Note: Tiffany Shepis interview was done on Mar 15, 2008
Tiffany Shepis interview
Anyone who is a true fan of the horror genre knows the name Tiffany Shepis. Tiffany is redefining the term ‘Scream Queen; Boyfriend just got his head lobbed off? NO problem, just hand that girl a shotgun and watch her save the day in her bra and panties. Tiffany stars in NIGHTMARE MAN, a thriller that will be available in the AFTER DARK HORRORFEST 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR DVD Box Set that is coming out March 18th.
Tiffany and I had a little girl talk recently where we discussed her start in the business, her honest advice to future scream queens and her directorial debut
HOH: Hello Tiffany, How are you?
Tiffany Shepis: I’m great, How are you doing?
HOH: Good! Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me today.
Tiffany Shepis: OH, Thank you.
HOH: The HORRORFEST DVD Box Set is coming out March 18th, you are in NIGHTMARE MAN. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Tiffany Shepis: NIGHTMARE MAN, Its a crazy, whirlwind of horror. Lots of supernatural stuff, you’ve got crazy ladies trying to find their pills, you’ve got a house full of people who aren’t sure if someone is crazy or insane, It’s one of those weird, whodunit kind of films. A house is full of crazy kids on a big party weekend. You’ve got nudity, you’ve got gore, and you’ve got 8 films to die for! What more could you ask for?
HOH: Well you can’t, you can’t ask for more than that.
Tiffany Shepis: I was running around in my bra and panties with a crossbow and a shotgun. You know, it is very woman-empowering.
HOH: That always works.
Tiffany Shepis: Yeah that always helps.
HOH: The director of NIGHTMARE MAN is Rolfe Kanefsky. You have worked with him before. What is it like to work with him?
Tiffany Shepis: Oh, Rolfe is great. I have been a friend of his now for 10 years. It definitely becomes a family unit when we work together so that always helps. A lot of the time you go on the set and you don’t know anybody and its uncomfortable, it is always more comfortable with your friends. Rolfe is great because he knows my acting style and he writes for it.
He definitely did for NIGHTMARE MAN, it was a part that was written for me. It was definitely easier to play this chick! He looks specifically for your strong points. Yeah, it is a good time. We have almost never had a problem with each other on set, which when your working with people hand in hand basically 24 hours a day, every day, for weeks, there is almost always going to be an issue but Rolfe and I have never come across that. It is definitely a good working environment.
HOH: Did anything fun or crazy happen on the set that you could share with us?
Tiffany Shepis: Um, fun or crazy. If you watch the DVD, watch the behind the scenes, I do kind of a 17 minute “Tiffany Cam”, recording the craziness that goes on, on set. Stupid things, like at 5 in the morning I decided a fun way of waking up my co-star would be by throwing ham on his face!
But besides that, we are shooting all night and it was freezing cold in big bear, in the winter, and in tiny little outfits, so every night was an adventure. The finale is a big demon rape scene complete with fan machines and dirt and everybody is going crazy because we are trying to fight the sun. I’m like, ‘I know that you are pissed off here but I’m lying half-naked here on the ground!’
HOH: I hate it when that happens!
Tiffany Shepis: (Laughs) Exactly! ‘Hey, I’m trying to get raped by a demon here!
HOH: (Laughs) What are your top 3 favorite movies that you have made?
Tiffany Shepis: That has come out or ones that have not come out?
Tiffany Shepis: Ah that’s a good one. I would have to say THE HAZING because I co-starred in that with Brad Dourif…ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, awesome! I would have to throw NIGHTMARE MAN in there, I had a great time making that movie, Whether people love it or hate it. If you can embrace the low-budget-ness of it and see what we did for a minimal budget in 12 days, I think that’s got to be in my top 3 and BONNIE AND CLYDE VS. DRACULA, the title ALONE should get people to see it.
HOH: Yeah that is a great title.
Tiffany Shepis: What is cool about that movie is that I play a full-on different character, this one is full-on Bonnie! Except we’ve got Dracula! Accents and bleach blonde hair, shotguns and great cars, it is a fun one. Look for that one next year.
HOH: You’re obviously a fanboy favorite. Do you find yourself just as popular with the girl fans?
Tiffany Shepis: Oh absolutely! The demographic has really changed in horror in the past few years. It used to be the 13 to 25-year-old guys that would want to see the half-naked butt. Now, there are more and more girls coming over to the table and that is awesome! I think it is because horror movies have changed so much over the years, it used to be that a scream queen was a girl that ran, butt naked and got killed.
I’m not saying that still doesn’t happen today but there are more films now where the chick IS the hero, her stupid boyfriend dies in the first 5 minutes and its up to the chick to save the day and I think that is really cool. It is really cool for girls to see that you don’t
have to depend on some asshole guy who got drunk and wanted to get laid. Now his head is chopped off, what are you going to do?
