. I know there will be alot of nudity, and some gore. It definitely won't be suitable for children."
How long did it take from your initial involvement to the shooting, and how difficult has it been to find an audience?
"We came up with the idea in January of 2007, and we shot the original teaser in July of 2007. Preproduction of the movie officially began sometime in September of 2007. The movie completed principal photography in November of 2007. Thanks to MySpace and the internet, the news of the movie has spread like wildfire. The teaser alone had gotten me so much attention at San Diego Comic Con in July 2007, that I knew we had to make this movie."
The likes of MySpace and YouTube have helped spread the word. Just how much of an impact would you say these sites have had on he way independent features are financed and promoted?
"I think those sites are invaluable promotional tools. However I wouldn't expect to get a movie financed solely from MySpace."
How would you compare Jessicka Rabid to the other projects you have worked on and what are the pros and cons of working on low budget movies?
"Jessicka is different from my other projects because it is the only one I have had nearly complete control over. As far as pros and cons of indie film go. There are tons of pros, as far as creativity goes. But obviously when you have limited finances as most indie films do, then alot of times you can't afford to produce the types of ideas you come up with. So it's a double edged sword. With low budget films, you get tons more creative control, but alot of the times, just can't afford to do the things you come up with."
How much torture did Matthew put you through in the name of art and were you subjected to much fake blood and effects?
"Matt really didn't put me through as much torture as you would think. A normal actress may have dreaded all the nudity and crazy stunts we did. I think I actually went further than Matt had originally intended when he wrote the script. I spent most of principal photography wearing next to nothing, and there were a couple of scenes where we could have staged things, but I wanted to go the extra mile to add realism. Some might refer to it as method acting, but yes I did get my hands dirty. Jessicka's final look did take a little while to put together with the teeth, blood, etc. Being a low budget movie, our f/x budget was limited, but thankfully fake blood isn't that expensive. So we did end up using quite a lot of blood!"
How enjoyable has the experience of Jessicka Rabid been and what kind of impact has the film had on your life so far?
"I have enjoyed all aspects of making Jessicka Rabid. Even from the beginning, you come up with a cool concept that you would like to see made, and getting to realize that dream is a fantastic feeling. Actual production was great because we made the movie with all of my close friends. So not only was it a bonding experience, but also a learning experience for many people involved. I have been getting such great support from everybody. Post has been the most stressful part. Everyone is awaiting the final outcome and making sure the movie turns out just right takes time, but in the end it will be worth it. Jessicka has changed my life because it is my chance to prove to everybody that I am not just your typical horror actress. I am a filmmaker who works hard to get things done, so I think I get more respect that way."
What kind of feedback has the movie received prior to its release and does Matthew intend to showcase the film at festivals or will it be sent straight-to-DVD?
"The trailer had amazingly positive feedback! The teaser also did pretty well, as far as getting the movie attention before it was even made. Jessicka will most likely play the festival circuit before it makes its way to dvd, but at this stage, if we get offered a good enough deal, anything is possible."
Do you and Matthew have any plans to work again together in the near future and does Jessicka Rabid lend itself to a sequel?
"Matt and I will always be good friends, but at this point I wouldn't mind spreading my wings and working with other directors. If Matt had a project he wanted me to act in, I would probably do it.. Jessicka Rabid could probably be made into a sequel if we had the money. I just want to finish the first one and then maybe after resting for a while after it's completion I will decide."