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    Women in Horror 2013: Lindsay Denniberg talks her “VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST GIRL”

    by: Vivienne Vaughn on: 2013-02-13 23:42:52

    Horror film enthusiast and indie filmmaker Lindsay Denniberg
    kicked off her feature career with the surreal, dreamlike VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST
    GIRL (see our review).
    The film centers on Louise (Priscilla McEver), a succubus named after the
    eponymous silver screen legend Louise Brooks, and details the hardships that
    come with being a descendant of the demonic Lilith herself. Fango chatted with
    Denniberg about what occurred behind-the-scenes of the film to create the
    on-screen visual madness.

    FANGORIA: How was the experience of shooting your first
    feature?

    LINDSAY DENNIBERG: It was probably the most fun I’ve ever
    had. Exhausting and overwhelming, but also the greatest opportunity to be
    creative with friends; a lot of fun, but also totally scary. I’ve done so many
    shorts with people I love, but working on something this big over such a long
    period of time is a very different experience. You get closer with the people
    you work with but it also tests your relationships. Luckily, we all survived
    and had fun, watched a lot of horror movies and ate a lot of hummus. At the
    best moments it was like one really long, weird, creatively satisfying
    sleepover, or summer camp.

    Sometimes it’s hard to keep the big picture in mind, you’re
    putting a lot of little pieces together (like Frankenstein’s monster), and with
    this project, there were so many layers, formats, materials, tenses – it wasn’t
    easy. I think we just kept fun, honesty, spontaneity and a real love for what
    we were working on in mind. The film holds together because we kept those ideas
    in mind more than anything. Also, working on something so fragmented, in a
    formal sense, makes it a little easier; you have more liberties when it comes
    to variation from scene to scene. But ideals seemed to help unify it all with a
    healthy dose of and goofing off and nudity. 

    FANG: How did you conceive the idea for VIDEO DIARY?

    DENNIBERG: The film is very autobiographical. Granted, my
    vagina unfortunately doesn’t suck the souls out of rapists or ooze bloody TV
    static by the gallon every month, but the whole “I love you, but I’m afraid to
    touch you” theme is definitely all me. I’ve always had a bunch of intimacy and
    body issues, so I’ve learned to deal with that crap over the years by creating
    personal films about body horror (David Cronenberg is more of a self-help guru
    than a filmmaker for me). I originally got the idea of a girl needing to have
    sex to live when I was a lonely, horny teenager, watching EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
    over and over alone in my dark room (while eating a lot of pizza and Doritos).
    EDWARD SCISSORHANDS has always been my favorite film and the one that inspired
    me to become a filmmaker in the first place. Because of that, I promised myself
    I would someday make a film as personal for me as that film was for Tim
    Burton. 

    alt

    Later on, I learned about Lilith (the Mother of all demons)
    and started daydreaming about my own mythology that I could create as an origin
    tale for this “girl” who needed sex to live. This girl was always me, and my
    obsession for Louise Brooks in G.W. Pabst’s DIARY OF A LOST GIRL naturally drove
    home the need to name my main character after her. This idea was many years in
    the making, so as I grew up and changed, so did Louise’s story. I always knew I
    wanted sex and death to be two sides of the same coin for Louise, as they are
    really the only two subjects I am interested in. All the characters in the film
    are based off of real people (or an amalgamation of many) in my life. If I were
    an immortal succubus who worked at a video store, I would be Louise.

    FANG: Can you talk about your writing process for the
    screenplay?

    DENNIBERG: I first started writing the screenplay in my
    undergrad feature writing class at UCF, taught by Barry Sandler (who wrote Ken
    Russell’s CRIMES OF PASSION). I wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction of a
    comedy, but when it was read out loud, the corny dialog that naturally comes
    out of me just guided it from there. I remember very clearly the first time I
    talked about the idea to my good friend Chris Shields on our porch when we were
    roommates in Florida. Chris has been my main collaborator for years and I
    wouldn’t be the filmmaker I am today without him. He understood the story on a
    level like no one else, and contributed things to this film that are too
    numerous to even list. We would talk about the screenplay a lot, but eventually
    it was put on the backburner when I moved to New York to intern at Troma (where
    I was later hired as Lloyd Kaufman’s assistant). 

