I have known Karen Lam for a while I also knew she is a filmmaker it was just by chance that the studio that would release her film "Evangeline" would also be one that I only a month before would be asked to review for them.
Thank you Karen for the interview, can you tell me what got you interested in making movies and what your inspirations were?
I'm a lifelong cinephile, but it was a fairly winding path to end up making films. I have a strong arts background -- classical music for over 16 years, painting and photography, my first degree is in English literature with a minor in comparative religion. I studied fashion design before dropping out and going to law school. When I got into the film industry, I had no designs to write or direct, but I knew I had found my creative family.
I am probably most inspired by literature -- gothic horror stories and dark fantasy.
Why horror ? Don't get me wrong I love horror just curious why others like horror as well.
I love all the fantastical genres, particularly when the stories defy hard definitions. But I tend towards the darker end of the spectrum, mainly because I love the dread and fear that underlies horror. I prefer how genre film festivals broaden out the scope and call the films "fantastic", and I think it applies in every sense of the word.
Women in Film, Women In Horror, do you find those statements help or hinder the process of just being a filmmaker?
Not at all. Despite what I say about expanding the definitions of horror and fantastic films, people need this terminology to focus their discussion. The industry overall is so unbalanced that any terms that highlight the issues are important. We can move into nuance after people start engaging with the bigger, broader issues.
For Angelinne there are some great undertones of angels and demons which I thought really brought the film a different feel than just a standard revenge plot film, your thoughts on that?
I grew up with a strong religious background, and the angels, demons and ideas about revenge and forgiveness play a huge part in my world view. I'm not traditionally religious, but I have a foundation in Christian theology and world religions, so it definitely comes out in the work.
Are you currently working on anything that you might be able to share?
I'm trying to get two feature script rewrites going, but it's been way too beautiful of a summer in Vancouver (and I've recently adopted two 3 month old kittens so there's distractions...)
Do you yourself like the modern horror trend of the found footage films or the PG-13 films?
It's all about the creativity, really: found footage can be a really effective device; limiting the amount of gore and violence can really force a filmmaker to focus on atmosphere and story, rather than falling into familiar tropes. What offends me is heartless, corporate filmmaking. When companies use the latest trend to make soul-less, unimaginative drivel for the sake of cashing in. It's not like we can stop them, of course, but it makes me really angry to have our genre exploited this way.
Is there a genre of film that you want to try at writing or directing?
I've been really lucky: I've been making the films I want to make. The new scripts I'm working on are horror, dystopic fantasy and I have a dark comedy-fantastical-road trip script as well. Rest assured, I'm not pining to make a romantic -comedy or a Christmas movie.
If you could cast your favorite actress/actor in your films who would that be?
Wow, it's hard to narrow down. I'm a huge fan of Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchette, Rebecca West...the issue is developing and finding something that showcases their abilities...
You use practical effects in your films such as the demon in Angelinne any desire or want to use CGI in the future?
I love CGI, particularly when it's done subtly and in support of the material. It's part of the reason I love the fantastical genre: being able to visually show something that doesn't exist in the "real" world.
In terms of execution, we do as much as we can with practical effects, but in the low budget realm, you'll pay for it one way or another: practical effects take a lot of production time across a lot of departments (make-up, spfx, camera) but it allows the actors to really react in a way that's authentic. But CGI requires just as much artistry, only the time is now in the animation artists and time in post-production.
I thank Karen Lam very much for the interview and Uncork'd Entertainment for asking me to do it.
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