Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Youtube series 'In Fear Of' Director Jeremiah Kipp Talks About 'Podophobia'

"In Fear Of" is a horror anthology Web series that goes live this week on Youtube on Halloween. I had the chance to catch a sneak peek at the series, and was really impressed with how truly terrifying this series is. In fact, I was so impressed that I decided to interview three of the directors from the series. My first interview was with Jeremiah Kipp, who I interviewed last year and reviewed his wonderful short horror films, "Contact" and "Crestfallen."

Jeremiah Kipp directed two episodes of "In Fear Of" titled "Podophobia" and "Aphephobia." "Podophobia" is about a woman who has an intense fear of feet. "Aphephobia" is about a woman who is terrified of being touched. Both episodes are in Kipp's signature black and white filming style, and are without dialogue, so the emotional impact of the episodes create a very raw, intense viewing experience that is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

1. How did you get involved with "In Fear Of?"

Scott W. Perry approached me to participate in his Web series about fear, sending me a list of perhaps 200 phobias.  He said I could choose whichever ones I wanted to make into a film, and they'd become a part of this online anthology.  I met Scott on the set of Alan Rowe Kelly's THE BLOOD SHED back in 2006, and since then he's become a part of the east coast horror community mainly as a journalist supporting other independent filmmakers.  I thought it was commendable that Scott wanted to get back to his true passion, making films.  IN FEAR OF is one of many projects Scott has been dabbling in of late, and since making a Web series is fast, cheap and you have an immediate result, I decided to get involved.

2. What attracts you to the horror genre? 

It's a very emotional genre.  There's only so far naturalistic drama can push, but horror can get us further and provoke us with images beyond reality.  John Carpenter's THEY LIVE is a great example of genre being used to express a legitimate social fear.  George Romero's MARTIN and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD are incredibly emotional genre films that tap into feelings of isolation, loss, hope against all odds...that's pretty powerful stuff!  And having aliens or zombies or vampires requires a leap of the imagination.  It gets us into an area of "reality plus" that is closer to our dreams and our desires.

3. Was there any real life influence or experience that you drew on to direct "Podophobia?"

PODOPHOBIA is the fear of feet, and I have no such fear.  I approached Paul Pastore, who I had worked with previously on a slasher movie trailer called SERIAL SCHOOL. I knew the material would be up his alley, and he generously financed that episode.  Once I had the wonderful actors Xiomara Cintron and Alejandro Santoni in place, I did draw from personal experience a little, but that had more to do with the rawness of being in a relationship and having the feeling of discovering something scary and new in the other person, tapping into a hidden anguish.  That can happen, and when it does it can be terrifying.

4. Were there any movies that you used as inspiration during your creative process?

Scott told me I was inspired by David Lynch for the "fear of feet" movie and David Cronenberg for the "fear of touch" movie.  It wasn't conscious; though I love their films very much.  I was looking at a lot of the fine art photography of Brooke Shaden when preparing APHEPHOBIA; she creates these disturbing magical images that tend to be pressing down on a female character.  

As for PODOPHOBIA, we drew more from the imagination of the actors and myself.  I'm also a fan of the Polish director Andrzej Zulawski, whose movies push to the extremes of human behavior. Maybe that was an influence too.

5. What are you afraid of? Did your short film include aspects of your own phobias?

My deepest fears are of being controlled by someone else, either in the form of a cult or of someone who is able to persuade me to do something against my better moral judgment.  I guess that's why I'm scared of films like INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE THING and Todd Haynes's SAFE.  While I love people as individuals, large groups tend to scare me.  It's odd that I love living in New York City so much since you are continually encountering masses strangers. Crowded subway trains mortify me a little, and I'm sure I drew on that for APHEPHOBIA.  I certainly had a conversation or two about that with our lead actress, Kelly Rae LeGault.  As for PODOPHOBIA, I'm not afraid of feet, but the mysteries of the human heart are unpredictable and sometimes leap out in outrageous ways.

Xiomara Cintron tapped into a very specific, personal terror when playing the role.  It was interesting to see her in a scene opposite child actors who, for a moment, thought she was truly losing control.  I think they got a little scared.  After I called cut, I asked Xiomara, "Were you in total control of your instrument there?" She nodded and said she was, and that she felt safe, which is how she could allow herself to go there.  The child actors looked at each other with a gleam in their eyes, as if they had discovered some beautiful truth about acting; that you can go anywhere and arrive back safely.

6. Do you plan on filming more short horror films in the future? If so, what projects are you working on and what can fans expect to see from you in the coming months?

I'm ready to transition over to more feature films.  The short form has been good to me; I love building towards a small sharp shock and love it in the way I enjoy the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft or Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I wish there was a greater market for short genre films, though my colleagues Alan Rowe Kelly, Anthony Sumner and Bart Mastronardi have been smart about making anthologies.  But I've become more enamored with the idea of a long form narrative, and have a monster movie I'd love to make.  That said, I do have a new short film coming soon called THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, shot by my frequent cinematographer Dominick Sivilli and scored by the wonderful Harry (FRIDAY THE 13th) Manfredini, set in a mysterious gentleman's club where the fabric of reality gets turned upside down.  It's a film that is both beautiful and macabre, and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

About the Director

Jeremiah Kipp's directing credits include THE SADIST starring Tom Savini, THE POD starring Larry Fessenden, CONTACT (commissioned by Sinister Six annual screening series), THE DAYS GOD SLEPT, CRESTFALLEN, THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand), EASY PREY (commissioned by NYC's annual VisionFest), DROOL (commissioned by Mandragoras Art Space), SNAPSHOT and THE APARTMENT (commissioned by Canon to premiere their XL2 at DV Expo 2004). 

Producing credits include the feature films SATAN HATES YOU (created by Glass Eye Pix, starring Angus Scrimm, Michael Berryman and Reggie Bannister), GOD'S LAND, LET'S PLAY, IN MONTAUK, THE JONESTOWN DEFENSE and THE BED-THING (directed by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Matt Zoller Seitz). Assistant director credits include I SELL THE DEAD starring Dominic Monaghan, SOMEWHERE TONIGHT starring John Turturro, ONE NIGHT starring Melissa Leo, and the Sundance Award-winning MAN (dir: Myna Joseph).

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