Kevin Kopacka (INTERVIEW)
What inspired you to make Hades?
It's a strange combination of two ideas actually. Initially H.K. deWitt urged me for two years to film a short story of his. The story is called "Statusbezogen" and is in many ways quite different to how the film turned out.
Similarly it's about a woman who wakes up in a room without any memory and gradually finds out what she happened to her boyfriend. The story relies a lot more on a social media aspect. There are flashbacks where she's constantly on Facebook posting pictures and doing status updates. A part of this idea is still visible in the film, but very subtly. The symbols used for the different rivers are reminiscent of App symbols and some of the sounds used in the film are actually distorted app sounds (notice the sound where the man passes by her in the corridor).
Before making HADES I always had the idea of doing a film in five parts, using five songs. Each part would be in a different color, completely without dialogue - it would focus on the same protagonist but played by different actors in each segment. The whole look would also have been heavily influenced by the aesthetic of gialli/70s films, so visually it would have been very similar to how the film actually turned out.
My initial idea would have been even more abstract with no real narrative focus and completely empirically drive. I think it ended up being a good combination of the two concepts. The idea to use the five rivers of Hades to characterize each of the five stations actually came later, while we were adapting the story to screenplay.
The film is heavily influenced by the 70's giallo scene, why do you think those films still have a strong fanbase?
It is strange to see that those films are suddenly coming back in style. It's hard to say why exactly this is happening now, but it's probably similar why Carpenter 80s synth style is coming back in fashion - perhaps a retro thing.
I can only speak for myself, but the reason I love gialli films (or generally Italian horror from the 70s/80s) is because they manage to create a very special atmosphere and style that somehow got lost nowadays. "HADES" obviously gets compared to gialli movies even though it doesn't share most of it's classic traits. I did hope to create a dreamlike/nightmarish atmosphere that I've come to love so much from films by Argento, Bava, Fulci or Soavi.
How challenging was it to make a silent movie with so much depth?
I think it's not more or less difficult than writing a movie with dialogue. Since I come from the field of painting my focus lies a lot on creating atmosphere, so naturally it's a lot easier for me to create that in a silent film.
There's a strong soundtrack for an independent short, how did that come about?
With the exception of one song, I produced the soundtrack myself. The reason is possibly because I am a bit of a control freak. I did most of the songs specifically for each scene and they very much influenced the editing style and flow of each "river". I've been producing music on and off since I was 13, but never considered myself a musician. Only two years ago did I also start to get into singing and the songs generally all seem to have a very cinematic style to them. I was very eager to record a cover version of "Be My Baby". While the original by the Ronette's is of course an great song, I liked the idea of creating a darker, slower version to give the lyrics a seemingly more disturbing connotation.
What are you top 3 horror movies and why?
Very hard to say. I actually have a list of my favorite horror films (it currently spans at around 400 films)
My favorite film probably is "Dellamorte Dellamore" by Michele Soavi. Partly because I'm a huge Dylan Dog fan and while the film is not a real adaptation, for now, it's the closest we are going to get.
Similar to the Dylan Dog comics, I think the film has a perfect blend of being campy, gory, philosophical, erotic and artsy at the same time.
My second favorite is "Night of the living Dead".
As you might have guessed, my favorite movies are the one's that create this nightmare like atmosphere. It's a film that seems so much like a nightmare - where at the end you don't really remember the exact plot, but just the feeling you had while watching. It's so dreadful, bleak and claustrophobic that you just want to "wake up". For similar reasons I am also a big fan of Bob Clark's "Children shouldn't play with dead things".
As for third: "Suspiria" would of course be the obvious choice, as would "The Evil Dead" - but I'm going with my number 5, which is Nobuhiko Obayashi's "Hausu". It's hard to exactly pin point why I love this movie so much. As with the first two, the whole film just seems like a psychedelic nightmare. I like the symbolism of these girls - each one an archetype in it's way - slowly losing their childhood and becoming women in the course of a summer. Similar to "HADES" both films are very open about the interpretation about what else it could mean to "kill" somebody.
I'm just very grateful that I live in a world where a film like this exists. I often think about things like that. For instance, someone might live in a parallel universe where "The Evil Dead" might have never been made. And who knows which other movies might only exist in parallel universes that we don't get to witness. The opening credits for "HADES" are very much influenced by an obscure film from the 70s I saw in a dream. (In my dreams I often revisit an old video store that has "rare horror movies" that nobody has seen before) When I awoke I was just very disappointed that the film didn't actually exist - so I guess I had to make it myself.
How do you plan on following this film?
H.k. deWitt and I are currently working on a prequel for "HADES" which will focus on Schweitzer (Cris Kotzen's character from the film), who plays an undercover cop.
It will be very different to "HADES" but will retain a similar dream-like and dreadful atmosphere. Of course it will also have a lot of horror influences in it.
A lot of people probably won't notice, but we intentionally left a lot of things unsolved in "HADES", There are a lot of very subtle things, ranging from numbers and timelines that will become much more clear once the prequel is out. The second thing I've been working on it an anthology series titled "Everyonce" ("Everywhen" was sadly already taken). Each episode is in a different language, with different characters and they each deal with shifts in reality.
Imagine a scenario where two couples are sitting at a table and having dinner. One of the four people leaves to get dessert from the other room and suddenly a complete stranger returns and sits back down. Everyone starts conversing just like before, except for one person who seems to be the only one who notices that there's now a stranger sitting at the table. (That's actually the plot of the pilot episode)
So far I finished two episodes - the aforementioned pilot, which is in German, and one in French. The episodes are still unreleased, since I would like to finish at least one more episode before it launches.
Both episodes are not classically horror, but are atmospheric and have very unsettling connotations.