A few weeks ago we did a promotion for The Grr in Fangrrl Podcast and The Squee Project from producer/director/editor Hansi Oppenheimer. There was so much to cover that we couldn’t fit it all in one promotion, so Hansi was generous enough to talk to us about those projects and more. Please take a few minutes to learn more about this amazing woman in horror, and all of her contributions to the genre we love…
-PH: How did you get started in filmmaking? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
-Hansi: Absolutely. I grew up immersed in pop culture, TV and filmmaking. My Dad worked at CBS and would take us to the studio for rehearsals on the Ed Sullivan Show and my Mom ran a prop shop. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to work in the arts, I just wasn’t sure what that meant until I was in my 30’s.
I got started with a reputation for my graffiti tag “Eno is God” as a punk in NYC around the same time as Samo and Richard Hambleton were being recognized in the late 70’s. I was quoted a few times in articles about Eno.
In my 20’s, I painted and did these limited edition Fluxus like collaborative works with fine artists including Keth Haring, Kenny Scharf, Nathan Joseph, Frosty Meyers, Richard Thatcher, among others.
I ran a gallery in Soho in the late 80’s and worked as an artist’s model.
I began exploring adding Super 8MM films to my art pieces and then video.
I went back to school in my 30’s and studied filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts where I worked as a Teaching Assistant for two documentary filmmakers and began to make my own films. My thesis film was a 20 minute long documentary about love spells, Riding the Broom. It was picked up by Universal’s online department Hypnotic. I still think it’s a beautiful film. I made a few Jim Jarmusch style films, one was about a girl finding a junkie who’d overdosed on the desolate waterfront before Brooklyn became gentrified. So I’ve been making films and art in one form or another for the last 30 plus years fairly successfully. All of my films have gotten offers for distribution although I prefer to control all aspects of my work myself now.
-PH: Your focus seems to be on documentaries and interviews.
-Hansi: That happened out of necessity in film school. It was such a nightmare getting a crew together especially since I was older than the other students and had a day job and very little free time. It made sense to just shoot the films by myself and I’ve continued making films this way with the exception of my first narrative project since film school, a short horror film TransformHer that we shot in March and we hope to be screening in September.
-PH: What draws you to that style of filmmaking?
-Hansi: I’m obsessed with stories, storytelling and talking with people. Docs are a perfect opportunity to deep dive into a topic that interests me and talk to a lot of people about it. I’m an unapologetic over-shooter and have hundreds of hours of interviews for all my projects. I hope to find time to post them all on Youtube eventually.
I was chatting with filmmaker, Annalise Ophelian who is making the docu-series Looking for Leia and she said her shoot to edit ratio is about 150 to 1 which I don’t think is unusual for documentary. Her interview on The Grr in Fangrrl Podcast will be posted on Friday so be sure to subscribe. We have new and exciting content posted weekly. WE just posted a bonus episode with Lloyd Kaufman yesterday.
-PH: You created “The Squee Project.” Can you tell us a little about that, and how it came to be?
-Hansi: The Squee Project originally began as an idea for a feature length film about fanfic in 2012. It was very difficult to get people on camera to talk about it. Writers were still skittish about admitting they wrote it for fear of being doxxed.
Now, mostly everyone knows about it and is “out”. When I wasn’t able to move forward on the fanfic angle, I started interviewing women in fandom and have hundreds of hours of interviews with all kinds of fans, creators and the women that created vidding, zines and fan campaigns in the 20th century.
I discovered that there was a whole history of women making fanworks that hadn’t really been documented so I wanted to help change that by interviewing and archiving early fan stories. Now I’ve met many of the early ‘zine creators, organizers and vidders, I’m fascinated by their stories. For instance, Kandy Fong may be the first Star Trek vidder, she started by using film scraps that she was given from the show and would present them on a slide projector as she stood there and changed the slide in time to the music. Bjo Trimble was the organizer of the successful campaign to get Star Trek its third season.
