Lisa Aschan left film school in 2005 and was soon working on award winning original TV series The Killing, among other projects. She has now directed her first feature film, She Monkeys, which is released this month. She kindly agreed to share a few of her thoughts and inspirations with New Empress..
What has been your focus since leaving film school, have you been writing or mostly directing?
Both. I write or co-write my films, so that’s how I work. That’s how i did it with She Monkeys and thats how i will do it with my next film as well.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a filmmaker?
I do TV and theatre as well so i see myself more as a director (in general), not just a film director. I have always been interested in role playing, creating my own universe and making up dramatic scenes, so I can’t really tell when it started. Growing up, i was more interested in creating my own drama than watching other people’s dramas. Now i tend to use genre to put a frame on my work, i try to pick a genre for each project i go into so for She-monkeys it was Westerns i was investigating.
She Monkeys is serious but also quite humorous at times. What would you most like people to take from it?
I wanted to make a modern western about power and sex…so i guess that’s just what i want them to take from it. I’ve gotten very diverse reactions so I’m very happy with that, everyone has an opinion about it. It’s about powerplay and how every scene is a duel between these two girls. I wanted it to be constant challenges and struggles about being controlled or in control.
What inspired you to write this story?
My plan usually starts with the piles on my desk in my studio, this one started with the child actress Shirley Temple, a book called the Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille, a French writer, and Sergio Leone’s western, Once upon a time in America.
Programmes like The Killing have shown that there isn’t much of a gap between high quality television and film. Would you like to focus on feature films from now on or continue to move between film and other mediums?
For each project i try to early in the process think of which medium that would be the best for that story or what i want to do. I’ve worked in theatre, tv and radio so every project is different and i feel very comfortable working in all these different fields. My next project is a feature film but after that we would have to see. I start to work and then realise what i want to do right now is the biggest pile on the desk because that’s apparently what I’m most interested in the moment. I just measure the height of the different piles!
What kind of film would you like to make next? Are there any similarities in the projects you have taken on in the past?
I very much like the characters that tend to be vulnerable a*holes. That’s the only thing that’s similar really. My next feature is a horror film so I don’t think that will be very similar.
Are you a horror fan in general?
I’m a very big Stephen King fan. Right now, I like the Shining.
She Monkeys is out on the 18th of May.