NO-BUDGET NIGHTMARES: NO PETS ALLOWED (2014) AND A CHAT WITH NADINE L’ESPERANCE

We take another quick break from full-length features to SALUTE SOME SHORTS from some of our favorite microbudget directors.

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NO PETS ALLOWED

Written and Directed by Nadine L’Esperance of Blue Girl Productions

Vancouver-based Nadine L’Esperance has been making a splash on the indie scene over the last few years with a series of punk-tinged horror shorts with smatterings of gore. Her previous works THE UNKNOWN ALTER-EGO and MADAME SOLEIL’S TEA PARTY suggest an emerging talent fighting against limitations of budget and scope, but her latest short NO PETS ALLOWED is a quantum leap forward in terms of polish – and shows a director ready to break into longer and more complex projects. Starring comedian/adult performer/Russ Meyer-fantasy Samantha Mack, the sixteen-minute film concerns a young animal-lover who takes some unique revenge on the abusive men in her life. Rebecca (Mack) was traumatized as a child by a father who would routinely kill her pet animals, and as an adult she takes some impressively bloody vengeance against assholes, rapists and dog-haters. While hampered by an unconvincing grain/film-damage effect, L’Esperance sinks her teeth into the enjoyably dark material and obviously takes relish in doling out punishments to a series of scumbags. She’s helped by some wonderfully icky makeup effects by Deb Graf, and a believably slimy supporting turn by Lee Wire as a mohawked rapist. With a bit of fleshing out, the concept could likely even support a feature. Worth seeking out.

Nadine was nice enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the evolution of NO PETS ALLOWED, its recent premiere and her process as a DIY director.

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Sweetback (SB): Let’s start with BLUE GIRL PRODUCTIONS. Your own background involves a lot of extra work in Vancouver, and a make-up artistry diploma. Was the end game always to be more directly involved with the creative side of film-making?

Nadine L’Esperance (NL): It was definitely not my goal to do film-making. Actually I really wanted to get into photography. What got me into film-making was directly related to photography, though. I was the photographer for the horror nights at a local theater which lead to learning about a Zombie short contest held there. My current SPFX girl Deb Graf did the make-up for one and I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m going to make a film next year!” and BOOM that’s how the ball got rolling.

SB: What defines the work that has come out of BLUE GIRL PRODUCTIONS so far? Are there certain themes or content that you feel are under-explored in mainstream horror?

NL: The work I do is influenced by ’70s and ’80s horror films.I really like humor and cheesiness in these type of films. For me, gore and laughter belong together as it’s similar to facing your fears and shrugging them off. I find many people don’t face the ugly side of humanity and as a result fear it. Which makes horror the best for getting under people’s skin. I find mainstream horror doesn’t really dive inside the inner darkness of people. I like characters who you can ALMOST sympathize for the actions they do no matter how horrific. I mean face it, we have all been damaged someway or another. That being said I must say I do not have daddy issues and my parents let me keep any pet I wanted. HA HA!

SB: In some ways NO PETS ALLOWED feels like an abridged version of a full-length film. Was it always meant to be a short concept? And where did the idea first develop?

NL: It’s funny you mention that because I’ve had a few people say to me it could have been a full feature. I did intend to make it a short, and in fact I did plan on making it 10 minutes but everything turned out so well I didn’t want too cut it shorter. Sadly, I did cut a lot of footage. As for the idea, since I’m a DIY, no-budget filmmaker, I work around what kind of resources are available to me, who’s available to me, and where I can film. So basically I write a script around what I have. I call it my ‘skeleton’ that I slowly add the meat too. I have a director friend who told me about Samantha Mack and he was going to use her for his films. So basically I asked her if she would be interested in being in a film (before there was a script) and she agreed. Brainstormed my old idea which was actually going to be a zombie film and somehow it morphed into crazy pet lady. Go figure! I have a wicked imagination sometimes.. if not a little off.

SB: While the film is darkly humorous, there’s also some disturbing, violent sexual material. How important was it to have actors who were willing to throw themselves entirely into the content? And how did you get Samantha Mack and James Wire on-board?

NL: Like I explained in the above question I just asked and she agreed.Samantha is a very wonderful person and one of the funniest people I know .As for James, I just asked him as well. Of course he said yes. I asked him because he has done acting before and he’s also the lead singer/guitarist for the punk band The Fight United. Maybe I can be more charming than I think I can be. When these two were on set it was no problem, they had chemistry from the start. The violent scene had me more freaked out then them because they did such a great job. They had a bunch of laughs while doing it, and everyone was comfortable. I’m very proud of their performance. They moved onto doing Porn together and now have their own film company doing comedy. They are also a couple. I think it’s awesome my film brought them together.

SB: Considering its DIY, microbudget aesthetic, the short includes some very impressive gore and makeup. I’m guessing that your own makeup background helps in piecing this together, but can you also talk a little about what Deb Graf (of Graffenstyne Design) brought to the table?

NL: The make-up in the beginning with the young Rebecca is, in fact, my handy work. The rest of the horrific mayhem has Deb Graf’s calling card written all over it.This is my first film where I actually didn’t do the gore. Deb does films, music videos and live gore shows with the Bloody Betty troupe here in Vancouver. I chose her because she’s awesome at what she does. I’d also like to say she is the genius behind all my ink. Multitalented gal she is. She is Blue Girl Productions head make-up artist now.

Madame Soleil’s Tea Party from Nadine L’Esperance on Vimeo.

SB: NO PETS ALLOWED recently had its premiere at the Body Horror Content in Montreal. What sort of reaction did you get? Are there any upcoming screenings currently scheduled?

NL: The reaction was great! With a packed house, I heard quite a few gasps and “ewwss” which were done at the right spots. Currently NO PETS is in festival submission stage as it’s still only a few weeks old.I will be keeping people posted as to upcoming screenings.

SB: For anyone interested in following your work and keeping up on future releases from BLUE GIRL PRODUCTIONS, what’s the best way to do so?
NL: They can do so at my blog, Twitter and instagram and Facebook    

SB: Anything else to plug?

NL: You bet I do! Here are links to some of the actors, musicians and artists who helped make this little WTF film possible. Everyone is extremely talented and awesome!

Samantha Mack and James Wire

Deb Graf (make-up)

Dan Gardener (poster art/Hitchhiker)

The Fight United

Spree Killers

DarKsLide

SB: Finally, now that you have a few short films under your belt, what advice would you have for a young or inexperienced director looking to tackle their first short?

NL: Just pick up a camera and do it. Don’t let resources or money stop you. If I can do it, anyone can!

Also, never underestimate the power of asking. If you never ask the answer will still always be no. You’d be surprised how willing people are sometimes.

JUST DO IT!! Oh.. Am I gonna get sued?? HAHA!

 

Doug “Sweetback” Tilley

Doug Tilley

Doug has been a geek for as long as he’s been alive, but has only been blogging about film since 2008; originally writing for his personal site and eventually moving to Daily Grindhouse where he writes regularly about micro-budget films and film-makers in his No-Budget Nightmares column. At the end of 2011 he started the popular No-Budget Nightmares podcast with Moe Porne, and regularly contributes to a variety of other genre film podcasts. He likes movies, movies and movies.

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