EYEPUS has the most distinguish pleasure to bring an exclusive interview with Filmmaker Jeremiah Kipp. Mr. Kipp took time out of his busy film schedule (shooting his upcoming horror feature film SWINE starring Tom Savini) to be interviewed here at EYEPUS. He is one hell of an amazing detailed filmmaker, and if anybody haven't seen his short film works
CONTACT and THE POD I suggest to run and do so - and check out his filmmaking craftmanship. Just remarkable short horror film works...
EYEPUS: Can you tell us - How did you got into filmmaking?
JEREMIAH KIPP: When I was twelve years old my grandparents purchased a VHS camcorder, I think to photograph weddings and family gatherings. But it became an opportunity for me to gather together all the kids who lived on my block so we could make vampire, zombie and end-of-the-world movies in my backyard. I cut together a reel from these 300 mediocre films and submitted it to NYU, and combined with my grants, scholarships and high SAT scores, it was enough to get me into this prestigious film school, where they throw a 16mm camera in your hands and you take to the streets. I was fortunate to be able to continue working in this industry post-graduation as a director, assistant director and producer.
EYEPUS: Any horror films inspire you to become a filmmaker?
JEREMIAH KIPP: There were several genre films that transformed me when I was growing up. Some of the most significant were John Carpenter’s THE THING, which had a truly original monster in a chilling location and a dozen great characters having to deal with it. I also loved George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD, a classic wish-fulfillment fantasy (what kid wouldn’t want to live in a shopping mall and kill zombies) that turns in on itself as a visceral social satire about consumerism. Romero and Carpenter remain two of my favorites, but I also remember having powerful experiences from the extreme cinema of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, ERASERHEAD and the immersive worlds of THE ROAD WARRIOR and BLADE RUNNER. I’ve never been able to shake off my early impressions of cinema, or my love of horror, because these movies made it seem like anything was possible; that there were no barriers. Horror filmmaking allows you to push beyond the limits of human experience into something other, and that’s always been a source of great inspiration.
EYEPUS: Any favorite horror filmmakers?
JEREMIAH KIPP: Romero and Carpenter, as I said, are seminal filmmakers, and I also love the work of David Lynch, David Cronenberg…I’m particularly drawn to a Polish filmmaker named Andrzej Zulawski who made a monster movie in the early 1980s called POSSESSION, which was really about a nightmarish divorce between the characters played by Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. Within the independent film world, I appreciate filmmakers like Larry Fessenden, who directed the deeply personal HABIT and the nightmarishly political eco-horror movie THE LAST WINTER. Jim Mickle, whose MULBERRY STREET is a low-budget gem, and Graham Reznick’s mind-trip I CAN SEE YOU are also favorites.
EYEPUS: Which is your favorite horror film of all time?
JEREMIAH KIPP: Tod Browning’s FREAKS is one that has truly stayed with me; I love films in general that blur the line between reality and filmmaking. Harmony Korine, Bruno Dumont, Claire Denis and Lars von Trier seem to be some of the directors who are pushing the envelope nowadays, but FREAKS is mind-blowing because of its use of actual sideshow freaks as characters in the movie—who can forget the uncomfortable “gooble gobble” dinner scene or the climactic chase through the mud and the rain….”one of us, one of us”—brilliant!
EYEPUS: Do you consider yourself a filmmaker or a horror filmmaker?
JEREMIAH KIPP: I consider myself a filmmaker with a deep and abiding passion for the horror genre. If I fell into the so-called horror ghetto and never made a movie outside of the genre, I think I would remain a very happy man because there are so many possibilities that exist within the world of horror.
EYEPUS: How do you feel about classics horror films been made into remakes?
JEREMIAH KIPP: It all depends on how they handle the remake. Let’s not forget that John Carpenter’s THE THING, David Cronenberg’s THE FLY, Chuck Russell’s THE BLOB and TNT’s wonderful reinvention of SALEM’S LOT starring Rutger Hauer and Donald Sutherland were all remakes of previous genre offerings. It all depends on the execution. Many of these are attempts to brazenly cash in on a brand name, so all you can see are the hands of greedy studio executives wanting to cash in. Genre fans can tell if the work came from the heart or not. I liked the direction Rob Zombie was going on HALLOWEEN II, which felt more like his kind of movie than a straight-up homage. I didn’t think Zack Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD remake was a total success—a lot of it felt pretty weak—but I did think he was sincerely trying to make a valid remake of the material, whereas the FRIDAY THE 13th and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET retreads were far more transparent in what they were trying to do, which is make a fast buck.
EYEPUS: I just saw your short film CONTACT, I really enjoyed and I was impressed with your film - what was the budget for your film?
