After some high-profile DVD releases, Danish film-maker Kasper Juhl seems to be finally getting some of the recognition he deserves. In this interview, I was able to address some of his stunning and challenging work and receive some information on his ambitions and working methods.
TM: Hi, Kasper! First of all, thanks for agreeing to do the interview. Could you introduce yourself and your work, for those who don't know you already?
KJ: Hi there! Well, my name is Kasper Juhl, I’m 24 years old and I live in Denmark, Scandinavia. I’m currently working on my 5th independent horror feature film and besides that I’ve done several short films. Filmmaking is my life.
TM: For how long have you been directing movies and what made you start?
KJ: I got serious with filmmaking around 2010-2011, where I made my first 40-minute short film called “Make Them Suffer”. I did several (very bad) short films before making MTS, but when I began to study film in the last years in school, I decided to begin filming again. At that time I was introduced to the underground-horror-environment, where I learned that nothing should hold be back from making films myself. So I just kept on making films and throughout the years it became more serious.
TM: Do you do everything by yourself or do you have a team to help you shoot?
KJ: In the beginning it was only myself doing everything and all actors where friends. Now (when I work in a more professional way) I have a small team I always work with. My latest feature film “A God Without A Universe” is produced by my girlfriend Michelle Brøndum, who will also be the producer on some of my future projects. I have always used my close friend Anders Norddal for sound and sound-design.
TM: Your new film is entitled „Your Flesh, Your Curse“. What can you say about it?
KJ: The film will be a stunning visual horror journey and a continuation of my previous film “Madness of Many”. It will be a very extreme horror film with a lot of beauty to it. It will be a very philosophical movie and it will be the best film I’ve ever done. Even the visuals will be some of the best I’ve seen in an independent horror film. I’m very excited by this film and I can’t wait to release it in 2016.
TM: You used crowdfunding to get the money to produce the film. Why did you choose to do so? Did it work out well?
KJ: I choose crowdfunding because it’s a very good way to involve the fans. And as a movie-collector and horror fanatic myself, I saw it as a very good way to let people purchase rare items, screen-used props, signed DVD’s and more. Your film is nothing without an audience, so it’s very important for me to know, that there’s people out there who support my work. The campaign did very well and it got 151% funded.
TM: Troubled relationships, emotions and philosophical aspects seem to play a large role in your work. Why do you think these complex themes fit together with extreme underground cinema? Do you think it's a match that comes naturally or do you see it as an experimental mixture?
KJ: It is an experimental mixture from my site. I am trying to mix philosophical aspects and stories about troubled youth, relationships and people (you could call that drama) together with horror. And in some ways it comes very natural, as I believe the horror genre is a good place to show strong emotions and true feelings. This mixture is more visible in my soon-to-be-released feature film “A God Without A Universe”, as I like to call the film a social realistic horror-drama with body-horror elements.
TM: Are a lot of the scenarios based in real life? Especially some monologues in „Madness of Many“ seem extremely personal.
KJ: I have always tried to find the meaning behind suffering and chaos in life. I wanted to explore that in a horror film, so that is how MOM came along. All the monologues are inspired by my thoughts and how I think the universe works. So yes, it’s very personal as this is what I believe. It’s very similar to the fiction of Danish author Martinus Thomsen, who have written hundreds of books of how the universe works.
TM: „Madness of Many“ seems to end on a pretty positive note which probably surprised many viewers. Do you see it as a story of redemption?
KJ: Definitely. The film is about accepting and embracing the suffering and meaningless. Only by doing that you’ll live in peace and harmony. No matter how dark things may seem, there will always be light at the end.
TM: I think it is safe to say that there are some parallels between „Madness of Many“ and the films of Lucifer Valentine. Is that intentional? Was he an inspiration for the film?
KJ: Lucifer Valentine was a very big inspiration for me when I did “Madness of Many”. I wanted to make my own “Vomit Gore”-film. Still I did not try to copy his film, but make a different film on my own.
TM: Your films have a surreal and ethereal feeling to them. What do you like about this abstract kind of film? Do you find it more suiting to provide insight into the characters? Do you prefer it to normal approaches?
