February 5, 2020 Interview – Sarah Giercksky
As the genre of Horror continues to evolve, a bright new wave of passionate talent is being brought to the forefront. Meet Sarah Giercksky: a gifted writer, producer, director, actress, and more, who began drafting screenplays at the tender age of twelve. This Swedish filmmaker recently delivered 2017’s Sargad (Wounded), alongside Director Andres R. Ramos, and now she’s back with the Horror-Comedy short Create Your Killer.
With February being Women in Horror Month, a time to celebrate the exceptional women involved in the genre, Cryptic Rock sat down with the multi-talented Giercksky to discuss her love of Horror, film-making, the delicious ‘80s influence in Create Your Killer, Michael Myers, and more.
Cryptic Rock – As anyone who follows you on social media knows, you love Horror movies. What was it that initially drew you to the genre?
Sarah Giercksky – I watched my first Horror movie when I was six, it was John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), and I was instantly fascinated. Growing up, I was always drawn to darker cartoons like Courage, and my favorite cartoon was about a grim reaper that appeared beside dying people’s beds. I like the adrenaline I get while watching these movies, the feeling of who will make it and who will not, seeing twisted stories and characters.
Cryptic Rock – A lot of us definitely love that adrenaline rush that comes with a great Horror flick. Now, at what point did you say to yourself, “Sarah, let’s make Horror films”?
Sarah Giercksky – I started writing scripts when I was twelve, and always knew I wanted to start making movies of my own at some point. It was when I made my feature film Sargad in 2016 that I truly knew that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Cryptic Rock – Sargad was a truly impressive first film, and we’ll talk more about that in a minute. You obviously eat, sleep, and breathe Horror, because besides making films you also have a YouTube channel where you review films and interview those involved in their creation. What inspired you and Jasmine Martinez to create Bitches of Horror?
Sarah Giercksky – Me and Jasmine became best friends because of our love for Horror movies, and it was Jasmine who came up with the idea to start a YouTube Channel. She said that it would be fun to film ourselves reviewing Horror movies since we always talk about them when we spend time together, so we did and it evolved from there. We also love indie Horror films, and one of our main reasons for continuing with the channel is to shine a light on as many indie projects as we can.
Cryptic Rock – That’s a great goal, actually. Indie Horror is really where it’s at right now—there are so many wonderful hidden treasures out there. As for the people behind Horror, is there someone that you and Jasmine haven’t had the opportunity to interview yet that you hope to speak with this year?
Sarah Giercksky – There are a lot of people we would love to interview. There are too many to name right now, but we are putting up our Women in Horror Month highlight right now on our Facebook and Instagram throughout February, and we were lucky to get in touch with a lot of talented women who we had wanted to interview for a long time.
Cryptic Rock – That will be a great feature to check out throughout February. Now, to get more into your film career, back in 2017 you wrote and starred in the previously mentioned Horror-Thriller Sargad. This film stands out to me as having been a revenge film that derives from sexual abuse but it never revels in that or exploits the abuse. It was handled with the utmost class, whereas similar American films go the exploitation angle. What inspired you when you were writing that screenplay and did you pause to consider how you should handle such a topic?
Sarah Giercksky – It is a very hard topic to tackle, and while writing the script I was always thinking how do I handle that specific part of the story? Do I want to show it or somehow take a different approach? I chose to take a different approach because I felt that the story would be equally strong without having to show such an explicit scene. I do love the rape/revenge sub-genre and respect the way my favorite films in this genre have presented the rape scenes, so I do not mean to disrespect anyone who chooses to show such an explicit scene, but I felt that my story benefited more from not showing it.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely agreed. Sometimes a more explicit take can work well in a particular film, yet at other times handling the subject matter more carefully allows the entire story to truly shine. That said, let’s discuss your current project: the Horror short Create Your Killer. What inspired this fun concept?
Sarah Giercksky – I have always written quite gruesome scripts and was in the mood to finally make a Horror Comedy. Something about a video game came up while trying to find what story to write, so I thought to myself, okay, I can make this work even if it’s a crazy idea.
Cryptic Rock – It’s crazy fun! There’s a bit of an ‘80s vibe to the film, and as we know, the ‘80s were the heyday for Horror. Was that an intentional influence to share with your audience?
Sarah Giercksky – Yes, it was very intentional because I wanted to pay homage to the Slasher movies that I grew up watching.
Cryptic Rock – That was a smart move and it works well. As it currently stands, Create Your Killer is a fun Horror short that is apt to gain a lot of people’s attention. But the million dollar question is: do you intend to make this into a feature-length film, and if so, how will you go about extending the plot to draw out the tension?
Sarah Giercksky – Of course, the idea has crossed my mind, and I already have the story line in place for a feature film. So, my plan is to write the script and take it from there, because I do believe it could be a fun feature film.
Cryptic Rock – We’re thrilled to hear that! That said, whether it be in film, novels, TV, etc., who is the ultimate fictional killer for you and why?
Sarah Giercksky – I have to say Michael Myers, just because he was the first fictional killer that I came in contact with at the age of six and he has influenced a lot of my work.
Cryptic Rock – Michael Myers is always an excellent choice. Now, what can you tell us about some of your other upcoming film projects?
Sarah Giercksky – Besides Horror, I have always loved the Comedy genre and I am currently producing a Comedy series called Attack of The B-Film, which I co-wrote and co-direct with Andres R. Ramos (who directed Sargad). I am also starring in it and it is about four film-making friends who create B-films in the Horror genre and have big dreams, but they soon realize that making movies is not as easy as they first thought it would be. We are currently filming the first season and hoping for it to come out very late this year.
Cryptic Rock – You and Andres make magic together, so we look forward to seeing that. That said, as we both know, Horror is a genre that has made great strides in its evolution recently. As a female writer, director and actor who focuses much of her work in the Horror genre, is it important to you to craft bold, intelligent female characters who are much more than just ‘scream queens’?
Sarah Giercksky – Yes, it is very important to me. Most of all I want the characters to feel real, like the character could be any of us; and we are all unique and capable of dealing and surviving horrible things, just like the characters in my films.
Cryptic Rock – Relatable characters often make the very best films, because we want to root for them. Just for kicks, if you could remake any classic Horror film, what film would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?
Sarah Giercksky – I would probably choose to remake one of the lesser known ‘80’s slasher films and probably have Kaitlin Olson, from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as my main character. It would be fun to see her tackle such a role and to see what she could bring to the table, and I would just love to work with her in some way.
Cryptic Rock – That would be an interesting match, for sure. Last question. Obviously you love the Horror genre, but are you also a fan of Sci-Fi? If so, what are some of your favorites films in either/both genres?
Sarah Giercksky – Yes, I am a fan of Sci-Fi movies, as well, and love such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Gravity (2013), District 9 (2009), Terminator 2 (1991), and The Mandalorian series, but there are so many more great movies in this genre.