Joanna Tsanis

Joanna Tsanis is an award-winning genre filmmaker and producer. Her films have screened at festivals worldwide including SITGES, FANTASIA, FANTASTIC FEST, and FRIGHTFEST. Her work has been featured in various horror publications such as Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and Pop Horror.

Alter Films


Q & A

Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

I definitely relate to Ash in Evil Dead II when he starts laughing maniacally at all the inanimate objects in the cabin and then shoots at the front door with a shot gun.

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?

Most of my bad ideas have to do with technology ‘gone bad’, like a haunted TV remote, a haunted video game, a haunted fridge, etc. Honestly, I have trouble giving up on bad ideas – I would rather build on them or even reframe them as ‘fun’ or ‘campy’ ideas. I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes a little bad can be good.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Yes, I have drop-kicked my way into the community with my directorial debut Imagine a World and plan to keep making weird and wild films. Indie horror has the most dynamic, groundbreaking and badass community. When showing Imagine a World at festivals, I had the pleasure of connecting with many super talented filmmakers and got to watch all of their wonderful, demented films.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

Usually it comes from small grievances in day to day life. For example, with Imagine a World, I was inspired by the oligopolistic nightmare that is Canada’s telecommunications and internet providers. Every Canadian I know (I’m Canadian) feels frustrated and hopeless with their internet options – and inevitably feel like they get ‘forced’ into buying a plan. This is what inspired the plot of Imagine a World where an internet salesman literally won’t take no for an answer.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

I would 100% concede and buy the internet like everyone else I know does every goddam day of their lives.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Just a bunch of dolls and toys. Like The Puppet from Puppet Killer, Chucky and then that Jigsaw doll but make him sentient. We’d move around undetected. Things would get real spooky and sneaky, and also SO CUTE.

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

Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. 100% Pre Apocalypse.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

At the moment, all the doomsday talk of automation and A.I superintelligence scares me quite a bit… but I think this fear should inspire all artists to keep creating truly unique content. Robots are amoral and obsessed with fulfilling their programmed goals. They can already write, but in terms of achieving abstract creativity… it’s a long road. So as long as the horror community stays weird and unique, we will always be a step ahead of these f#ckers ;)

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’

This is such a difficult question and honestly changes every day. Favourite 2010s horror would be: Revenge (2017 / Coralie Fargeat), Mandy (2018 / Panos Cosmatos), and Kill List (2011 / Ben Wheatley) or The Babadook (2014 / Jennifer Kent) 2000s and 90s: I’d say: Candy Man (1992 / Bernard Rose), Audition (1999 / Takashi Miike), and American Psycho (2000 / Mary Harron) For 80s horrors: Re-animator (1985), The Thing (1982), and Evil Dead (1981) or The Shining (1980) or The Fly (1986) Favourite Canadian horror: Level 16 (2019 / Danishka Esterhazy), Puppet Killer (2019 / Lisa Ovies), and Black Christmas (1974 / Bob Clark).