Interview: Joseph Nanni

NanniToday we are talking with Canadian filmmaker Joseph Nanni, the man behind the short films Casting Call of Cthulhu and Elder Sign. Joseph stopped by Innsmouth Free Press to talk about Lovecraft, his upcoming project and a bunch of other fun stuff:

IFP: Can you introduce yourself to our readers? And please reveal one little-known tidbit about yourself.

JN: My name is Joseph Nanni. I am doing this interview because I’ve made three short films inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft and I plan to make more. I was born in Montreal and raised in a small town by a bay called Barrie. I moved to Toronto in my teens where I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design. I left school to be a writer in advertising. Recently, I left advertising to be a director.

A little-known and highly-revealing tidbit – I created the KFC Black Metal ad.

IFP: I read at that you are beginning work on two films entitled Black Goat and Drawing Baphomet. What are they about?

JN: The films are part of a trilogy about a family line that inherits a translation of the Necronomicon. Black Goat is obviously about Shub-Niggurath. It takes place around a Native-Canadian settlement in Ontario during the 17th century. That’s all I will say.

Drawing Baphomet is a horror/comedy…kinda like The Da Vinci Code-meets-Re-animator. It is written expressly for Jim and Dan, who have appear in my last two shorts. Shub is the central HPL deity in this one, too.

I have worked out a rather intense and complicated timeline/backstory that ties the three films together. This way, I can add details that will give the films another layer of engagement after the trilogy is complete.

IFP: Is it true John Coulthart is designing creatures for these films? We love his work!

JN: John and I have e-mailed back and forth but he was real busy when we began the conversation and I still haven’t sent him the script. I’m terrible that way because I keep making changes until I’m 100 percent confident with all aspects. I’ll have to reconnect with him and see if he’s still interested and available. If he is, then yes, John will be designing some Old Ones for the films.

IFP: How long has this project been in the making?

JN: I came up with the ideas for Black Goat, Drawing Baphomet, and Casting Call of Cthulhu all in tandem about two years ago. I decided to start small and see what I was in for by making the short. I kept developing the other two pieces while I worked on commercials and more shorts.

IFP: What does it take to make something like this project come to life?

JN: Passion and stupidity. You have to really love and believe in your subject matter and vision and be dumb enough to think everyone around you feels the same way.

IFP: Where do you get the cash, the volunteers and the equipment?

JN: I am lucky enough to have a very supportive production company behind me. They may not get the whole HPL thing, but they seem amused by my enthusiasm for it. As for volunteers – I don’t use actors; I cast real people I think are right for the part. I pay them in fame – haha!

IFP: This is not the first time you’ve tackled Lovecraft. What was your experience like on your previous Lovecraftian projects? What were some of the hardest and most rewarding parts of the filming process?

JN: They have all been very quick and very good experiences. I love moments like when the crew laughs after they hear an actor deliver a line for the first time. They don’t laugh the second time, but you need that initial one so you know you’re not wasting everyone’s time.

The upcoming projects will be a little more challenging, not just because they are long form, but I will be asking for money and the minute you ask for money, you put the script up for debate. And explaining Lovecraft to someone whose idea of horror is a guy with a hatchet, well, that’s just not much fun. I can only imagine the faces around the boardroom table when I say the words, “Shub-Niggurath, the black goat of the woods with a thousand young.”

IFP: One handy piece of advice when filming something is to remember to feed everyone. Do you have any great nuggets of wisdom for would-be Lovecraftian filmmakers?

JN: Once the crew has eaten, feed them to the Great Old One. That way, you get the work done and appease the Mother of Abominations. Win-win.

IFP: Why the attraction to Lovecraft?

JN: School consumed my personal reading time with many terrible books. Some of them were classics, and you have to read them, but most of it was printed gruel. Lovecraft was the perfect antidote to something like The Stone Angel. His structures contradicted everything I was learning, his subject matter was dark and insane but on a cosmic scale, his descriptions were lacking, he was easy to read, he was politically incorrect, but when you put it all together, it made for something completely irresistible.

IFP: What is your favourite Lovecraft story?

JN: “Shadow Over Innsmouth”. The “city” I grew up in got big, but never lost the small-town mentality. I used to call lumberjack coats, toques, and Kodiaks “The Innsmouth Look”.

IFP: Do you think Canadian speculative cinema is different from U.S. cinema? How so?

JN: I can’t remember the last thing I saw that I thought was distinctly Canadian. We have a real strong voice in speculative fiction: Robert J. Sawyer, William Gibson, but cinema…not so much. Americans love shooting here, though…my walk to work is like a stroll through U.S. speculative cinema – there’s Betty Ross’ house and over there, a Stargate, this way to Umbrella Corp…and so on.

IFP: What is your dream project?

JN: It is the third piece of my trilogy, called The Children of Alhazred. It will be a big, expensive, effects-heavy epic in an apocalyptic world where the Old Ones have come but the summons is incomplete, so we still have a chance. I dream about it all the time, especially in traffic.

IFP: Any other stuff you’d like our readers to know?

JN: Not really. I like cats and nature.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraftian character or creature who would you be and why?

JN: The Outsider – because I enjoy having time alone to reflect.

For more information about Joseph Nanni visit his film blog here:


Storyboard for "Black Goat."


About IFP

Keep Innsmouth going! Purchase our anthologies and books.

IFPInterview: Joseph Nanni