Jen & Sylvia Soska AKA the Twisted Twins bloodied but still Kicking
When you think of horror movies you normally don’t think of two very attractive twins being at the forefront of such a genre, normal expectations would see such ladies being chased through woods by a crazed axeman. But these ladies are far from normal and after a hectic few months promoting their latest offering “American Mary” we managed grab some time with this dynamic duo
You have had a love of film from a very early age and especially horrors, can you remember how it felt when you made your first film and how far do you feel you have come since – does it all feel a bit slicker now?
S: None of it feels real. I remember I was 23 and making DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK with Jen and I was stressed because I was following in Rodriguez's footsteps and I wanted to have it out while I was still 23 like he did with EL MARIACHI, which is silly when I look back at it because other people can inspire you to make your dreams happen, but you have to get there your own way. Every time I walk onto set, I'm that little kid that grew up loving this stuff, I can't believe this is actually my job. I feel like the luckiest horror nerd on the planet, I still can't sleep when we film because I'm too excited to get to set.
J: I still look at what we're lucky enough to be doing for a living and it blows me away. We love what we do and we put that in every frame of what we do. I look back at DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK and so many things have happened and changed since then. I've grown as an artist and filmmaker, but I see that passion there. Maybe that passion is even purer than it ever has been ever since as I didn't know any better when we started out. Making that film was our film school and not just in the way of learning how to make a film. The making of a film is a small part of the overall release. You have to learn about marketing and promoting and distributing. I feel incredibly proud of our work. We've been able to keep our films to the visions we had for them. It has, at times, been a great challenge, but it's been well worth it. I'm excited for the next one. Hell, I'm excited for everything that's still coming. We're only just getting started.
Your latest offering American Mary has been released a few months now and has gained a lot of positive comments in the media, how do you feel the movie turned out for you and can you give our readers an insight into what it takes to promote a movie after its made ?
S: The industry is constantly changing and a big element of that is social media. It's a crucial resource for filmmakers, especially those of us who don't have twenty million dollar marketing budgets promoting our films. But if you are diligent, you can get your film out there and I will say this, the horror community consists of the best people on the fucking planet. No one else is like them. There are no romantic comedy conventions, but there are horror conventions. With our current technology, you can talk to people around the world, get the word out about your work, and make great friendships. As a filmmaker, it is your responsibility to use every resource available to get your film out there and appreciate the people who support you. I thank everyone because I know they are the reason why I am making films and not waiting tables anymore.
J: The promotion is vital. There are two types of films that really seem to break through and that's the big budget Hollywood monsters (some good, some not so) and the high concept indies. The Hollywood films have the benefit of having massive marketing budgets behind them. Their budgets for promotion are so massive that they're usually bigger than the entire budgets of the indies. The can afford the TV trailers, the billboards, the works. The indies have to take advantage of social media. You get in touch with people and if they get excited about what you're doing, they become biological billboards. With Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, you can literally go out there and find your audience. We're always online. Media has changed. You have to be to connect with the people who support what you do.
With all industries there are always pluses and negatives! The fact that you are female and twins was it hard to be taken seriously when your were first starting out, ?
S: I find judgement based on appearance very odd. There are men and women that met us and have already created an opinion of us based purely on our aesthetic. There are people that suggest that we change our look or do things to blend in, but I'm going to live my life the way that I feel comfortable. I may have to walk into a room and prove to the people I am meeting with that Jen and I are the people they want to be doing business with and trusting us with massive responsibilities. There will always be assholes that hate women, but it's very old Hollywood and the nice thing about dinosaurs is that they die. I feel my work speaks for myself, but I can speak for myself too.
J: Yes and no. Depending on who we're meeting with, it can still be a challenge. There is this stereotype of what identical twins are. It's not some shtick we thought up. We were born as identical twins. I've seen some terrible misogyny in this business as well as discrimination based on my age and it's disgusting. It's not everyone, but you should be aware that it's out there. It's something every young filmmaker that's just starting out will come up against at one time or another. Some people will never change, but the great thing is you get pretty good a picking out monsters in this industry and you can easily avoid them.
One of the plus things must be being able to bounce ideas of each other and dissect a project until its perfect, can you tell us a little of your work process – do you share the writing etc ?
S: We are born collaborators – when you're born with two of you, it becomes a way of life. Often people try to separate twins because they don't want them to get dependant on one another. Twins can split up different skill sets because there are two of them, but we were allowed to stay together, my parents fought for it. Jen is very detail oriented, she's great with people, she has this fantastic beautiful outlook on the world, and she has this great sense of humor. When we work, she's the how and I'm the why. She stays in reality to make sure we can make the film while I completely immerse myself in the world we're creating so we can have those tiny details to make it real. I couldn't do that without her, but we share every responsibility by either taking turns or dividing and conquering. We're in the very unique situation where you have two directors which means we can work twice as fast and still be on the same page with each other.
J: We share everything. I'm so blessed to have Sylv. Not only is she my best friend, she's been my life long collaborator. We have a lot on common, but we see things very differently. We joke that she's the Lars Von Trier and I'm the Joss Whedon. I put the heart in and she rips it out. As a result we compliment each other nicely. We divide and conquer. We used to be pretty aggressive when we shot ideas back and forth, but it's so natural for us now. We come up with something, bat it back and forth, and make it into something truly amazing together. We think fast and very similarly. We get what the other is saying and thinking. It makes working together seamless.
