What feels like a lifetime ago back in February at our North Europe Festival in London a wonderful film 'Puppet Killer' picked up the award for Best Feature Comedy. The film was a huge hit with the jury and filmmakers that joined us. A huge roar went across the room on the awards night when the film was announced as a winner. Sadly Director Lisa Ovies wasn't able to join us but…..she is now!
Lisa thanks so much for taking the time to join us in The Green Room.
Thank you!!! And I can not tell you how much that means to me. If I am being honest that
made me emotional to read. It was hard enough not being able to join you guys for the
festival and screening but now knowing I may never watch the film again with an audience
makes it even harder. I am so glad to hear everyone enjoyed it so much.
Now I know you love horror, it is fair to say that 2020 has been quite the horror for everyone. How have you been keeping? Any new projects in development?
Yes, it has most certainly become quite challenging for so many. I have been trying to keep
busy and focused but as I am sure it is with everyone, it isn’t always easy. I am working with
my post team to deliver Puppet Killer to our distributor and ready for release so that is
keeping me crazy busy and excited. I also created something we are calling ‘The Quarantine
Room’ which is a feature film remake of the classic film ‘The Room’, 45 directors from 6
different countries, each recreating one scene from the film with only what they have in their
homes and who they live with, all shot on our phones. It has been hilarious and a true joy to
work with so many amazing filmmakers and actors. We have a heap of directors from the
horror community and several incredible actors from TV shows like ‘Riverdale’, ‘The 100’ and ‘See’,
as well as the post team of Puppet Killer stitching it all together and doing sound design
and composing etc. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. Other than that I have a few horror
features I am hoping to get off the ground but of course with the looming apocalypse that is a
bit tricky lol.
I mentioned above Puppet Killer- the film continues to do well on the festival circuit and I know you have distribution. Tell me more about the idea, development and take us up to how you secured distribution?
The idea was something I came up with sometime in 2014 that grew into the beast it is now
in 2015. Pre production and principal photography came fairly quickly and easily as far as
indie films go. We secured private investors and for some wonderful reason everyone jumped
on my crazy idea of paying homage to old school horror with a killer pink puppet. I hired our
amazing writer Kevin Mosley in June/July of 2015 and we went to picture at the end of the
year into early 2016. Post took years and we hit more hiccups that I ever want to remember
but we kept fighting and never gave up and now here we are! We got four months on the
festival circuit before we had to shut down but it was an amazing run. We had a blast and
ended up with several distribution offers and went with a local company that we really
connected with. They have been fantastic to us and we are really excited to get the film out
there after such a long journey. I have to say, even now, 5 years into the journey it blows my
mind that this crazy idea that I thought everyone would laugh at, became this fan favourite all
over the world. It is surreal and I am so grateful for the support you guys have shown the
I certainly will never look at a ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ in the same way….obviously Child’s Play and the Chucky character was a huge influence. What would be your top 3 horror films of all time?
Ha Ha, yes, we get the Elmo reference a lot because Simon is so darn cute! I always have
such a hard time with this question as I love the solid horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead
and Army of Darkness just as much as the classics and I am such a sucker for on screen
practical effects the list could be endless. But, if I have to narrow it down to three I think I
would go with Alien, Evil Dead 2 and Halloween with an honourable mention to Scream.
Your love and passion in films falls into the Horror genre, there is always a huge demand for this content across all platforms. Do you think this is a route you will always follow when making because there is a better opportunity to get your work seen compared to other genres?
Oh I 100% agree this is the easiest genre as far as indie films and their opportunities to be
seen but I am fairly certain I would be in this genre regardless because I am such a fan myself
and film is hard enough, I can’t imagine making something I am not in love with. That said,
the horror community is unbelievable and I am so grateful to be a part of such a passionate
and talented group of filmmakers and fans.
I always love to find out about inspirations, tell me where you love for the film and arts industry began?
