SXSW Q&A: Director Karen Skloss talks ‘The Honor Farm’
A perennial favorite at the annual SXSW Film Festival, the Midnighters section is reserved for the weird, provocative, horror, thrillers, and slashers for the night owls. It’s typically an all-boys club, which makes acclaimed director Karen Skloss’ first narrative feature a rarity; the lone female directed feature among a slate of male directed Midnighters.
While this alone would be enough cause for interest, the coming-of-age story with a psychedelic horror twist is sure to prove unconventional. We chatted with Skloss ahead of the world premiere this Saturday, March 11, at 11:55pm located at the Stateside Theater in Austin, to discuss her transition from documentary into narrative features, the creepy origin of the film’s title, and more:
How has it been to transition from documentary work to a narrative feature?
I’ve always felt that documentary work lends well to working in horror film, did you find that to be the case at all?
Just the direct, investigative approach in documentaries that would lend well to horror; really getting up close with the genre. Like William Friedkin’s previous work on documentaries made for some excellent angles in The Exorcist. I was just curious if that visual aspect translated for you as well.
The psychedelic aspect of the narrative, how did that come about? It completely kept me in the film’s grip.
I think what really helped make it work and kept it grounded was the authenticity of its characters. Of course Olivia Applegate’s performance was great, but I credit the writing; these teens felt like actual teens. How did you approach that?
I think that was a huge component in what made it so believable and engrossing. Now, the Honor Farm itself, that’s based on an actual place, right?
How much of the Honor Farm’s lore was integrated? Because on a sublevel I feel that it’s a love letter to Austin, Texas.
So what exactly is it, a prison?
How creepy! So was the actual building that you filmed in as creepy as the real thing?
Yeah, and it looks like you had to shoot mostly at night, which didn’t help.
So a lot of adapting throughout the shooting process it sounds like. One last question, and it’s a silly one; the cutest goat ever is in this movie. Tell me about the goat, who got to keep him?
The Honor Farm screens at SXSW at the following times:
Saturday, March 11, 11:55pm, Stateside
Monday, March 13, 11:45pm, Alamo South Lamar
Tuesday, March 14, 9:45pm, Alamo South Lamar
Thursday, March 16, 12:15pm, Alamo South Lamar