This is an extension of the Neil Marshall interview that was posted recently. Same horror anthology (Tales of Halloween), same segment (“Bad Seed”). Kristina was actually the first person I spoke with on the set that night and was nice enough to walk me through what they were shooting. Frankly, I knew almost nothing before arriving—hell, I didn’t know that she and Pat Healy were starring until just a few hours earlier—but Kristina was very gracious with her time caught me up to speed.
Most of our readers will probably be most familiar with Kristina from her role as Lynda in Rob Zombie’s Halloween (taking over for P.J. Soles), but at the time of the interview, I’d just seen her in Proxy, an independent horror film that defies easy categorization. We talk about that film for a bit, but looking back I wished I’d asked her more about her difficulties breaking into the industry as a female director. It was clearly on her mind and listening back to the audio, I feel I let the conversation drift away. It’s an unfortunate evergreen in the industry, even more apt now in the fallout from last week’s Oscar snub of Selma‘s Ava DuVernay. Mostly though, we stuck with the topic at hand: fighting an animatronic pumpkin-monster in a Neil Marshall horror short and the challenges of creating a character under the gun of a three-night film shoot.
Without further ado…
Miles Lemaire: I can’t believe you guys are doing interviews in the middle of all of this. This is my first set visit, so I didn’t know that they did this to you guys, I feel so bad for making you guys doing double duty.
Kristina Klebe: You know, honestly though, it’s better than jus sitting around and not doing anything.
Miles: I guess that’s true.
Kristina: Better to kill two birds with a sp-stone, you know?
Kristina: Or a spoon or whatever I was about to say.
Miles: Two birds with a spoon?
Kristina: (laughs) Yeah. That’s terrible. It’s also terrible to think about killing them with a stone, but…
Miles: Well you have to think about ways to kill things on the set of a horror movie, right?
Kristina: That’s true.
Miles: So I have no concept of what this segment is about, so could you walk me through it? Who are you playing and what are we doing tonight?
Kristina: Yeah, so it’s a Halloween anthology obviously and I think that there are ten directors…
Miles: Yeah, I think so.
Kristina: And Neil (Marshall)’s segment is the last and it’s called “Bad Seed” and it’s about a killer pumpkin (laughs). I don’t know what—and please ask Neil and the producers—what they want out about the story.
Miles: Yeah, you don’t have to tell me anything other than the broadest strokes.
Kristina: Yeah, so it’s Halloween night, I play Detective McNally, it’s like the worst night of the year, everybody’s going batshit crazy, I’m getting yelled at because I need to go catch the bad guys, people are getting killed and supposedly they’re getting killed by a pumpkin, which I don’t believe until I see it with my own eyes. (Laughs) So that’s pretty much the gist of the story. And then Pat (Healy) plays Forensic Bob, who, he works in the office with me and he’s usually just a dud and I get annoyed with him for fucking things up, but he kind of pulls his weight in this and (pause) I kind of fall in love with him. No (laughs) that last part doesn’t happen. It’s pretty straightforward, it’s a short.
Miles: Sure. Is this night one of the shoot?
Kristina: Night two.
Miles: Very cool. And you got the coolest director, I think. I mean, I drove from Long Beach (note: we were in Eagle Rock) tonight because I love Neil Marshall and actually I like you quite a bit too. I just saw Proxy this October.
Kristina: Oh awesome, thank you! Well I’ve been texting with Zak Parker (director of Proxy) recently because he’s making a new movie and I’m like desperate to find out about it but he’s not telling me anything and I’m kind of pissed at him. (Laughs) Because normally he shares everything with me and I feel like he’s holding off, keeping it secret and it’s not fair.
Miles: Yeah, well when I first heard about this project and found out that you were in it, I wondered if there was going to be any overlap between that camp of indie horror directors like…well now I feel like an idiot, because I can’t remember his name but he’s your co-star in Proxy and he’s a writer/director…
Kristina: Joe Swanberg?
Miles: Joe Swanberg! And that whole crew of Adam Wingard and all of those guys.
Kristina: Not really, no, because I think they do their V/H/S-thing, right? But it is the same producers, so Shaked (Berenson) and Patrick (Ewald) who work at Epic Pictures. They’ve seen some success with the whole anthology series and I think it’s a great format. I really want to direct one. For this, I got in too late, but I directed also. I want to NYU, I’m trying to direct more and I’m trying to get people to trust me to direct, but it’s hard out there as a woman director, it’s a fucking…nobody—well, people do believe it now that they’ve come out with the DGA numbers—but it’s really shitty for us.
Miles: It’s funny, because today before I drove up here they announced XX, the all-female horror anthology.
Kristina: I know!
Miles: But I think they’ve only got like four (segments).
Kristina: They’ve only got four, I know, yeah. It’s done by XYZ and I think it’s the Soska sisters and do you know who else is in it?
Miles: It’s Jovanka Vuckovic, who used to write for Rue Morgue (Magazine)—maybe she’s still does, I don’t know—and Mary Lambert from Pet Semetery and I can’t remember who the last person is.
