Monday, May 31, 2021



Creating controversy, knocking down on the first hit, that's how one must to enter into any place in the world, in few words, being bold. Even though my interviewee today has shot two films besides the last one, this lasting one clearly tries to amplify a protest voice against the comsumption or how she said "I’d like people to think about their position in the chain of production, exploitation and consumption." Great, right? That's why I am grateful for the time she gave me to chat, and I say again, thanks ELZA KEPHART, really. her last film and the matter of this interview is SLAXX, its storyle says: "When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store, it is up to Libby, an idealistic young salesclerk, to stop its bloody rampage". A film that under the sub genre horror-comedy gives us a critic about the social media, consumption and the humanity mechanization only to become us more and more consumers.

I really hope you can read this interview, I know that YOU, indie filmmaker will appreciate it a lot, and all the people interested in get to know the creativity process of a no doubt, future successes filmmaker as will be ELZA KEPHART.

EFF: Elza, let me thank you first for letting me interview you, Can you tell us where are you from and how was filmmaking love born on you?

EK: I’m from Montreal, Canada. I was 10 when I saw Back to the Future about 10 times and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker! I loved being brought into fantastical worlds through the medium of cinema and wanted to do the same.

EFF: Let 's talk about SLAXX, It is your third feature film, your second horror - comedy story. Why film another horror- comedy movie? I mean, why  do you prefer this horror style over other ones?

EK: I don’t set out thinking: I’m going to write a horror comedy. If I get inspired to write a story, I will write it however it comes out, organically. By nature I am a pretty funny person, sarcastic with an ironic and absurd sense of humour, so this part of my personality naturally comes out when I write. 
SLAXX (2020)
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EFF: What did you want to communicate with SLAXX? I mean, the core message was pretty clear, but still, people can get different angles from the same point.

EK: I’d like people to think about their position in the chain of production, exploitation and consumption. I’d like them to think how they participate, and how they can break this chain, even if by simply buying less. We are in a climate and ecological emergency, fueled by corporate greed, so it’s imperative we stop seeing ourselves as consumers and start seeing ourselves as interconnected beings who need to act in solidarity if we are to survive.

EFF: How was the project born? You and Patricia Gomez wrote the film. Tell us; how the core idea came to your mind and how you were developing it every day and how long it took you both to have it done? 

EK: Patricia and I were on a road trip with another friend, and we were teasing each other about words we hate; our friend hates the word “slacks” and so, by repeating it over and over in an ominous voice to get on her nerves it naturally started to sound like a villain! So we immediately thought: killer pants!

It took us about 15 years to get from that concept to the script we got financed. We wrote 3 drafts over those 15 years, each draft getting more and more critical of fast-fashion, and more political. But writing each draft was quite quick, a few months at most.

EFF:I would like to ask you about the casting process, The cast fitted into the film, each was compelling according to the film. How was this casting process and if you can tell us how do you usually handle it?

EK: The casting was done as it usually is, by hiring a casting director, going through self-tapes, call backs, etc. We cast out of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. The only part that differed from that was the casting of “Keerat”. The casting director could not find any talented South Asian girls, so we reached out to Arjeeta Bansal the choreographer who created the “dancing pants” scene. She runs Bollywood dance classes, and so she showed me videos of her students and I found one who had the right look, seemed to have a great energy, then we auditioned her very informally and realised she was great! And she was a real discovery, a natural actress.

EFF: How do you set up your day to day during shooting process 

EK: I usually get to set 45min-1hr before crew call. I look through the shots of the day, I walk around the set, reviewing my shots quietly, before the crew gets there, so when the day starts, I already know how to direct them. I go say Hi to the cast and the hair, makeup and costumes departments. I go over the day with the 1st AD and DP and get going. At lunch and at wrap I go over what’s missing and will need to be picked up or altered with the producers and 1st AD. We talk about problems and how to solve them and then I try and get a good night’s sleep!
Elza Kephart - BTS Slaxx

EFF: How long it took you to shoot the film and where was shot?

EK: 23 days. In Montréal and Laval (a suburb of Montréal), Canada.

EFF: What setbacks did you have shooting the film? How did you solve them out?

