Vivisections Horror Shorts: 5 Questions with Dave Wade and Izzy Lee

Yesterday we brought you interviews with directors Jörg Buttgereit, Can Evrenol, and Julian Yuri Rodriguez in conjunction with this Sunday’s Vivisections screening. Today’s featured directors are Dave Wade (Cropped) and Izzy Lee (Legitimate).

Vivisections International Horror Shorts screens at the PhilaMOCA on Sunday 9/22 at 7:30pm (doors open at 7). Admission is $8. For more info visit:


Dave Wade (Cropped):

What was the genesis of your film Cropped?

DW: I used to collect Fangoria magazine religiously as a youngster, and in one issue, there was a photo of SFX Maestro Rob Bottin holding a severed head. From that day I always wanted my own severed head to play with. Once I started making films I figured it was time to have one. So thats where it started. What made it even better was that it’s actually my head featured in the film.

Your films are best described as comedies with horror elements, a difficult feat to pull off. What is your approach to balancing the humor with the more macabre stuff? 

DW: I try to keep as much of the real world in my films as possible. That way there is a relatability for the audiences. Then I kinda mess things up a little and put the the fantastical inside that real world. I think it’s important that audiences have some kind of connection with the story and characters… then I push that as far as possible.

You make fairly demented films, yet have been able to secure government funding. Describe that process.

DW: To be honest (and I hope they don’t read this) there is a massive element of bullshit that needs to be spun. Generally speaking, I write my scripts with no ‘social commentary’ involved. Once that is done I try to find something that could potentially have some kind of importance. If I can’t – I make up a shitload of lies and tell them really well. Before me, no comedies had been funded by the governing bodies, but I was able to piss in their ears a little and tell them what they wanted to hear. It works! I recommend it!

You recently finished production on your new short Welcome to Iron Knob. What can you tell us about it and any other projects in the works?

DW: WtIK isn’t as messed up as my previous work. It could and should have been but some outside influences tamed it down a lot. Money has power unfortunately. It’s a story of how a young boy accidentally shoots a stranger in town, and how the town plots to cover it up. From here, I am actually developing 2 features. One is a low budget horror. Without revealing too much it could probably be compared to as the “Cocoon of horrors”. It’s time old people got freaky on us! The other is my passion project. It’s super ambitious and seriously messed up. Not so much in its violence (though there’s plenty), but in its theme and its quest. It’s quite confronting and it’s a topic that has never been done before. It’s a seriously messed up pitch black comedy, and that’s all I’m prepared to share…. for now…


IZZY LEE (Legitimate):

You got your start as a film journalist and festival programmer. What made you finally decide to take the leap into making films yourself? 

IL: I got really pissed off. A year ago, Legitimate was written in response to a perfect storm of douchery, on the part of the very religious and very ignorant. Representative Todd Akin pronounced something concerning women’s bodies and science that he doesn’t have a clue about: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the body has a way of shutting that whole thing down.” Really? Because I would love for that shit to actually happen. This guy is so far removed from reality that it’s embarrassing and horrific, all at once. His brethren have not stopped being ridiculous on the topic of rape and reproduction—or women’s rights, of course. It astounds me to think that this is 2013. It’s frightening in a way I can’t put into words.

Combined with the fury that rose up in my response to that…statement, I also saw a bunch of local Boston performers in a burlesque show at a Mexican restaurant, no less! Included with these ladies was someone I always found intriguing, Karin Webb. She’s a teacher, a performer, an actress… the list goes on. But on that night, she performed the rope dance that you see in the film. She was scary, entrancing, and seductive. Every time she shimmied out of one binding, she would glide across the floor and hand the end of the next rope to somebody else. I was one of those people. I was mesmerized by her presence. I’d seen her around town, performing for years, namely in The Slutcracker, an annual, bawdy take on the The Nutcracker, but this dance was special. She wouldn’t leave my brain. That night, mixed with the sensual delight and anger I had brewing within me, I wrote Legitimate, exactly as you see it on-screen.

How long did the film take from conception to completion? 

IL: I wrote it in September, gathered cast and crew from October through December, sourced the music and planned production in January, and we shot it in two days on the first weekend in February. The last and final cut was completed in April of 2013. Seven months, on and off, total.

Legitimate has a great sense of style which you achieved on an extremely low budget with a bare-bones crew. Describe your working relationship with DP/editor Bryan McKay. 

IL: Thanks. I have always loved the visual elements of old-school Italian horror films/giallo—notably Mario Bava’s works. Early Argento, too. Such beauty in the face of violence. Color has always captured my interest, and I know I’m not alone on that. Those films are highly stylized in terms of lighting and color. They stand out, and work in their own parallel universe. Bryan was, and still is, a programmer (and artistic director) along with me when I was programming at the Boston Underground Film Festival. I completely forgot he was an Emerson grad until he made a few music videos and a Twin Peaks inspired video, in particular. It was a no-brainer to ask him to shoot and edit my first piece of “film.” Bryan and I are pretty collaborative. He has both a DSLR and technical skills where I don’t. We complement each other. I cobbled together the cast and the rest of the crew, and borrowed lights from Wicked Bird Media, who’s following me for a documentary. (Editor’s note: more on them below).

What was your approach to creating the special creature effects for the film? 

IL: Luckily, I was an artist far before I ever dreamed of becoming a filmmaker. At first, I asked an effects guy based in Rhode Island for an estimate. He got back to me a month later and gave me a ridiculous sum for a short, no budget film. I consulted a friend online—Sebastien Montpetit of In-Vitro Effects in Montreal for guidance. Since I had never done any FX before, he gave me tips and answered my questions. I built an armature, sculpted a creature, and made a latex puppet. It was a lot of work and contributed to headaches and general muscle pains. I’m hoping to hire a professional next time.

Any projects we can look forward to seeing from you in the near future?

IL: Lots. I’m part of Something Wicked This Way Comes, a documentary on the New England horror film and industry in production. I have the distinction and honor of being the only female filmmaker being followed. As far as my own projects, I have a grim short I wrote called Picket, which is based on the actions of a real hate group and cult, whom I’m not going to name, because they exist to sue people. There’s also a short comedy, Gaypocalypse, for which I’ve already shot one scene. That’s about an uptight, far-right couple who attend a community meeting—only they find that the group is made up of unexpected participants. My friend Mike Snoonian, another writer and programmer, also wrote a black comedic short script entitled Something A Little More Comfortable, about a clown. I hate, hate, HATE fucking clowns. And I’m directing this one, so I’m hoping this will help me get over that partial phobia… I’m hoping to direct a project written by another friend and programmer, Chis Hallock, as well. Finally, in a year or two, I’ll be co-writing and co-directing a brutal neo-giallo with my friend and fellow female horror filmmaker, Maude Michaud. I’m hoping to be able to raise a real budget with that. You can keep up with me at

Author: Matt Garrett

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