Exclusive Interview: Jen and Sylvia Soska on Vendetta and My Head

Sylvia Soska didn’t recognize me when she walked into the office of the PR firm handling her new film, Vendetta. We know each other well through many Fantastic Fests and Screamfests, even a SummerSlam spent in the WWE VIP box. She hadn’t seen me since I shaved my head though. She’s seen me on Facebook and Twitter but it’s one thing to have a small avatar and another to be in her face.

Sylvia Soska and Paul "Big Show" Wight on the set of Vendetta

Sylvia Soska and Paul “Big Show” Wight on the set of Vendetta

When she realized it was me, she gave me a great big hug and said I should have been in Vendetta, the movie Sylvia and her sister Jen Soska directed. Dean Cain stars as a cop who gets himself thrown into prison with the killer (Paul “Big Show” Wight) who murdered his wife. Not only did the Twisted Twins love my new look, they said they wished they had cast me in the prison action movie. Vendetta, a WWE Studios film, is now available on VOD and digital formats and theaters.

Nerd Report: I was wondering if you would recognize me, because I put my new photo on Facebook and Twitter, but here it is in your face.

Sylvia Soska: I like the new look.

Jen Soska: It’s an awesome new look. It’s so Vendetta.

Sylvia Soska: It makes your eyes pop more too, the blue.

Nerd Report: Really?

Sylvia Soska: Yeah, because there’s less distraction.

Nerd Report: I hadn’t heard that yet.

Sylvia Soska: There you go. Did you ask many chicks yet?

Nerd Report: I don’t think I’ve asked anyone how I look. People offer their feedback.

Sylvia Soska: That’s always, when you change your look, people are like, “I have an opinion and I’m going to share it with you.”

Nerd Report: Not many people have touched it thought. That’s what I was hoping for, especially women wanting to rub it.

Sylvia Soska: Really? It’s because we’re Canadian, we’re too “Uh, should we?” I want to for luck. My movie comes out Friday, good luck.

Jen Soska: Oh, it’s so smooth. Is there a lot of upkeep.

Jen and Sylvia Soska with Dean Cain on the set of Vendetta

Jen and Sylvia Soska with Dean Cain on the set of Vendetta

Nerd Report: Every day if I want it to be fresh, but I could not shave tomorrow and still look presentable. If I’m just home working and not seeing anybody, I don’t bother.

Jen Soska: So you get five o’clock hair shadow. That’s cool.

Nerd Report: Yes, like Jason Statham.

Sylvia Soska: I like that.

Jen Soska: And it matches with the facial hair, so it’s all five o’clock shadow? That’s awesome.

Nerd Report: Yes, it’s an even all over shadow. So you think I should’ve been in Vendetta looking like this? What would I have played?

Sylvia Soska: You should’ve been in Vendetta. It’s too bad we didn’t shoot down in L.A., otherwise we could’ve just thrown a jumpsuit on you and murdered you.

Jen Soska: You might’ve lived.

Nerd Report: That’s it? Just a random murder victim?

Jen Soska: No, a special murder victim. It would be a horrible way to die.

Sylvia Soska: It was really fun killing people with Dean and Show. There are so many different ways to kill people in prison we found out, which eventually you get to do that for your job instead of seeming psychotic and getting flagged by the FBI for what your interests are? “How do you make weapons in prison?” No, it’s for a movie, I swear.

Nerd Report: I think they know now. I saw a documentary where they suspected someone of murder research. He was a writer for CSI.

Jen Soska: Oh, I’m sure I’m flagged too because every time we kill someone, I have to see what it looks like. So chainsaws going through people or throats being slit, because it needs to look real.

Nerd Report: Was there no role for Katie Isabelle in Vendetta? I guess Jocelyn was the only possibility.

Sylvia Soska: You know, it’s weird because I love making movies with Katie and I was even telling her, “This is going to be so weird, Katie, because this is one of the first movies hat we’re doing without you” but she’s got all of her stuff in Hannibal and then she’s doing that new Wes Craven produced movie The Girl in the Photographs. She’s going on in her direction and we’re going in our direction, but I’m hoping a one point when people see us apart long enough, they’ll be like, “I want to see you three together again” and we can have some kind of reunion.

