The Next Force in Horror – An interview with the Soska Twins

Indulgently Horrific had the chance to meet the next force in horror, the Soska Twins (a.k.a the Twisted Twins), at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con during the panel of the upcoming movie “American Mary”. Jen and Sylvia Soska wrote, produced and directed the film. American Mary is a Canadian horror film that tells the story of a medical student named Mary Mason, played by Katharine Isabelle, who descends into the madness of the underground surgery world.

“American Mary” will be previewed on August 27, 2012 at London’s FILM4 Fright Fest.

“The Soska sisters have always loved film. Since childhood, they were heavily involved in acting. Above all, they had a special place in their twisted little hearts for horror. In elementary school, they began reading Stephen King novels, much to the dismay of their teachers. They would go to video stores and sneak over to the horror selection and look at the backs of all the boxes. When they’d find a “good one”, they’d call the other over and then convince their mom to let them take it home. Not satisfied with the stereotypical roles often presented to identical twins, they set out to expand their horizons. Together, they trained in martial arts and hoped it would open up more opportunities and possible open up some stunt performing roles.”

1. The “American Mary” trailer was absolutely fantastic. The movie seems thrillingly captivating and is generating quite the buzz. As you pile another successful movie with “American Mary” under your belt, where do you see Twitted Twins Productions going? What’s your vision for it in 10 years from now?

Sylvia: That’s very rad of you to say. We have an amazing amount of support from the horror community – how they stood behind DEAD HOOKER was the reason why the film was able to do what it did and that we were able to make another one. There’s no way to really thank a group of people that do something like that for you properly other than working very hard to make cool projects that somehow merits the faith that you have been given. AMERICAN MARY is a thank you to the horror community and I think they are going to really get a kick out of it. We’re avid horror fans, so we want to keep making projects that we want to see. We’re collaborating with First Comics on a graphic novel which we’re thrilled at, we have a stack of scripts that we are dying to get into production, there’s a television series we’re been working on since we were fifteen, and that’s just what we have right now that we want to get to work on. In ten years, we want to keep making unique and darkly humoured content, but we want to grow the company so that we can give other filmmakers the opportunity to get more different stories told.

Jen: Thank you so much. We have no intention of slowing down. Between the two of us, we have numerous stories to tell. We love being able to do what we do. Even right now we have several scripts ready to go and several others at different stages of development. We also have a television series we’ve been working on since we were teenagers that we’d love to make. We want to continue to make content, the kind of stuff you may not likely be seeing from studios, though we would happily work inside the studio structure. We want to continue to build Twisted Twins Productions and be able to produce films from other artists that we feel is really great and needs to be seen under the Twisted Twins brand. I’d also like to continue to connect with the people who have supported us so much. We had an incredible time at the San Diego Comic Con and will continue to hit conventions, film festivals, and special events. being able to do that is really important to us.

2. During the “American Mary” panel at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, you promised that this movie will be like no other horror movie by really pushing the limits. That’s very exciting, but you will reach a point where you can no longer push. Where do you go from there? Do you think you will ever venture into newer artistic territories?

Sylvia: The concept of MARY came from a  conversation with Eli Roth about a more ‘straight forward’ horror script, but also with our own different take on the genre. We over shot with the different aspect. Jen and I are both frustrated, as I’m sure many horror fans are, with the onslaught of mindless remakes and unoriginal horror that we’re being force fed these days. It’s boring and it’s killing the genre. AMERICAN MARY had to be different and she grew into something very personal and very unique. I don’t think there is a limit to story telling, there isn’t going to be a point in time where everything has already been seen – it’s just these recycled, paint-by-number horrors that are being made that make it seem that way.

A lot of people are expecting a gore show and the film does have gore, but not like you might expect. I think content shouldn’t be shock jock, when you create situations that get under the audiences’ skin, then you can really make that push. That’s what we focused on with MARY. When there is an emotional or plot driven aspect that pushes the audience, then you get a cool result. We have a lot of those in the scripts that are still coming.

Jen: I think conceptually there are no limits. The things that really push limits is new and original content. It’s a real challenge, though, as people always want something original, but get scared because when you don’t have something to compare it to, you can’t guess at how the audiences will react. It’s part of the reason there are so many shitty remakes out there. The studios know that a certain name will guarantee a certain opening weekend. They know how an audience has responded to it in the past. I like to give people something they’ve never seen before. There are a lot of silly stereotypes out there. I like to smash them. In that, there’s so much freedom and it’s so much fun. When we create, we just see this whole world unfold in front of us. The writing process is probably my favorite. There are just endless possibilities.

I love art. I never felt that we would confine ourselves purely to film. Television is an ultimate eventuality and I’m excited to face those challenges. We are beginning to work with First Comics to bring our work to life in comic form, a medium we’ve loved since before we could even read and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with such an outstanding group of people. They like to push limits and so do we. We’d love to work on video games to, developing stories and characters. In fact, I don’t think there’s an artistic avenue we would turn down.