JEREMIAH KIPP: Our budget was miniscule—ridiculously so! I spent around $600 to make that picture, but mind you our very professional crew were doing me a favor by working on the film out of the goodness of their hearts, and the camera and equipment were on loan from a filmmaker whose feature I produced a few months earlier. So when considering the $600 price tag, you also have to factor in the friendships, favors and courtesies my cast and crew extended towards me. How does one budget for the knowledge that you would do anything to help these people, and they return the favor by helping you? The east coast low budget horror community can be very loyal and supportive in this way.
EYEPUS: How many days did it take you to shoot CONTACT?
JEREMIAH KIPP: We shot for two days, but did full rehearsals and were in post-production for a little over a month as we cut the picture and worked with our wonderful composer and sound designer Tom Burns, who fully mixed the project for us before screening it in October 2009 at a Halloween film festival.
EYEPUS: Which type of camera did you used to shoot CONTACT?
JEREMIAH KIPP: Our camera was the Panasonic HPX, but more important was our cinematographer Dominick Sivilli. It’s wonderful to collaborate with a director of photography whom you draw inspiration from; he really has been like a brother in our collaborations. We shot some behind-the-scenes footage for a documentary that I co-produced, then we made CONTACT and that set in motion a series of projects we collaborated on together. Mapping out visual storytelling with him has been incredibly meaningful to me personally and professionally, and I look forward to our work together on our first feature, SWINE, which starts principal photography a mere three days from the completion of this interview.
EYEPUS: What was your overall working with the actors especially the legendary Alan Rowe Kelly?
JEREMIAH KIPP: I enjoy the rehearsal process, particularly with actors as creatively engaging and resourceful as Zoë Daelman Chlanda and Robb Leigh Davis. Most films have no rehearsal at all, so you’re basically watching what’s emerged after a very rough blocking if you’re watching an independent movie. I prefer not to work that way whenever possible, but unfortunately budgets don’t always allow that time with the actors during pre-production. As for the wonderful Alan Rowe Kelly, he has a magnetic persona onscreen, a kind of intensity that you expect from performers such as James Cagney or Barbara Stanwyck. He was open to the idea of playing this drug dealer as an aging punk rocker; I was inspired by the way Morrissey looks these days, and Alan wanted to create some sort of faux-mullet with his hair and wore that striking pea coat. Alan is like those British actors who work from the outside in; I think he discovers the characters he plays by figuring out their hair and wardrobe, and allowing that to inform all of his choices as an actor. I think his best work to date, though, was in A FAR CRY FROM HOME as the victim of a hate crime. It was very moving, poignant and personal; also Alan was not hiding behind a colorful mask, but playing a real and sensitive person, a normal person, and one who is suffering under extreme conditions. It’s quite a moving performance, and I encourage readers to try to track down this film however you can. Alan is releasing it in an anthology film called GALLERY OF FEAR sometime this fall.
EYEPUS: You are about to go and direct your second film as a feature for two weeks, Can you tell us about your upcoming feature?
JEREMIAH KIPP: I was hired to direct SWINE by two producers after they saw CONTACT online, and much of the same crew is returning. The feature is a “killer in the woods” scenario starring Tom Savini as the silent, predatory villain; there are a few fresh twists involving a primal state induced by animal steroids, and I’m blessed to be working with many of my east coast horror colleagues, including co-producer Alan Rowe Kelly, special FX artist Daniel J. Mazikowski (THE ROOST), and cast members such as Zoë, Jerry Murdock from I’LL BURY YOU TOMORROW and Miguel Lopez from VINDICATION.
EYEPUS: If there was a dream horror remake you would like to direct which film would it be and why?
JEREMIAH KIPP: I don’t think it’s as worthwhile remaking a classic genre film such as HALLOWEEN or even THE WOLF MAN. But if you came up with a fresh twist on a humble genre flick like, I don’t know, the Australian outback horror movie RAZORBACK or a “death on the road” picture like RACE WITH THE DEVIL, you wouldn’t feel a slavish obligation to the original. Alan Rowe Kelly is remaking S.F. Brownrigg’s drive-in classic DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT with co-director Anthony Sumner. I’d love the idea of remaking Brownrigg’s SCUM OF THE EARTH—if I could do it as if Mike Leigh were making an exploitation film!
EYEPUS: Any inspiring words you would like to share with other aspiring filmmakers out there?
JEREMIAH KIPP: The best advice to most filmmakers is simply not to do it, because this is an incredibly difficult way to live your life. If you have a tremendous passion for the work, it is the most beautiful and rewarding profession, with great and rewarding artists in front of and behind the camera. And it is humbling to consider that no one can do it alone; no one person makes a film. One must always be mindful of that other party involved, which is the audience. How are you telling a story to them visually, and what is the effect you want to have on them? What do you hope to communicate? Even if the reason is as simple as, “I want to scare the shit out of people, because it is fun to be scared!”, that’s wonderful, because scary movies are cathartic; they take us to other worlds; they allow us the chance to get close to our deepest nightmares and emerge safely, however shaken and unsettled, as the end credits roll.