HELL’S KITTY: BEYOND THE FILM
I don’t know about you guys but sometimes things happen in life and I’ll just start building a story around it. For instance, my son found a baby doll at the park and decided to bring it home. Immediately I started imagining this doll murdering us in our sleep. I think that’s why I love “Hell’s Kitty” so much. Nicholas Tana was indeed the owner of a cat named Angel who was pretty aggressive toward pretty much everybody. He was able to take that real life experience and create the web series which later formed the basis for a great movie which may go even further. I was able to ask Nicholas a few questions lately and he goes much more in-depth into the inspiration and future of “Hells Kitty”.
The list of genre icons you gathered for this project is incredible. What was it like not only acting with but also directing them?
It was like a dream come true; very surreal! I mean these cult icons were in my apartment! Where I lived, ate, wrote, and dreamed. At the same time, so were ten to twenty crew members. I’d walk through my kitchen and there would be SFX make up working on creating a finger; I remember opening my freezer and a fake heart fell out. I’d walk down my hallway carefully to avoid a dolly track and camera folks fidgeting with lights, only to find a Killer Klown in my bathroom! There was so much happening that my life became the set. Every once in a while, I would think, this is crazy, I can’t believe it’s actually coming together. However, I was way too focused on directing, and making sure everything went as smoothly as possible to sit back and enjoy the moment, because I was also financing it on a micro-budget. Most of my enjoyment is coming to me now after having completed it. I feel like I’ve really accomplished something; many fond memories of talent, crew, and of course Angel!
What was it like getting these known actors for your web series? Was there ever a “holy shit, they said yes” moment?
I had a few ‘holy shit’ moments. Literally, there was the scene in which the statue Pazuzu appears in Angel’s litter box, looking like a glowing cat turd, moments before fiery poop balls blast Father Blatty (Bill Oberst Jr.) like bullets from a tommy gun. Watching Courtney Gains and John Franklin (Children of the Corn) acting right in front of me in my living room felt like I had slipped into the Twilight Zone. The same can be said for the scene in which Doug Jones and Bill Oberst Jr. were both trying to exorcise my cat! I remember at one point, as Angel growled at them, Doug turned to me and laughed at the absurdity of it all; how Angel really got into the part. Here they were, two grown men, dressed in priestly robes, trying to exorcise a cat really named Angel and my cat was acting really possessed. There are moments and then there are moments! The way, Nick the writer in my story, and Nick the writer behind-the-story sort of live parallel lives, made for many uncanny, pinch-myself-moments. I was writing this story as Nicholas Tana, and then it would become my reality. The Nick in my story is sort of the opposite, he’s like my Bizarro doppelgänger. Crazy shit happened to Nick, and he writes about it afterwards and nobody believes him. In some ways, if I didn’t have the web show and movie as proof, would anyone believe the experiences I’ve had either?
Do you have plans to continue the story of Hell’s Kitty? Will there be a way to fight the evil inside Angel?
I have already mapped out the story in my mind in which the movie (and original web-series) serves as the backdrop for a TV series. In this version, we start with Nick, as a popular supernatural, horror, comedy writer, who has made a decent living writing about his real life experiences. Only people don’t realize Nick’s stories are real. Every day, Nick has to fend off fiends from other hell realms, as a result of the gypsy curse. Despite going against all odds, Nick only has his cat, Angel, possessed by a jealous, obsessive ex-girlfriend, as his trusty companion. I’d also like to take the movie and make it a musical, in which different actors sub in for the one’s you’ve already scene, playing similar but slightly different roles; preferably those who can sing and dance (or at least lip synch or fake it really good!).
One thing I really liked about the series was the adverts for several animal charities on the end cards. What are some of your favorites?
I am most dedicated to FIXNATION here in Los Angeles, CA. However, my aunt has one called CAT’S CALL INC. in NJ, she’s always trying to raise more money because she buys shelters to help the cats in those super cold winters, too. I’m also a fan of Actors and Others For Animals. Any shelter that helps is good. (Edit: Links to all of these charities will be at the end of the article.)
The story of Hell’s Kitty is pretty autobiographical, what was the craziest thing that Angel did to a date in real life?
She scratched Lee Meriwether and made her bleed on my Cat Woman comic book in the scene she did with her! She also tore off Bill Oberst Jr.’s glove during his exorcist scene. The wardrobe person, Julia Perry, who did a fantastic job, had to charge us for the glove because it was ruined! There were many other incidents, too. The poop from hell she took that chased away the crew forcing us to go on a break was priceless!
Last question, and I know it’s pretty cliché but – if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring filmmakers what would it be?
Make movies as much as you can without going broke! Immerse yourself in all aspects of filmmaking, too. Study old movies, read about how movies are made, get experience (volunteer or otherwise), in every aspect of movie making from shooting, editing, line producing, raising finance, scripting, acting, to even directing. Once you’ve done it all, you can focus on what you like best with a really good understanding of all the moving parts. Though whatever you do, don’t try to work with a real live cat; especially, if she is possessed!
While finishing up this article, I got an email saying that “Hell’s Kitty” was released today. As of now it is available on Amazon Video, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, and a ton of other VOD services. Go find it and check it out!!
Actors and Others for Animals: http://www.actorsandothers.com