3. Sound effects play an incredibly vital role in enhancing and elevating the viewing experience of any movie. How did you go by putting together the soundtrack for “American Mary”? Do you tend to stick to one genre of music? Do you have a bias towards musicians you already like? Do you prefer to work with a specific composer?

Sylvia: Music is extremely potent to the story telling of a film. Each sequence had its own soundtrack when we were writing, a big mix of genres from classical, to punk, to metal. No country or hip hop, though – MARY just isn’t that kind of girl. I’m very lucky that one of my dearest friends is a ridiculously talented musician, Kevvy of Fake Shark-Real Zombie! I knew there were certain feelings that I wanted to get into the film and he can tackle any genre to create something that just kicks your ears in the balls. He’s heavily on the DEAD HOOKER soundtrack, he’s the Jon Brion to my Paul Thomas Anderson.

We were very lucky to have an extremely gifted composer, Peter Allen, create this beautiful and haunting sound scape for the film. There is a reoccurring piece that plays as Mary’s theme, a well known classical number, that we recorded in a huge church – it sounded so perfect and a recording like that really adds this extra element to the tracks.

Jen: Music is incredibly vital to a film. You look at people who are masters of marrying music to cinema, like Tarantino, and the result is outstanding. When you use a song the right way and tie it to the right images, you can never hear that song again without thinking about that scene. I love that. I like to look for music that compliments and enhances the work and we always have soundtracks we listen to during the writing process. It really adds to it. We like to blend classic music with original music. I must say that I’m very biased towards Kevvy Mental’s music. He’s a great friend and an outstanding artist. In every way. He was on our DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK and he’s back in a big way on AMERICAN MARY. He wrote several original pieces for the film and I can’t wait for our audiences to hear them. I’m very in love with our soundtrack.

I’m not partial to any genre, I’d look at anything and everything. Every film and every sequence is different. I do enjoy to use music that is counterpoint to the scene. I love the feeling it creates.

On MARY we also worked with a wonderful composer, Peter Allen. He is truly wonderful and a real gentleman. I love to get the chance to work with good people and Peter was just the best of the best.

4. Would you describe in gory detail a typical day on the set of “American Mary”? At what time did you wake up? How many times did you hit the snooze button? How many cups of coffee did you have throughout the working day? BTW, how do you like your coffee? Just as you aspire to make the viewer live the scene, make us live the experience of being on the set by being as detailed as you can.

Sylvia: I couldn’t sleep. My beloved and phenomenal first AD, Brad Jubenvil, told me to sleep – but he knew I was too excited to sleep. I would lie in bed until I could go to set. It was like a became possessed working on the film, it was all I thought about. Days were early, I would look at the time on my phone until I could justify being up for set. Jen and I have rooms in our apartment next to each other and we would discuss our day, what we were shooting, shots, stunts, effects, as we did our makeup.

I don’t drive, so Brad would pick us up every morning like the perfect AD that he is. We would talk about the day on the ride over, possible challenges, timelines, where we need to be at every hour to make our day. We had a fifteen day, 12 hour shooting schedule with extremely ambitious content, seven sometimes eleven pages a day, so screwing up was not an option. Jen and I work as a team so we would split up and divide and conquer. We would arrive, then say good morning to the team, everyone got a hug – there was a joke on set that everyone was working for hugs – I would meet up with our Director of Photography, Brian Pearson, while Jen would check in with the other departments – Jayne Mabbott, our killer costumer, the fantastic hair and makeup team – Celine Godeau, Owen Pierson, Tim Chappell, Amber Makar, and Nikki Simpson, the masters of prosthetics and effects Masters FX – Todd Masters, Jeny Cassady, Amelia Smart, Jason Ward, Lori Sandnes, and Jennifer Latour, and, of course, the cast. Brian and I would go over our shot list, what we could do to get the most out of the set ups that we had and how we wanted the action to play out.

Our production designer, Tony Devenyi, created these magnificent sets that were like their own characters in the film, just beautiful work. We spoke a lot about MARY’s world and the different feelings in the locations, but after that, he really loved to surprise us with the final look when everything came together. Mary’s Sweet/Not So Sweet apartment and the Bourbon A Go-Go were two of my favourite locations, they were just so alive when we were shooting there.

On the set of AMERICAN MARY, we had the best people in the industry come together to create this film. It was an insanely ambitious project with a very modest budget and everyone who came onto the team was there because they cared about the story. They killed themselves in every department to make it the film that it is, you see it in very frame, everything we had went on the screen to make this film. The most hectic days were the days with pages of dialogue, complicated prosthetics, stunt work, and having only one day for the location. That was the situation for one of the biggest scenes in the film. It was a giddy day, the set was fun and light, we were a big dysfunctional family. You need that kind of feeling, especially when you are working on something that can be so unforgivably grim some days.

