Exclusive interview with Hades director Kevin Kopacka
A few days ago we summarize an interesting experimental short film cut but with a clear stylistic influence from the Giallo and especially Dario Argento’s Suspiria. El Primo has been in contact with director Kevin Kopacka and has granted us a very interesting interview I recommend you read.
1.- Good morning Kevin, and thank you very much for giving us the chance to get to know you better, and have this little interview. First thing I like you to do is to introduce yourself to our Spanish readers, who might not know your work.
Good morning. My name is Kevin Kopacka, I’m an Austrian artist and director. I’ve been living in Berlin since 2006, where I finíshed my studies of Fine Art at the University of Arts. I usually work in the field of painting and video art and I’ve been writing and directing films since 2009.
2.- Let’s also talk a bit about your facet as a painter, and why are you so attracted to the audiovisual field, specially the more experimental ones.
I think above all, I’ve always been interested in narration and I like how different mediums have different ways of telling a story.
Similar to a single scene of a film, a painting for example has no beginning or an end, it’s merely one moment caught in time and the viewer has to think what will happen afterwards or what might have happened before. So, while there is a hint of a story, I prefer building up an atmospheres, that creates an unsettling yet familiar personal association with the viewer.
The same goes for video art and films. Sometimes it’s not so much about the story, but more about the (subconscious) effect it has on the viewer.
3.- Thanks again for giving us the chance to see your short film. Trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible, give us a brief synopsis.
The film is without dialogue, so the story is told through images and sound. It’s based on the short story “Statusbezogen” by H.K. DeWitt, though it’s a bit more abstract:
A woman wakes up in a stranger’s bed. The relaxing sound of a shower soothes her back to sleep and when she wakes up the second time, she is still in the same room, but something has changed. As she walks through the house who’s architecture doesn’t make any sense, she’s notices that she’s not alone. She catches glimpses of a man wandering through the halls.
Each corridor or room she walks through opens up different aspects of her past and she slowly figures out who this “stranger” is and what her relationship to him means.
Symbolically each room represents one of the five rivers of Hades, – each with a different atmosphere – that she has to cross in order to reach her own personal hell.
4.- Even if HADES is closer to horror than anything it still has a very experimental approach. Do you think that the genre allows to use that experimentation to create something new?
I always wondered why people (myself included) have this fascination with horror. Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing; we miss the adrenaline of dealing with our deep fears.
One of the reasons I love horror so much is because the genre is so diverse. It’s very exciting to think about how you can utilize story elements to evoke a powerful feeling such as fear.
The threat, wether it’s ghosts, vampires, killers, zombies etc. are a bit like symbols for more abstract things we’re afraid of.
Among others they can be: death, isolation, sexuality, harming the one you love, consumerism, addiction, loss of individuality/control, fear of yourself and your sanity and (my personal favorite): fear that things might exist that can shatter your entire view of reality.
And every generation might bring different aspects to these fears, so there will hopefully always be more experimental and unique approaches to these subjects.
5.- Tell us something about the use of an aesthetic so close to giallo, especially Argento’s Suspiria.
I’ve always liked the feel and aesthetics of the gialli movies by Mario Bava, Sergio Martino, Pupi Avati and of course Dario Argento. It’s probably no surprise that this short is inspired by some of the more colorful Argento films, especially “Suspiria” and “Inferno”. Newer films such as “Amer” (Hélène Cattet/Bruno Forzani) and “The Berberian Sound Studio” (Peter Strickland) also have unique ways of approaching giallo without actually being gialli films themselves.
The same probably goes for “HADES”. While it also plays with some of the elements of gialli films, it pays homage to a lot of different films.
I always loved the artistic/atmospheric approach horror movies (especially by Italian directors) had in the 70s. I really wanted to shoot some of the scenes with Super 8, to get this creepy feeling back.
I especially love the films of Lucio Fulci, which have this unsettling, nightmarish feel to them that I’ve tried to capture in “HADES”.
It also plays with images of gothic horror, but set into our modern age. The woman in a white nightgown, walking through a castle carrying a candlestick – only now the candlestick is replaced by an Iphone.
