Interview With Jessicka Rabid Director Matt Reel


If you have been around here for awhile than you would know that we have been following indie flick Jessica Rabid since the very beginning. Not long ago we interviewed Elske McCain who served as Producer/Actress on the film. Today we sat down with director Matthew Reel to talk a bit about the film and some of his upcoming projects. Check it out below.

How did you first get involved in filmmaking?

It was around 1999 or 2000. I had written various scripts and had my friends work with me on them. I wanted to attempt some surreal experimental horror films, I had attempted various looks at the time. I went as far as using a Fisher Price PXL-2000 for one of them, that seemed to be the fad at the time. I had no formal training at the time, so basically it was a learn as you go process. Not much has changed.

What were the films that really got you interested in pursuing directing?

I really was inspired to become a filmmaker around the age of 13-14. I had a voracious appetite for film and spent many days in a university library watching what they had on tap. The things that stood out for me were mainly shorts and silent films. I was drawn to the films of Kenneth Anger, German expressionist films, and other avant garde pieces. Those were the kind of things that stuck in my head for the years to come.

You and Elske seem to have a strong friendship. Does that help when directing a film? Or does it sometimes create some problems with some of the other cast?

It certainly does help. We've been friends for years now, so we know each other pretty well. But additionally, our cast and crew have all become like family in way. I certainly don't think it hurts, not that Elske and I didn't butt heads from time to time. It's just like any other intensive undertaking, stress can get in the way. It's the nature of the beast, it's going to bring the best out of you, and the worst. Jessicka is no different. I always work with friends, new and old.

Elske told us that you met in person once in which you filmed her audition for Poultrygeist. After that you immediately cast her in The Goat Sucker. What was it that you saw in Elske that really grabbed your attention?

Well, I had known her for a few years online as it was. We both lived in Tucson, but never actually crossed paths before. She had asked me to film her screen test for Poultrygeist. The Goat Sucker came up a few months later, I wanted to attempt something more lurid. I emailed her and asked her if she was up for it, simple as that. As I said, I always work with friends.

Did you feel any pressure while directing this film?

There's always pressure. I've been working on Jessicka Rabid in one form or another since February, 2007. Just to keep things stripped down, I've worn many hats. From writing, line-producing, directing, shooting, editing... There were times when I've only had a crew of two people; myself and whoever else was on set, whether it was Elske or another member of the cast throwing in their hand. I have my best friend investing a lot of money into the project, I have friends/family/fans building anticipation, I'm creating my first feature film which will be a part of my legacy and have to slap "A Matthew Reel Film" on the DVD box. Indeed.

What are some of the difficulties of filming a feature length film as opposed to some of your short films?

A feature film is a drastically different animal. With a short film, it is just that. It's short. A feature, there are so many different facets to cover. It didn't help that Jessicka is as intensive as it is, much of what the film deals with is the weird/fucked-up relationships in a family. I'm used to directing these bizarre experimental silent artsploitation films. Here, I've tried to find a happy medium between my previous work and the traditional narrative. And because it is a feature, I have to deal with so much more of it. I love it! You get to watch the movie evolve from bits and pieces, small segments, bigger segments, entire acts... Fascinating! I'm still tweaking the fucking thing. It's also a flip for me, because previously I've edited with music and had hardly (if any dialogue), and now it's kind of the reverse. No better learning experience, a beautiful madness.

Did you look at any other films as inspiration for this film? If so which films?

Well, I've already had an intense desire to do a movie like The Baby or Bad Boy Bubby. The whole Nature vs. Nurture idea, there's so much room to do something completely gonzo, I wanted to do something like that. I'm also obsessed with z-grade, bottom-of-the-barrel 60's/70's flicks. Not your usual top-shelf exploitation films, but the real shitty ones. I love the movies of Michael Findlay, for example, I love how sordid his 'Flesh' movies were. It's like he would go to any length to titillate his audience, not giving a damn whether it was socially acceptable. I also love shit by Andy Milligan and the like. The fact that I shot a scene where 'Jessicka' is pissing may be a highlight of my career. HAHA! I kid, I kid. Anyway, that's what's in the pot.

How did writing the script with Elske go? Would you write some and then get her approval? Was there some kind of system?

Jessicka came during a time period when neither Elske nor myself had any project on the horizon. She had called me up and proposed the idea of doing a female slasher film called 'Jessicka Rabid'. I had written the script shortly after when I was house-sitting for her for two weeks. I had used her house and her dog (and his kennel), and other things for inspiration. Of course I veered off into a weird direction with the story, throwing my own sensibilities into the mix. Elske loved the script, simple as that.

How far a long are you in post-production?

We've just filmed some pickups and I'm getting the film ready so that the audio can be worked on. Other than that, I'm working on digital effects and always tweaking.

Do you have an idea when fans will be able to check out the film for themselves?

Soon, hahaha!

Having seen the film yourself, What can we expect?

Expect the unexpected. Haha! Jessicka is an unusual story told in an unusual way with an unusual protagonist and her unusual family. It's pretty perverted and sordid stuff.

Will we be seeing another trailer for the film before the release?

Probably not. There's not much more I want to show the audience yet, and I think the current trailer sums up the film nicely.

Elske revealed to us that a possible sequel is in the works. Will you be directing that as well?

I had at one point toyed around with some 'Jessicka 2' scenarios, but realistically I think 'Jessicka Rabid' is a one-off for me. Who knows?

Do you have any other future projects in the works?

Yes! I plan on collaborating with my fiancee for what I hope will be my next feature film, 'There Will Be Demons', we've recently done a short film together ("O Cinzeiro") and we've already come up with many great ideas for 'Demons'. It's still in the conceptual stages. I want to utilize the landscape of Arizona to create something unique and bizarre. The film itself is a western, but with my own personal tastes. It'll actually be a particularly nasty little piece. We also have several other projects in the works, including some outside of film, such as our dark art project, 'Surreal Fusion Gallery'.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you! I would love to hear what your readers would think of my work!

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