TMS: I finally had a chance to check out Proxy. I’m a huge fan of both the horror and thriller genres. How would you define Proxy? Is it thriller, horror, or your own distinct blend of the two?
ZP: I think the answer to that question depends on who you ask. Some see it as horror, others a thriller, suspense, etc.. I suppose the confusion or debate comes from the fact that it is a very dark film, and can be somewhat disturbing for some. Of course, it doesn't deal with anything supernatural. No monsters, zombies, or the like. Instead, it's about what I feel are the most terrifying beings on this planet, people.
TMS: We could both agree that Proxy is different because everything that happens could actually take place in reality. Are there any real life stories that affected or influenced the making of this film?
ZP: Not really. Whenever I set out to make a film, I'm always trying to tackle a subject matter or tell a story in a way that I haven't seen before. The idea occurred to my writing partner, Kevin Donner, and me that a certain mental disorder had never really been fully explored in cinema before. So that was the start of it. Of course, to give away the specific disorder I am referring to, in my opinion, would spoil a lot of pleasure of watching the film.
TMS: All three female characters are total nut jobs. Is it hard to draw those types of performances and how exactly does a director like yourself influence your lead players to give it their all?
ZP: I don't really see them that way. The characters of Esther and Melanie suffer from slightly different versions of the same affliction. Their actions, motivations, and decisions are very methodical and specific to their individual conditions. On the other hand, the character of Anika to controlled by her own passion and emotions. I believe that makes her quite honest, and ruthless.
As for the actresses portraying them, it took no real convincing them on my part. When interviewing potential cast, I was on the lookout for those that would embrace the challenges of these roles, as well as be on board with the story we were trying to tell.
TMS: So, the music of Proxy is eerily reminiscent of something we might hear in a Hitchcock feature. It drives the scenes and sets the stage for some of the most dynamic moments of the feature. Were you influenced by any specific Hitchcock movie or is there some other film or director that you would reference as your main influence? John Carpenter, maybe?
ZP: I certainly respond to filmmakers who use music very deliberately and with precision. I'm not a fan of music as just simple atmosphere or filler. Very rarely will you hear dialogue and music in my films at the same time. For me, the music is its own character with its own voice. It should have structure, and be the driving force of the narrative when used. Telling its own layer of the story.
TMS: Expanding on that, what is your favorite feature film, why, and who are your favorite directors? Can you name just one or do you wanna give us the expanded list?
ZP: Guys like Hitchcock, Polanski, Cronenberg, Lynch, Von Trier; they're all up there. But, the filmmaker I admire the most is Kubrick. The man just never made a bad film, and most of them are masterpieces. There's really no one else you can say that about.
On top of that, the lifestyle and business model he was able to create for himself is just unheard of. To live off the grid, away from Hollywood, and still be able to make the films you want to make, the way you want to make them, with virtually no interference. Mind blowing.
TMS: Are there any crazy on set stories that you could tell us about? And did those pesky girls behave themselves behind the scenes?
ZP: It's a boring answer, but not really. It was a very professional shoot. I can say we all had a great time making it, a lot of fun, despite the subject matter. No particular humorous anecdotes, though.
TMS: What’s next? Do you have any big plans for the next feature? And if so, are you going to stick to the same genre or will you change it up for the next one?
ZP: I've finished a new script that we are just in the beginning stages of putting together. It is also kind of a thriller/suspense/drama, but hopefully with a unique spin. We're planning to shoot that in Chicago early 2015.
TMS: Lastly, where can people check out Proxy? Where can they find more information about this tale of three twisted women?
ZP: I'm happy to say it's pretty much everywhere. It's available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD; so Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, FYE, iTunes, Netflix, etc.. Hopefully, wherever you are used to watching/buying/renting movies, it is there!
We thank Zack for taking time to answer our questions. Check out Proxy today!