An Interview with the BLOOD KISS Team (Guest Post by Lydia Ondrusek)

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 0 comments

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Blood kiss.

Try to say it without thinking “vampire.” You can’t, can you? Writer Michael Reaves and his production team can’t either. The kickstarter for their indie noir movie Blood Kiss, a period piece that combines vampires and detectives in 1940’s Hollywood, has made its basic funding.  It is going into the homestretch (still time to get a bite of the action at!) hoping to double the original goal and blaze a future for vampires that includes trench coats and fedoras.

Lydia Ondrusek interviewed the Blood Kiss team about the movie and working together.

Michael Reaves is Blood Kiss’s writer.  He’s written and produced more things than can be listed here, has been nominated for Nebulas, Hugos, and Emmys – and he has Parkinson’s. He wanted to see this film made, and his friends wanted to see it made, and it’s going to be made, no matter what. Even, according to the production team, if it’s shot in backyards. This film is a labor of love – a blood pact, if you will.

Lydia Ondrusek: Choosing character names can be hard. But you’ve co-written two books with Neil Gaiman about a character named Joe (Interworld and The Silver Dream), and now in Blood Kiss Neil Gaiman will star as a character named Joe.  It seems like you have an affinity for the name – is there something you want to tell us?

Michael Reaves: I kinda hate to spoil the embryonic conspiracy theory you’ve got brewing, but the detective’s name is Joe, and he hasn’t been cast. Neil plays a character named Julian Cross.

LO: Not so fast. The detective’s still named Joe, even if Neil’s character isn’t. Try again, mister. 

MR: Why? Your question was about Neil’s character, not who was named Joe and why. But okay. I came up with the characters’ names years ago. There’s a period pun on the name Joe near the end. I don’t remember if I came up with the name to play off the pun or the other way around. Probably one had nothing to do with the other…. But I’d advise you to pick one, since it’s the best you’re likely to get.

LO: I’ve tried to think of another vampire noir story and really haven’t been able to – how did the idea for the mashup come to you?

MR: The private eye v. vampire just seemed cool; they both had so much in common. They’re both outsiders, both night people, both live by their own rules.  And when I decided to make it period, then noir was a natural.

LO: Why did you decide to make it period?

MR: Because if I hadn’t I couldn’t have called it vamp noir. 

David Raiklen ( is a cinematic composer. He’s been mentored by John Williams, among others, and is a producer on Blood Kiss.

LO: My research turned up something that said you made and scored your first film at the age of five. How does a five year old decide to make a film, and what kind of film does he make?

David Raiklen: Hey, thanks for asking, my first film was at 9, piano was at 5. The film was a travelogue. You pick up a camera and start telling a story with pictures and music. An indie of course.

LO: Very few things more indie than a kid! How did you and Michael come to be acquainted?

DR: We met years ago through a mutual friend. I liked him immediately and offered to help.

Tom Mandrake has created the posters for Blood Kiss, using the striking illustration skills he’s displayed in a long list of graphic novels (Batman, Swamp Thing, and Grimjack among others) and is working on a graphic novel of it as well, concurrent with the movie.

LO: Have you and Michael worked together on any other projects, say, at DC?

Tom Mandrake: No, Blood Kiss is our first work together and I am very excited!

LO: I’m a HUGE Fringe fan, so since you did Fringe 1-6, I’ve got to ask – Walter Bishop meets a noir vampire. Go.

TM: Walter shows no fear, just looks at the vampire quizzically. The vampire is slightly surprised at Walters low-key reaction but moves in to feed. At the last second Walter says something the vampire thinks he couldn’t possibly have known. The vampire is curious, he stops and a conversation full of oblique references and shadowy information about his life before he died follows. They become friends and have an adventure, the vampire sacrifices his undead life for Walter when a Lectroid from the 8th dimension tries to assassinate him.*

*extra geek points if you know the reference!

Producer Daniela Di Mase’s come a long way to get to Blood Kiss, on a path that touched Venezuela, Italy, and France (“I grew up traveling!”) before landing her in Los Angeles. She calls herself a global nomad who is living just the future she always imagined.

LO: If you had to stay one place you’ve been, where would it be?

Daniela Di Mase: LA is home now and I don’t want to leave it for a very long time.

LO: How does producing compare to acting, for you?

DDM: I’ve always had a business mind so I couldn’t just be an artist. They are opposite extremes but for me they balance themselves perfectly. I couldn’t do one without the other.

LO: Are you going to act in Blood Kiss?

DDM: Too soon to tell but I definitely want to. I’m a horror queen at heart…

Amber Benson, cast as the female lead and familiar to Buffy fans as Tara, has more than a little in common with Daniela.  They both act and direct, and Benson’s currently writing the Calliope Reaper-Jones series of novels.

 LO: If you had to pick between writer/actress/director – which would you take and why?

Amber Benson: I would probably choose director if I was forced to pick. I love running a set and taking what I see in my head and putting it on the screen.

And in the role of Joe Julian Cross is Twitter’s @neilhimself – Neil Gaiman, author of The Graveyard Book, American Gods, Anansi Boys -  and the soon to be released The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s happily voiced cartoons, but it took a request from his friend of over 20 years to get him to act as an actual person.

LO: You’ve said you’d only act for Michael – but easier, or harder, to sign on for a vampire movie than a conventional role? Why?

Neil Gaiman: Er, pretty much the same. It’s all pretending to be someone you aren’t. Who is, fortunately enough for me, English.

They say it takes a village to raise a child – we are learning, as crowdfunding evolves, what it takes to raise a project is much the same. A dream, a plan, and the commitment of those who care.

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