Exploring International Horror with Manoush - December 2009
Interview by: Preston


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For those who are unfamiliar with you and your work Manoush, why don't you give a small introduction about yourself.
First of all, “Hi Preston and another big hello to everyone who’ll read this interview.”

Ok – my name is Manoush, I am an actress, working in independent movies as well as doing TV and sometimes cinema work. I was born and raised in Europe, my mom is a Lovara and Sinte Tribe Gypsy and my dad was German-American. I live in New York now, married to American musician Chris Vazquez. Hmmm…What else can I tell about myself… I think that pretty much sums it up.

You've been doing music for awhile now, longer than acting. Have you had time to continue with making music from all of the films you've worked on as of late or did it have to be put on the back burner for awhile?
I’m not doing much music anymore; music became more of a sporadical thing for me for various reasons. First of all, I’ve always had problems with my vocal

chords since I had a car accident in the 80’s that severely injured my throat and things didn’t really get better over the years. Second, I don’t really find the time to do music on a regular basis anymore. Not such a big loss though, I’ve never been a good singer as you can hear in my songs. Besides I hardly hit more than three different tones. When I record new songs now it’s mainly songs that we use in movie soundtracks. I do still write lyrics though.

You were doing music before you started doing movies, what made you go from music to movies?
Quite frankly my early musical work had been more infamous for the lyrics than successful in sales, especially old songs from the early 90’s like “Cop Killah” and “Mutilated” for example – so that was what dragged people to our shows way back then. It wasn’t really satisfying that way but that’s how it was. So in 1997 I played a show in Europe and right after the show a man to me, introduced himself as a filmmaker and asked me if I wanted to be in one of his movies. At first I thought he wasn’t serious but he left me a screenplay and I read it one night like a week later and called him in the middle of the night to tell him that I was going to do it. And that’s how it all began. Very much a beginner’s thing on his side as well as on mine and the two movies I made with him were dreadful. But someone must have seen at least one of them because offers just kept coming in. I was happy though because I always wanted to be an actress since I was a child.

So you always wanted to be in acting even before you got your break?
Oh yes, I always wanted to be an actress since I was a child. I was allowed to watch horror movies on TV when I was really young and I was fascinated by them. I wanted to be an actress ever since. I mean I liked many kinds of movies and thought acting was the greatest job on earth but the genre that I loved the most has always been horror. Of course way back then I had no idea how to become an actress but everything fell into place – literally.

What was the transition like going from music to movies? Was it hard or do you feel it was pretty easy for you to get into?
It didn’t really feel like a transition, there was nothing special or spectacular about it either. I just went from music into acting like you change rooms in a house by just walking from one room into another. But I was really lucky too; people seemed to want to work with me. As I said, offers just kept coming in; there weren’t many efforts from my side to get new roles. It just happened and I was very thankful that it did, I am still very thankful for all the chances I was given and am being given still. I’ve never taken anything for granted.


You're one of the few horror actresses that have an international filmography. How does it feel or rather how do you feel about being able to act in both US and European horror movies?
It’s great, simply great. There are so many great filmmakers in Europe as well as in the USA, in Canada, and the rest of the world and I am very happy to be able to work internationally. Talent is not a question of the country you live in nor is passion for making movies. You can find great filmmakers everywhere in the world. I am very thankful for having my name become known internationally and for being able to work in many countries and with many different people. I wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity. The only thing I really hate about it is jet lags. Jet lags are awful but they are still nothing compared to the chance of working with all these great filmmakers.

In terms of working, do prefer one country over the other?
No, absolutely not. I don’t think in categories like, “This country X or this country Y.” My passion is to make movies and to be creative together with other passionate and creative people. Passion and creativity don’t know borders or other geographical boundaries.


Do you find that the work ethic or the filmmaking environment to be different from the US to Europe?
The ethics? No – definitely not. Work ethics are the same no matter where you work on a movie. But yes, the environments can be very different depending on where you work and what possibilities you and the others have in a certain environment. But in the end, all that doesn’t really matter. All that counts are creativity and passion.