That was one of those days. The prosthetic piece was a huge deal – Masters FX created this body to match our actor as well as adding pieces to the actor to blend the two together. This has never been done in a film before, we tested it before shooting on a human being, a member of the body mod community – Harley Plamondon – to see how to pull it off most realistically. We learned a lot about body modification and the mod community – there was respect on the set for each other, we all came from different walks of life and the process really cut away negative stereotypes on prejudice on each other.

Huge respect to what Katharine Isabelle went through creating Mary Mason. She is not an easy character to play, we put her through hell in the film and this scene was her performing in a very dark, personal moment where you get to really see the walls of who Mary is come down and you get a peek at what she has become. We shoot out the full piece, then we swap in our actor – who gets brutalized in the film. He’s one of the most warm and kindest men I know and here we have him portrayed a deeply flawed character and we put his penance on the screen. It was harsh. His performance was so strong, I remember people coming over to me and telling me that we were hurting him. I believed it.

I was at the monitors, Jen was beside him. She was the only one that could call cut for that scene. It felt like years before she did and everyone felt sickened by what just happened. I went to check on him and he instantly broke the tension. ‘Are you ok?’ His response, ‘Yes, I’m an actor.’

Then comes the stunt work, in comes Rob Hayter, who is one of the best stunt coordinators I have ever had the pleasure of collaborating with. Katie does action so well. There was an option to use knee pads, but I wanted a full body shot of the action, Katie is a killer and did it perfectly. She cut her knee which still makes me feel like an asshole today. The first bloodshed on MARY was when our male lead, Billy Barker played by the very talented Antonio Cupo, was doing stunt work day one and hit his fist into cement. Second bloodshed came a few hours that, when our lovely script supervisor, Lara Fox, had her leg cut open by a piece of equipment. So, real blood went into making the film. It was hard to tell on Katie that day because there was so much fake blood.

Blood comes at the end of the day. There was no time for resets on blood work, so when you got bloody, you stayed bloody. Jason Ward was a rockstar this day with his puppeteering and blood work. Mary was going to get messy, we decided on a blood squirting effect. I told her ‘just a shpritz’ of blood was going to get on her. Amazing sequence later, Katie is head to toe soaked – as in the bloody Mary image that has been released online. She walks over to me and says, ‘This is just a shpritz?’

It’s shower time and time to tear down the set. It became a mad rush to the finish. One piece of advice Eli gave us when we went into this was always get your shots. We did. We literally grabbed the last shot as the clock rang down to the end of our 12 hour day. When it got like that, the cast and crew would  kick it into high gear. We had the option to green screen the last image, I chose against it. We used clever positioning and you could never tell the difference. Most important it’s creepy.

That was the end of a week, so it was major high fives and hugs for the team. Thank yous for an incredible week. Back with Brad to our places in North Vancouver, on the ride we go over the day, the challenges, what we have to look forward to next week. A lot of the time, we’d just start laughing when the ridiculousness of the conversation sunk in.

Jen: ha ha, oh, that’s a good one. A typical day started very early. I’d like to describe one of our double duty days where we had to play our characters as well as all of our other duties. The roles we play in the film, and forgive me for being elusive about them, needed several hours of applications to play and that in itself did worry people as they didn’t know if we’d be able to divide our time. We’re identical twins. ALL we do is divide our time. We’re usually together as one very strong unit, but our real strength is our ability to share a mind and vision and be able to divide and conquer.

On this particular morning, we were up at 3am for a 4am call time and to start with our prosthetics. The snooze button was never an option. I’ve never woken so wakeful, especially when being so sleep deprived as I do when I’m heading to set. The alarm goes off and I wake from a very light sleep, the kind you have on Christmas morning or before going on a special trip where you don’t really feel like you slept at all but you have adrenaline and anticipation pumping through your veins. Sylv, always one to wake before me, would come in and see if I’m up. There’d be no words, just a knowing exchange of looks. Then we’d get ready in our rooms next to one another all the while chatting endlessly back and forth about the coming day. What challenges could we foresee, what problems could arise, and what were a series of solutions to overcome them or avoid them all together. This day we had more pages to get through than most days and in addition to pulling double duty as actors, we had numerous prosthetics, characters, and set ups to get through.

