Your new movie Sinful -
in a few words, what is it about?
Sinful is about two lovers who hide out in a house after committing a horrific
crime. As they wait for their partner to show up with their new
identities, things start to unravel, and the two women slowly slip into
What were your sources of inspiration when writing Sinful?
The inspiration came
out of quarantine and how weíre all so afraid to go anywhere. I pictured
what it would be like if I was trapped in a strange house with someone I
loved. What if being around that person made me feel such intense guilt
that I couldnít stand the sight of them? Like if I was holding in a
secret that was tearing me apart, a secret that made me feel so horrified
that it caused me to me feel rage towards that person. I wanted to write
something that explored the complexities of a relationship that was held
together by a fragile thread, with manifestations of guilt threatening to
sever that thread.
can you tell us about Sinful's
approach to horror, and is this a genre at all dear to you?
Horror will always be close to my heart and even when I
try to write something that deviates, the spooky stuff always ends up in
their somehow. With Sinful
I wanted to do something thatís a little
different than the typical horror film, something thatís more
atmospheric and psychological. The film carries a creepy vibe throughout
and it definitely fits the genre, but sometimes horror is more about what
we donít see, and less about things jumping out at us. Iím a huge fan
of Twilight Zone, which I also consider horror if you really think about
it. Iíd be terrified if something like what happens in that series would
happened to me.
Sinful being very
restricted to just one location, what were your techniques to keep things
visually interesting throughout?
We were very
aware that using the same handful of rooms could get stale, especially
with only two characters, so we experimented with all kinds of angles and
camera set ups to keep things looking fresh. But really itís about the
story-telling. The movie Buried is just one guy in a coffin for 90 minutes
and that film holds your attention due to some incredible
writing/filmmaking. I think the one location really works here as well, and
Sinful also has an intended claustrophobic feel. The house itself is its
own character; in a way itís the catalyst that forces the characters to
face the horror theyíre trying to keep buried.
what I know, Sinful was
filmed in its entirety under quarantine conditions - so what sort of extra
strain did that put upon you as a director?
and the quarantine forced us to think about filming in a more strategic
and controlled way. We were limited in terms of how many people we could
have on set at a time, but having a bare bones crew allowed us to work
fast; we werenít waiting on make-up, or sound, or whatever like on a
bigger production. We also made sure to only shoot what was absolutely
necessary so we could get in and out without any risk to everyoneís
safety. Luckily everyone came to set prepared and ready to go. Christina
Lo and Nicole DíAngelo (the two leads) knew their characters so well
that they nailed most takes on the first try. We shot the entire film in
four days which is ridiculous for a feature.
What can you
tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
Sinful, there are a lot of secrets scattered throughout if you
pay attention and things that donít necessarily make sense at the time.
People get uncomfortable when they donít fully understand whatís
happening around them and I wanted the audience to feel as trapped and
unsafe as the characters. I also wanted lots of subtlety that you might
not pick up at first, but when it all comes together you have one of those
holy shit moments. We shot this mostly in sequence which allowed the
intensity of the scenes to build much like they do in the film. We
didnít have to go back and say, ok weíre about to shoot scene 38. What
was I experiencing in scene 37 that we shot a week ago? Once we started
shooting, everyone was on the same journey into madness which really comes
through in the performances.
talk about Sinful's
cast, and why exactly these people?
Since we shot
during the pandemic, we wanted to limit the cast to people we knew well. Sinful
shared sets with a film Quarantine Girl that Nicole was
co-directing/starring in, so luckily she was open to spending her downtime
playing Salem. Nicole and I had worked together previously on several
projects, so I was thrilled to have the chance to direct her. Christina,
who played Remy, starred in one of Nicoleís previous films, Acrylic,
where she steals the show. Although she played a much different role in
that movie, I was excited to see her do something much darker. Sinful
character-driven film so it needed intense performances to pull you into
the story. I couldnít be happier with the job Christina and Nicole did.
