Nicholas Tana created a series called “Hell’s Kitty” and now it is a film with the most epic cast imaginable. “Hell’s Kitty” stars: Doug Jones, Michael Berryman, Nina Hartley, Courtney Gains, John Franklin, Kelli Maroney, Dale Midkiff, Victoria De Mare, Lynn Lowry, Chanel Ryan and more.
Okay, Nicholas, First off this movie is amazing and I am so excited! The storyline and the cast! It is epic. How did the idea manifest for you?
Nicholas- Well, the process…. It started originally with my cat, my camera and an apartment. I had rented a room in my apartment to Denise Acosta who helped produce the film and she was going to LA film school at the time. She would watch when I would try to date people in Los Angeles with a cat that was extremely possessive of me and rumored to be possessed. She would literally watch some of the scenes go down and in her own way would be laughing ironically. But thought it would be fodder for a really cool, fun story. She wasn’t the onl
one that said that so at the time I wanted to get some experience in web media, new media in web series because it seems like that’s where a lot of entertainment was going. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to tell a story that was real to some extent but of course with tons of poetic license and dapple in new media. At the same time tie it in with my little cat and figure out a way we can help promote good causes around that! So that is pretty much how “Hell’s Kitty” got started.
“Hell’s Kitty” the series. Will that sort of be the way the film is going or are you going in a different direction?
Nicholas- Well the idea now. The way film, TV and all media is going. It is sort of morphing and the old roles are quickly being replaced with technology and new opportunities. They aren’t what they used to be. I see “Hell’s Kitty” as a brand. I see “Hell’s Kitty” as a world that I am creating. That world started on the web, started building a franchise and an audience. It then morphed into a comic book, immediately created a comic book with web images from the series to integrate the talent into the comic book as the first volume was published and the next volumes will be coming out in the next year or so. We created a comic that was illustrated by Michael Aushenker who is a talented comic book artist. We created the story that happens to Angel in the movie when she takes off for a while and then comes back. We imagine what happened to her while she was on the streets of Los Angeles in that time and that is what Los Angel and Los Angeles is all about. It is a one off comic that provides that extra knowledge. Another part of the process is the feature film was always intended to be pieced together and create this world but with added footage and footage we never released on the web. It is a unique of building and telling a story that I think is working out really nicely. The last part of which I would like to pitch it as an original TV series around town and have more animated sequences and tell more stories.
Oh, that would be epic!
Nicholas- Yeah, it really would be! I’m even considering doing a musical! I’m actually talking to a musical director right now. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all the horror talent lip synching and or singing!
That would be amazing!!!! It would be so much fun! It could interactive!
Nicholas- Well, there was “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “Evil Dead” did a version in Vegas that was great that I went and watched.
You wrote and directed and you star in “Hell’s Kitty!” What challenges have you faced doing all of this?
Nicholas- Oh, there’s been a lot of challenges. For one, deciding to use my real cat Angel was a challenge. In some ways she’s perfect because she’s not acting. She really is that way! But another instance was when she cut Lee Meriwether during the scene and Lee Meriwether bled on my collector copy, “Catwoman” comic. I’m sitting there in the scene and that’s not even acting, that’s really being nervous because I am thinking in my head Oh my God, she is bleeding, oh my God, is she alright? Oh my God, am I going to get sued? Oh my God, she ruined my comic! (Laughter)
And Angel was probably like whatever, dude. I am a cat!
Nicholas- Yeahhh! And Lee was very cool about it! She understand cats and she was fine. None of that manifested and we actually got her to sign the comic, not only in her blood but with a signature. I hope one day to raffle that comic at a Comic Con and donate the proceeds to non-profit, I think it would be just stellar. But anyway that is part of working with a cat and some of the real bloody experiences that can happen.
to mention crew members screaming from across the hallway. I warned them before and they’d sign releases. I said, look you cannot touch Angel, don’t go near her. She does not like to be bothered unless she really knows you. In this case mostly only me and a few select people. They would try to pet her because she was so cute and I would hear them screaming from the opposite side of the hallway. That was interesting, challenging and funny when there is only myself to wrangle Angel for a scene.
