B: Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate your time, especially given your hectic schedule.

Lisa: Thank you so much for having me! It is definitely hectic as we’re in the final stages of post-production on ‘Puppet Killer,’ and I’m also in pre-production on my next feature, ‘Beverly Hills Lizard People.’ Busy in a blood-soaked, creature feature way… the best way.

B: Beverly Hills Lizard People? We’ll definitely come back to that! So, Puppet Killer, what’s it all about?

Lisa: Puppet Killer tells the story of Simon, a pink fluffy puppet passed down to his best friend Jamie, played by Aleks Paunovic, from his mother, played by me. Jamie’s mother was obsessed with 1980s horror films and passed that love on to her son and Simon. Years after her death, Jamie’s stepmother mysteriously disappears, and his father decides to abandon their family cabin, leaving Simon behind.

When Jamie turns 16, he decides to return to the cabin over Christmas break with his friends. Unfortunately, Simon isn’t too keen on sharing Jamie with his new group of friends. He exacts his revenge on them, paying homage to all the horror greats of the 1980s, and loves every second of it.

B: Puppet Killer does look awesome, with quite a cast and crew assembled. How did the idea of Simon come about, and what’s your secret to assembling such an amazing team?

Lisa: First off, yes! I am still humbled by the talent in front of and behind the camera on ‘Puppet Killer.’ Some days, I still don’t know how I managed to assemble such an amazing team.

The idea of Simon came to me while I was producing a film with puppets in it and casting a horror film simultaneously. One day, I was watching a musical number with puppets singing, and I thought… if this was my movie, I would kill everyone with a puppet. That night, Simon was born. It was originally a short film, purely self-indulgent, to make something 100% mine. But when I called Lee Majdoub, who plays Curtis in the film, he fell in love with the idea. Lee loves horror as much as I do, and we bounced ideas back and forth for a few months, ending up laughing our asses off.

It was originally a comedy, but as the idea grew and more people fell in love with the concept, it morphed into a truly scary and bloody horror film with our original comedic ideas infused throughout. Simon is the love child of myself and Jack Fox, the talented man who built and designed him. We went back and forth for over six months before we settled on the final look. At one point, he was really scary looking, with an overcoat and nails for teeth… but somewhere along the lines, our adorable one-toothed puppet was born, and he is amazing on screen.

As for the rest of the team, I reached out to people I had enjoyed working with the most on my past films and was really lucky they were all on board. The actors were all offer-only, and we managed to get our first picks for pretty much everyone in the film. The only role that was a challenge was the role of ‘Lee,’ as I was trying to balance out the height difference of current males, Aleks Paunovic and Lee Majdoub. But then Aleks put me in touch with Kyle Cassie, and honestly, I can’t imagine anyone else playing Lee; he killed it.

A lot of our cast were in the middle of shooting TV shows and movies, so we ended up having to shoot during everyone’s Christmas hiatus, which is another part of the film people don’t realize. Cast and crew gave up their one break of the year to trek out into the mountains for three weeks, in the snow, to make this film possible. This film was definitely built by the local film community and fueled by a mutual love of horror, and great crafty, of course!

B: Three weeks! Seriously! Although we know filming time is critical with low-budget independent movies, you were in Vancouver, in winter, in the woods, directing your first full-length feature… how did you manage it? Quite a feat!

Lisa: Haha, yes. I chose quite the experience for directing my first feature. In the woods, in winter, practical kills, and a puppet as a lead character. But it was a truly amazing experience, and it gave me a ton of confidence going into my next film. It will be a creature feature horror film with practical puppeted effects, so evidently, I have found my niche?

B: So filming was completed early 2016, right? Did the elements cause issues in post-production, or have you just been teasing us?

Lisa: We completed filming a while ago, and post-production has definitely gone slower than expected. We hit some roadblocks and decided as a team not to rush the final product or sacrifice the quality when money ran out. We have since started to raise more money through private investors and are moving towards finishing the film. It feels amazing to be so close, and we actually gained some valuable people to the team we would not have had otherwise. Stephen Gallagher is on board composing, Jessica Cameron joined the cast and came on as a producer, and members of one of my favorite bands, Steel Panther, are writing our theme music. So I would say it was well worth the wait.

B: From the quality of the trailer, taking your time is obviously working. The snippets released on social media are generating interest and having a snowball effect. This thing could explode on release—all good things come to those who wait!

Again, big names—Stephen Gallagher, Jessica Cameron… and then we got whiplash doing a double-take with Steel Panther. “Death to all but Puppets!” What a fit—it seems meant to be!

We know you are good friends with Jessica, but how did Stephen and Darren of Steel Panther come about?

Lisa: I signed Stephen and Darren Leader (of Steel Panther) on to the project last year on a trip to LA. A girlfriend I was staying with had worked with Stephen before and only had wonderful things to say about him. She put us in touch, and luckily, he’s a huge fan of horror, and we got on really well. He saw a cut of the film and jumped on board!

I met Darren after a show in LA on the same trip, and he is getting into writing music for film and TV. Again, we hit it off, and he loved the concept. Within a week, he had seen a cut and agreed to write our theme song. I am a huge fan of both men, so I feel really honored to have them on the team.

B: Puppet Killer franchise! Puppets, soundtrack, toys, t-shirts… a canny businesswoman!

Speaking of a businesswoman, you have your fingers in many pots! On top of directing, producing, writing, acting, casting, modeling, wardrobe… the list is endless. You then throw into the mix Rogue Studios, I No. Films, ANFAgency, and we are sure there are many, many more.