    The next year I got into grad school at the School of the
    Art Institute of Chicago, and decided on the plane ride there that I would make
    VIDEO DIARY for my thesis film. So as soon as I landed I called Chris and we
    just picked up where we left off. We collaborated by phone and Skype for the
    next year, both saturating our minds with ‘80s horror movies to get in the
    right mood. Chris and I are both pathetically terrible romantics, and horror
    and bad romance is what really draws us together. We love horror romantic
    comedies in a deep way, but we’re also experimenters and fans of the
    avant-garde. I decided to combine the two because that’s usually how I operate
    as an artist: Collaging and mashing together all the things I love into one pot
    and not holding anything back.

    So as I wrote, Chris would read and tell me his thoughts,
    and things would just evolve from there. He was great at helping me reign it
    all in, because I usually have way too many ideas at once and he would keep me
    focused. There’s so much of us both in the script: Our taste, our humor, our
    friendship, our love of monster romance, and I think that is what makes it
    unique. For those who know Chris, it is obvious that Charlie (Louise’s
    love interest) is based off him, so of course it made the most sense to have
    him play Charlie (I mean, who wouldn’t want to put the dark love child of Adam
    Sandler and Lloyd Dobler in a movie?). So much of it was also written in the
    middle of the night with him on the phone as he worked at Dunkin Donuts. It’s a
    very haunted script.

    FANG: What was the production of your film like? Do any
    moments particularly stand out as being memorable?

    DENNIBERG: The intro with Lilith and Adam was shot months
    before everything else, and it kind of set the aesthetic for the rest of film.
    Everything with Priscilla McEver (Louise) and Chris Shields (Charlie) was shot
    over the course of a month at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I
    flew them in from New York, and then we had maybe a day to rehearse and hang
    out, then immediately started shooting. It was a very intense schedule. We all
    did so much on the film; it’s kind of a blur. We took the bus everyday to
    set, worked all day on the green screen stage, goofed off, and then took the
    bus home, hung out and watched some horror movies, then passed out.

    After two weeks of shooting the green screen and sound stage
    scenes, we filmed the rest at my apartment (where Priscilla and Chris were
    staying too). I had a very small and intimate cast and crew of wonderful
    friends that graciously worked for free out of the kindness of their hearts. We
    were shooting pretty much 24/7 for the whole month of July, so it was hot as
    hell and kind of gross with all the blood and FX stuff (very much a summer camp
    of horror). 

    The most memorable moment of the production would have to be
    a prank my producer, AD and green screen cinematographer played on the rest of
    us. I would often say jokingly that if anyone was uncomfortable with being
    naked in front of the camera that the entire crew would just get naked too. So
    when some of us got back from a smoke break, all three of them were naked
    pretending to shoot a scene without us! There’s nothing more inspiring then
    seeing a naked woman behind the camera or holding a boom. I would say that
    moment is a perfect example of the kind of fun attitude we all brought to the
    set.

    alt

    FANG: Can you talk a bit about creating the visuals of VIDEO
    DIARY? How much was practical, versus done in post-production?