EK: Sometimes shooting the scenes with the pants took longer than anticipated, as it was quite complicated to get all the different reactions in our tight schedule, as almost each reaction necessitated a change of pant rig. We had to be very creative and get the minimum to tell the story when the day started getting tight. Sometimes we had to do reshoots, sometimes just take shots from different scenes and cobble something together. But I think in the end it worked pretty well!

EFF: What camera did you use and why? 

EK: The Red. We had a financing package through our distributor and had to rent their camera. 

EFF: How has been the audience response?

EK: Great! People have really taken to Slaxx and embraced it. It’s amazing. 

EFF: What have you learned from this experience?

EK: To trust your ideas. If you have an idea that people really love, and it keeps getting good reception over the years, chances are you should pursue it. It might take time to get it right, but eventually your skills as a writer - director will catch up to your idea! 

EFF: What is the hardest thing about being a horror director?

EK: Not much. I love it! I love the horror community, and we are still a niche genre, so in many ways it’s easier to get press, and the fans are super. They really take to a film, like it was an old friend. So it’s like we are in a big horror family.

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally...

EK: It was very hard at first knowing Slaxx would not play in physical film festivals. I hadn’t done a proper festival tour since Graveyard Alive in 2003-2005, and was really looking forward to it. So that was the most disappointing. Also, we started playing in theaters in Canada, were getting great press, and 2 and a half weeks into the run the government shut down the cinemas once more. So it was hard knowing our film could have played longer but didn’t and it was hard seeing so few people in the audience, because people were afraid. So many friends said they would have seen it in the theater but were too worried.

Professionally, not having agents or managers take much of an interest in me, since this usually happens during film festivals, when films get “buzz”. I was really hoping I would get an agent and a manager out of Slaxx, but so far nothing. 

EFF:  What new projects are you working on now, anything you can anticipate us now? 

EK: I’m working on two other projects with Patricia Gomez Zlatar: one is Sweet Blood, a TV show about a vampire living in the suburbs with his pregnant human wife who is visited by his vampire clan and forced to help them to reproduce; one is called The Dark Age, a feature about a priest in the middle ages who has to elucidate mysterious miracles, only to find out he has supernatural powers and is being guided by an endangered ecosystem to save its existence. I’m wrapping up a feature script with another friend, called Chair Obscure; it’s a possession ghost story, set in Québec and written in French. The anti-heroine is a 50 year old woman, so that’s lots of fun to write!
Elza Kephart

EFF: If a producer gives you a chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why? 

EK: Part of me doesn’t really like the idea of remakes. I think a film should stand the test of time. But I guess it’s like a play- you can put on a play in a multitude of ways. I think I would remake Almodovar’s The Skin I live in. It’s based on an amazing novella, called “Mygale”, by Thierry Jonquet, which did not get its fair treatment in that film. The novella is so much creepier and disturbing!!!

EFF: What advice would you give to new filmmakers on the road doubtful on how to do their first movie? What is the most important thing you think need to have a good director?

EK: Have a great idea that gets people excited. It doesn’t have to be complicated. People loved the script for Graveyard Alive, my first feature. There were so few films like that in Quebec at the time that we were able to rope people to work on it for almost nothing! You are no one when you start, so your idea needs to speak for you, needs to be your ambassador. Great ideas can get you very far and be ready to finance or raise the financing yourself. 

To be a good director you need perseverance; it’s a very hard industry to break through, so you need to be prepared to work for decades to get to a good place. Work on films, get to know people and get to know how productions work. Learn how to communicate your ideas to others; use references! When you’re ready to shoot, check every detail, no matter how small. It’s very easy for misunderstandings to creep in, so it’s always best to see everything before it goes in front of the camera.

EFF : Anything would you like to say?

EK: I’d really like people to think about how corporations are brainwashing us; to always think about why you have the desire to buy something, or do something that involves spending money on a corporation. Chances are that desire has been created and is not essential. We absolutely need to pare down our consumption, reuse, repair, buy locally, etc. It’s a political move, at this point! We need to reclaim our souls from corporate greed.

**Elza Kephart's | IMDb **

SLAXX (2020)
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