Q&A with Adam Ciolfi, Director of “Filth”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
The Frankenstein monster. I’ve always had an affinity for Boris Karloff’s portrayal of the monster. In many ways the main character from FILTH is my interpretation of him ramped up to an extreme level.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I’m not sure it was a bad idea but my initial idea for FILTH had the whole story taking place in a garbage bin. That’s where I first came up with the title and the characters. I really liked the concept but I could never figure out an interesting way to tell that story but I kept at it for several months. The second I abandoned the trash bin concept the whole thing came together. It’s so hard to know what will work until you actually start making it. I’m still holding onto that trash bin idea.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I do but I often feel like the weird uncle no on talks to. Because I work alone and my projects usually take around 2 years to complete I end up spending a lot of time alone, only surfacing when I have a finished project. A few months of screenings then its right back to the basement.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
Being that I work in stop motion, every one of my films requires its own unique world building. FILTH was largely inspired by the film noirs of the 1940’s so there are a lot of places to get visual cues, both from the past and the present. Even just walking home at night and looking down an alley. I may not build the alley exactly as it appears in reality but those skids over there are stalked in an interesting way or that graffiti is really intense so I’ll take what I like and leave the rest. My next film is a western so these days I find myself constantly researching, looking at images of old western ghost towns.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
I would probably die quickly and horribly. The world of FILTH is definitely not one that I could navigate.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
I have to go to the classics; The Frankenstein monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, Dracula and the Invisible Man.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

How do you go about creating the puppets for your films?
The puppets, depending on their design can be rather complex. I machine all the ball and socket armatures out of metal which is quite an involved process. They are then covered in clay and sculpted to look like whatever it is I have in mind. Molds of the final sculptures are made using plaster and the models are then covered in a foam rubber skin. Lastly they are painted and then finally ready to animate. It usually takes me about 6 weeks to build a puppet from start to finish.

And what about the sets and props?
My sets are basically wood, foam core, styrofoam, balsa, paint, glue, spit and baling wire; very basic materials you can find at any hardware or craft store. Props are usually a little more work. Sometimes I can quickly make things up with dollar store supplies but not always. For my new film I needed a saddle. You’re not going to find a miniature saddle anywhere so in cases like that I have to sculpt the prop, make a mold and cast the finished object in rubber or plastic.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
I wouldn’t say that what scares me informs my filmmaking, at least not on a conscience level. The stories I chose to tell often come to me in random fragments and I do my best to organize those disjointed thoughts into a coherent story. Now, why those thoughts come to me in the first place … that’s another matter.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
That is such a hard question to answer since I have so many favourites from different eras. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is up there. I can always watch Alien. I was pleasantly surprised by the Evil Dead remake. I love the inspired lunacy of Evil Dead II and also on the lighter side, What We Do in the Shadows and I was not expecting to enjoy Train to Busan as much as I did. But if I had to choose one film to take to the grave it would probably be John Carpenter’s The Thing.