    DENNIBERG: The film is half green screen sets and half
    regular world sets. The choice to have a scene in green screen really just came
    down to trying to take advantage of the fact that we had no budget. I don’t
    believe in having a big budget to make a movie. I think it’s so much more
    exhilarating to make something beautiful out of trash then it is to dump a
    $1,000.00 on a stupid jib shot that no one cares about (let the record show
    that THE PLAYER is excluded from this statement). Sorry for the money
    philosophy rant, but I think budget has so much to do with the integrity of how
    a film is made these days. Anyway, I created miniatures for any scene that was
    green screened, which was usually constructed out of poster board, paint,
    trash, broken CDs, Barbie dolls, animal print, glitter, Christmas lights, TVs
    and duct tape. The sets were usually built around a TV so that whatever I put
    on the screen would show through as the moon in a night backdrop, or window in
    an interior. Honestly, the entire film was a big experiment because it was the
    first time I ever used green screen. I did all the post-production effects
    myself, and would usually spend eight hours a day editing for the next year,
    just trying new things out as I went and keeping what worked. The intense color
    palette was the Dario Argento and Mario Bava color scheme screaming to get out
    of my brain. My cinematographer Casey Puccini (who also plays Michael, Louise’s
    manager and best friend) is really great at capturing that kind of light and
    mood. We talked a lot about how I wanted it to look like an ‘80s new wave giallo
    on VHS. The flashback scenes in the 1920s are shot on VHS, and I wanted to go
    for the look of an Elvira set, or PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. I pretty much felt
    like I was in an Ed Wood RPG the entire time. 

    FANG:  What prompted
    you to choose to go with the unique aesthetic of the film?

    DENNIBERG: I wanted VIDEO DIARY to look like that horror
    movie I never found (but knew existed) in the haunted video store that’s been
    my life. Since I was a kid I was obsessed with going to the video store just so
    I could look at the VHS covers in the horror section. I wasn’t allowed to watch
    any of the “scary movies,” so ironically my fantasy of what the horror movie might look like inside the box always ended up being scarier and more surreal then
    the movie itself. 

    The German Expressionist/’80s VHS cover aesthetic just feels
    the most welcoming and instinctual to me. I also think certain media I saw as a
    kid had a weird imprint on my aesthetic sensibilities, like PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE
    and the BEETLEJUICE cartoons. My lead actress Priscilla McEver is actually one
    of the biggest Pee Wee Herman and Lydia Deetz fans I’ve ever met, so her
    playing Louise was just meant to be. She also was a child of late ‘80s
    imprinting, and because of that our friendship and collaboration has a very
    sci-fi, X FILES twist to it (I know that she knows where the bodies are buried
    in the Winona Ryder wasteland of our youth).

    When Chris first arrived on one of the sets, he said it felt
    like he had just stumbled into my brain. I feel like my set design is my
    primary way of directing a film for the actors and crew. I think I’m good at
    choosing the right, talented people to interpret my characters, and giving them
    a surreal world to exist in. I’m just lucky that these talented people happen
    to be my good friends.

    FANG: Can you talk a bit about the music in the film?

    DENNIBERG: Friends’ bands and some other folks I met through
    Danny Gallegos, the first AD and the main punk in the movie. He introduced me
    to Bestial Mouths, whose music is all over the film. I saw them play and asked
    if I could use their stuff and they said sure. Danny’s band Cemetery contributed
    a great song “Stateward,” and all the songs Chris sings are his originals from
    his one man punk project, Mr. Transylvania.  Other stuff came from people
    and bands Chris and I knew from playing music and performing in Florida, like
    Outmode, Father Finger, and Counters. The song played in the intro ‘Shadow’s
    Connected to the Light’ is actually the only song written specifically for the
    movie by my friend Matthew Donovan, who also goes by Teaadora. Teaadora also
    plays Adam in the Garden of Eden. The film’s aesthetic and music are very much
    one homemade, collage-y, intense, and colorful makeshift. 

    FANG: You’re obviously a genre fan yourself. Can you name
    some of the inspirations for your film?

