Tell us a bit about how you got into movies (both watching and making them)
As a kid I used to always rent nothing but horror films. The first one I saw was Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy Krueger was my idol for a long, long time. I think that what attracted me to the genre was the fact that there were no limitations to your imagination. I loved how the audience members had to be ready for just about anything. As I got older, I discovered Dario Argento and this guy just rocked my world. I loved how his films were practically like art house horror films. The lighting and set pieces were beauitful. He also introduced me to the slasher genre, and I immediately fell in love; hence the reason "Bikini Girls on Ice" is a slasher film.
One would say the choice of "bikini girls" is an obvious one, but why "ice'?
Well, I had been looking to direct a slasher film for awhile, but nothing peaked my interest enough to actually put the time, effort and cash into actually making it. Then the co-producer on the film, Jeff Ross, wrote me an email in which he was only half serious, in which he said "Why not just do a film called Bikini Girls on Ice and the tag line would be 'These girls are so hot they need to be put on ice!'" When I heard that tag line I knew I had something. It also implies a dark, sexual kind of fetish, that a lot of people subconsciously find interesting.
Was there any particular movie that inspired you in the creation of Bikini Girls On Ice?
Throughout pre-production, there were 4 films that I used as reference; Wolf Creek, Haute Tension, The Descent and TCM the remake. The most important though was Wolf Creek. I loved the look of the film, the characters and especially the score/sound design. I also knew that the film was shot on the Sony F900, and that I would be shooting on the same camera, so it kinda set the bar for me. I used Haute Tension as reference for exactly that, the tension. I also loved the scene where Marie is hiding in the closet and the killer is cutting off the mother's hand, because it was really effective without showing anything. It was all done with sound and the reaction of Marie in the closet. And seeing that BGOI was going to be done low budget, I needed to find a way to get around excessive gore.
How long did the production take, from pre to post, and what were the greatest challenges?
Pre-production started in August 2007. We then shot the film over 21 days in August 2009. Post production lasted the winter and we had a final version of the film in June 2009. The greatest challenge was during the shooting of the film. It rained for the first 12 days of shooting, and in a film where girls are prancing around in bikinis all day long, ideally you want nice sunshine and warm weather. We we're able to trick a lot of the bad weather with tons of flags on set as well as great color correction in post. When you watch the film, you'll never know that it rained as much as it did.
How was it funded?
The film was completely funded by myself and co-producer, Jeff Ross. We took out loans, credit cards and used our weekly pay checks to fund the film. I must say, it's been tough living for the past two years, but it's all worth it when you see the film on the big screen.
What do you say to people who wanted more nudity in the movie?
Well, that was a conscious decision that I made before making the film. I wanted the film to be enjoyed and respected for the right reasons. I felt gratuitous nudity all over the place would really dumb down the film. The fact that the girls are in bikinis the entire time is sexually suggestive enough. Anything else would have been overkill. Our goal in making this film is to bring back those cool, campy films from the '80s, but this time done with a little more tact and professionalism. We want people to be able to take films with really crazy titles a little more seriously.
How many actors did you audition for madman Moe, and why did you settle on your final choice?
We had about 20 people read for the role of Moe. It turns out that William Jarand, who ended up getting the role, was the first audition for the entire film. I remember seeing this clean cut, sophisticated guy sitting in the waiting room and I was saying to myself "Who is he auditioning for?" Then he came into the audition and started convulsing and grunting; I was blown away. But then it turned out that he got a commission to do a painting over the summer, so he had to bow out of the film. I was in comeplete disbelief. Then a week before production, he got back to me and noticed that we had yet to cast Moe, so he said that if we could work around his very intense schedule, then he would do it. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. He really carries this film. He's excellent.
What do you like about the horror genre?
The idea that there are no limitations to your imagination. That's the main thing. I love the fact that the lighting can be really surreal and no one will question it. The characters are put in compromising situations, making the audience member question what they would do if they were in that situation. The entire genre simply asks questions of yourself that you may not dare to answer. That in itself is extremely intriguing to me.
What do you dislike about the horror genre?
That's easy. Tortune porn films. I can do without Hostel, Saw and any other clone of those films. These films, which attempt to repulse the audience into fear, have lost sight that horror movies are actually suppose to be fun. I think that a lot of films these days are becoming so serious and so in your face that you leave the theatre feeling drained. You leave feeling the need for a shower. These movies should be fun date films, where you can actually bring your date and not feel worried. The film's script editor, Michael Penning, summed up the script by saying: "Bikini Girls on Ice is a refreshing throwback to the good-old days of classic slasher movies. You know the kind. Back when adolescent boys got their kicks by watching half-naked women run from a brutal stalker (usually wet in the rain), and when the girls in the audience felt satisfied after the sex-obsessed bimbos got punished for their sins. While modern studios keep trying to satisfy the needs of the attention-deficit generation by sacrificing story for ever-increasing extreme brutality, they seem to be losing sight of one important fact: as sick as they might be, horror movies are actually supposed to be entertaining."
Are you making movies full-time or do you still pay the bills in other ways?
I still pay the bills by working my 9 to 5 job. Although I must admit that I do work at the National Film Board of Canada, so it's not like I'm doing something completely out of my element. It also has it's perks... I got a lot of favours here for post production, saving me thousands of dollars.
In which other countries has the movie been screened (via festivals or other means)?
The film premiered in the US in mid August at the Fright Night Film Fest. It will then have it's Canadian premiere in Montreal on the 22nd of October as part of the SPASM Film Festival. And then on Halloween night, we'll be screening in London, England as part of the Gorezone Magazine Weekend of Horror. This will be our African premiere.
The movie has also screened at:
Freak Show Film Fest
Fright Night Film Fest
Horrific Film Fest
Great Lakes Indie Film Fest
SPASM Montreal Film Fest
Madison Horror Film Fest
Summer Tromadance Indiana
What is the single best tip you can give upcoming moviemakers?
You need to have patience. As a filmmaker, you won't start at the top. You're gonna have to work for free at times on set, but don't ever forget that the experience is worth more than any pay check. My first time on set I was with a professional DP, and I followed him around with a pen and paper and jotted down everything he did. If I had questions I would ask him and then jot down the notes. Albet that was 8 years ago, but like I said, petience is a virtue.
BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE will make its African debut at the South African HORRORFEST
- Paul Blom