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Interview with Melanie Ansley - September 2008

Melanie Ansley - September 2008

Oh My Gore : "Hello. Could you please introduce yourself to the Oh My Gore ! readers who might not know about you yet ?"

Melanie Ansley : With pleasure! My name is Melanie Ansley, I am a first time horror director, part time producer and full time dreamer. I'm from Vancouver, I live in Beijing, and my blood type is B. Now you know everything about me.

Oh My Gore : "Why, when and how did you career turn toward cinema ?"

M.A. : I actually started out wanting to become an actress, and had no interest in working behind the camera. But then I started helping out various friends make films in film school, and some of the actors I studied with were also film directors. This gave me an intro to what it takes to make a film, and I became interested in producing and directing.

Oh My Gore : "Which movies and / or which directors influenced you in becoming involved in the cinema industry ?"

M.A. : I think watching John Carpenter's and Guillermo Del Toro's movies got me excited about filmmaking, and then reading Robert Rodriguez's "REBEL WITHOUT A CREW" made me decide to give it a try. I think the prolific directors out there who aren't afraid to make a flop are very inspirational—when you make as many films as Carpenter, Rodriguez, or Woody Allen, you have to be ready to make mistakes. I think that gave me the courage to try making my first film. After all, you can only get better than your first film, right?

Oh My Gore : "What inspired you to write "WATCH ME" ? Why a horror movie ?"

M.A. : I'd always been a fan of horror, but when I watched the Japanese "RINGU" and then Miike's "AUDITION" at the Melbourne International Film Festival I felt like my whole concept of horror had been reborn. It was such a different aesthetic and story to western horrors, it was intellectual, terrifying and disgusting all at once. I started watching all the Asian horrors I could get my hands on—"THE GRUDGE", "TALE OF TWO SISTERS", "THE WISHING STAIRS", "THE EYE", Tsukamoto's "HIRUKO THE GOBLIN", "TETSUO" and "GEMINI", "INTO THE MIRROR", "NANG NAK", you name it. And watching so many horror films naturally made me want to make one.

Oh My Gore : ""WATCH ME" have a big Asian Horror influence (you even shoot it in Beijing), why did you choose this kind of movie and why did you choose to shot some scenes in Beijing ?"

M.A. : Shooting in Beijing was purely practical—I had just moved back to Beijing, and after test screenings people felt there needed to be more explanation towards the beginning, another scene. So I decided to shoot an opening in Beijing because there was no way I could get back to Australia to shoot it there. It just happened to fit with the whole aesthetic of the film being Asian influenced.

Oh My Gore : "Do you have any shooting anecdotes ?"

M.A. : Oh yes. Making a film you experience a range of weird and random things, from the infuriating to the comical. At one point I was so desperate for a location I took the first one that came to hand—so that I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor of an apartment where someone had dropped dead from a heart attack the day before. How I came to be in a dead stranger's apartment is a long story—but her death had nothing to do with me, I swear! As I cleaned the former tenant's unwashed dishes I debated about whether to tell my cast and crew that we were about to film in a dead person's house, or whether I should just film the scene and tell them the truth later. Thankfully we ended up not using that location, so I didn't have to lie to the crew.

Oh My Gore : "Which scene was the most difficult to shoot ?"

M.A. : There were a couple of scenes where we had designed a one shot sequence. These really required a lot of timing and we must have done about 20 plus takes before we got it right—for instance the scene where Jared goes down the hallway to plug his computer in, and when he leans back we see Redhead has appeared out of nowhere in the background. These were tough to shoot, since they were so precise, and the actors were getting justifiably fed up with me, saying “Why can't you just cut this together? It's one a.m. already!” But I was determined to stick to my guns.

Oh My Gore : ""WATCH ME" get a lot on good reviews on the web (we liked the movie in Oh My Gore ! :) ), did you expect this small success ?"

M.A. : I really wasn't sure what to expect—I worried that being a first time, female director I might be setting myself up to be shot down. But it seemed most reviewers really enjoyed the film, which is dangerous—it makes me want to do another one!