6.- One of the things that stands out, at least for us, is the soundtrack, in which you also work, and the outstanding photography. How was the creative process behind it?
Thank you! I can bit of a control freak when editing, so I preferred to produce most of the music of the film myself. It was a fun experience and in the final song, you can even hear me sing.
As for the photography; I was very lucky to work with Lukas Dolgner, who’s a very open cinematographer and was great to collaborate with. I gave him a list of films to watch in preparation for the shoot. We worked really closely together. With each scene I told him how I imagined it, but I was open for his suggestions, so it was a very symbiotic process.
7.- Be honest with us (if you may…), are you happy with the results?
I’m surprised how much the movie actually turned out the way I had originally imagined it, so I can honestly say, that I am very happy with the result.
Maybe if I watch it again in ten years there’s going to be a few things I wished I’d done differently, but that’s normal, I guess.
8.- What are your plans about the short distribution? Where would you likeit to be screened and why?
Currently the film is doing a festival run. It will be shown at the International Short Film Corner at the Cannes Festival which is already more than I could have ever hoped for. There are some festivals I would love to see it in, but I’m still waiting to hear back from them.
As for distributors, I’ve been in contact with some, though I’m keeping it open as of now.
9.- Which directors, or movies (besides the aforementioned), inspired you in order to direct you short?
I’m sure there are many that influenced me in a lot of ways. My favorite films are usually the ones that have a very dreamlike atmosphere to them. I really love “L’Anné dernière à Marienbad” by Alain Resnais. In my opinion this films works so well because the story itself is not necessarily as important as the feeling you get while watching it. The film is more of an experience, which is what I hope I can also say about my short as well.
Some others include “Jigoku” by Nobuo Nakagawa, “Carnival of Souls” by Herk Harvey and of course the psychedelic nightmare that is “Hausu” by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi. I’m sure there are also influences of Michele Soave, Gaspar Noé, Lamberto Bava, 70s stuff from Bob Clark and many many others.
There’s also a very subtle, dark humor throughout “HADES” that I’d like to think was influenced by the EC comics from the 50s. There’s a story by Orlando Joe and Al Feldstein called “Pleasant Screams” about a teacher stuck in the eternal dream of one of his students, which in retrospect kind of reminded me of “HADES”. And speaking of comics, I’m also a big fan of the dreamlike, surreal and dark world of Tiziano Sclavi’s “Dylan Dog”, which is a big influence on me as well.
11.- After HADES, are you planning on keep experimenting, or did you consider to do something more conventional?
A bit of both probably. I can imagine going more into a conventional direction, but I hope that there will always be a bit of abstract elements to the story.
11.- Besides your jobs as a plastic artist, which other art disciplines bring your attention?
Besides painting and video art, I’ve started becoming interested in personal objects and the story they tell or the aura they hold. There’s a series I’ve been working on that includes objects that have a very intimate (and sometimes strange) meaning to them. One of them is introduced in the documentary “For those who still exist” that I made together with my twin brother Raoul Kopacka.
12.- Last question. If its possible, can you give us a head up of your upcoming projects?
There are a few projects lined up, though all of them are still in the planning stages, so I can’t reveal too much just yet.
One will be another collaboration with the talented H.K. DeWitt which will be a prequel to “HADES”, yet with the focus being on the male character Schweitzer. It will have a very different story, but the atmosphere will be just as unsettling.
I’m also working on a short series format dealing with paranormal issues and reality shifts, which I’m very excited about.
Then I’m working on a movie inspired by a very personal and tragic thing that happened to me and my family. If everything works this will be my first full length feature, but it’s a long term project, so it will take a while to finish.
Thank you very much Kevin, really, for everything. It’s been a pleasure talking with you and knowing more about your ideas and thoughts. We honestly wish you the best of lucks with HADES and anything upcoming. We only hope that the Spanish audience can enjoy your outstanding short. Best regards.
Thank you as well, it’s been a pleasure!
Here is the trailer and the web link to the web page.