They really gave their all and it shows.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
we were working hard and fast, this was the most relaxed set Iíve ever
been on. I think the key was the limited number of people on set. We had
no more than six people around at a time. I didnít have to spend time
yelling for anyone to be quiet or running around crazy looking for someone
like I normally do. But also, everyone took this movie seriously and came
ready to go every day, which made it a stress-free experience.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Sinful?
still early, and I donít really look at reviews, but since Sinful
film that makes you think the people who come into it with an open mind
are enjoying the experience. That said, itís a low budget movie and the
internet isnít kind to these types of films, especially with the horror
crowd who are just looking for something to hate on. You have to take most
of the overly negative comments with a grain of salt. Sinful
everyone, but if you want to see something different, give it a chance and
you wonít be disappointed.
future projects you'd like to share?
Right before the shutdown, we were
about two weeks away from starting production on The Hunted, which is a
film I canít wait to sink my teeth back into. Picture an Eyes Wide Shut-type character journey, but with a LGBTQ and BDSM angle, and of course
with plenty of horror elements throughout. Unfortunately we had to put
that on hold until we can shoot it risk-free, but hopefully we can get
started before the end of the year. Weíll see how things go. With Covid
some people are starting to get more productions going, but I want to make
sure we can do in a way that keeps everyone safe. But while Iím still
bummed The Hunted is on hold, if the shutdowns didnít happen we
wouldnít have Sinful, so
a silver lining there. After that, I have a few other films in the works.
Thereís one called Coven about witches that weíll get to after The
Hunted that Iím very excited about. In the short term though, Iím in
the process of putting together something that we shoot in limited
locations with a small crew like Sinful. I have a script thatís kind of
like Single White Female with a ghost that we may start shooting that late
September if all goes well.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you recieve any formal education on
Not at all. I learned everything on set. Mostly
through making mistakes. When I first moved out to LA I took a script
supervisor job on the webseries Tabletop that a friend of mine was
producing. I had never felt such excitement and I craved more instantly.
Around that time, I had lunch with Gregory Hatanaka and Nicole DíAngelo,
who were about to shoot a film Darling Nikki. They brought me on board to
co-write the script which turned into me doing all kinds of jobs on set
including producing. Although we shot most of that film nine years ago,
Gregory and Nicole are putting the finishing touches on that now, so you
should be able to watch it in a few months. Itís a trippy Alice in
Wonderland type film. I canít wait to see how cool it came
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Sinful?
is the third
feature I wrote/directed. I have two others that Iím proud of for
various reasons. Sociopathia, a female-driven serial killer film inspired
by Maniac, was my first time directing. That shoot was a huge learning
experience in what not to do as a director. I had no idea what the hell I
was doing when we were making that, but somehow the film came out cool as
hell. My other feature Holy Terror is my homage to The Exorcist and
The Changeling, two of my favorite films. Among other things I also
co-wrote/produced Samurai Cop
2, which was also an insane learning
experience. I could spend a whole interview talking about that shoot.
would you describe yourself as a director?
I have a very specific vision
that I want to create, and so far Iíve been lucky to work with people
who are on board with whatís in my brain. Iím always thinking about
the finished product, so Iím editing in my head as weíre shooting
which I think helps everyone be efficient and keeps things under budget. I
take the filmmaking process very seriously and expect everyone to give
their all, but I also do whatever I can to make sure my sets are
comfortable and relaxed, and people are encouraged to contribute if they
have any ideas. Iím a huge fan of the collaborative process and I love
working with actors on developing their characters and seeing their spin
on what Iíve created.
who inspire you?
I get inspired all of the time. Sometimes itís as
simple as a scene that sparks an idea. There are certain films though
Iíll see and Iíll say damn, I wish I could make that movie. Antichrist
is one that I wish Iíd have thought of. Martyrs, High Tension and
of Burgundy are some others. But if I had to pick a specific filmmaker
style, Iíd say Kubrick, Cronenberg, Argento and Lynch are some of my
Your favourite movies?
My favorite film of all time is Heathers, hands down. I
could watch that every day. But I like all kinds of stuff. Iím a huge
fan of Death Wish, Dirty Harry, late 70ís stuff like
that. If I had to pick a favorite horror film, depending on the day itís
either Martyrs, Audition,
Suspiria or Halloween.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
and of course, films you really deplore?
Star Wars: Phantom Menace
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
You can find me on Twitter
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
watch Sinful and Holy
Terror on Amazon Prime. Also, if you want to see the
unedited version of Sociopathia, check it on Tubi. Other than DVD thatís
the only place to watch it uncut.
for the interview!