With the availability of the internet, so much indie stuff is being created, not always good may I add, do you feel the boundaries of what I term as the 'scream factor' being pushed further and further to the extreme of the more gore the better ?
S: I think a lot of people make films because they want to make a film. There is no benefit to the film existing, no reason for their story to be told, and that's the biggest crime in filmmaking. Art without purpose. It's also why the horror genre has such a negative connotation because they is so much crap being made. Gore doesn't bother me as long as there is a reason behind it. Sometimes, like in the case of A SERBIAN FILM, the filmmakers feel so passionately about their message that they are screaming it in their material and I applaud that kind of bravery. The world is filled with horrific images, I see real inhuman horror on my FB; there is no escaping it. I feel it is the responsibility of artists to have some commentary, some insight, some dialogue about the world we live in. Without it, there is no reason to create.
J: It depends. Films shouldn't exist for no reason. Being made just to out gore the last torture porn flick isn't enough. A film should say something. Too often when the focus is put on the gore, it lacks in the plot, story, substance, and often performance. I will also point out that many super gore flicks don't have great effects either, just a gratuitous amount of blood everywhere to cover up mistakes. If the gore serves the story, such as in MARTYRS, there are no boundaries. Although I will say that people do get caught up on the violence and you will alienate some people if you make an uber gory film, no matter how thoughtfully done it is.
Just one more before we ask some fun questions, what does the future hold for the Twisted Twins, what’s in the pipeline ?
S: We are in early prep with Masters FX for our original monster film called BOB. The tagline is: There is a monster inside all of us, sometimes it gets out. We've very excited about it. We appear in two films that haven't been announced yet and there are three greenlit projects that we are working on that we can't announce yet, but we're very busy. Cannot wait to be able to announce everything. I just love getting back to set.
J: We were also announced in the tremendous line up of talent for THE ABCS OF DEATH 2. It's a massive honor. There are so many directors that I admire that are part of the project and I love the producers and the whole project. We will certainly be rising to the challenge. We have a few more projects coming up and we're very fortunate to have so many opportunities right now. We'll just have to see what we're able to announce and when. We have so much on the go. I can say that we're just getting started and you haven't seen anything yet!
As always we like to ask a few fun questions with all our guests
S: Fuck yeah!
J: Yay!! That's wicked. Let's do this!
If you had to spend a night in a haunted house and could choose one person to be with you who would it be? “and no it can't be your sister 'smiles' she’s on a date!"
S: Without Jen? Jesus, that's a tough one. Who is Jen on a date with? I need the details. Is he/she cute? Ok, um, me in a haunted house, who do I take? I'd bring Katie. She would flip her shit and it would be endlessly amusing to me. It would also be the only time we ever hung out without Jen which would be odd as I'm the dysfunctional twin.
J: NOT SYLV???? Oh, no!! ha ha, I'd take Chris Tucker. Because I imagine he'd freak out and it would make me laugh and not be all scared. Plus, I could film it and it would make for great watching. "Jen Soska and Chris Tucker spend the night in a Haunted House"? That's just too good to not happen! Shit. I should pitch that.
What’s your favourite type of food ?
S: Hungarian food. Nokedli and paprika chicken. I also love this caesar dressing that my dad makes – I have no idea what's in it, but it's so addictive, so it's probably meth or something and garlic.
J: Hungarian food! Nokedli and paprika chicken. I grew up on that stuff. It's so nostalgic for me. If you haven't tried Hungarian food, go treat yourself.
Are you collectors of anything memorabilia, autographs, cute bears etc ?
S: I collect comic books, action figures, and video games (like early systems to current ones). I'm a giant nerd. I have prosthetics all over my place, I have Tobey Maguire's face cast from SPIDER-MAN in my massive Spidey collection. I also collect tarantulas. I have thirteen of the little beauties.
J: Yes, actually! I collect weapons. Not guns, but everything else. I only have one rifle. I have lots of knives, swords, specialty weapons from films and video games, Okinawan weapons (sais, nunchucks, tonfas, staffs), whips, medieval weapons…. pretty much anything I can get my hands on. If you want to get me a present I LOVE, get this girl a weapon. I love them. I train with the Okinawan ones. You should see me with my sais. They're my favourite.
Do you sing in the shower or bath?
S: Yes, in the shower, but I usually don't know all the words, so I just keep singing loudly and happily putting 'something' in place of the words I can't remember.
J: Oh, man! I RARELY get time for a bath. Those are like little treats. I use go into a happy coma and just lay there like corpse when I have baths. I do sing in the shower. Or I hum horror theme songs. GOBLIN gets a lot of time in the shower, ha ha
And last but not least do you own a pair of pink fluffy slippers – in fact any fluffy slippers?
S: Of course. No brooding horror director can exist without them.
J: I do! I have these beautiful knit ones from my great aunt Mary. I love them
Its been great getting the chance to talk to you both i know things are just crazy at the moment so thanks again for taking time out of your busy shcedual and please keep us up todate with all your happens and for fance who want more Twitsted Twins check out the links below