Steven Kostanski has been working as a prosthetic make-up effects artist for over a decade starting in 2004 at the age of seventeen. His film credits have included WRONG TURN 4, RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION and PACIFIC RIM. Kostanski’s talents don’t stop there. As an independent filmmaker with the Canadian film collective ASTRON 6 he has made numerous shorts and his feature debut MANBORG has played in over thirty festivals around the world. Even last year, he was commissioned to direct a segment for THE ABC’s OF DEATH 2.
For his latest project Kostanski teams up with fellow Astron 6 member Jeremy Gillespie for THE VOID. The film tells the story of officer Daniel Carter who comes across a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. After rushing the man to a nearby hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, Officer Carter discovers the patiences and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. Grouping with other survivors they head into the depths of the hospital running head-first into a nightmare like no other.
Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie are busy fundraising for $50,000 to help them reach the funds necessary to build the special effects for their upcoming film. We had the opportunity to sit down with Kostanski to discuss The Void, his Indiegogo campaign and what it was like to work on ABC’s of DEATH 2.
Scream: As part of Astron 6, you have been involved with such films as MANBORG and FATHER’S DAY as well as hole host of shorts which have gone worldwide building a steady fanbase. Did you ever think you films would go on to have this success?
Steven: Hell no. My filmmaking career was always been centered around the things that I want to see and I was never putting any thought into where I would go with my movies. Growing up, there was always this process of just make the movie and maybe show it to my family then put it on the shelf to go and make another one. So when we were making stuff when working with the other Astron guys with Adam, Matt, Connor and Jeremy, even playing things at local festivals, it all felt very alien to me like actually having an audience watching the kind of stuff that we came up with. So the idea that we have even gone beyond that and it has extended worldwide, even having shorts on the internet… like I can even remember the first reviews for Lazer Ghosts popping up and being like oh my god people are actually watching this stuff and writing a review about it. Taking the time to do that is so ridiculous ‘cos it has always just been this fun pastime for me and my friends to make a movie. It is very overwhelming that people would gravitate to our movies.
Scream: Clearly you’re doing something right as you and Jeremy Gillespie were invited to create a segment for THE ABC’s OF DEATH 2. Speaking of which, what was it like to be involved in the project?
It was awesome. There is no better motivator to make stuff then to get a ludicrously small budget and a deadline because those kinds of perimeters for some reason turn a switch on my brain and I instantly get creative. It was a lot of fun and probably the most fun i’ve had in a while being able to go balls out and make something completely ludicrous. Watching the first ABC’s of Death, there’s a whole range of ideas and qualities so I didn’t feel like I had a lot of restrictions. In fact the one restriction they had in the manifesto was no poop and pee jokes and keep the sexual content to a minimum but those are things that I am not super into anyways so that was an easy perimeter to follow. So yeah, I loved it. I loved making the segment and it was a lot of fun to recruit all my effects friends in town to help make the creatures and in some places to play the creatures. It was a nice retreat from the kind of monotony working in film so yeah it was a lot of fun.
Scream: We loved W is for Wish. I was wondering what was your favourite segment besides your own?
Steven: Z is for Zygote is amazing and it totally mops the floor with the rest of the segments I think. The story by Chris Nash is just so beyond anything that i’m capable of and so much of it he did himself so that is really impressive and so unsettling. You can’t compete with that guy and he really did an amazing job. It was horrifying, disgusting and just all around amazing.
Scream: So we’re here to discuss your latest movie THE VOID. After reading the synopsis we’re looking forward to it. Can you tell us how you came up with the idea?
Steven: Jer and I were hanging out a few years ago around the time we were making Father’s Day and we were lamenting about how we would rather be making something else. Jer was throwing around the idea of something that took place in a hospital as he likes hospital imagery as that kind of stuff freaks him out. So he started riffing on hospital movies and talking about hospital movies that we like such as The Exorcist 3, Hellraiser 2, Halloween 2. Out of these kind of spitball sessions where we would throw these back and forth then things slowly started to generate. It was always an idea on the side but then we eventually decided to kind of move forward and develop it for the Frontiers market in Montreal in 2013. For those that don’t know it’s a kind of market where you present projects to the industry professionals and you have meetings. It was a good learning experience and the project went really well and from there we have been slowly developing it and now it looks like its finally moving forward starting with our Indiegogo campaign.
Scream: MANBORG and FATHER’S DAY are both very tongue in cheek but it is my understanding that THE VOID is going to be starkly different. Does this mean it will be a much more serious film or will it still have a sense of humour about it?