These stories are so important. In the early days of fandom many women couldn’t write checks or drive. They managed to overcome these hurdles and create iconic fanworks but because women’s work is often seen as a hobby or craft, they haven’t gotten the respect that they deserve.
We’ve made 2 webisodes of Squee! so far and hope to complete a third episode soon.They have screened at dozens of cons and film festivals and can be watched on my Youtube Channel.
-PH: Your documentary “All Hail the Popcorn King” is premiering soon. What is it about Joe Lansdale that made him your choice for this documentary?
-Hansi: Joe is such a unique voice. He has created a huge body of quality work, over 50 novels and 500 short stories. He is also one of the kindest and most generous creators I’ve ever met.
I’ve loved Joe’s writing since I first discovered it in the late 80’s. I was in Texas for the first time last year and reached out to ask if he’d be available for an interview for my Youtube channel. He graciously invited me to lunch in Nacogdoches.
I pitched the idea to him and he began to reach out to his friends, family, collaborators and peers for me. Joe has been super supportive and people want to contribute because they love him and his work. I was able to interview luminaries James Purefoy, Bruce Campbell, Joe Hill, Don Coscarelli, F Paul Wilson, Amber Benson, MIck Garris, David J Schow, Del Howison, Chad Lutzke, Yuri Lowenthal, Brian Keene and so many more. The premiere is in Austin at The Alamo DraftHouse August 18th. The link to purchase tickets and merch is on my website at www.squeeprojects.com
-PH: For the documentary, how did you go about deciding who to talk to, and then secure a chance to talk to them?
-Hansi: I will talk to anyone from fans to peers when I am making a documentary. You never know who will have that great soundbite. We’re cutting it down to 40-60 minutes for the film but we’re releasing a DVD with lots of the extras in September. The celebrities were exciting to talk with but the fans have so much passion and great stories, too. One fan told me about losing his book collection in a house fire and how Joe sent him new books when he heard about it. My editor told me he was tearing up listening to that interview this week!
-PH: When is premiere, and what are the future plans for the documentary?
-Hansi: We have the premiere scheduled and we’re already getting interest from Film Festivals. We’ll have a special edition DVD with lots of extras and it can be pre-ordered in the merch store at www.squeeprojects.com
The premiere is Sunday August 18th 1-4 pm at the Alamo DraftHouse, Slaughter Lane, Austin.
Guests of Honor include Joe, his family, Brian Keene and Yuri Lowenthal. We’ll screen the film then have a Q&A with Joe and myself and then there’s time for folks to meet Joe and get some books signed. Buy tickets here and use code AstroRegular for $10 off. Ticket buyers will receive a free Joe Lansdale book, too! We only have 13 tickets available for the screening party. So get your tickets now!
Joe and I are also appearing at KillerCon in Austin on Saturday August 17th (Time TBD) on a panel about the film hosted by Brian Keene.
-PH: The interviews don’t stop there as you also host The Grr in Fangrrl Podcast. You’ve talked to some amazing women in horror like Felissa Rose, Dee Wallace, and Amber Benson. Who has been your favorite interview so far, and who is the person that would make your year to interview?
-Hansi: Oh boy, I can’t pick a favorite. They’ve all been great! I’m a fan of all of them and their work.
I’ve been lucky to chat with Dana DeLorenzo of Ash vs Evil Dead, Andrea Subisatti of Rue Morgue & Faculty of Horror. Susan Hurwitz Arneson Co-Ep and Writer on Preacher & The Tick, Debbie Rochon who has worked in every area of the horror genre from podcasting at Fangoria, acting, directing and writing, Diana “Darcy the Mail Girl” Prince of Joe Bob Briggs Last Drive-in, Dr Lynn Zubernis who was my Co-Creator on The Squee Web-Series and has written seven books about Supernatural, Jenn Wexler, Writer and Director of The Ranger as well as the names you mentioned. I’just posted a bonus episode featuring Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman last night.