Our absolutely astounding 1st AD, Brad Jubenvil, came to grab us as he did every morning and we continued to discuss the day as we headed to our “club” location at the end of Granville street. No time for coffee this morning as our outstanding MastersFX artists were already on set and getting ready for us. We arrived to a rare sight on our set, a ghost town, as most of our crew and certainly our cast wouldn’t be arriving for several hours. We were greeted by Jen and Lori, two disgustingly talented artists from MastersFX. And speaking about disgustingly talented, even Todd Masters himself was there, already sketching designs for the ton of other projects MastersFX was working on. It was Christmas time and he had been kind enough to even bring us two MASSIVE Peppermint White Mochas. A personal favorite. Usually, we take our coffee sweet as hell with milk or cream or whatever’s available. We’ll also happily drink it black if there isn’t an opportunity to fancy it up. As the process went on and our crew began to arrive more and more, along with out cast, they’d come into the application room which was converted to such from a private dance room in the location. Usually we’d hit our cast and crew’s trailers when they arrived, but in a rare change they each came up to see us. As usual with Katie, we discussed where psychologically Mary was and chatted at length about the character.

We divided. I went on to finish make up and chat with Rod Matheson about the arrival of the outstanding exclusive jewelry that he had rushed over just for the film for our characters from Italy. The shipping guys were being a pain and it was incredibly stressful. We were considering that eventuality that the pieces may not arrive on time. Rod is a wonderful friend and great artist who not only supplied the outstanding jewelry for our cast, he also filmed behind the scenes and captured some of the most real and touching footage we’ve ever seen and can’t wait to release. On this very special day, he arrived almost as early as we did. The jewelry arrived and I must say they are pieces I don’t leave the house without. They were these beautiful heart shaped Swarovski red crystal rings with horns with matching navel rings and Swarovski crystal noose inspired necklaces. I think these items are a “must have” from the film and they are available. Sylv remained on set to shoot a scene we had long called “the heart of the film” between Mary and Lance.

I returned at the end of it and switched off with Sylv as she headed to make up to be completed and I stayed behind to prepare for the next scenes. We were already a little behind schedule that day, as we were at some point every day, but we quickly discussed how to move quickly and catch up. Though coffee is a much loved passion of mine, there is no replacement for 5 Hour Energy. That was our poison on set. It was passed to us with the discretion of a drug deal usually with a knowing nod and often even accompanied with “I got the stuff” jokes. Our catering was great. Annie would come around with food trays throughout the day which is such a Godsend as we rarely left set. We’d often place one of us on set and one at the monitors. In tight spaces, we’d both perch staring intensely at our monitors quietly commenting to one another before calling cut and stepping onto the set to chat with the actors and Brian Pearson, our DP who I truly cannot say enough good things about. Brian is just the best there is, plain and simple, and his vision for Mary’s world beautifully complimented our own.

Lunch was called and came out of nowhere as it always seemed to as we get completely sucked into our work. This day was very special as we had a lunch meeting with our editor and were meeting for the first time. Bruce MacKinnon met us in our full wardrobe and never even questioned it not knowing we were dressed in character. Bruce is the most tasteful man you’ll ever meet and anything he recommends you can guarantee as the highest quality, much like he is and his work. He was delightful and as anyone who is truly wonderful and talented beyond all measure, very humble. We chatted about our vision for Mary as we stuffed our lunches through jet black painted lips. Quickly we were back to set and motored through the pages, carefully choosing our battles. We ended our day after 12 hours out in the Canadian cold shooting a few exterior sequences. We called the day and as usual the cast and crew erupted in applause and hugs, clutching their call sheets for the next day. We hit every department before leaving to get ready for the next day and discuss any foreseeable challenges. As with most days, if trouble broke out, we’d call problems “fires” and Sylv would remain on set and I’d take to putting out fires. We returned home with Brad discussing the day and what were our wins and where were our losses, preparing for the next day. We had made it through a gratuitous amount of pages and on schedule. There were a lot of smiling faces that night. We got home and wrote up our shot list for the coming day and continued the never ending discussions on our coming days.

5. As writers, how did you go by writing this movie? How long did it take you to complete “American Mary”? Do you have certain rituals when writing? Do you alternate in writing the script or each tends to focus on a certain scene? Can you describe the overall collaborative process?

Sylvia: It was when we were in post on DEAD HOOKER and trying to get the film out there. Eli Roth had seen the film, given some advice, and we were talking back and forth. He asked about other scripts – at the time, there were none – so we lied. I said I had so many about this and that, and this one about a medical student. He said he’d like to read the one about the medical student. I told him that I was going to take a quick look at it and send it over. I grabbed Jen and we knew we had to come up with something awesome and fast.

On DEAD HOOKER we followed Rodriguez’s ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ teachings and used the cue card method. We wrote each scenario out on a cue card, then moved it around on a timeline in a way that made sense, then filled in the blanks to how the characters would arrive to each crazy situation. Writing MARY, we developed a technique that use for every script. We wrote a timeline down, broke it into the three acts, and marked the plot points what move the story into the different acts. It isn’t done chronologically, we had some stand out scenes that we knew we wanted to include. Characters and locations began to trickle in, who would be interesting to have in this story, where would a cool place be for these things to happen?