You've also done some TV work as well. What was it like doing a TV episode compared to a movie?
I always found TV work to be kind of “sterile”. I always got a feeling like they were not really interested in the final product other than getting it done. TV work always felt like working on an assembly line and of course, since it’s something for TV, creativity and possibilities are quite limited – there didn’t seem to be much “heart and soul” in it which I found to be rather sad. You never have an opportunity to go “one step further” to contribute even more to the project which is something that you do have in independent film. Of course you are giving your best as you do in every job that you get in a production but your possibilities are quite restricted in TV work. I found TV work to be quite frustrating sometimes, knowing you could have made so much more to make your character great and fill it with so much more “life” but weren’t allowed to. I turned down a lot of TV work in the past three years and rather did feature films instead, where giving your character “life” and “personality” is not only welcome but expected. I think bringing TV work and work on feature films to the point would be saying: “In TV production you just play your character while in feature films you can be your character.”

In your filmography you're credited as doing stuntwork. What were some of the stunts you did, and why did you do them yourself instead of having a stunt double?
I’ve always done all my fight scenes and falls etc. myself. I wanted to. It was part of my role, part of my work, part of the whole process so I did it myself rather than having someone else do it for me. It was really cool and some kind of thrill to do it myself, besides I always found it to be more honest towards the viewers. If you can do things yourself then do it and don’t have other do your work. Of course I had several injuries over the years, you can’t really avoid it, there is always some risk left but it was ok. It was worth it. For example, in “Barricade” there was a fight scene between Andre Reissig and myself in the house owned by the cannibal family. Andre was supposed to run into my stomach, lift me up and throw me over a sofa while trying to escape and save his own life. Now the floor was “flooded” with blood and Andre slipped and ran right into my rib cage. I was out cold for a couple of seconds and spent the rest of that afternoon in the hospital getting examined. Fortunately I had no broken ribs but really bad bruises and another bad injury with a muscle. But hey, the scene looks really good. Shit like that shouldn’t happen of course but sometimes it does – You can’t always calculate all risk. By the way, the scenes where Andre Reissig and I fall down a steep hill fighting were performed by us too. It was badass and it looks badass. Really cool – we loved it when we saw the results. Another cool scene I did was with Joe Davison in “Fearmakers” where we ran through a wall and everything around us started crashing down. We came up with the idea ourselves and wanted to do it, although we know it could be dangerous – but it worked – it looks cool and we didn’t get hurt.

You're kind of a Jack of All Trades with the movie making process, since you have also done some of the special effects work. How has it been working on the SPFX for some of the movies?
Well I didn’t really do much of the work. It was more a process of being taught how to do it. Olaf Ittenbach showed me how to do it and supervised me doing some of the easier stuff. I was an assistant, nothing more for the simple reason that I am a beginner when it comes to Special FX. I mean I can do some FX now but it’s nothing really big – I’m still learning and I had and still have great teachers so one day I might be really good at it.


Are special effects something you wish to continue working on and pursue even further?

Yeah I would love to learn more about Special FX work. It’s really interesting and it makes you proud to see the final result on film. But until I am a real good Special FX person it’ll be a long way to go still. But once I learned enough to be really good I would love to do more Special FX work. That would take many years though – just look at Special FX artists like Marcus Koch or Olaf Ittenbach, these guys are fantastic. I doubt I’ll ever even come close to their talents and abilities, they are really gifted. I am really happy that I can be an assistant for some of the great Special FX guys.

Speaking of the various aspects of filmmaking that you're apart of, you were a co-producer on the films "La Petite Mort" and "Necronos", and I know you've been doing what you can to try and get distribution for these movies over in the US. What's it been like trying to get distribution companies to look at these movies and how hard is it been?
You know finding distribution for indie movies has never really been easy but it got even harder since the economy is down and it’s also not easy to find honest distributors that you would want to work with. We do have a couple of offers for “La Petite Mort” now but I really have to read into the conditions of these contracts before we can decide anything. Same will go for “Necronos” once the movie is finished – we do have a good product here but a good product is not enough – you also have to get a good deal when you sell your product and I’d rather not sell it to every country than getting a shitty deal for good quality work. You can always do the marketing yourself via Amazon rather than accepting a shitty deal.

Do you think because the extreme content of both movies it will make it hard to find someone willing to release them in an uncut state?
Well countries that have restrictions with these kinds of movies will force distributors to cut certain scenes but we all know that. Now does the content of movies like “La Petite Mort” and “Necronos” make it more difficult to sell them? No – absolutely not. Especially not in the USA – we’ve never had any problems getting movies out uncut here, same goes for Asia. Europe is a bit more difficult, well in some countries it is but then the European market is open and fans can always order their uncut copies from Austrian distributors, for example. It all got much easier since the inner European borders are open for all kinds of trades now.