Kyra Zagorsky and Dean Cain in Vendetta

Kyra Zagorsky and Dean Cain in Vendetta

Jen Soska: Oh yeah, absolutely. Kyra Zagorsky was amazing as Jocelyn. I don’t know if you watch Helix but she’s amazing. She’s a badass and it’s so hard. Jocelyn is in there just for a heartbeat and to create that relationship between the two of them that sets up the rest of the film is no easy feat. I think it’s a great job.

Sylvia Soska: She’s almost an ideal more than a character. A lot of these people, you get really into their soul but with Jocelyn you only get to know her so briefly. The only experience you have is through how Mason Danvers is looking at his wife and their little conversations. Then before anything gets too romantic or they get to go on with their life, something incredibly tragic happens. And we kinda like it that it comes out of nowhere because that’s how normal things happen in your life. No one gives you a call and says, “By the way, there’s going to be a seven foot giant waiting to beat the shit out of your wife at your hours.” It just kind of happens.

Jen Soska: That was the hardest for Paul because domestic violence, hitting a girl, that felt horrible to him. Hitting Dean felt great to him but hitting a girl, I remember Kyra was very supportive of him during that.

Sylvia Soska: The thing is, nobody in the cast was a bad person. They’re all really cool and responsible people. I mean, Big Show came directly from working at the Special Olympics and he’s working the Special Olympics right now. When he’s not wrestling, he’s granting Make a Wishes and he’s going overseas visiting the troops. So he’s so used to being against domestic violence and doing the right thing, so when he has to play someone like this, it makes him super uncomfortable.

Nerd Report: Is that the conundrum of revenge movies? We love seeing people get revenge on the bad guys, but that means we have to watch them suffer first and get punished in the beginning.

Jen Soska: Absolutely. That is the double edged sword about it all because if what happens isn’t terrible enough to motivate the violence that your protagonist does, there’s no point for the film. When Jocelyn is killed, oh my God, it’s so brutal. You see her face and it’s just smashed in and she’s pregnant, but if you don’t have something that horrible happen, it seems out of place for Mason to just throw his entire life around.

Sylvia Soska: It was a real treat working with Megan and Ryan Nicholson because they had so many beautiful gore prosthetics and different bruising and cut faces. It was a lot of fun to do. Actually, the day that we killed Jocelyn, one of our crew members walked off set and never returned because she was so upset by the violence in the film. While she was leaving, I was like, “Somebody get her over here so she can talk to me. I want to explain that this is horrible because it breaks this character’s heart and mind and soul so much that he does almost transform into this different character.” There’s a Mason at the beginning of the movie and then there’s a Mason at the end of the movie. I think ti’s just very difficult for people to look at that kind of thing. For us to put that kind of violence in a movie, it has to still affect us, and we’re so used to it it’s almost like we have to overdo it so it shakes us to the core.

Jen Soska: And you want to see Dean suffer before he comes up against Big Show. You need to see him down so you can really cheer when he’s up. Kind of like when we did “T is for Torture Porn.” Half of it is just treating Tristan [Risk] like sh*t and she’s one of our best friends. The other half is for revenge.

Nerd Report: Does each fight in Vendetta have a different personality?

Jen Soska: That’s a great question. I would say it does. Especially with the fights between Dean and Big Show. There’s a big fight at the beginning and there’s a few huge fights between them at the end. In between it’s just stewing and getting bigger and bigger.

Sylvia Soska: A lot of these fights, stunt coordinated Kimani Smith and fight coordinated by Dan Rizzuto, they take this weird life of their own. In a way, you see Dean Cain level up. It’s almost kind of like a video game. He starts at a certain level and he goes after these three guys. Let’s be honest, he doesn’t do really well when he first gets into prison. It’s not exactly like ninja cop goes to jail. It’s that an actual real cop goes to jail and he’s just really pissed off. What kind of fighting style does he have and how does he figure out and use his cop mentality to take these people down? The more you go through the movie, the more you see Victor Abbott’s psyche going into his style because it gets a lot more mean-spirited. First it’s boom, boom, I’m just taking care of business and then it almost seems like he’s enjoying the suffering.