Your commitment to the independent movie world is obvious to all (people will be surprised if they “Google” when it all started for you), but what’s your true calling? Can you also tell us more about the work you do in developing new talent within the industry and the reasons why this is a particular passion for you?

Lisa: We have actually had a lot of requests for Simon dolls and merch already, so I am excited to see what that looks like down the line!

Haha, yes. I have worn many hats and continue to do so. Some were out of necessity. When you make an independent film, there isn’t always the crew to have every position filled, so if you want to get it done, a lot of times you need to do it yourself. Another reason I have taken on as many roles as possible is because a director I was inspired by at the beginning of my career, Aaron Houston, told me that one key to being a good director is understanding as much as you can about everyone else’s role on set. It was fantastic advice and inspired me to apply to Women in the Director’s Chair. As a result, I received a scholarship for the art department, learned so much, and have so much respect for what that department does.

As for the other companies, ANFAgency, which represents actors for comicons and conventions, came about in a bizarre manner. One of my best friends is a fantastic agent in town and had a huge client on a top show, but her appearance agent was driving him nuts. One day, he walked up to me at the studio and said her agent had been fired, and he wanted me to represent her. We had talked about doing business together briefly before, and he knows my style and ability and, for some reason, thought I would be a great agent. I thought it was crazy as it came out of nowhere, but within a few days, a bunch of friends that were either high-profile actors or agents contacted me, and I had over 15 people on my roster in the first week. We are a few years in, and I love it. Most of the time, I represent good friends, so we get to travel to cool places together, and they get to connect with their fans.

The acting school, Rogue Studios, is another beast. That company is my heart and soul. I ran someone else’s children’s acting school for four years and left just over a year ago to start my own when I felt I wasn’t providing the best product possible. Our staff is some of the top talent in Vancouver, and we teach very Vancouver-specific classes, meaning we focus a lot on sci-fi. They learn performance capture, the business side of acting, practical FX application and process, and a ton of other things youth acting schools just don’t offer. It has been an amazing journey, and my staff and students have become my second family. Jessica Cameron even comes in from LA and teaches them on-camera death and horror-specific scenes!

Developing new talent is more about my connection to my kids and the role I get to take in inspiring them but also keeping them grounded. We do life coaching in our classes as much as acting, and I love watching them learn personal skills that they will carry for life. We have a mind-body coach that is so good I take her classes whenever she teaches the kids. She helps them with anxiety, mindfulness, and understanding and controlling their emotions. That is the part that I love the most—knowing we are making such a huge difference, not just in their careers, but in their lives. I truly love each of my students, their parents, and our role in the community.

What is my true calling? That is a hard one, given how many of my roles I love. When people ask me what I would do if I had to choose, I always answer, “I don’t have to choose, that is why I own the company.” But, in fairness to your question, I would say directing and acting. I will never pick one over the other as they both have such different purposes and skill sets, and I love them both for very different reasons. I always cameo in everything I direct, so you will always see me pop up on the screen in some capacity. I will also always have a very active hand in my school, with the adults and the children.

B: When friends come calling for your representation, that really shows how much you are valued and respected in the industry. And yes, you do own your own company—why should you choose?

From our discussion, movies do appear to be your life (not a bad thing). Are you a workaholic, or do you purposely make time for yourself, and how? Other than drunken evenings with @ScreamQStream (Jessica Cameron and Heather Dorff!), although this is kind of work… maybe?

Lisa: I think I go back and forth. I lose myself completely sometimes, but I truly love it. I think it is important to balance work with time with friends and family, but if I have a film just coming out or in post, I can sometimes disappear for a year with the travel and the festivals, etc.

This year, I made a goal for more time with friends and more travel. I just spent three weeks in Mexico with friends and family in December and am heading to Thailand in April for three weeks with friends, and I am really excited. You need to keep all areas of you alive to be truly happy and passionate, and I really love adventure and travel. It is nice to finally start balancing it out.

I get to LA every few months, and of course, the best part is visiting Jessica and Dorff. I love those ladies, and even though you could consider being a guest on their show “work,” as I am sure you have seen, we have so much fun.

Jessica has been a pretty big inspiration for work ethic, I would add. That woman is a beast and puts me to shame!

B: Awesome! It sounds like, as busy as you are, you do have a good work-life balance.

Before we let you go… Beverly Hills Lizard People sounds like a movie from B-Movie heaven. You’ve got our attention! Are you allowed to give us any details with a possible exclusive?

Lisa: I am SO excited about it. We are just in the pre-production stages, but the script is fantastic, and I can’t wait to bring it to life. I will be working with Cthulhu Crush Productions and filming in Vancouver. It is very similar to Puppet Killer in tone and delivery, and in our first meeting, it was clear we all had the same vision for the film.

I wish I could tell you more, but all I can say is that we are in talks with ADI (the insanely talented company that did Aliens, Predator, IT, etc.) to do our practical FXs, and I am thrilled at the idea of working alongside Alec Gillis to create our Lizard People. What a fantastic opportunity to work with amazing talent and to help be a part of the fight to keep the art of practical effects alive. Puppetted animatronics, lizard people, and tons of death. What more could a lady ask for?

B: Living the dream indeed! Lizard people sound EPIC! We look forward to hearing more in the future.

The very best of luck with Puppet Killer. The B Club cannot wait to review it.

Thanks again for your time and giving us an insight into the life of Lisa Ovies.

Lisa: Thanks so much for having me, and I can’t wait to share both films with you and any news as it unfolds.