Published On November 9, 2016 » 1025 Views» By Fernando Fernandez » HORROR FILMS, SHORT FILMS, Uncategorized
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Photographer: Robert Michael Geary

Photographer: Robert Michael Geary

It’s always nice to check out the film culture down under and we here on FERNTV found quite the gem in Kaitlin Tinker’s The Man Who Caught A Mermaid.  The short horror film has been garnering quite the buzz this year and has been featured in many of the horror film festivals across the world.  The short is captivating right at the second it starts but there is more to this film than viewers getting to see this film crew’s version of what a mermaid is supposed to look like.  Aside from the amazing special effects in putting together the mermaid for this film is the horror that is exemplified by the main character played by Roy Barker.  The man is heavily obsessed that he will capture a mermaid going to extreme preparations when the time comes.  FERNTV talked to director Kaitlin Tinker on why this film is actually more horrifying on so many different levels.

FERNTV:  Tell us here on FERNTV what inspired you to make this film?
Kaitlin:  I’m interested in exploring the role of myth and primordial archetypes in the modern consciousness. Mermaids seem to be floating around in the zeitgeist at the moment, and a few years ago when I wrote it, it seemed like an incredibly powerful monster to bridge the sobering realism of daily life with the lost connection to our own inner deep. I’m also deeply connected to stories from the underside of Australian suburbia. As a teenager, I lived next door to my very own Herb: a slimy, seemingly omnipresent gnome-like man with a tendency to spend an unnecessary time wandering into the bushland across the road. What inner world did he operate in?  So I developed my own little piece of Australian lore that brought it all together. Monsters are an amazing vehicle for exploring our darker selves on screen.
FERNTV:   Everyone has their own version of what a mermaid is supposed to look like but where did you draw your influence from?
Kaitlin:  Mermaid screened in Tokyo this year, and during a Q&A I had a man unable to comprehend that the Mermaid I’d brought to life wasn’t beautiful. I told him I wasn’t interested in beauty, and that male projection of ‘anima’ onto this fictional female body was totally the issue I was exploring in the film. He just couldn’t get his head around it. My mental image of the creature was far from the safe margin of Disney standards – she was wild, primitive, sexually demented. I’m a genre director with a fascination for kitsch horror and campy sci-fi, I find beauty in the bizarre. I love 60s creature features and Japanese genre flicks, so the look of the Mermaid relied totally on the in-camera SFX. She’s my ultimate she-creature, complete with gills, claws and needle-like teeth!
FERNTV:   Tell us here on FERNTV what it was like to create a mermaid for this film and of course all the make up and special effects that went into it?
Kaitlin:  The film was nearly dead in the water trying to find a SFX crew that could manage the project. I’d spent a few weeks working closely with my concept artist, Nic Hogios, on the image of the mermaid – we worked really hard to create this evolutionary ‘disaster’ that bonded fish to woman. We explored a lot of deep-sea based creatures with exoskeletons and tendrils of light. We debated over silly things like nipples and hair, elements of a full-bodied woman that made no sense for something aquatic. I then went from crew to crew with the plans, and was consistently told the plan was too ambitious, that we didn’t have the budget required, that we didn’t have enough time, etc. I think I lay on the couch for nearly 2 weeks in despair after having pulled together all the other elements of the film. I thought it was over.
And finally we had a break-through with SharpFX! Russell and his team worked tirelessly to cast our actress’s body and carefully sculpt all the details into the final prosthetic. It took a team of four and seven hours just to get our actress into the make-up before she even got to set. She wriggled into that tail and faithfully stayed there for hours. We didn’t have the budget to shoot with the make-up for more than a one-day application. So it was a real make-or-break moment for the film.
FERNTV:   Can you comment on how there is such a big demand for short horror films especially at horror film festivals?
Kaitlin:  Is there? I think currently there is a strong push for recognising short horror films as a valuable medium within horror film festivals, they recognise it as the greenhouse it is for up-and-coming filmmakers. You can learn your craft and test the waters with bold ideas. But I think there is a long way to go before short horrors are considered as viable works for larger film festivals. It’s a shame. Horror and sci-fi are such visceral, wonderful genres that have the potential to deeply explore the human condition, and not nearly given the screen time they deserve. We’ve had so much success internationally with this film, and almost zero interest at home in Australia. Australia seems slow to catch on to the expanding demand for horror pictures. Genre film-makers have to have some foreign success before their hometown will back them.
FERNTV:   What was the most challenging part of making this film?
Kaitlin:  As a no-budget short, everything was challenging! Crowd-funding half the budget was absolutely nail-biting and exhausting. Working in a public space where my 1st AD was roughed up by some locals and nearly thrown from the pier was stressful. We were working in a freezing wintery waters, so I had to jump into the water myself just to convince my frost-bitten actors to hold out a little longer. We drowned a RED in the process of shooting our underwater pieces and suffered financially. But it was my graduating short. Nothing forces your growth faster than experience. I came out the other end with a film and creatives who I now count as family.
FERNTV:  What is it like to to be directing horror and being part of a whole host of other women who are making horror films?
Kaitlin:  It’s fucking excellent. Female voices are essential to the future of horror, and to story-telling on the whole. There is an unprecedented demand for women’s voices in film, and an equally ambitious collective of women working together to make exciting, bold and exceptional work. There are some fantastic initiatives on the rise in Australia that are working to equalise the imbalance of opportunity for women in the film industry. Programs like Fantasia’s Body of Woman are selling out. I felt honoured to stand in Montreal with my international peers.
FERNTV:  What do you like most about your film?
Kaitlin:  The turn of the story. I like sitting in the cinema and hearing the audience collectively whisper, ‘Oh, SHIT…’ I love that the work has such a primal, physical affect. I’m twisted.
FERNTV:   Tell our readers what is coming up for you next?
Kaitlin:  I’ve been developing a feature script that I’d like to take to the Frontieres Market to pitch for production funding next year. In the meantime I’ll crowd-fund another short. And go travelling in a caravan in the Australian outback with my partner and his four kids. I don’t know which is going to more horrifying.
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About The Author

Fernando Fernandez is a graduate of Environmental Studies at York University. He became passionate about the arts when interning for many internet startup magazines focusing on music and film. Inspired by the work of Stanley Kubrick, Fernando created FERNTV for everyone to become inspired and motivated about the arts and culture that surrounds them. As hard working as he is, Fernando still has time to be funny as Private Joker from Full Metal Jacket.

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