Kevin Kopacka is a name that horror fans around the world will no doubt become very familiar with. After having his latest film, Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes, screened at this year’s FrightFest UK, we at the Grimoire of Horror became very curious about the man behind the film that we dubbed “a psychedelic Gothic horror acid trip”. Kopacka is no stranger to the genre and has been actively producing work that showcases his remarkably distinct and visually stunning style.
Born in 1987, Kopacka “is an Austrian – Sri Lankan painter & director. He grew up in Graz, Austria and moved to Berlin, Germany in 2006. In 2007 he started his studies of Fine Art at the University of Arts, Berlin in the class of Japanese artist Leiko Ikemura and graduated as Master Student in 2012. He currently lives and works in Berlin. His work is often abstract and usually deals with paranormal and metaphysical elements.”
Kopacka was kind enough to take time out of his day and answer some questions for us. We truly appreciate it and look forward to your future creative endeavors!
What inspired you to enter into the world of filmmaking?
KK: I actually studied Fine Art and worked as a painter for nearly 10 years before fully switching over to making movies. During my studies I already had the opportunity to direct short films and after my short HADES had a fairly successful festival run in 2015, I grew more excited by the idea of working as a director full time. I think I like the idea of mixing various elements (editing, music etc.) with a sort of visual style that I was able to work on through my paintings. There are many similarities to my films and paintings, both work heavily with creating an atmosphere and offering room for interpretation.
What are some of your personal favorite horror films?
KK: I’m a huge horror fan so it’s hard to select just a few favorite films. One of my all time favorites is Dellamorte Dellamore by Michele Soavi (though I love all his films!). I also really love Hausu, The Howling, Night of the Living Dead, Demons, Inferno, Who Can Kill a Child ?, The Beyond, Evil Dead II, Burial Ground, Tombs of the Blind Dead, At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, Black Sunday, Videodrome, Your Vice is a Locked Room and I Have the Key .. just to name a few, but the list is very long!
You’ve collaborated with cameraman Lukas Dolgner for a number of years now; what made you realize that his skill set was perfect for your creative endeavors?
KK: I first met Lukas in 2014 when we collaborated on HADES. I think he was just 21 years old at the time and I was really impressed by his skills. We’ve since worked on almost all of my projects and he has become one of my closest friends. I think we work really well together, he knows what I like visually and I trust him enough to give him a lot of freedom on our projects.
You also worked with actor Frederik von Lüttichau on your previous film ‘Hager’, what was the casting process like for Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes? Did you know you wanted him to play the role of Dieter while writing the script?
KK: As with Lukas, Freddy is a very close friend of mine. He’s a great actor – especially for unusual roles. I wrote the part of Dieter with him specifically in mind. It’s a lot of fun to work with him and there’s nothing he’s not willing to do on set.
The other actors were all cast for the roles. I was especially happy to work with Jeff (Wilbusch) who was the only actor I asked for the role and luckily he accepted. He has since gone on to do many great things, including working on the Netflix show Unorthodox as well as the HBO drama Oslo. Anna Platen (who is actually Jeff’s girlfriend in real life) was also amazing to work with! She’s a wonderful & charming actress, as is Luisa Taraz. I was really lucky to get to work with them all, and I hope I get a chance to work with them again for future projects.
Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is filled with a plethora of gorgeous Gothic imagery; were there any specific works of fiction that you drew inspiration from visually?
KK: Visually it’s probably more inspired by classic Gothic book covers & paintings than any particular films. There are some shots that are specifically inspired by films such as Jean Rollin’s The Iron Rose (also a favorite of mine), The Legend of Hell House (the black cat in particular) or Bava’s The Whip & The Body. But there are also some nods to non gothic films such as Society, Psych-Out & An American Hippie in Israel.
The end credits for Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes shows the audience a glimpse of the fun everyone had behind the scenes, do you have a favorite memory from your time on set?
KK: The entire shoot had some of the best moments and worst moments of my life. As you might be able to tell from the credits we had a lot of fun and were a very tight-knit group that all lived together in that castle for three weeks. There were many memorable moments, most of which I can’t describe here, since they could be potential spoilers, but I especially liked working with all the animals that lived near the castle – ranging from peacocks, to white rabbits, cats, bats & spiders.
As a big fan of Tiziano Sclavi’s ‘Dylan Dog’ comics myself, I am curious about the ‘Dylan’ fan project you directed back in 2017. Can you give us more insight on how this projects came about and any chance of more episodes in the future?
KK: Very cool that you are also a Dylan Dog fan! I’m a huge fan myself – I love the mixture of poetry, splatter and eroticism as well as the many nods to various horror films.
I had a rare acting role for a film called “Les Sadiques” from director Alex Bakshaev where my character dressed up like Dylan Dog. After the film Alex and I both discussed doing a potential Dylan Dog series for which we wrote the script together. For copyright reasons we changed some of the characters names and appearances and decided to have a bit of fun with it. The pilot episode titled “DYLAN – Dream of the Living Dead” was then put on Youtube for free with the idea of doing more episodes in the future.The pilot was actually quite well received by fans, which surprised me, since it was a very low budget affair and in also in German, but I think the people saw that we had a lot of love and respect for the original comics (as opposed to the Hollywood film that came out in 2011). I already had plans for a six episode first season, but we didn’t secure any funding to continue it. I think they’re now doing a live action series with James Wan attached to it. Very curious how that turns out – if there’s ever a chance, I’d of course love to direct an episode for that!
Are there any upcoming or current projects you would like to hype? What is the best way for people to keep up to date with your projects?
KK: I’m currently working on two scripts. One is a bit more similar to Dawn, as it’s also set in a castle and more of a dark, gory comedy – the other is more serious and probably not what you would expect from me, that’s why I’m leaning more towards the latter.
Both are of course horror films, but they won’t be in German anymore. We’ll see what the future holds!
If people are interested about updates on these projects, they can follow me on Twitter or Instagram:
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