We’ve wanted to write a story that involved body modification for a while now. I heard about the body mod community in my early twenties when I saw an April Fool’s prank online that depicted a story about identical twin brothers that were mod enthusiasts that swapped body parts. One brother had his arm amputated and grafted onto his brother’s chest plate. Then, the brother with a single remaining arm had his ring finger elongated by attaching his twin’s ring finger to the end of his. It was accompanied by this creepy post explaining that only an identical twin could understand why they would do something like this. It scared me, so I did what I do with anything that scares me, I became obsessed with it. I learned about body modification and realized the ridiculous story that had brought me there, but had introduced me to a world of some of the most ghastly misunderstood individuals. I loved the community, I wanted to properly introduce people to them.

Jen and I fleshed out the story, picked scenarios we wanted to write. We were experiencing extreme poverty while writing, we were taking hard knocks from the film industry we so desperately wanted to be a part of, and we had family in and out of the hospitals in some of the worst times of our lives. The story became a very personal one. I have this feeling that after you see the film, you’ll know everything there is to know about us, but it’s not that literal and I see something that is so obvious to me, others see something else. We would take turns writing, one of us would write while the other played video games. We would tag the other one in to write when one of us got blocked. Writing the script was kind of like therapy. We had the first draft in two weeks and off she went.

Jen: The writing process with Sylv is awesome. I am so blessed to have been born with a best friend, a business collaborator, and a writing partner. Most writers search their whole lives seeking a partner that compliments their style, going through several in their lifetimes. I have an incredible partner who is so creative, ambitious, and can compliments my style like no one else. And we have this profound understanding of one another. We don’t have to break things down and struggle to make the other understand what we’re getting at and where we’re coming from. We just do. And there’s never a problem if one of us doesn’t love what we’re writing, we focus on the aspects that really move us. And for whatever reason, we can easily divide those aspects between the two of us. When we write, we often conceive our films by shooting ideas back and forth and trying to pitch the other. If we’re not 100% behind the idea when it first comes out, it’s dead. We both instantly know when we have a winner.

From there we flesh out the point of the film, why we’re making it and what we’re trying to say through it. There’s no point to making a pointless film. We discuss the main character at length, we like to make them shades of grey, never black and white. Characters in North American films seem to be clearly defined as “good guys” or “bad guys”. In truth, no one really feels like they’re a bad guy or even a good guy. We all have days when we screw up and wish we could take our actions or words back. And we have days when we’re at our best or even better than we felt we could ever be. We’re human, after all.

We then draw up a time line, break it into three acts, and get a beginning middle, and end and flesh it out from there. We discuss who gets what. Usually it’s pretty easy. If Sylv wants the beginning and end, I get the middle and maybe a stand out scene that we both want. We take turns writing. One of us pounds the keys and the other plays video games. Yes, actually. Then we trade off, read over what the other has written, make any adjustments, and carry on like that until we’re done. We tag the other in if we get stuck or if we get to that point where everything we write feels bad, ha ha. It’s awesome. Writing with Sylv is really the greatest. She’s so dark and wildly creative. There’s nothing she can’t do. The characters she comes us with and scenarios and dialogue are truly amazing and unique.

6. What kind of advice would you give to an aspiring screenwriter?

Sylvia: Be unique in your writing, but there is a structure to the story telling of it. You can learn everything about that structure online – the three acts, the bottom of act two – things that you need to follow. Everything else, make honest and unique. Write something you would want to see but not something only you would watch. Write a lot. Max Landis is an incredible writer and he has a ton of scripts, but it took years of writing before he got his film, CHRONICLE, made. Don’t let rejection dissuade you. Be brutal with yourself, see what works and what doesn’t. Get a writing partner that is different enough from you to give your work diversity, but not so different that you don’t get anything done. I’m lucky, I came with a writing partner.

Jen: Write. Don’t let anyone dissuade you because everyone will want to. Carry a little notepad and pen with you everywhere you go and anytime you get a good idea or conceive a funny line or witty bit of dialogue or think of a character or film title, jot it down. You might look at some of it later and think, “what was I thinking?”, but even those ideas might inspire something else. We write on Movie Magic Screenwriter, it’s great for giving your work form. It’s a must have investment I’d say for any screenwriter. And watch your favorite films. Recognize their structure and their dialogue and be able to see what makes them so strong and take from that.

7. What’s next for you? Are you working on any interesting projects?

Sylvia: There’s a lot of traveling with AMERICAN MARY. She’s our top priority right now and I am dying to get her out there and screened to people. We have some amazing opportunities for the next project. We have our own scripts, but there is a graphic novel adaptation that I would love to get an opportunity to adapt for the big screen. If it works out, it’s going to be something I know people will be a big kick out of seeing.

