Ahead of its screening at Arrow Video Frightfest, we caught up with co-director Sophia Cacciola to chat all things The Once and Future Smash.
What can you tell us about the development of The Once and Future Smash?
We started working on The Once and Future Smash in 2019 when we heard that Mad Monster Party would be hosting the End Zone 2 panel. We are very fascinated by horror convention culture, and I don’t think many films have been made exploring the dynamics there.
Quite a few actors who were in a big franchise film and then retired from acting or just never had their careers grow, are now returning and seeing adoring fans. Many of the fans who grew up watching those films are now filmmakers themselves, and they are excited to bring these actors back into the spotlight. There’s an interesting underdog story there.
This feels like quite a quirky concept, was that the intention?
You can’t really delve into this world without an understanding of the inherent camp. We’re definitely big fans of satire, surrealism, and absurdity, so we certainly took advantage of any chance to shape the story with those elements.
I get the feeling the casting was quite fun on this, is that right?
We knew we couldn’t do the movie without Michael St. Michaels and Bill Weeden. Thankfully, our producing partner Neal Jones knew Michael and we had worked with Bill before. We told them about the project and they both were excited to be part of it! They were both amazing to work with and we just love both of them as people as well.
You feature a lot of well known genre faces such as Laurene Landon and Mark Patton, what were they like to work with?
Neal has been podcasting as Without Your Head for a very long time and has been bringing these kinds of genre greats on as guests. Because Neal was friendly with so many of the people in this world, he was able to facilitate the access to the convention and the interviews we needed to even consider making the film.
It was an absolute honor and privilege to get to meet and talk about End Zone 2 with these people we grew up watching and adoring. We are forever grateful for every single interviewee who agreed to be part of the film and put their trust in us. We were definitely nervous at first about doing the interviews, but they were all, without exception, very kind and sweet people, and we hope we’ll get to work with them all again!
How does this film compare to your previous work?
Each of our features is pretty different from the others, but they are always shaped by our sense of humor and our thematic interests. Previously, we’ve made films about identity, duty, dogma, and the pressures of fame.
In this one, we really wanted to explore themes about aging while still hoping your best work is ahead of you. Convention culture is all about nostalgia and celebrating the past. We love that tension between the past and the future. The re-emergence, restoration, and rediscovery of lost films and you might say, lost actors, felt like a really ripe area for exploration.
How do you think audiences will respond at Arrow Video Frightfest to the film?
This is our world premiere, so we have not seen the film with an audience yet and really don’t know what the response will be like in general. That said, this film is tailored toward people with a familiarity with horror fan culture and horror history, so we really think festival goers are the right audience for us! Hopefully, they think this is the right film for them! We just want people to have fun with it and immerse themselves in the world we’re working in.
What’s next on your directing list?
We just finished directing a segment for the BizarroLand anthology film, Fat Fleshy Fingers, which stars The Once and Future Smash’s Michael St. Michaels as a fever-dreaming mummy tomb raider infected with a very chatty parasitic worm.
We’re currently also working on a documentary for the Women in Rock Oral History Project, and we have quite a few narrative projects in development, but we’re waiting to see how this film does before we decide where to go next.
Or we’re also on social media everywhere: @launchover @withoutyourhead @sophiacacciola @michaeljepstein
The Once and Future Smash screens at Arrow Video Frightfest 2022.