Paul "Big Show" Wight and Dean Cain in Vendetta

Paul “Big Show” Wight and Dean Cain in Vendetta

Jen Soska: Especially with The Big Show’s fights, his fighting style is so unique, you can’t have two guys trading punches when one of them is The Big Show. When he became our Superstar, and we’re so happy to have him being huge Big Show fans, big love for The Big Show.

Sylvia Soska: Big love for Big Show.

Jen Soska: All of the fights had change. Everything is wrestling moves and a style of fighting called Jailhouse Rock so it’s a very real fighting style.

Nerd Report: They actually call it Jailhouse Rock?

Jen Soska: Yes, that’s what they called it.

Sylvia Soska: That’s what our coordinators called it. We called it Jailhouse Rock. Fast, quick, effective and messy as well.

Jen Soska: And dirty. Dirty fights.

Sylvia Soska: The thing is you block every hit, you move and land every hit? No, that’s not how it actually goes in prison. It’s frantic. It’s angry. It’s messy.

Nerd Report: So movie people call it Jailhouse Rock. It doesn’t come from real prisons?

Jen Soska: As far as I know, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a fighting style like Drunken Master.

Sylvia Soska: Let’s hope a lot of people in correctional facilities see Vendetta and feel inspired.

Jen Soska: Start making shivs.

Dean Cain with makeshift prison brass knuckles in Vendetta

Dean Cain with makeshift prison brass knuckles in Vendetta

Sylvia Soska: Making their own personal brass knuckles. I see a lot of people getting taken off laundry duty.

Jen Soska: That’s our shout out to Wolverine. We wanted to give him some and a cool weapon that you haven’t seen because in an action movie, you need big fights. You need a trademark weapon, like one iconic hero weapon. You need a transformation for the character and you need catch phrases.

Sylvia Soska: “See you soon.”

Jen Soska: “Wrong f***in’ answer.”

Sylvia Soska: “Leaving so soon? But you just got here.”

Jen Soska: “Message received.”

Nerd Report: I have a post production question. What are the punching sounds that we hear in every movie?

Jen Soska: I think they all come from this treasure chest that Robert Rodriguez have somewhere because his punches and his hits are just so big and powerful. We had an amazing sound team, the team that won the Oscar for Whiplash did our sound design.

Sylvia Soska: Ben Wilkins and Craig Mann. It was amazing. They were actually doing the sound on Vendetta while they were putting their Oscar package together. They were nervous and I was like, “Dudes, you did the sound for Whiplash? What’s going to beat you? What else is musically driven? You guys killed that.”

Nerd Report: I think VOD is a really good place to be because you can do more experimental and risky things. Would a wide release film that has to be mainstream enough to go into thousands of theaters be in the cars for you?

Jen and Sylvia Soska on the set of Vendetta

Jen and Sylvia Soska on the set of Vendetta

Jen Soska: I think absolutely there are going to be wide releases. I think to release an action film on the same day as Jurassic World and also on VOD the same day that Orange is the New Black comes out, I think we need to build up a name for Vendetta for the franchise before we hit it in theaters. Do I think it would’ve been successful in theaters? Absolutely. I think American Mary would’ve been hugely successful in theaters, and Dead Hooker in a Trunk for that matter. I believe our next one, Plastic, is going to have a wide theatrical.

Sylvia Soska: Which is exciting and terrifying but we’ve been so lucky with these opportunities.

Jen Soska: I love the theatrical and VOD release at the same time so the theater goers can go and the homebody can home and body.

Nerd Report: Have you also discovered that social media is a real job and you need to take a break from it to do your other job.

Jen Soska: Social media has always been a job for us. We came up when MySpace was starting and Facebook was just starting out. I think we figured out how to use it as a marketing tool faster and more efficiently than some people have. It’s such a big thing for studios when they are hiring cast or crew, even directors. They look at what their social media standing is and how many followers they have on Twitter and how active they are. If they don’t have that kind of activity, people overlook them. There are actors that I’ve wanted and I’ve had to choose somebody that promotes themselves and their work a little bit more.

Sylvia Soska: You will always put more into your career than any other support ever will. If you really know how to utilize Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, all the social medias, you can have that connection directly with your fan base. That’s what we like doing, talking to people. If we’re doing something, we’re like, “Hey guys, we’re doing something.” It gets kind of obnoxious because we can’t tell everybody what we’re doing now. We have very scary contracts.

