Steven Kostanski, multitasking writer-director of the new horror-comedy Psycho Goreman, talks about the importance of the lost art of practical effects.
Once again proving himself to be a major player in the independent genre scene, following cult-horror flicks The Void (2016) and Leprechaun Returns (2018), Steven Kostanski pays tribute to ‘80s and ‘90s action-adventure movies with his most recent film, Psycho Goreman.
Winner of the 2020 Monster Fest Audience Award, Psycho Goreman is the violent and gory – yet sincere and hilarious – tale of an evil alien overlord who becomes enslaved to the whims of two children.
With a background in prosthetics, Kostanski has ensured the practical effects in Psycho Goreman are supreme. “I love making things,” he says. “ I’m a very good tactile person. If I had to choose between writing a script and physically making a monster, I would make the monster because I like getting dirty with my hands.”
Indeed, during this video interview a prosthetic face is visible on a bench in the background, offering a first-hand look into the creator’s workspace.
“I’m making a mask for the composer of PG , Martin [Macphail]. We’re going to shoot a video for the song at the end of the movie – that rap song. I’m going to make him into a robot man for that. I’m doing it in between fifty other things. It’s probably about a week’s worth of work: I had to do a head cast of him and then I sculpted the face on top of the head cast, moulded this, and then I’ve got to do a cast and foam latex that will then be an appliance that goes on his face. It’s a long process, but I’m doing it as simple as possible so it shouldn’t take me too long.”
Kostanski’s affinity for dramatic practical effects stems from watching movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and he intends to continue making films with a focus on prosthetics.
“It’s from an era of movie that I grew up on and that’s what I want to see more of. It’s a type of movie that I feel like we aren’t getting enough of right now. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of practical effects in movies, but I love the idea of making stuff that’s very heavy on creatures and gags and things – very fantastical movies, done practically.”
When asked if his heavy workload – writing and directing, as well as creating prosthetics – becomes overwhelming, Kostanski is quick to admit that isn’t the case.
“I like to know what all the jobs are and what all the people are doing because I come from an indie background where I have to do everything myself. Getting in there and being part of every step of the process is just intrinsic to filmmaking to me. I feel like I would get way more stress and anxiety out of just doing my directing duties and then walking away. I feel a lot better [for example] going to the shop and helping make creatures, or just helping other departments with things and being around and available.
“That to me is the most important part of being a director – supporting your team. To me, supporting means getting in there and helping do the job that everyone’s doing.”
With such an intense passion for his work, Kostanski’s proximity to his own projects is ultimately his ideal way to work and to ensure that his vision is accurately translated.
“The perfect scenario for me is making a movie where I have the time to both write, direct and prep the movie as normal, but then also design, sculpt, paint all kinds of creatures for it. The idea of making a character for a movie and then being able to take it to set, and also direct that character or creature is my favourite part of making movies. I think in every project I do I want to have that in some way – I want to be able to make things and then direct the things that I make.”
Interview by Charlotte Dariao