    DENNIBERG: Oh god, here we go: Chris and I are such
    video-holics, it’s sick. When we lived together we devoured at least three a
    day. Fassbinder and MORGAN STEWART’S COMING HOME, Andrzej Zulawski and Stephen
    Sayadian. It was a constant high brow/low brow roller coaster. I think that’s
    largely where the film comes from. I’m a huge fan of Albert Pyun, and because
    of VIDEO DIARY, I actually have become friends with him since our films showed
    at the Pollygrind Film Festival together. He helped get me out to the festival
    since I’m still poor as ever, and it really is a dream come true when a
    filmmaker you admire actually likes your work! RADIOACTIVE DREAMS is such a big
    inspiration!

    {vimeo}47488668{/vimeo}

    MY DEMON LOVER and ROCKULA were the biggest influences for
    the tone and humor of VIDEO DIARY. My great affection for romantic horror
    comedies of the 80s and 90s is their sleazy innocence that just makes me swoon.
    Chris Shields is manic for MANNEQUIN and MANNEQUIN 2, so that shines through in
    the script as well. People have told me on more than one occasion that VIDEO
    DIARY feels like an experimental John Hughes film, and I can’t deny that THE
    BREAKFAST CLUB and WEIRD SCIENCE had some kind of wonderful effect on forming
    my cinematic identity. To me there is nothing more romantic then making out in
    a graveyard, or watching a horror movie while eating pizza, or just plan
    ‘getting the shit scared out of me’. Now, in one last quick breath: Lloyd
    Kaufman, Woody Allen, Catherine Breillat, Tony Oursler, Clive Barker, Frank
    Henenlotter, Agnes Varda, Derek Jarmen, Jodorowsky, LIQUID SKY, Argento, Bava,
    Maya Deren, John Waters, NADJA, Jean Rollin, Paul Naschy, George Kuchar, George
    Romero, Nick Zedd, Jerry Lewis, ROCKY, Buster Keaton, Roger Corman, Hammer
    Films, David Lynch, Guy Maddin, HEATHERS, CLUELESS and last but certainly not
    least, Tim Burton. 

    FANG: What project(s) are you working on currently? Do you
    foresee doing more horror in the future?

    DENNIBERG: Chris and I are working on another feature! It’s
    a horror anthology very much in the style of VIDEO DIARY, only this time we
    want to push the insanity of the visuals even further. It’s about a haunted
    video store in the middle of a graveyard, which sets the stage for five horror
    tales, all romanticizing the act of watching a horror film in their own unique
    way. I will direct two, Chris will direct two, and the fifth one will be a
    collaboration of both of us. The tales of terror will consist of a cyberpunk
    Medusa, werewolf women, sex cannibal lovers, a Dr. Frankenstein celebrity video
    mortician, and a gender-bending haunted nerd frat house. My main influences for
    this one are HOLY MOUNTAIN, BOXER’S OMEN and Ancient Greek mythology, whereas
    Chris’s are more in the realm of George Romero, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Stephen
    King. There are many different body parts we are using for this next video
    creature we that we like to call making a movie.

    I’ve also developed a new way of experimenting with
    different looks and moods by working with video installation and performance.
    Right now I am a part of a noise performance group called Viral Swan with my
    friends Caleb Yono and Cassandra Jackson (which I sometimes say feels a lot
    like abstract post-apocalyptic LARPing). Many of the psychedelic sequences in
    VIDEO DIARY were remnants from previous projects and performances in the same
    way.

    FANG: Anything else you want to share?

    DENNIBERG: I guess I would just like to share the crazy
    irony in general I’m feeling right now. FANGORIA has always been one of my
    favorite horror magazines since I was a teenager, and the first boy I ever had
    a crush on is the one who introduced to me to it. It’s so bizarre for me to
    experience the horror and romance involved in just doing this interview in the
    first place, it is very surreal for me. My friend Casey yesterday told me that
    he remembers me talking about dreaming about getting interviewed by FANGORIA
    someday when we were in pre-production for VIDEO DIARY. We laughed thinking it
    would be crazy if that ever happened. And yes, this is totally crazy that this
    is happening, and it is awesome! 

