Renowned as the “female version of Tom Savini” (a title bestowed upon her by comic book artist Everette Hartsoe), special makeup effects artist Teresa Fahs began her career a decade ago as a figure sculptor. Today, she is a highly successful prosthetic designer and macabre makeup effects wizard. In addition, Fahs is the CEO of Gorify.com, a special makeup effects Web resource for all your DIY zombie needs. Now this renaissance woman is putting a third title on her business card—director—with Haunting Kira, a creepy zombie tale that marks her debut as writer-director. After years of assisting moviemakers with their dark creations, Fahs is finally ready to bring her own nightmares to the big screen.
Fahs hopes to shoot the film in November and release it theatrically on Mother’s Day 2010. As she prepares to direct the undead in the fall, MM caught up with her to discuss Haunting Kira.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): After working successfully as both a special makeup effects artist and as the editor of Gorify.com, what made you decide to transition into directing with Haunting Kira?
Teresa Fahs (TF): There’s a dark vision stuck in my head. As I wrote Haunting Kira, I could see every scene, every special effect and every action. I don’t like to use the word “obsession,” but this is simply a project that demands to be made. Directing will get this haunting vision out of my head and on to the screen. When audiences see what I’ve been seeing, they will not only be terrified—they will be transformed.
MM: You’ve said that Haunting Kira will be different than a typical horror film. How would you describe it?
TF: Most horror films use gore to make death seem even more scary then it already is. To outdo other horror flicks, they up the body count, come up with creative ways to kill and make the gore as graphic as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love graphic gore, but I do feel like I’ve see just about everything. Like many horror fans, I’ve become desensitized.
Haunting Kira will change that. First of all, there is no fear of death. Our main character is already dead. Not only will we have great scares and blood, but we have truly original gore. I mean, how many times have you ever seen a back-alley embalming done on an animated corpse? For a horror movie, Haunting Kira has a very low body count, but it’s packed full of gore. I marked the special effects in the script and there’s a special effect at least once every eight minutes—in some parts every five minutes—until the end, which is an undead sprint through nonstop gore. But on top of all the visual goodies, this movie has a truly original concept that creates a whole new mythology about life, death and the afterlife.
MM: In addition to partially funding the film yourself with revenues earned from Gorify.com (and hoping to find matching funds from investors), you’re also offering fans a chance to be a part of the production. How so?
TF: We have ongoing campaigns on sites like Fundable.com, where fans can pledge anywhere from $50 to $1,000 and get all kinds of goodies in exchange, including IMDb film credits that will be shown at the end of Haunting Kira. Fans can check in at Gorify.com or subscribe to Gorify’s Undead Blog for news on how to get involved.
MM: Will you be handling the makeup effects of the film yourself or do you plan on hiring another makeup effects artist/company so that you can focus on the writing and directing?
TF: Oh, I will have many artists working with me. We are recruiting sculptors and prosthetics designers to help build the special effects rigs and props. Then, when we shoot, they will be on hand to run the rigs and do the makeup. Of course, I will probably get my hands dirty; it’s hard for me to get through a day where I don’t. For the most part I’m looking for realism and, dare I say, perfection in the artwork. We have students from the Tom Savini school applying for internships right now and we are reviewing their resumes.
MM: What are some of the movies (or books) that influenced you during the writing process of Haunting Kira? Who are some of the makeup artists who’ve influenced your own work?
TF: I can see bits of Alien, Night of the Living Dead, Being John Malkovich (yes, seriously), Poltergeist, The Shining,and even The Frighteners in Haunting Kira. But the spirit mythology is completely my own; the way aging affects our very being is completely my own. I have researched Native American folk literature and I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe. So I guess that makes for a very strange and truly dark story
For more information, visit www.gorify.com/hauntingkira.html.