Kristina: I think they picked pretty well-known, like, the ONLY well-known female horror directors. I had heard about that. Hopefully what they do with this one is, there will be another anthology, kind of like the V/H/S movies and I told them I really want to direct a short for the next one, so…
Miles: Would you want to do horror going forward?
Kristina: Yeah, for directing-wise, I think I’d like to direct a feature horror. I’m working on one—two ideas, actually—but there’s one idea for a straight, kind of dark comedy that I’m writing, but with the help of a producer. I’m just trying to get a few ideas off the ground and figure out how to move forward with them. But I directed two shorts that went to Sitges with Jovanka—played in competition…
Miles: Oh wow, I had no idea. So do you two know each other?
Kristina: I don’t know her, I know of her.
Miles: I see, so basically just through your films playing in competition.
Kristina: Yeah, but thank you for watching Proxy. (Laughs) That was a longwinded way to get back to Proxy, I don’t know how that happened.
Miles: Yeah and Proxy was such an unusual movie overall. Most movies, you can give a pretty simple logline, but with that one there was no telling from one moment to the next what was going to happen.
Kristina: I think that’s the great thing about the movie.
Miles: It was really refreshing, yeah.
Kristina: I love my character in that movie. Actually, this character (from “Bad Seed”) is interesting because I tend to play tough or strong women and obviously a detective is a tough part and obviously Anika (from Proxy) was SUPER tough, but for this part, Neil keeps telling me she’s very world weary. She’s tired, she’s exhausted, she’s like, “ugh.”
Miles: Is he giving you any movie characters as reference?
Kristina: Yeah, he gave me Snake Plissken. You know, the first thing he said was Jaws. You know, Roy Scheider. Because he’s kind of more world weary.
Miles: I think the first shot of him in the movie is getting up and he doesn’t really want to get out of bed.
Kristina: Exactly. So that was the first reference and then I think he added Snake Plissken for like the tough aspect. Like, “I’m not gonna deal with anybody’s shit.” It’s hard again, with a short film, to really get that much into a character. I think mostly, I’m like a tough detective.
Miles: So you’re kind of playing attitudes more?
Kristina: I mean hopefully every scene is—there’s an action beat every scene and—I think attitude is a layer that you can obviously add, but the way you deal with the moment or the people that you’re in the scene with is what dictates a character, mostly. Yeah, we’ll see, this is an interesting one for me. Mostly tonight we’re doing action scenes. Pretty much just me fighting the pumpkin.
Miles: When I ran into one of the producers outside he mentioned that you were all using a lot of practical effects, so are you physically interacting with them tonight?
Kristina: Yeah, I haven’t interacted with them yet. Yesterday was at the (police) station, the chief yells at me and then we filmed the final scene. But tonight it’s all me fighting and catching and saving the day and then tomorrow we go back to more character-y stuff.
Miles: Did Neil write this or is this someone else’s script?
Kristina: Neil wrote it and he wrote it (the character) for a man. He did not change it.
Miles: That’s the way to do it!
Kristina: So I like that though. Why would he change it?
Miles: Well I was going to say, it’s cool to be the female lead in a Neil Marshall…anything, because he’s really good at making them strong, well-rounded, cool characters.
Kristina: I mean, I would love to do a feature with him or a TV-something with him where you have longer to flesh something out and it’s not so rushed. Because I feel honestly like he’s rushed and the production is rushed. He’s such a good director that I feel like he probably likes to take more time to do stuff. So I wish I had him for ten takes, directing me in different ways and having him be like, “try this!” And going, “ah yes, I love that!” You know?
Miles: I know you did Chillerama also, so in terms of working on that anthology, was the experience similar?
Kristina: Chillerama I think we shot in four days, but we were on a set so it was very contained. That was a very easy shoot even though it seems like it wouldn’t be. Whoever built the sets was just a genius, because it made everything that we had to do just so easy. We just had to show up and act. You know, they didn’t have too many camera angles because it was mostly from outside. I would say they’re totally different. Chillerama was more relaxed. We had more time to get what we got there than we do here. This is more ambitious, for sure. Just because there are action scenes and chase/fight scenes and a giant pumpkin and effects. I mean, we had it in Chillerama too.
Miles: Well and like I said, this is my first set visit, but I have to imagine there’s a big difference between shooting on location where you have cars driving up the street randomly or whatever else comes along with it.
Kristina: Locations are always tough. I think the more you can contain something is—the best thing you can do is shoot an entire movie in a house—and you move from upstairs to downstairs or outside to inside and that’s it. But we have three different houses on this street just for tonight. And you have to move all of the lights and set everything up.
(Note: At this point, the publicist came into the room with Pat Healy [Cheap Thrills] and the interview ended a little more suddenly than expected).
Thanks again to Kristina and everyone who arranged the set visit/interviews. We have one more interview with the aforementioned Pat Healy coming very soon…