KJ: I really enjoy abstract films and the films I enjoy the most, are films where it is up to the audience to connect the dots. Films that give it all away is bullshit. I feel that abstract films or arthouse films talk more to my intellect and my emotions. I am in some way hypnotized by them and when I watch films with “normal approaches”, I’m just entertained and nothing more – it doesn’t give me anything.
TM: Many themes of your films, like for example drug addiction and sexual abuse, are pretty far from typical „Horror“ violence and based in real life. Do you prefer real degeneration to fiction? Are these two worlds even comparable?
KJ: I can enjoy both. But I like when what I’m watching feels real. That’s why I don’t enjoy supernatural films that much. I love to portrait people living alone with their frustration, thoughts and inner chaos – people who’s left behind. Broken souls. I enjoy portraying horrible things but still maintain some kind of beauty and meaning to it. I love to mix real degeneration with arthouse, so it feel like it’s supernatural but it’s actually not.
TM: Some of the scenes in your movies are downright pornographic. Do you like the mixture of sex and violence? What are your thoughts on Pornography and mixing it with Splatter or extreme cinema in general?
KJ: I won’t go into details here, because I like for my audience to figure that out themselves. However, it comes very natural for me to mix sex with violence. It is in some way the same thing. In “Madness of Many” my interest in violence/torture and sex is somewhat alike George Bataille’s fiction and philosophy.
TM: „Monstrosity“ has a lot of parallels to the infamous „August Underground“ trilogy. Why did you choose this kind of Fake Snuff style?
KJ: Because it gets you very close to the real deal and it gets you very close to the characters. When what you see is supposed to be the main character’s home video, there is no filter – you are just watching what they filmed. I really enjoy documentaries and when these Fake Snuff-films seems like a home-video done by amateurs, it’s just hypnotize me in some way. As well of Lucifer Valentine was a huge inspiration for “Madness of Many”, Fred Vogel is a huge inspiration for “Monstrosity.” The first two films I released (MOM and Monstrosity) pay homage to two of my favorite independent horror directors. My latest film (A God Without A Universe) and my future work (Your Flesh, Your Curse etc.) does not pay homage to anything, but is completely inspired by my own thoughts and has no direct connection with any other film.
TM: Are there any unreleased early works? Some short films, maybe?
KJ: I have a lot of unreleased work and a lot that will never see the day of light – because they won’t have to, haha. But my first short film (Make Them Suffer) will be released on the 3-disc ultimate edition of “Madness of Many” by Unearthed Films. The film is of very low quality and actually very bad. Still I think you can be entertained by it if you enjoy non-budget independent horror.
TM: Do you have any cinematic influences or favorite films or directors?
KJ: My all time favorite director is Lars Von Trier. His style, themes and visual is exactly what I enjoy the most. By favorite horror director is Stuart Gordon. Other than these two, I enjoy films from directors like; Harmony Korine, David Lynch, Lukas Moodysson, Larry Clark, Gaspar Noe, N. W. Refn, Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg, Martin Scorsese, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Park Chan-wook and the mastermind Alfred Hitchcock. I enjoy films about people’s inner conflict – I don’t care about the outer conflict.
TM: Is there any other kind of art that inspires you besides films?
KJ: Music has been a huge part of my life for many years. I do the vocals in a death metal band called “Abscission” and we have played several gigs throughout the years. I’ve played death metal since I was 13 (I also play drums) so it is a very big part of my life. Besides that, I have also worked on the same comic book for the last 10 years.
TM: What does the future hold in store for you? Anything planned besides „Your Flesh Your Curse“?
KJ: Yes, I have a very big production coming up in 2016. We need a lot of money to make the film, so I’m hoping my little country will support us. I also have several ideas for more films, so there will be a lot coming up. My band’s debut album is also coming out Q1-2016 together with a very nasty and awesome music video, which I will be directing.
TM: Thank you for the interview. The last words are yours.
KJ: Thank you for doing this interview. It’s people like you, doing these interviews, who keeps the scene alive! Take care.