The Twisted Twins were nice enough to take a little time out of their busy day to answer a few of our burning questions. What’s the dynamic duo up to next? Could they be secret ninjas? Where did the idea for American Mary come from?
Read on to find out!
HF: Where did the idea of American Mary come from?
S: We stumbled upon an April Fools Day prank online, unbeknowist to us at the time, that featured two identical twin brothers who swapped limbs. One ended up with three arms, the other with an elongated ring finger – both donated from their brother. That didn’t disturb me as much as the letter that accompanied it that explained only a twin would understand why they did this. It scared the shit out of me, but my mom taught us that if something scares you it’s because you have a lack of information, so educate yourself and you won’t be scared anymore. My fear turned to fascination to admiration. I started misinformed and scared and I fell in love with the culture, I wanted to share that experience with others somehow.
J: The film is very much an analogy for our own ventures in the film industry. We started out acting and modelling and as you can imagine we came up against so very unsavory characters. I heard the stories, I thought I saw it all. Then when we made DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, we saw a whole new ugly side to this business where as much as we struggled to be seen as equal to our male counter parts, our gender and usually our age became the object of discrimination with many monster producers and execs. We found that the people you’re meant to respect and hold in high regard are often the real monsters and the outsiders, the indie brats and the horror community which can appear to look a little different or seem intense are in fact the sweetest, most generous and honest people you’ll ever meet. That’s largely where our theme, “appearances are everything” came from.
HF: In your opinions what has made American Mary such a hit among fans?
S: Jen and I are horror fans, so when we create something we make something we would want to see. Even in the writing process, we write to entertain each other. If the other isn’t entertained, then the idea is out. The horror community consists of the most kind, generous, supportive people on the planet. Truly superior people. We wanted to make a film as a thank you for all the support we received from DHIAT to show what we would do with more time and money. It’s unusual and throws back to the more creative and artistic genre films that made us fall in love with horror in the first place and I think people appreciated that.
J: It’s different. Horror fans, especially the ones in North America, have been force fed the same formulated crap for so long. You can guess the ending, the killer, and who dies in the first five minutes and it’s frustrating. It’s like horror for dummies. We wanted to make something different. I think we overshot a bit, ha ha. We have accumulated a massive fan following from DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK and we are very involved in social media. We’re always in contact with our fans and they react to that. They’re more like friends than fans. We’re first and foremost horror fans ourselves. They see that.
HF: Is American Mary based on any actual life experience(s)?
S: Yes. I am a private person and I never intended to be so honest, even through analogy, about my life experiences, but writing the script came at a very difficult time in our lives. We were incredibly poor, we couldn’t afford food let alone bills, we had loved ones in the hospital for days on end, we were venturing out into the industry and meeting real monsters. The script became a very therapeutic experience and there are a lot of themes within it that I feel a lot of people can relate to.
J: Unfortunately yes. We’ve found ourselves in some very uncomfortable situations where we thought we were being invited out as equals with directors and producers and quickly realized that we were there as party favors. The objectification and propositioning is disgusting. Luckily, we’ve always had each others’ backs.
HF: Do either of you have any actual body modifications?
S: Piercings. So vanilla. I want to do a suspension so badly.
J: Nothing that would be considered extreme. Most people have body modifications, from piercings and tattoos to circumcisions. I have both my ears pierced (once each) and my navel pierced.
HF: What was the inspiration to get into horror movies?
S: I’m not sure where it started, because as far back as I can remember, it was a fascination to me. We would haunt our local video store’s decorated horror section and perv on the VHS boxes. When we were ten, our mom finally let us see our first horror film, POLTERGEIST. We made it through the film, but when it was bedtime, we were fucking terrified. Our mom did something that would forever change the way we look at horror, she explained what we had actually seen – all the combined efforts of the cast and crew, including monster makers who made the effects, who worked together with the intention of scaring the audience. When we knew the art behind it, we were hopelessly hooked.
J: I don’t recall a time not being into horror movies. Our parents always encouraged our interests. We weren’t taught fear of things like spiders and snakes. Those irrational fears are often “taught” by your parents reacting negatively in front of you. If you see your mum jump on a chair screaming when she sees a mouse, you develop a phobia. My mum was very into horror movies and we would bond watching them together. She’d watch them with us, which is something not enough parents do. Most of the people I know who work in horror now watched scary movies growing up. People forget that kids can tell the difference between reality and make believe.
HF: Is it true you both have trained in martial arts and collect weapons? If so, which ones?
S: Yes, every person should be able to defend themselves, but it’s more than that. It teaches you dedication and respect. We are trained in sport kickboxing and karate. I’m decent with butterfly knives, nun-chucks, sai, and katana. Jen a weapon whisperer. Even if I’m good, she looks exactly like me and is stupidly gifted.
J: Yes, it’s true. I collect weapons. Sylvie collects tarantulas. I don’t collect guns. I’m Canadian, it would be a bit of a challenge to do that, but I collect everything else. Sais, staffs, knives of every kind, swords, whips, axes, medieval weapons, nunchucks, replicas from video games or films… anything I can get my paws on. I love my collection and I’m always trying to add to it.