    For much more on VIDEO DIARY OF A LOST GIRL, visit the film’s Facebook

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Rotterdam Q&A: Richard Raaphorst on “FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY”

    “I hope you will be just as scared as I am
    right now, standing in front of you all!” Dutch director Richard Raaphorst sure
    knew how to introduce the world premiere of his film at the International Film
    Festival in Rotterdam. While FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY might not be as nerve-racking
    as the première of your first horror flick, it sure is a hell-of-a-lot of fun.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Walter Hill’s “BULLET” Ballet

    2013-02-01 21:41:09

    Veteran action director Walter Hill has been staging mayhem
    in Louisiana for several decades now. His debut at the helm, 1975’s HARD TIMES,
    was shot in New Orleans; he ventured into the bayou for the 1981 action/horror
    hybrid SOUTHERN COMFORT; and went back to the Big Easy for 1989’s JOHNNY
    HANDSOME. Now he’s making the city’s streets run red again with the Sylvester
    Stallone-starring revenge thriller BULLET TO THE HEAD, his first feature in 10
    years, which he talks about in this exclusive Fango interview.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women in Horror 2013: Danielle Panabaker, Not Just One of the “GIRLS”

    Danielle Panabaker has been terrorized on screen by infected maniacs, killer fish and a certain hockey-masked Mr. Voorhees over the past few years, but now she’s the one dispensing death in GIRLS AGAINST BOYS. The actress discusses her starring role in the vigilante shocker, opening today from Anchor Bay Films, in this exclusive interview.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women in Horror 2013: Marina de Van’s “DARK TOUCH”

    An incredible talent, Marina de Van and her stylistic explorations of disassociation and self-discovery are among the most excitingin international cinema. Where IN MY SKIN (Dans ma peau) graphically announced a provocative new voice, DON’T LOOK BACK (Ne te retourne pas) saw an ascent to a gorgeous visual command of Hitchock-ian suspense. Currently in progress on what’s only her third feature since 2002, the Ireland-set DARK TOUCH, de Van continues her immensely personal journey digging into similar themes, only this time with children and all they suffer.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Director Tom Elkins: Awakening the “GHOSTS OF GEORGIA”

    by: on: 2013-01-31 22:09:29

    THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA may have no
    connection to the original other than the basic subject matter, but there was
    continuity behind the scenes. Tom Elkins, who edited the first film, made his
    directorial debut on the sequel, which he discusses with Fango in this
    exclusive interview.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Your “ABCs OF DEATH”: S for Jake West

    by: Samuel Zimmerman on: 2013-01-31 18:00:16

    Are you ready for THE ABCs OF DEATH? Were any of us, really?
    With one punchy line—“26 Directors, 26 Ways to Die”—the film announced itself
    as a highly anticipated, highly insane romp through one of our earliest tools
    of education. Attempting to learn you the alphabet something fierce, the horror anthology and
    its roster of some of genre’s best international talent leaves no repulsive,
    splattered, pearl-clutcher of a stone unturned. Jake West, director of DOGHOUSE,
    landed “S” and subsequently crafted a multi-faceted, swiftly-paced piece. Here,
    he speaks to Fango about his own love for the subgenre and more.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Halloween Horrors With “JACK ATTACK”

    It’s a week before Halloween when Fango ventures to the set of JACK ATTACK, a new horror short set during pumpkin season intended to scare you out of your gourd. Directed by Bryan Norton, creator of PENNY DREADFUL, and Antonio Padovan, it stars V/H/S’ Helen Rogers; Fango spoke to all three, and we’ve got a few exclusive photos as well.

    Read more »
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    Savini and Me: Part Five, Savini on Letterman

    During my childhood my father worked the third shift, meaning he went in at three in the afternoon and came home at eleven at night. Being in the single digits, I was of course fast asleep by eight p.m. Some nights, though, I’d wake up to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water and hear my father down the hall. I would always get excited because my father was usually eating dinner and watching TV.

    Read more »
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