Jen: Oh! I wish we could say more. There are a few films that are being discussed right now. Several of our own and one very exciting project that is someone else’s work. We haven’t done that yet, directed someone else’s work. That’s exciting for us. We’d love to do BOB. He was something we started getting going before MARY, but he kind of had to take a backseat for a bit. Again, it’s a very unique horror film that’s not like anything else really. Stylistically, it’s a mix between MARY and DEAD HOOKER. It’s every bit as disgusting and horrifying as it is hilarious. It would be our first film where our lead is a guy instead of a lady. We call it our “boy movie” although it’s a very different way of doing a boy movie. I’d really like to do it now. It’s very relevant to right now and I’m totally biased here, but I just love the whole film. We’ll have to wait and see what’s next. I’m happy to say there are so many opportunities coming up for us right now and we couldn’t be more grateful or humbled by them. At the moment, we are going to be putting a focus on promoting MARY. You’ll see us traveling around with her quite a bit.

8. Does sibling rivalry exist between twins? How about between the wickedly twisted twins? If so, do you ever feel the urge to lock one another in a trunk? Humor aside, how do you resolve any conflict?

Sylvia: Jen and I are very different in a lot of ways. It’s confusing enough to have two identical versions of the same person on set without there being confusion, so we pre-discuss everything and make sure that there isn’t disagreeing on set. I’d like to say behind closed doors, arguments are the epitome of maturity, but we’re sisters and passionate Hungarians, so to the untrained eye it can seem brutal. We don’t often fight, but when we do, it’s fast, unrelenting, then we’re laughing like it never happened. Jen is honest with me, she is a lot kinder than I am, but she won’t hold back if she disagrees with me. That’s a good thing. Two of the best moments in AMERICAN MARY exist because she argued with me to have them there. I have so much respect for her.

Jen: ha ha, after we became trained in martial arts, we made the decision to never fight physically again. We used to be very vicious, just tearing each other. Adding focus and style to that violence made it abundantly clear that we should solve our differences with our words. We are both very passionate about our work and we’re simultaneously always right, so that breeds problems. We’re also very stubborn. We don’t fight often, but when we do, it’s epic. We try to keep it amongst ourselves. When other people try to get involved, we turn on them. It’s dangerous, ha ha. Ultimately, one of us decides to be the bigger person or we mutually agree that we’re both wrong and life goes on. This is, however, not to be confused with our passionate discussions that are just to Hungarian women talking. Some of our debates and discussions can sound very much like arguments, but rest assured, when we’re arguing, there is no confusing it for anything else. We are very competitive, but working together I feel it ones motivates both of us to continuously be stepping up our game.

9. You have received a lot of praise for your work, but nothing is immune to criticism. Could you share some of the harshest criticisms you have received throughout your career?

Sylvia: We get called stupid ugly talentless whores and variations thereof a fair bit. At first, it bothered me, more so because I didn’t want my family to see people talking about me like that. I’ve developed a thick skin and those comments don’t even register to me now. Sometimes when I’m feeling playful, I message them back and say that I hope that they like the next film better. What did offend me was a slew of a comments on what an unintelligent s*** I am followed by a statement that I ‘probably don’t even know who Dario Argento is’. That pissed me off. Dario Argento’s use of colour in his lighting for his films was a huge inspiration in AMERICAN MARY. I understand someone not liking a film, we’ve gotten people calling DEAD HOOKER a masterpiece and people saying that it is the worst film they have ever seen in their lives, but to suggest that I am not a horror fan offends me on a personal level. Whether I’m a terrible filmmaker is always going to be up for discussion as long as Jen and I are making films, but my being a horror fan should not.

Jen: I hate how it always comes down to our looks. More often than not we are called stupid s**** or c**** and get told the only reason we’re here is because men work with us because they fancy us. They don’t care about our work or what we’ve sacrificed to get to where we are. There are women out there who imply that we somehow have it easier because of the way we look. It’s shitty because we try to make good work for many reasons, one of them being that if good work comes from female artists it makes it easier for others to follow, but then you have women who just hate you for all your successes. The more success we see, the fewer supporters we have. They tell you real life isn’t like high-school, but it is. It really is. If a woman is strong and confident and stands her ground, she’s a b****. If a man does, he’s just being a man. Women seemed to be called b*****, s****, or c****. That’s the hat trick of female insults. We have taken a lot of abuse for being women, presenting ourselves the way we do, and for our age. I’ve been told that I should dress more like Penny Marshall if I want people to respect me. That I should intentionally dress down, but I’ll never change the way I am and the way I look to gain the respect of sexist douchebags. It would be degrading to change who I am to fit into what other people want me to be. I dress and act the way I do anywhere and everywhere I go. I don’t dress up a certain way for set. I go like that to the corner store.