HF: Eli Roth is a big fan of you ladies. Are there any other horror writers/producers/ directors that have expressed a love for what you do?
S: He is one the most kindest, honest, and supportive people working in the genre. He’s been a mentor and a friend from the beginning. Clive Barker was kind enough to watch MARY and say some very wonderful things about the film which is huge because his work influenced the film a lot. I’ve met some amazing people that I am huge fans of that have been very supportive and kind – Dan Schaffer, Jake West, Alex Chandon, Jovanka Vuckovic, Ricky Bates, Martin Olsen, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jason Eisener, Kaare Andrews, Greg McLean, and Vincenzo Natali. To be able to speak to people who I admire so much is such a fangirl dream come true. The best people are in this genre.
J: Eli is our mentor. He’s been so generous to us and he’s really become a wonderful friend. There’s this false notion that this business, particularly horror, is a boys club, but I haven’t experienced that in the least. Everyone I’ve met has been so kind and we’re able to reach out to people across the world that we admire through social media. After watching V/H/S 2 the other night, I emailed Timo Tjahjanto. I was just so blown away by his segment and haven’t ever talked to him. I was so excited when he knew who we were and said he’s been wanting to see AMERICAN MARY. I’m a fan myself of so many people. Horror is a very exciting field right now. So much cool, original stuff is coming to the surface. I’m proud to be a part of that.
HF: Is there anyone in Hollywood you two would like to work with? Why and on what?
S: I prefer to work with extremely talented artists who are also fantastic people. I’m in a unique position where a lot of those opportunities are possible – see who is in our next few projects – those are people I am honored to collaborate with.
J: That’s tough. There are just so many people I admire and that inspire me. I would do anything for any of the directors I admire and believe me that’s a growing list. I’d love to one day do a horror musical and it would be an honor to work with Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They’re geniuses.
HF: What inspirational words do you have for those trying to break into the industry?
S: Do it. Never give up. Everyone will doubt you and say it can’t happen, but if you dedicate yourself wholly, sacrifice everything, keep a clear focus on your goal, learn like a motherfucking every aspect of filmmaking from shot composition to story telling philosophy, and keep your vision true and honest – you will find success. Make a film that you would pay to see in a theatre, but something that not only you would want to see. Have a reason for your film to exist. It’s not enough to just make a film. What benefit is there to your film existing, what are you trying to say? Stay true to yourself. A good start is to make something self-contained that you can fund yourself and make yourself. You will learn skills for your entire filmmaking life from that production. Rodriguez’s ‘Rebel Without A Crew’ is an invaluable resource. Focus on the donut, not the hole. The donut is the film that you are making and the stories you share; the hole is all the bullshit that comes with it that isn’t important. Use social media to your advantage – you don’t need a 20 million dollar marketing budget to get your work out there. Be yourself, market you as you to stand out. And treat people the way you want to be treated, the world is filled with assholes – don’t be another one. If you treat people with kindness and respect, the whole world opens up to you.
J: Be sure it’s what you have to do, not just what you want to do. If you could be just as happy being a teacher or a parent or a doctor, go do that. It’s such a rewarding business, but it’s hard. Very hard. It has the highest highs and the lowest lows. You will at times feel like total crap and regret ever getting into the industry. We all go through it. Some people, like me and Sylv, can’t be happy doing anything else. If you’re reading this, something inside you is telling you either you have to work in this business or you’ll never be happy doing anything else or you’re not sure. If you’re not sure, go do something else. But if you’re like us, buckle up. Stay true to yourself. Stay true to your word. You’re only as good as your word in this business. Never let anything stop you. So many people try, don’t succeed right away, and then give up. Most people give up, but you have to keep going. There’s this great quote from the DAREDEVIL comics, “the measure of a man isn’t in how man times he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how gets back up.” It’s very true for this business. Surround yourself with good people, legally protect yourself, don’t sign just anything, and make your own damn movie. Do it DIY style and make it so everyone can see what you can do with no budget. Don’t sit around and wait for someone to make your dreams happen for you. Make it happen for yourself.
HF: What’s up next from The Twisted Twins Productions?
S: We’re in early prep with Masters FX on our original monster film called BOB. The tagline is: There is a monster inside all of us, sometimes it gets out. We have three other greenlit projects and are back on set in August, but we have to wait for the official announcements to be released. Basically, we’ll be pretty busy with new stuff for the next decade or so at this point.
J: We’re honored to have been announced at Cannes as part of the ABCS OF DEATH 2 alongside an amazing line up of talent. We’re really going to kill it with our installment. We have quite a few projects on the go and a pile of scripts and a ton of opportunity. We’re in a very good place right now and it’s all because of the horror community that’s been so supprtive of what we’ve been doing. I promise we’re just getting started.
We here at Horror-Fix really enjoyed American Mary. If you have not seen this movie please do so now. We cannot wait to see what they put out next!