Steven: Our movies always have humour to them. I wouldn’t call this an Astron 6 movie in terms of it being ludicrous to an extent that Manborg and Father’s Day have comments on the kind of movies that they are inhabiting. The whole idea for The Void came about from talking about the kind of movies we like and from talking about how they affected us and how they scared us and how impossible it is to make a scary movie anymore so it seemed like a daunting task. We wanted to go for it and make it so it leaves an impression on people that doesn’t come across as a fun homage. We want it to hopefully be scary and again that is very ambitious but I think we gotta go for it because we’re not seeing a lot of movies like that anymore. There will be humour in it but at the same time we want it to be a very intense thrill ride of a movie so it won’t be slapstick and it will take itself seriously.
Scream: Without spoiling too much, what can fans expect from the special effects?
Steven: That’s tough as I don’t want to give anything away. This is the tough part about promoting a movie like this is that I want it to be a surprise. I can say that we are inspired by films like Alien and Prince of Darkness. Jeremy and I are huge fans of the Silent Hill video games but not necessarily the movies just to be clear. In the games the creature designs are very inspired so if this movie is anything like those games then this movie will appeal to you.
Scream: With The Void I take it you have free artistic reign?
Steven: Oh totally. Our producer Casey is a huge supporter of the project and we met him at the Fantasia film market and has been a huge supporter of us ever since. We have a great team and everybody is on board making this creature movie. Jeremy and I have been at it for almost three years now so we are ready to make it. It’s going to be epic.
Scream: For your Indiegogo campaign you have some incredible endorsements from Jen and Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jason Eisener, and Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson. What was it like to receive such praise from your peers?
Steven: It is so humbling to get this kind of support from such a talented group of people. Like, I mean all these filmmakers far surpass anything that i’ve ever done. So the idea of them giving support to me makes me feel incredibly grateful because they are all really talented filmmakers and they have their own respective audiences. So for them to get out and show their support it really helps with the campaign and it really brings that sense of community which is really my favourite part of making movies as everybody works together to get their projects made. So to have that kind of support from the director of Cube, the directors of Spring, Hobo with a Shotgun and American Mary is really awesome.
Scream: So tell us more about the Indiegogo campaign.
Steven: Basically we are raising funds to build the creatures for the movie because movies when they typically get their budgets the financing doesn’t come through until you’re close and ready to shoot. Which unfortunately for creature heavy movies it doesn’t really work because you need months of prep time to build these creatures. The Void is a creature heavy movie hence the Indiegogo campaign. So the fifty grand is going towards the effects you know, setting up shop, hiring a crew, materials, building all the crazy monsters that populate the film.
Scream: Many fundraising campaigns offer interesting returns for funders. What are you offering fans?
Steven: Well there are a lot of fun perks. One of them you get to contribute a drawing that you can do to become part of what we call the book of the void which will appear in the film and without spoiling the plot, one point the characters stumble upon some writings and research done by the other characters that relate to this cult that is circulating around the concept of The Void. So for ten dollars you can contribute a sketch which will be included in the book which will be featured into the film. Another perk is that you can get a special message from the classic character Bio-Cop. So to be clear it is not just a personalised message we are also shooting what is essentially a series of new shorts which will feature Bio-Cop so with this perk you get one of these shorts plus a personalised message. We also have T-shirts, there was a Blu-ray perk recently which sold out but we decided to bring it back. There’s digital downloads so you can get a copy of the movie, there are the sounds of Astron 6 which Jeremy has compiled together from our Astron 6 movies so that is also a digital download. There’s a perk where you are able to apprentice in the effects shop and work with me creating creatures for the movie. Then the biggest perk is that you can have your head cast and then your face is incorporated into one of the final creatures in the movie. I am sure i’m forgetting a whole bunch of stuff but those are the big ones that come to mind.
Scream: So with under two weeks left of the campaign, what would you like to say to our readers?
Steven: I say jump onboard right now because we have a ton of perks and I forgot to mention the posters that we have got from Graham Humphreys, Justin Erickson and Gary Pullin. They all did original posters for the movie and they are all just amazing and I want to have all of them on my wall. So for the perks that we are offering we have a lot of great stuff and it is going towards a great cause of building the creatures for this super effects heavy movie that’s hopefully a throwback to things like The Thing, The Fly and the remake of The Blob as we are trying to bring back a kind of ‘80s graphical mentality as I don’t think we’ve seen anything like that in the past 20 years. Check out the page and if you have some cash then you should contribute.
Scream: Brilliant. Thanks for your time. We here at Scream wish you all the best with the Indiegogo campaign and we are looking forward to what you deliver with THE VOID.
Steven: Awesome. Thank you, Jon.
If you would like to check out the Indegogo campaign for THE VOID then follow the link below where you can view the concept trailer, read about the perks on offer and be in a chance to support independent horror.
Words by Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)