10. How does criticism make you feel?

Sylvia: I must be doing something right. Hate isn’t the opposite of love, it’s an impassionate reaction to something. A strong reaction and that’s what you want. When we screened the fake trailer for DEAD HOOKER, half the audience walked out and the other half was laughing so hard that you could barely make out all the intentionally offensive dialogue. Disinterest is the opposite of love, as long as the work gets a reaction then we’re doing our job.

Jen: We’ve been outcasts throughout our lives. Being twins, we stick out. We have a long love for horror and comic books and video games and all the dark stuff in life. We allied ourselves with our fellow outcasts and “losers” and stood up for them. That made us scape goats more so, but we didn’t give a shit. I learned that you can’t make everyone happy and if you try to you’ll end up having no one happy. Sometimes people will hate you for no good reason. It’s no fault of your own. You can’t change it and ultimately it’s their problem. So much energy is wasted with hate. I don’t have time for that juvenile nonsense. I don’t waste my time wondering why they have an issue with me or dwelling on it. I just don’t have the time and it really amazes me when people get in these huge blow outs. Honestly, who cares? It bothers me more when people say hurtful and vulgar things about us (usually under the safety of an “anonymous” status” and it upsets my family and friends. I’ve had a lifetime to get used to it and it almost feels like our lives before were training us to be able to deal with that stuff now. I remember reading an article about us and the guy just tore us apart at a very personal level. We didn’t care about all that, but he wrote “I bet they don’t even know who Dario Argento is” and we were so insulted like, “how DARE he?”, ha ha.

11. Some directors make hidden and subtle references to themes or topics of interest to them in their movies. Shall we start paying even closer attention to your work?

Sylvia: Jen and I try to tell two stories in all of our films. There’s the surface stuff, where you can just watch the film and see what’s in front of you and then there’s the second level that you start to notice after a few viewings. We are big horror, video game, and comics nerds, so there are references and shout outs to different stories that we love in each film. We love the Silent Hill original game series, we have ‘There Was A Hole Here’ in the triad scene in DEAD HOOKER when things start to fall apart. There’s strong religious undertones through out, we grew up in religion, but we are probably the least judgmental Catholics you will ever meet. I think there’s more to the faith than how you see it depicted by hateful people that use the Bible to hide behind their own bigotry. They say Jesus loves everyone, even a group of outcast twenty somethings and the dead hooker they find in their trunk. AMERICAN MARY has a huge commentary on appearances versus who people really are. Big biker men, fashion forward young women, and members of the body modification community all have at least one thing in common – they are judged on appearance before anything else.

Jen: You know we do that in all of our films. We hate throwing stuff right at our audience. There are way too many films out there that just take the viewer by the hand and tell them exactly how they’re supposed to feel and think about everything. It’s so black and white. I like to make our audiences think. I like them to take away something different and individual from watching our films. Yeah, I know that’s a bit of a laugh coming from one of the co-creators of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, but we did that even there. We hate to hit people over the head with what we’re trying to say. DHIAT is actually very religious and is chock full of religious imagery and suggestions. We hate movies that just preach at you so we made the film so that everyone could enjoy it and if people wanted to dig for deeper meaning, they could. We overshot with AMERICAN MARY. People will be discussing that one forever. There are so many layers to the story and so much deeper meaning to the imagery and content. And Mary herself is a very layered character. Every character in the film has a lot of depth to them. Again, you can just watch it and take it at face value and really enjoy it. But if you want to, you can really get into it. We do that with all our films. BOB’s just packed with it.

12. What are your thoughts and opinions on the current state of the horror-genre?

Sylvia: Too much recycled material that rapes our previous fondness for films that we great when they originally came out. Original thought is a rarity. If it isn’t a remake, it’s a paint-by-numbers version of what people think horror is and it not the opinion of horror fans but people who know that horror makes money but will never understand why. The genre is diluted, terrible horror movies make big opening weekends, it makes money, and the problem continues. I think people are getting frustrated with the content. I know a lot of fellow horror nerds that are so tired of the same material. That’s why the change will happen. Internationally there is great horror being made, independently great horror is being made, Western mainstream is just constipated for some reason.

Jen: It’s changing, I think. Or maybe I hope. I feel that horror fans have long had their intelligence insulted with terrible cash grab remakes, or dull “found footage” flicks that are so cheap to make that no studio would turn them up no matter how lame. There’s some exciting stuff coming from independent artists and I feel that’s shaking things up. People ask us if we’d ever work within the studio structure and we would. We’d like to shake up the way they traditionally do things. I’d be concerned with losing some of our creative freedoms, but that’s just stuff to be discussed before we sign anything, ha ha. I’d like to see more work to get excited about. I’d like to see a new Jason or Freddy. We haven’t had one since I guess you could argue Jigsaw. I’d like to see new monsters. There were so many growing up. I’d like to see new content coming and washing away the endless remakes and rehashing of old ideas. I’d like my vampires to seduce and destroy and tear out throats, not sparkle and climb trees and play baseball. Ick.

