Category Archives: interview

Shadows of the Forest: Behind the Scenes with Sharon Smyth Lentz


What goes into making an Independent Film? What is a cast reading? How does the director get people to star in his film? If you would have asked me a year ago, my reply would’ve been, “How the hell would I know?” But, as one of the writers for a new independent film, you might want to ask me that question, again.

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31 Days of Horror: Interview With TIFF’s Jesse Wente About The Mask

Julian Roffman’s The Mask is Canada’s first horror film and its first 3D feature too

Film is a fragile medium. It’s easy to forget in this digital age that so much of our cinematic history is committed to old-fashioned celluloid, the plastic spools wound on reels that rattle and clack on their way through the illuminated projector gate, giving us our magic in the dark. And celluloid is decidedly impermanent. The winding and travel of projection can damage film prints. And they fade, dry out, flake and become brittle over the years, even when they’re kept in optimal conditions. Film preservation has become a big concern, with directors like Martin Scorsese trying to raise awareness about how much film history might be lost if efforts aren’t made to keep these prints around.

TIFF has gone to great efforts to preserve films in its collection. This October, they’re breaking out a rarity, Canada’s first horror film, and first 3D feature as well. It’s a little known picture called The Mask, directed by Julian Roffman and released in 1961. In the film, a psychiatrist comes into possession of an ancient tribal mask. When worn, the mask assails him with nightmarish visions of monsters, occultists, and ritual torture. Believing that he has discovered a portal to the deepest recesses of his mind, he continues to explore this terrifying new psychic world — even at the risk of his sanity. It’s a dark, malevolent journey, with a riot of psychedelic 3D imagery every time the film intones for the doctor, and the audience, to “PUT THE MASK ON”. A definitive version of the film hasn’t been seen in decades, but through the restoration efforts of TIFF and the 3-D Film Archive of New Jersey, The Mask has been returned to its full, dizzyingly surreal glory. I spoke with the TIFF Director of Programming Jesse Wente about The Mask‘s strange journey, and TIFF’s challenging restoration.

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Interview with This Changes Everything’s Co-Producer, Katie McKenna


The word on This Changes Everything, the latest documentary film from the socially charged husband and wife team Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, is starting to spread. After debuting this past September at the Toronto International Film Festival to resounding applause from its audience, the film is already premiering around the world in a unique and ultra-relevant way.

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Exclusive: Andy Burns talks to Lost After Dark Director Ian Kessner

Earlier this week we spoke with Kendra Timmins, one of the stars of the new 80s slasher throwback film Lost After Dark. Today, we offer for your consideration our email conversation with the film’s director, Ian Kessner. As you’ll see from our chat, Ian is  passionate filmmaker with a love for the genre. On that note, let’s get right to it:

Andy Burns: Ian, congrats on Lost After Dark. I had a lot of fun watching it with a crowd – everyone was in on the nods and winks to horror films past. Which films from the genre did you grow up loving, and why?

Ian Kessner: Watching it with a crowd is the best.  Hearing them laugh and scream in all the right places brings joy to my heart. Some of my favorite slashers growing up were Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Happy Birthday To Me, Sleepaway Camp, My Bloody Valentine, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  I saw them all on VHS rentals I managed to get my young hands on.  I think they had such a big impact on me because they were a safe way for me to experience fear and death from the relative comfort of my safe suburban home. Read the rest of this entry

Exclusive: Andy Burns talks to Lost After Dark’s Kendra Timmins

Today (September 1st, 2015) sees the release of the new horror film, Lost After Dark. Co-written by Bo Ransdell and Ian Kessner and directed by Kessner, the film is set in Spring 1984, when are group of high school friends decide to take off for the weekend to spend a few nights at Adrienne’s (Kendra Timmins) family’s cottage. However, things take a turn for the worse when the school bus the friends have stolen breaks down, leaving them stranded on a deserted road, near an abandoned house that’s sole occupant is Junior Joad, a long-thought cannibal killer. Mayhem and murder ensues.

I had the chance to check out a screening of Lost After Dark at the end of August with cast and crew in attendance, and I enjoyed the film quite a bit. It’s a love letter to ’80s horror films and knows exactly what it is. While it’s a little long at times, there are some genuine shocks and surprises throughout, and you can’t say that about every horror film out there.

Lost After Dark’s lead actress Kendra Timmins was kind enough to answer some questions via email about the film, the shoot and much more.

LOST-AFTER-DARK-BD-cover-797x1024Andy Burns: Kendra, I was at the screening at the SoHo and the audience seemed to have a great time – what’s it like watching Lost After Dark with a crowd?

Kendra Timmins: It might sound strange, but it’s actually such a relief to see Lost After Dark with an audience. We knew as actors that we had something really fun to work with in terms of a script and a genre, but because it’s set in the 80s and an homage to a genre that is beloved by so many horror fans, that can easily be lost on an audience. So hearing people laugh and scream and have fun in all the right places, is so gratifying as an actor.