Tiffany Shepis: (Laughs) So now there are definitely more fan chicks coming around and I think that is just awesome.
HOH: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become a scream queen?
Tiffany Shepis: Don’t do it! (Laughs)
Tiffany Shepis: God, become a stripper instead, it is more steady income, Hooking is legal in Vegas. I don’t recommend this business to anybody. However, if that is what you are dead set on and all you can do with your life then go after it, you’ve got to just go after it with full force. Especially with B-horror movies and horror films in general. There aren’t that many big agents on earth that are going to push for you to do that, you are going to have to do that for yourself.
Make friends with everybody, go to the conventions, and know the product. Know what is coming out, read Fangoria, go on the websites. Go on House of Horrors and find out what is going on! You kind of have to do your own PR; nobody is going to do it for you. If you HAVE to be a scream queen, that would be my advice.
HOH: (Laughs) Is there anything your working on now that you would like to talk about?
Tiffany Shepis: Actually I am slated to work on another film with Rolfe Kanefsky called CALLER UNKNOWN, this summer. I’m working on My directorial debut…
HOH: You know I was going to ask you about directing!
Tiffany Shepis: It’s funny, I never thought about it until this year. I’ve done producing; I’ve produced stuff. I didn’t think about the directing side because I don’t think my attention span is that long. That’s why I like making the movies I do because you’re on them for a month and then you’re on to the next.
I work on so many of these movies and half the time I’m working with these kids that are just off the boat, right out of film school, they don’t know what they are doing and in their defense, they are new to it. So, I get involved and I’ll go, ‘If you do the shot this way it will look so much cooler’. I thought why don’t I just do this myself. So, I came up with a story and I had Rolfe Kanefsky write it and it is called THE DEVIL’S PIE and right now we are in the financing stages of it. It’s about time I get other chicks naked!
Tiffany Shepis: I know so many people in the genre that are willing to help me out so I’m getting a lot of great cameos. It is packed full of genre stars, you know, I mean why not? Why not try it? If it fails I can just add another one to my list of shitty movies. Only now, it will be totally my fault.
HOH: (Laughs) You made TROMEO AND JULIET when you were 17…
Tiffany Shepis: ..I think I was 16.
HOH: What was that experience like? At that point was it something you knew you wanted to do?
Tiffany Shepis: It was weird because I think I had only made one movie before that, a student film for NYU, a horror film. I was such a fan of the genre and I thought about it but just to even do horror movies it seemed like such a faraway dream.
I didn’t really put much thought into it and I was sitting at school in NYC, there was an actors paper that someone was reading and I looked through it. There was an ad for TROMEO AND JULIET so I cut school and I went down and booked the job, a tiny little part. I did the movie and I was So thrilled to be there, maybe because I wasn’t very good in school and I thought, ‘This is what I need to do, this is ALL I can do!’ (Laughs)
Tiffany Shepis: I had such a good time working on that movie, it was such a fun thing because I was SO young and I thought, ‘This is awesome!’ and ‘This is what people do for a living? This is called WORK?’ I was actually getting paid to be there. I loved it so much that I felt this was what I was going to do, fortunately, the fans are so loyal to the genre.
I did a convention after that film, I remember doing the Chiller Theater convention, they were like Yeah, bring some pictures, and I remember thinking ‘Pictures? So I made little laser copies of these 5X7’s and I thought, ‘Who is going to buy these from me? Nobody knows who I am’. I sold them for a dollar each and I made a thousand bucks that day! I went home thinking ‘This is the greatest job EVER!
Really, the fans of the genre either make you or break you. Hopefully, they like me enough so I can stay around and play the old, crazy Karen Black roles or if not and I get old and ugly, hopefully, I’ll be a good director and I can do that. I think I’m a little too old to go to the Bunny Ranch [A brothel in Nevada] now!
HOH: (Laughs) Is there anything you would like to say to all the horror fans out there?
Tiffany Shepis: Thanks for watching my movies, thanks for keeping my business alive. Hopefully, people will watch and dig NIGHTMARE MAN. It was a crazy blessing that After Dark Horrorfest even picked it up. It was the little movie that could, at the time we distributed it the market was so flooded with horror films, everybody and their brother was making one in their basement.
It was really unfortunate because we really liked this little movie. We were bringing something cool to the genre and nobody wanted to pick it up. Then, out of nowhere, After Dark Horrorfest came to the table and said they were going to put it out in 350 theaters. There is no way to get that type of exposure for these little films so, I am very jazzed about it and I hope it does really, really well for Lionsgate and…(Voice gets soft) does really well for everybody.
HOH: Thank you so much for talking with me.
Tiffany Shepis: Well, thank you and I hope you have a great weekend.
HOH: Thank you, you too!
NIGHTMARE MAN will be released with the After Dark Horrorfest 8 Films to Die For DVD box set on March 18th