I like to talk, I like to be heard. Case in point, my parents were called into kindergarden because the teacher was convinced that I had a hearing disability. Upon further research, that was not the case. It was simply one of the first circumstances where I was in a room with many others and they would talk over me. So, I spoke louder and louder until I drowned out their voices. Not because I couldn't hear, but because I wanted to be heard.
These days Jen and I have a lot to say whether it be about the new film, AMERICAN MARY, the too-often misunderstood and misrepresented members of the body modification community, our thoughts on appearances versus actual personality, working with one of our favourite actresses, Katharine Isabelle, or the struggles of going from indie filmmaker with no budget to indie filmmaker with a bigger budget and an incredible team. Get the dirty details here --
What sparked the idea to make a movie about the world of underground surgeries, is there a personal relation to the subject, and what kind of research did you do to get everything right?
Sylvia: An ex showed me something he found on the internet - it was an April Fool's prank, but I didn't know that at the time - where two identical twin brothers were body modification enthusiasts and opted to have one brother's arm removed and attached to the other's chest plate. Then the remaining ring finger on the initial twin would be elongated by attaching his brother's ring finger to the tip making a super long finger. The limbs wouldn't be rejected because they share the same blood, but what really disturbed me was the write up they had accompanying their story - that only identical twins would understand this need for closeness. I became obsessed with the story and body modification, long after I realized what I saw was a prank.
Anytime something is frightening, once you educate yourself on the material, that fear tends to disappear. That's what happened to me with the body mod community and I realized that the actual members of this community are interesting, self-aware, very kind and approachable people. Isn't that always the case, though? And the ones that appear outwardly to be someone good and harmless are usually anything but - and Jen and I are used to being treated a certain way because of our appearance, why not make a film that explores that relationship between appearances and what's under the surface of those appearances.
Jen: You write what you know. Or what fascinates you. If Sylv sees something disturbing, and it's usually rather rare to find something that gets to her, it possesses her. That was the case with the subject matter of American Mary. We have been very fortunate to have had so much support from those in the body mod community. These people are so open and giving when they have every reason not to be. People often want to talk to them under the guise of a human interest story, but it often turns out to be a modern day witch hunt to exploit and ridicule these people. That's the lowest form of "entertainment". To ridicule people who are different. We, ourselves, being twins and seen as dark and unusual, have felt like outcasts throughout our lives so we related on that level.
Russ Foxx was our flesh art consultant for the film and was just amazing to work with. He taught us so much about the culture and introduced us to many people in the community. It was always our intent to approach the subject matter respectfully. Especially because I find you cannot judge people based on their outside appearances. I know that sounds like something you learn in elementary school, but people do it well into their adult lives. I've found people who appear to be normal and the ones in positions that you'd traditionally respect are rarely worthy of trust and those that seem a little different on the outside are some of the kindest, most well adjusted, and wonderful people I've ever met.
Check out the entire rad interview piece on SEARCH NY TRASH with Mike Haberfelner here. Thank you for the fucking rad interview and taking the time to chat a pair of demented twins up with such a thoughtful piece.