Off the top of my head, I’d really love to talk with Adrienne Barbeau, Lin Shay, Barbara Crampton, The Soska Sisters, Barbara Steele, Heather Langencamp, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy, Emily Perkins, Mink Stole, Lili Taylor, Sarah Michelle Geller, Danai Gurira, Polly Mcintosh, Ruth Negga, Julie Ann Emory, Betty Buckley, Pam Grier, Emily Perkins, there are so many talented women. If anyone reads this and wants to be on the podcast please email me at email@example.com
-PH: Supporting women in horror, and fans girls in general seems very important to you. Why do you feel so deeply about this?
-Hansi: It’s getting easier for women but I’ve had my share of getting bullied and men taking credit for my work so I want to do my part to help promote and support other women creators. I think it’s especially important to help get alternative narratives out there in the media. As a culture, we really need stories told from a variety of perspectives and cultures. We need to hear stories from people with disabilities, older women, POC and the LGBTQA community. It’s for the good of the world!
-PH: What would you say is the state of women in horror today, and what do you see for the future of women in horror?
-Hansi: Horror and documentary are two places where you tend to see more women in film. I suspect that’s because they are often independently produced and don’t have to go through the Hollywood system. I am definitely seeing more women producing and directing horror films, which is great. Women can create some really unique horror films, like Alice Lowe’s Prevenge or Jenn Wexler’s take on the slasher genre,The Ranger. I’m passionate about supporting and promoting their work. If anyone wants their work promoted they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do whatever I can to get the word out.
-PH: And finally why horror? When did you first come to love horror?
-Hansi: I was a Monster Kid. I grew up watching horror and reading Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella, Tomb of Dracula and Famous Monsters, running home to catch Dark Shadows on TV after school and wishing I was William Castle! My favorite toy was the 1964 Aurora Guillotine model. I used to correspond with Forry Ackerman and had planned to shoot a documentary about him but I was living in NYC and by the time I was in LA, he wasn’t up to it but he was a huge influence. He was always a fan of Sci-Fi and Horror and he supported it his whole adult life.
-PH: Here’s your chance to promote anything we haven’t talk about. Let us know something more about your the Squee Project, “All Hail the Popcorn King,” your podcast, future projects, or anything else you would like to mention.
-Hansi: You can keep up with all my projects and find me on social media @squeeprojects on twitter, sign up for the mailing list on my website at www.squeeprojects.com for updates on news, events, Youtube and Podcast episodes My Podcast The Grr in Fangrrl is at www.blogtalkradio.com/grr_fangrrl and on Stitcher, Itunes, and Spreaker.
The Joe Lansdale documentary All Hail the Popcorn King is premiering in Austin on August 18th 1-4 pm at the Alamo DraftHouse. Joe will be there for a Q & A and Meet and Greet after the film. You can get tickets at www.eventbrite.com/e/joe-lansdale-documentary-premiere-screening-party-tickets-61908110826
Use code AstroRegular for $10 discount.
Joe and I are also doing a panel on the film at KillerCon on Saturday 8/17 hosted by Brian Keene in Austin (Time TBD)
I’ll be at #SDCC19 doing interviews and event coverage so hit me up on twitter at @squeeprojects to let me know about your events if you’re interested in doing an interview about your projects and panels. My horror short TransformHer should be out in September
The trailer is here: https://youtu.be/Atr45o8tl-Q
People can check out my Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/c/SqueeTheFangirlDocumentaryProject
It has everything from a tour of Tromaville, interviews with Orlando Jones, Ben Edlund and the cast of The Tick, Ricky Whittle, Tony Todd, Curtis Armstrong, Osric Chau, Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes, Amber Benson, Ruth Connell, Chad Lindberg, Bjo Trimble, James Leary, Julia Lee, Osric Chau, Ruth Connell, Camden Toy, The LIbrary Bards, Buffering the Vampire Slayer,Joe Bob Briggs, episodes of the Squee web-series, performances by Dropkick Murphys,Tommy Stinson, TV reviews, acafandom and general pop culture Vlogs and Con Coverage.
We would like to thank Hansi for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully this gave you a good look at her wide ranging contribution to horror. Please consider listening to her podcast, checking out her episodes on YouTube, or if you’re in Austin attending the premiere of her documentary.