You've done acting, special effects, stunts, produced, and contributed music to some of the movies you've worked on. Is there any other part filmmaking that you want to tackle next, like directing or writing?
Well I do some writing sometimes, like writing ideas down or writing scenes but then I’m not really a writer and I never really wanted to. I leave that job to those who are really talented and I just get involved as a co-writer or something in that manner sometimes. Oh yes, and if I have an idea myself I rather sit down with a real writer and do the job with him, Like I’m giving him my ideas and he writes the story…And directing. Nooooooooo. That’s not for me. haha! I doubt I had any talent to do it anyways.

Looking through your filmography, most of the films you've worked on are considered to be independent and underground type of films. Are you yourself more of a fan of these types of movies compared to the more mainstream titles?
I don’t limit myself and my interests to certain kinds of movies. I like mainstream movies as much as I like independent work. A good movie is a good movie no matter if a big studio made it on a million dollar budget or an indie filmmaker made it on a small budget. If it’s good it’s good – and let’s be honest, one doesn’t necessarily need a big budget to make a good movie.


Do you wish to work on a mainstream horror film?

Of course I would love to do that – as much as I would love to work on more independent movies. As I said, it doesn’t matter to me whether a movie is mainstream or indie as long as it’s good. The only real advantage of mainstream work is that you get paid better and that you’ll most likely reach a bigger audience. But the “fame” part I don’t care for too much anyway, I love my job and that’s what really counts. I don’t need to be the center of interest as a person. What really counts is the performance and not the person behind it.

What are some of the future projects that you have in the pipeline that you can share with us?
I’m currently working on Hallows Eve Films’ (“The Turnpike Killer”) new movie titled “The Super” and surprise, surprise I play an evil and deranged character in that one. Then my friend Megan Sacco has a movie called

“Cutz” where I am suppose to play the role of a psychologist. In March we’ll start Marcel Walz’ new movie “Avantgarde”, then starting in April, Brandon Slagle’s new movie “15 Till Midnight”, and in the summer we’ll shoot Damian Price’s remake of the 80’s classic “Lunchmeat”…Oh yes, not to forget “La Petite Mort 2: Deformation Professionelle”, which we are supposed to shoot later in the year of 2010. I am very happy to be apart of these movies. I just love to work and I hope to do more movies in 2010. Well we’ll see what else is coming in.

I know you don’t like to brag about people you know and do name-dropping, but are there any directors, actors, and actresses that you know and would like to work with but haven’t had the chance?
Hmmm… I think I just wait and see what new offers I am going to receive. I don’t like to plan things in advance; I rather wait for the opportunities and offers that the business brings me. Of course there are some people in the business that I would love to work with but I’ll leave it up to “destiny” whether it will happen or not. Life has treated me well over the years so chances are good.

For a couple of fun questions; earlier you mentioned growing up on horror movies, what were some of your favorites growing up?
I grew up mainly with the old Hammer Studio movies and I still love them. They have a very special atmosphere to them which seems to have gotten lost with modern movies. Later then, when I was a teenager I was very much into George A. Romero’s movies as well as into “Phantasm”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, and John Carpenters work. Oh yes and let’s not forget the “Hellraiser” series.

Any movies out now that you've really enjoyed or think folks should check out?
I saw “Trunk” recently and I thought it was a great movie, very well made and very well acted. Same goes for Stacy Davidson’s “Sweatshop”. Ted Geoghegan had sent me a copy and hell that movie is wicked – no wonder people created such a hype around it…It’s really really good, a fine piece of independent film making…And last but not least “I Sell The Dead”…You really missed something if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s a great movie with an almost Hammer Studios like atmosphere. I highly recommend watching it.

Lastly, looking at your wide range of involvement in the filmmaking process, any words of advice you'd like to give people who are looking into getting into acting or want to make their own movies?
I think the most honest answer to this question is that there is no general advice that one could give. Everyone’s way into the film business is a very individual one and everyone who wants to do this will have to find they’re own very individual way into the business. Oh wait, one little piece of advice I can definitely give: if making movies is what you love and what you want to do then go for it. Do it. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

Well I think that about wraps it up for us, Manoush, thank you again for your time and agreeing to do this interview. Anything you would like to add or say?
Oh yes. Thank you to everyone who believed and still believes in me and big thank you to the horror fans and horror press out there. I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I’ve gotten without you guys and your support. And last but not least thank you so much for having me, Preston!

More info on Manoush can be found on IMDb.




 

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