I love animals and cats. My mom has a Japanese Bobtail named Pacino (yes, after Al Pacino) and he is a tad fussy at times and mainly likes my mom.
Nicholas- They are very onerous creatures, cats. That is one of the things I love about them. Love doesn’t come easy from a cats, often. It is all the more rewarding when you are able to pull “Excalibur” out of the stone. So you like cats too?
Yes I do! I love cats!
Nicholas- We find that most of the fans of “Hell’s Kitty” there’s like two major pillars of support. People that like horror because there is so much for a horror fan especially those that are not stuck on having pure horror you know in the format. And then those who love cats!
This cast is EPIC!!! How did you get everyone together? (The cast includes: Doug Jones, Michael Berryman, Courtney Gains, Nina Hartley, John Franklin, Kelli Maroney, Dale Midkiff, Victoria De Mare, Lynn Lowry, Chanel Ryan and more)
Nicholas- That is a real fun question to answer! Basically when I was shaping the story I wanted to try to put in as many of the actors that I fell in love with growing up in it. I thought wouldn’t this be an amazing world in which it all connects to this kind of creepy, 1920’s style apartment complex and you have all these characters in this one world coming in and out of this writers life. His own life winds up becoming more interesting than anything he would dream of writing. I thought that was just such a cool premise and centered on this cast.
It becomes this mystery. It is an homage to every type of horror film. In terms of picking talent, I kind of went through a list of all my favorites and would pitch them. I would send them a copy of the script but in order to do so, I would have to write the script to fit them. So each script version that I would send out would specifically be tailored to one of their character personalities from another world. It would be like a Mel Brooks style parody of the characters in this original story. It was a lot of work to do because for every one talent I got, there was probably up to eight who said they couldn’t do it due to budget or schedule. So, I would find myself writing the script and then re-writing them several times based on who the character would be. I had an idea what needed to happen in the scene to tell the story but you can still get very specific based on who that character is.
Are all of the character names going to be based on the names of characters each actor portrayed in one of their films or at least an homage to other horror films? I saw Michael Berryman is playing Detective Pluto and my heart just melted and turned to mush! That is so awesome.
Nicholas- (Laughter) Yes they are plays on the characters. Parody plays on the characters that they are famous for. In some cases, Detective Pluto (“The Hills Have Eyes” – Michael Berryman plays Pluto) in other cases, it would be a spin on the name, especially if it is from a Stephen King story. I definitely wrote it in a way so as to tribute and parody those famous characters. I love the concept. I think it would make a great TV show. It was shot on a micro budget. It was shot over a period of four and half or five years on a weekends. I had to do it in a way that kept the talent time to a minimum. Going back to your other question about the challenges, it was extremely challenging.
Have you always loved horror movies and did you have anyone that inspired you professionally?
Nicholas- I have always loved horror movies. Not just horror movies but horror books, stories. I love Stephen King. Joe Dante is a big inspiration. I love his work. He has really managed to transcend the genre in many ways. Especially with Horror-comedy. “The Burbs,” “Gremlins” and “The Howling.” I love Alfred Hitchcock. I think there is an element of suspense. I’m big fan of Sam Raimi as well. “Drag Me to Hell” is spoofed in “Hell’s Kitty” as well.
If you ever get a chance, look for “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: An Unlocked Window.” It is one of the best episodes ever.
Nicholas- I’ll definitely have to check that out.
What do you want the audiences and fans that will watching “Hell’s Kitty” to know?
Nicholas- I think the film itself really says it all. I’d like to hear what they have to say about it. For me it’s about connecting with people. Creating is connecting. It’s about sharing ideas in a world and seeing who is willing to step into that world with me.
Thank you so much Nicholas!!!
Nicholas- Thank you!!!