Interview: Teresa Fahs

Teresa Fahs – a makeup artist, horror filmmaker and creator of special effects resource – hails from Las Vegas. She sat down with us this week to talk about her latest project – zombie film Haunting Kira.
HKAutopsyPosterFlattenedx480IFP: Tell us about your current project. What is it about?

TF: I’m producing Haunting Kira, a feature horror film that will begin shooting in November 2009. It’s about a ghost that figures out how to reanimate a recently-dead body, so that he can get out and ‘live’ again. It’s Being John Malkovich meets The Shining meets Night of the Living Dead.

IFP: What was the inspiration for your project?

TF: I’ve been gathering ideas for this movie for two years now. It started when I was on location in Baltimore doing special effects make-up for a WWII documentary. Cast and crew were staying at The Admiral Fell Inn, which is supposedly haunted. They had actors that would roam the lobby pretending they were the ghosts of the people who had been murdered in the hotel. One day, I happened to be in the lobby when they were serving high tea, so I sat down with them. Knowing they couldn’t break character, I asked them what was the worst thing about being a ghost, and they both answered, “The boredom. We never get to go anywhere.” This started an interesting conversation. One of the ghosts asked what I did for a living, and I told them that I make zombies. They wanted to know what a zombie was, so I said, “Well, you are a spirit without a body, and a zombie is a body without a spirit.” Later, I started wondering what would happen if one of these bored ghosts figured out how to inhabit a dead body.
IFP: What do you want to tell the audience in your story? TF: This is not the same old ‘shooting gallery’ zombie movie that you’ve seen so many times before. Not only will the special effects be flawless, you can expect to be truly disturbed by many of the things you are going to see. Somewhere during the course of this film, everyone is going to squirm in their seat. Expect hardcore gore with meaning and purpose.
IFP: How do you feel your project fits into its genre? What does Haunting Kira tell us about zombies? TF: My goal is to disturb people so deeply that they can’t sleep the night after they see this film. Horror is like a rollercoaster ride. It’s not scary unless you think you are going to die. I’m out to make zombies truly terrifying again. Haunting Kira will examine what makes zombies fast, slow, hungry, violent, smelly, and ultimately unkillable. We approach the issue of zombie sentience in a way that you have never seen before. You will feel what the zombie feels.

IFP: What other projects have you done?

TF: I’ve done special effects and props in a lot of war movies and cop dramas. I take that as a compliment to the realism in my artwork. I plan to bring a disturbing degree of realism to the gore in Haunting Kira and, while there will be plenty of blood, it won’t be covering up the guts. I’ve always felt that too much blood is an excuse to cover up bad special effects and bad make-up. You will not find CGI in this movie. It’s going to be a very organic and very tactile viewing experience.

IFP: Tell us about some of the challenges you have encountered as a makeup artist. As a filmmaker.
TF: I’m a self-taught artist and in many ways, that has worked to my advantage. Nothing can replace the ability to creatively solve a problem. An FX artist needs a certain amount of crazy inventiveness. That’s a quality that’s hard to learn in school. I think getting started was the most challenging thing I’ve encountered. In entertainment, one job leads to another, just like any other field. It’s building a decent portfolio, and getting that first job, that’s tough. How can anyone know what you can do if they can’t see it? I’m so lucky to be where I am today. I don’t have to constantly prove myself, and I get to pick my projects. It took 10 years to get here, but it was worth it.
IFP: Name your favourite film and why.
TF: Alien. My father took me to see Alien in the theaters when I was nine years old. Dad was a big science fiction fan, and he’d take me to the movies that my mom refused to see. When I’d get scared, he wouldn’t let me cover my eyes or look away. Then after the movie, he’d take me out for pizza and he’d tell me how they did the effects in the scariest parts. As I got older, it became a game to try to figure out the effects, and I graduated to horror films. Now I can’t go to a movie without knowing the methods behind the effects. In a way, it takes the fun out of it, like knowing how a magician does a trick. Once you know, you can never not know.
IFP: Name your favourite filmmaker and why.
TF: I’ve always been a fan of Ridley Scott because I love Alien and Blade Runner, but I’m also a huge Wes Craven fan. To me, no character was ever scarier than Freddie Krueger. From an artist’s point of view, I’m also a huge H.R. Geiger fan.
IFP: What accomplishment are you the most proud of in your career so far?

TF: I’m very proud of building to what it is today. I really enjoy helping people do the best special effects make-up that they can. I have a wonderful network of talented artists and actors that I can’t wait to bring together in Haunting Kira, and I’m most proud of this script.

IFP: If you could be a Lovecraft/Mythos monster, which one would you be? Why? TF: I love H.P Lovecraft. The one thing that still scares me, after all these years, are creepy, slimy, sea creatures. I can’t even stand fish swimming by me when I’m in the water, so I exclusively stick to swimming pools. I’d be Cthulhu. By becoming that which we most fear, we conquer our fears.

IFP: Do you have a favourite Lovecraft/Mythos story? If so, which one is it?

TF: Definitely “The Call of Cthulhu”, the ultimate in evil.

IFP: Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
TF: Well, Halloween is coming, so will be hopping busy. Other than that, I’m completely committed to producing and directing Haunting Kira. It’s scheduled to be in the can by Mother’s Day 2010, and will be haunting the festival circuit.
IFP: What is your dream project?
TF: I’m pretty sure I’m working on it right now.

Teresa Fah’s Bio: Teresa Fahs is the artistic and business mind behind, a one-stop special effects make-up resource for the do-it-yourself zombie. With over a decade of entertainment experience, she can gorify just about anything or anyone. Teresa Fahs started as a figure sculpture, quickly moved into prop fabrication, and has been designing prosthetics and doing special effects makeup for the past 5 years. Renowned for her realism, you can find Ms. Fahs on the set of cop dramas (Dirty Martini), war movies (Survivor Stories), sci-fi flicks (Extinct). and always, always horror films (The Last Sin, Chosen, Witch Hunters). Next, you will find Teresa Fahs sitting in the director’s chair as she brings her dark vision of death and horror to the big screen in Haunting Kira.

About IFP

Keep Innsmouth going! Purchase our anthologies and books.

IFPInterview: Teresa Fahs