13. The fans adore your closeness to them and the intimacy of that relationship. As your career grows professionally and your reach expands globally, how do you reckon you will keep that level of closeness and intimacy?

Sylvia: We’re only here because of the people that support our work so that we can do this. I remember years ago we had our first piece online on the Jaded Viewer about DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK and I thought, wow, someone is talking about the movie. It starts small like that, but once it starts, it just grows. I am grateful for everyone who checks out the movies, shares it with their friends, buys the DVD – we lovingly refer to people who bought DHIAT as the ‘owner’s club’ – and continues to support our work. We’re very lucky to live in an age where technology allows you to be able to talk to people, to reach out. We get back to every message – excluding ‘F*** me’ or ‘make me famous’ messages – and we are on Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, and have a contact button on our site that links to our email. Before, we could only talk online to people, now we have the opportunities to travel around the world to actually meet people at festivals and conventions. At San Diego Comic Con, we hung out with a lot of folks that have been supporting us. Whatever spending time with us meant to them, it meant the world to Jen and me to be able to do that.

Jen: It will be a challenge but connecting with our fans is absolutely vital to us and more rewarding than I can ever hope to express. They mean everything to us. They’re the reason I get out of bed in the morning. We maintain our own social media accounts. You talk to us on Facebook (under our real names) or Twitter (twisted_twins) or Tumblr (Twisted Twins Tumblr) and you can KNOW you’re talking to us. We will continue to hit up any and all fan friendly events, film festivals, and conventions. If you don’t see us at Comic Con in San Diego, someone is holding us hostage. We also have and will continue to personally respond to message sent to us through the “contact us” on our Twisted Twins Site (www.twistedtwinsproductions.net). We update our public Flickr account regularly to show everyone what we’ve been up to (http://www.flickr.com/photos/twistedtwins/) and we upload regularly on YouTube, too (http://www.youtube.com/user/twistedtwinsstudios?feature=mhee). We also have a weekly online radio show we do thanks to the amazing people at 430 Productions (who are also responsible for bringing you AMERICAN MARY) on http://www.radioamplifire.com/ called MONDAYS SUCK. We do it EVERY Monday (outside of having massive scheduling conflicts) from 7pm to 10pm PST. There’s a live chat room on the page, too, that we are very invested in. It’s been a great way to stay connected and we get to have 3 completely uncensored hours, get to play whatever we want, and really get to connect with the fans in an intimate way. I know it’ll be more of a challenge to connect as we continue to get busier and busier, but staying connected with our fans is the highest priority for us.

14. Do you share similar tastes in movies?

Sylvia: We appreciate good film-making. We both loved SHAME because of the brilliant camera work and performances from the cast. We both love technically solid films, beautiful imagery, and unusual content. There are films that we like, but for different reasons. She’s the optimist, she sees the world in this brilliant beautiful way that I need in my life. I am more pessimistic, I see the darkness, but I find a lot of beauty in it. If a film is bad, I’ll just fall asleep while watching it. Days can be so busy and if the filmmaker didn’t put effort into making a better film, then I’m not going to put effort into being awake for it. Jen will watch everything from start to finish. She says you can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes and bad films – she’s right, it teaches you what not to do.

Jen: Ha ha, yes and no. Sylv a dark creature. She can watch MARTYRS and at the end be all like, “good. The world is horrible so that’s how it should be” and I like to see a little hope even where there is none. We joke all the time and say she’s the Lars Von Trier and I’m the Joss Whedon. I guess she’s also the Erik Lensherr and I’m the Charles Xavier. Two sides of the same coin. We DO like the same stuff, just to different extremes.

15. What is your favorite horror movie of all time?

Sylvia: AMERICAN PSYCHO. Perfect adaption of the perfect novel. I quote it all the time with Jen. The elegant way Mary Harron defend the film when Toronto was all up in arms about them shooting it there, it showed the intelligent response to critics that don’t even understand what their real argument is. If they do a remake, I’ll be pissed. There are no remakes with good personalities (that’s my buddy, Adam Barnick’s line).

Jen: AMERICAN PSYCHO. I love the book, I love the film, I love the satire, I love Mary Harron, I love Bret Easton Ellis. I just love love LOVE it all. We quote it all the time. We must be part of that whole Yale thing, ha ha

16. One last question. You turn on the TV and there it is; the biggest game in club football. It is the Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, who will you cheer for?

Sylvia: I’m going to say the Real Madrid because I want one of us to be right.

Jen: Barcelona, but MOSTLY because I watched way too much Fawlty Towers as a child and Manuel and Barcelona have, as a result, a huge place in my heart 😉

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© Indulgently Horrific 2012

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