Oh My Gore : ""WATCH ME" is now release on DVD, are you happy with the final result ?"

M.A. : I am just thrilled to be holding a copy of "WATCH ME", wrapped in cellophane and complete with artwork. The cover looks freaky! I love it.

Oh My Gore : "Could you talk us about your collaboration with Sam Voutas ? You seems to be inseparable ?"

M.A. : We have a good working relationship, it's true. We get along like a house on fire, and our tastes in films are pretty similar. It's great working with him because he's an impatient filmmaker and I'm a slow one—so he makes me hurry up and get things done when I'm dragging my feet and saying things like, “I'll deal with that tomorrow”.

Oh My Gore : "Isn't it hard in independent cinema to raise the necessary funding to make a movie? Could you tell us as well how you finance your movies?"

M.A. : It's definitely hard to raise finance. Which is why I didn't bother with "WATCH ME", I figured I could either work myself to the bone trying to convince people to back my first directorial effort, or just do it and get it shot and enjoy the experience. I'm hoping that with the good reviews that "WATCH ME" has received, I'll be able to raise a bit more money for future efforts.

Oh My Gore : "Is being a women film director in the cinema industry difficult ?"

M.A. : I don't know whether I've worked extensively enough as a director to really know. I do know that a lot of women directors have experienced mutiny or power struggles on set which they have to quash to prove their mandate, and I myself have had a taste of this. So it seems that sometimes as a woman director you need to be even stricter or tougher than a man, because the crew is always eager to know whether they can just walk all over you.

Oh My Gore : "What are you future projects ?"

M.A. : I'm hoping to do another horror film, this time set in China, as I think there are a lot of great legends and superstitions to be mined here. Asian horror traditions have only just begun to be tapped, so I'm trying to read more Asian ghost stories for inspiration.

Oh My Gore : "What do you think about the horror movies made nowadays ?"

M.A. : I'm getting a bit tired of the franchises, especially the torture porn. There are enough Saw movies out there to make a TV series. Which is why I really admire the filmmakers who are coming out with new twists, even if they involve old plots: Romero, for instance. Every film he makes, even though they are always about zombies, is fresh and has a new perspective, and a new way of delivering his message.

Oh My Gore : "As Oh My Gore! is a French website, I'd like to know if you like French movies?"

M.A. : Love French movies! In the horror genre I really enjoyed "HAUTE TENSION" and classics like "DIABOLIQUE"—but I think 2 of my favourite movies ever are Jeunet and Caro's "DELICATESSEN" and "CITY OF LOST CHILDREN".

Oh My Gore : "Generally speaking, which are your favourite horror movies ?

M.A. : This might sound strange, but this is a tough question—so many great flicks out there! From a woman's point of view, I can't pass over the "ALIEN" series. Women kicking ass win me over every time, we need more Ripleys in horror films.

And the ones that scared you the most ?"

M.A. : I will always remember how scared I was watching "THE GRUDGE", the original Japanese version, that is, I spilled coffee all over myself I was jumping so much. So that film is very dear to me.

Oh My Gore : "Which movie would you like or would you have liked to direct ?"

M.A. : "CRONOS" has always been one of my favourites, both for its original take on vampirism and its execution. The other Spanish film I thought was directed superbly was Amenabar's "THESIS"—the characters in the film are as creepy as the premise. If I was ever offered a chance to helm a female superhero, yakuza or cowgirl movie, I'd be in heaven.

Oh My Gore : "Which actor would you like or would you have liked to work with ?"

M.A. : Tak Sakaguchi of "VERSUS" has a deliciously evil and mysterious quality that I think would be fun to work with in any film—actually, he was the inspiration behind the Taku character in "WATCH ME".

Oh My Gore : "What do you think of Oh My Gore ! ?"

M.A. : Super! The only thing better than horror news is horror news in French!

Oh My Gore : "Thank you so much for answering this interview. Is there anything you would like to add ?"

M.A. : Just that it's been a pleasure and an honour to be interviewed by OMG.
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