Jen Soska: We do definitely have to pull back when we’re in production because our production days are 16 hour days. Maybe we’ll put in a few tweets like, “Guys, I’m still alive. Here’s a picture.”

Nerd Report: But not just during production. You have to set a limit normally too.

Jen Soska: Oh, once we go on everybody’s on there like, “Oh, the twins are on, let’s talk to them.” I try to talk to everybody but you know I can’t talk to everybody.

Sylvia Soska: Yeah, but I don’t think we’ll ever completely pull back. It’s really exciting for us. Even a day that we’re not working at all, we give at least two hours to getting back to everybody online. Otherwise, I’ve taken two weeks away from it and it doesn’t even tally up how many messages I have. 99+ on everything and over 1000 messages in my gmail.

Jen Soska: That’s why there’s two of you.

Nerd Report: So you’re doing Plastic before Painkiller Jane?

Jen Soska: Well, Painkiller Jane is a huge beast so it takes a long time to go. It’s not that Jane hasn’t been going. We really do need the right actress that can dedicate that amount of time and also go through that physical transformation. I think we’ve been pretty vocal saying we want a girl to Chris Pratt or Ryan Reynolds herself.

Sylvia Soska: You have to believe that she’s Jane and this is the third incarnation of Jane. It’s a hard R and none of us want to budge on that R so we have to build up the right foundation because we can’t go into somebody who’s like, “Oh, I love this but let’s change everything.”

Jen Soska: It’s tough to do a superhero movie with an R rating because even Punisher is PG-13 and all he does is kill people. That’s his thing.

Sylvia Soska: What I’d love to see is Marvel do a Marvel Max edition of their films, just like they do the comics. Just do smaller movies for the adult crowd.

Nerd Report: They tried in a half assed way. They dumped Punisher: War Zone and said, “Look, it didn’t do well so we won’t do that again.”

Jen Soska: That’s not fair.

Sylvia Soska: But they released it at Christmastime. They sent it out to be destroyed.

Jen Soska: They just buried it. That’s not fair. That’s like when they say the Catwoman movie wasn’t good so there’s no interest in seeing a female helmed superhero movie. No, a good one everyone wants to see.

Nerd Report: It still has to be good. So what is Plastic?

Jen Soska: It’s Frank Strausser’s original idea and he’s an amazing writer and playwright and novelist. He has a novel of the same name, but it’s a very medical themed but non horror movie, non action movie. It’s a crime thriller.

Sylvia Soska: It’s completely different from what anyone’s seen from us and I’m so lucky that this script went into my hands. I remember sitting with Frank and Scott Stone, the producer, and I said, “I really want this movie, so if you’re seeing anyone else and meeting with other directors, you let me know because I will take it personally if I don’t get this job.” So now I have to deliver a really good film for them.

Nerd Report: Do you like what you see from Deadpool so far?

Jen Soska: I didn’t want to because I wanted to do it but I love everything I see on Deadpool. I wish so badly we could’ve cameoed in it as twins. I just wanted to go and stand on the side of the road and watch it, but from my spies on set, apparently Ryan Reynolds has been doing a lot of ad libbing and it’s lines directly from the comic book, of the adult nature so I’m stoked.

Sylvia Soska: And the stunt coordinator for Daredevil is the one doing the coordinating for Deadpool so it’s just going to be nuts. Plus, it’s in Vancouver which makes it perfect.

Jen Soska: And Daredevil was amazing.

Nerd Report: And now The Punisher is going to be on season two.

Jen Soska: I’m so excited. I hope I’m going to be directing one of those episode. I keep trying for it.

Sylvia Soska: I love The Punisher.

Nerd Report: You should direct television episodes.

Jen Soska: I love that and there are so many TV shows I’d love to direct on. We’re still pushing Bob forward, our monster movie. One day when somebody’s not afraid of doing something original.

Sylvia Soska: I think we have enough power right now just to do it on our own and then see what happens after we’re done. Waiting for permission takes forever.

Jen Soska: Just like with Mary, I think we just throw in a couple actor buddies and go for it.