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Exclusive: Andy Burns talks to Julian Richings about Ejecta

JRJulian Richings is one of Canada’s leading character actors. While you may not know his name, you most certainly recognize his face from many of the films and tv series’ he’s appeared in, including Supernatural, Hannibal, X-Men: The Last Stand, Man of Steel, and many, many more. Richings latest starring role is the science fiction thriller, Ejecta, in which he portrays blogger/writer Bill Cassidy, who has been dealing with extraterrestrials for much of his life. It’s a thoughtful, paranoid performance, and demonstrates why Richings is a favourite of genre fans.

Along with our previous interview with directors Matt Wiele and Chad Archibald, we were able to talk to Julian about Ejecta, his thoughts on the cosmos, the allure of horror and much more.

Andy Burns: Congrats on a yet another solid performance, Julian. What drew you to the role of Bill?

Julian Richings: First, the boys at Foresight Features approached me and I’d been very impressed with their hands-on pragmatic approach to filmmaking. They’re a tight, no-nonsense group who dig into successive projects wearing slightly different hats each time, but they share an unflinching work ethic and creative ingenuity no matter what roles they take on. This was actually Matt Wiele’s first time wearing a director’s hat, but I was impressed his collaborative style coupled with his clarity of execution. (Chad effortlessly and sensitively expanded the sense of a family dynamic ).

When I read the script I realized I’d been offered the role of a troubled and complex character written by none other than Tony Burgess, someone whose writing I’ve admired forever, and who I feel an affinity with because of our mutual co-conspirators over the years.

So these things came together in a project that had a hands-on no-nonsense leanness , but had enough confidence and improvisational flair to adjust and grow as it went along.

It was a blueprint to go-to-it and create. Read the rest of this entry

Exclusive: Andy Burns talks with Ejecta directors Matt Wiele and Chad Archibald

Ejecta is a science-fiction thriller that combines found footage and real film to create a unique viewing experience. Filmed on location in Collingwood, Ontario, Ejecta stars genre favourite Julian Richings as a reclusive writer/blogger Bill Cassidy, whose experience with extraterrestrials has him in the sights of a clandestine group who are eager to learn what he witnessed the night of a solar storm.

Biff Bam Pop was lucky enough to chat with co-directors Matt Wiele and Chad Archibald over email about Ejecta, the creation of the story, filming on location, and much more.

Andy Burns: Matt and Chad, congrats on a very trippy and cool movie. Can you talk to us about how Ejecta came to be?

Matt Wiele: Trippy is good! Glad you got a high from watching it. Ejecta, in it’s original form, came about through wanting to make a tense “found footage” or “POV” style film that centered around a small scale alien crash and the claustrophobic aftermath of what that might look like. The evolution of the film and the story happened after shooting the initial material and wanting to expand on it. Make it bigger and better while still keeping it set amongst a small number of characters with opposing interests in the alien presence and witnessed/recorded crash.

Chad Archibald: Initially I had worked on the film on a different capacity and I loved the concept and the entire experience. I had worked with Matt in the past but it was exciting seeing him in the directors chair oppose to producing. I think everyone was excited to be making an alien flick with a bit of a twist, along with the fact that Julian was in it. After the film was cut together, the team decided to take the found footage element and push the movie even further. I was asked to come on board to help direct the additional segments of the film and Ejecta in it’s current state is what we came up with!
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Mall Cop 2 and More: Interview with Director Andy Fickman


I recently had a chance to spend a few moments with Andy Fickman, director of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Fickman has a long career of direction in the fields of film, television, and stage. His work includes The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain with The Rock, “Liv and Maddie” on The Disney Channel, and musical productions of Heathers and Reefer Madness!. Meet me after the jump to get to know him a bit better and learn more about Mall Cop 2.

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Daniel Reed talks to Berkshire County director Audrey Cummings

Horror films are just as unpredictable to create as they are to watch. Audrey Cummings, director of Berkshire County, knows this. In her latest work and first feature-length picture, she presents all the ingredients necessary to the babysitter in peril story. However, even with so much aligned in her favour, the process to completion has been rigorous, demanding, and rewarding.

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Biff Bam Pop Interview: Ron McKenzie talks to SPRING’s Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Horror Cinema has been experiencing a rennaisance as of late, with indies such as THE BABADOOK and IT FOLLOWS being prime examples of this “new blood” transfusion. Now, we can add SPRING to the list of genre trailblazers.

The sophomore effort by writer/director duo, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (and the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2012 debut, RESOLUTION ), SPRING details the whirlwind romance between Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Louise (Nadia Hilker). Evan is an American ex-pat, dealing with grief and a personal emotional tailspin. Louise is a genetics student dealing with … well, secrets of her own. Deep, dark monstrous secrets. With brilliant practical special FX by Masters FX, bolstered by the solid performances and red-hot chemistry between Pucci and Hilker as well as the sumptuous and eerie beauty of Italy, SPRING is a rare beast  in every sense of the word. Weaving horror, sci-fi and romance into a cohesive and fascinating whole that’s been described as “Before Sunrise, as re-imagined by Clive Barker.” A good-enough description for a film that defies comparisons. There’s been a lot of hype for SPRING. I’m happy to report that it’s completely warranted.


I had the chance to sit down with Benson and Moorhead in advance of last Friday’s premiere screening, to talk about SPRING’s genesis, the search for their film’s young lovers, mythology and monsters. Read the rest of this entry


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