“I made a French film without knowing French. I take opportunities and use what I have.”
Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Nadine L’Esperance and her film company Blue Girl Films is everything that is right with independent horror film making these days.
Fresh ideas, twisted gore, entertaining films from start to finish and, above all else, a budget that any passionate horror fanatic can appreciate. Nadine prides herself in not only representing the horror community the right way, but tackling obstacles and achieving results that good old fashioned cash simply can’t compensate for.
Whether she’s telling the tale of a young girl forced to find her way home during the zombie apocalypse or inviting us to a tea party from Hell with quite possibly the creepiest sweet lady in North America, Nadine takes the beloved grittiness of 1980’s horror and adds a fresh coat of blood red paint to it.
With both films of hers currently enjoying success on the film festival circuit, Nadine has the horror pulse firmly in her grasp, and she’s not about to let go anytime soon.
MANGLED MATTERS: As a proud DIY no-budget filmmaker, what are some of the more creative solutions you’ve come up with for sudden problems while shooting?
Nadine L’Esperance: Luckily I didn’t run into many problems while shooting. My major problems arose in the editing phase where my computer experienced many many crashes. On Maya’s Journal, I used balloons filled with blood for the cool gushing from zombies. But when we had to do extra takes I started running out of blood. The last bloody scene was supposed to splash on a clear camera guard but that was the last of the blood and I missed my shot. The only snag I came into on Madame was the cookie box. I forgot the box at my house and was on set already ready to shoot. So I went through the cupboards of the house to look for a substitute and found a tea box so I turned it inside out and taped it. HAHA! I’ve been very lucky to not hit many snags.
MM: Who or what have been some of the more invaluable tools in your learning to be a filmmaker on the fly?
NL: I would say my inspiration was Jen and Sylvia Soska. They have given me so much encouragement behind all of this. It’s awesome! I don’t have any formal training in this at all except I did go to make-up school, what seems like a millenia ago. I kinda just decided to make a film for a zombie short contest and never expected things to progress like they have. I have definitely found what I love!
MM: Blue Girl Films is your production company in which both films under the label have achieved awesome success on the film festival circuit. Congratulations!
NL: Thank you, Justin. Maya being not even a year old and Madame being 3 months old, all of this is a big dream and quite exciting. There will be more festivals,I’m sure of it!
MM: Madame Soleil’s Tea Party is a trip! I’ll never think of a tea party invite the same way again. I love how you brought the Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel to a quiet little suburb setting. What was your inspiration for this film?
NL: It’s funny actually. It happened by chance that I was introduced to Marie-Claire Valiquette from Patrice (The Milkman) who had met her at the French community center. He showed her Maya’s Journal and she loved it. She actually is an acting coach and she mentioned she would love to be in one of my films. Unfortunately, two other shorts I am writing didn’t have a part for her. So one night it just popped in my head to use her as a crazy old lady killer. I wrote a script, made it simple for translation as some of you may not know, I don’t speak French. That’s also why I love this short. I made a French film without knowing French..hahaha..I take opportunities and use what I have. A vital thing for no budget.
MM: Maya’s Journal is everything I want in a zombie movie- fun, gross and entertaining! You deserve a round of applause for taking on just about every role behind the camera. As a no-budget project, what were some of the most difficult obstacles to overcome while making the film?
NL: Operating two camera’s and directing at the same time was difficult. Being my first film, too, I really should have just used one. Doing the make-up to and trying to organize everyone was also tough because I had to focus on everything else too.
MM: You really hit the reset button on the zombie genre with Maya’s Journal, from the origins of the virus to creating one hell of a kick-ass female hero in the form of young Nyka L’Esperance. What’s the latest info on where Maya’s Journal is screening?
NL: I wanted something different than the classic zombie movies. I think people like to know how the virus came to be, I know I do. Nyka did a really good job as Maya and she had so much fun doing this role. She was a guest on a podcast with me and asked if she rather be the killer or victim, she obviously chose the killer. Maya’s Journal is part of the Killer Film Fest in November this year. So stoked for that!!
MM: Was the role of Maya written specifically for Nyka?
NL: I’m a big believer in using what’s available to you. One of the things that creeps me out in horror films are kids. So yeah, I was thinking, what’s better than making a little girl who seems pretty shy and quiet into a smiling zombie slayer?
MM: As a fan of the classic cheese from the genre (namely 70’s and 80’s style), what are some of your favorite horror films of yesteryear?
NL: Evil Dead for sure!! I have two Evil Dead tattoos. I’m a big fan of creature features like Critters, Ghoulies, C.H.U.D, Piranha. I also love Creepshow, my first horror movie! American Werewolf in London. There are so many,this list could go on forever. 70’s and 80’s cheese is my favorite too.
MM: It seems to me that independent horror has absolutely obliterated Hollywood horror for the better part of the last decade, at least. Your shorts prove my two biggest points when arguing Hollywood vs. Indie- you don’t need CGI to make an entertaining film and enough with the remakes, come up with some fresh ideas! As a filmmaker, what makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
NL: I like a creative story. I agree you don’t need CGI. Gore that is made is so much more better in my eyes. I love the comedy/horror mix as well. They seem like a perfect match. Fresh ideas and twists are up my alley. Indie horror is by far better than Hollywood and all the stupid remakes coming out.
MM: If you had to choose 3 horror films to represent your love for the genre, which titles would make the list and why?
NL: Evil Dead is exactly what I’m about and hope to be as a filmmaker. Hellraiser is there too as it’s sick and demented. Very nasty too. Critters has the air of being over the top ridiculous and highly entertaining. I hope this is what you meant.
MM: Having already taken on the psycho family and zombie subgenres, what’s next for you and Blue Girl Films?
NL: I have two shorts in the writing phase right now. I can’t quite let you know what they are yet. But it will be something different and gross! Same style though of cheesy fun!
I sincerely appreciate Nadine’s enthusiasm, time and patience with this piece. She is one of the hard working women in the indie scene and I can’t wait to see many, many more years of her fantastic work!
Be sure to check out Black Flag TV, where Nadine contributes as well!