You know I really don’t know. It is cliché to say but this was always the only thing I ever
thought of doing. I flipped from actress to cinematographer to director in regards to my goals,
but they were always only ever to do with film. I was in all the plays etc. in school and in 7th
grade instead of a written book report I took a friends VHS camcorder and recreated scenes
from ‘The Dollhouse Murders’. I had my girlfriends running down the hallways with actual
kitchen knives and even at 12 I remember being a stickler for continuity. In High School,
again, any project I could flip into a play or a film, I would jump on it. I remember writing a
play for my Comparative Civilization final. I focused on heresy and of course, someone died
and I scored the final scene to Johnny Cash’s version of ‘Everybody Hurts’ and I remember
looking out into the audience and seeing a girl crying and thinking “F*@K yes! This is what I
want to do!”
My first specific moment that I remember becoming really intrigued with the more
technical aspects of film was the first time I saw the original ‘It’ mini-series. It was filmed in
my home town of Vancouver and I became obsessed with the practical effects, the locations
etc. I recorded both movies from the TV onto VHS tapes and would watch them over and
over, I am sure my mother was worried about me lol. Then when I saw Alien for the first
time and I saw how the camera and the atmosphere could become a character and affect the
audience, I was hooked and there was no looking back.
Now talking about the beginning tell us more about Rogue Studios and your teen acting academy?
I LOVE my students so much and it is the best thing about coming home in between travels
(oh man…..remember travel?) I ran someone else’s school for 4 years and realized with all
the connections I have in the local film community and my experience as an actor and
director that we could create something much more in depth and comprehensive than the
typical ‘audition’ classes taught to teens. So we launched ‘Rogue Studios’ in January 2017 and
offer some of the most amazing programs in the country for young artists. I have agents,
actors, directors and producers from some of the top shows teaching and bringing their years
of experience to the classroom. Our last guest instructor before isolation was Gigi Saul
Guerrerro, who is an amazing director that recently directed for Blumhouse and The Purge
television show and our regular instructors are on top animation and CW shows etc. I love
being able to use my contacts to create real opportunities and to challenge these artists so they
are constantly working at the top of their game. Don’t want to brag (yes I do!) but I have
multiple students currently working as leads or recurring on top tv shows) It is the best
feeling in the world getting a phone call from them when they book and they are screaming
on the other end because they can literally feel their dreams coming true. It definitely helps
that we operate out of Vancouver as we film so much here, and now moving classes online
we can teach actors from all over the world. * sorry that was such a long answer, I could talk
about my students forever, this studio has become my family and a true passion.
A bit of a creative question that I like to ask, you have an unlimited budget. Give me the leading actors, synopsis and perhaps title of your dream film to make?
OOOOH, what a great question. I actually have a few projects that we are working to get off
the ground that I fear COVID may push but the creature feature ‘Beverley Hills Lizard
People’ that I am attached to truly is a dream project. It is full of animatronic practical effects
and the amazingly talented and academy award winning FX studio ADI that did films like
Aliens, Predator, IT etc is on board to build our lizard people. I adore the team there and have
wanted to work with them for obvious reasons for years. It is a fantastic script written by
Jody Wheeler with tons of great horror elements, on screen kills and great comedic moments.
My dream cast for this film specifically would be Bruce Campbell, Parker Posy, Dev Patel,
Hannah Simone, Dave Franco and Jake Johnson. I really hope we can find a way to get it off
the ground in 2021 because the world is really going to love this film.
And finally, what can we expect from you next?
Well me and Puppet Killer writer Kevin Mosely have another slasher ‘The Maul’ that we are
working to get off the ground. As I mentioned ‘Beverley Hills Lizard People’ is something I
am dying to make, and then I have another feature ‘The Vineyard’ I am in talks to direct. I
think with the pandemic it is harder than ever to have certainty, at least in the
independent world, but I am a very stubborn and determined woman so even if it slows us
down, it will certainly not stop me and my team from creating more horror in the future. We
just need to make sure we do it safely.
Lisa thanks so much for taking the time to join us, we are huge fans and look forward to seeing more of your work as part of our Fusion Festivals. You are free to leave The Green Room, make sure you take the Puppet with you too : )
Thank you SO much! We love you guys and are always honoured to screen with or talk with