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The ABCs of Death Exclusive Interview: Xavier Gens

The ABCs of Death.  26 directors, 26 tales…26 interviews.  Today, Magnet released the mammoth horror anthology on VOD and ShockTillYouDrop.com was one of 26 sites that took part in a string of interviews with the directors involved.  (You’ll find all of the interviews at this Tumblr page.) 

We scored a brief e-mail chat with Xavier Gens (Frontiere(s), The Divide), the man responsible for tackling the letter “X.”  You see, directors involved in The ABCs of Death were assigned a letter and asked to tell a “tale of death” around that letter.

Gens delivered the deliciously bloody and perhaps melancholic (depending on how you look at it) “X is for XXL,” about a bullied overweight woman who decides to shed some extra pounds.


Shock:  When this project was presented, how did you land ultimately on the letter X was it assigned or did you choose?  Initial thoughts on landing that letter?

Xavier Gens:  To be honest I was sure I would get the “X” because of my name and if you give an “X” to a French you can expect a porn movie.  But my mind was somewhere else more dirty.

Shock:  Did you toy around with other short story ideas for this one?  If so, what were some of the unused ideas?

Gens:  I was searching for an idea and on my way to the After Dark Film Festival in Toronto I had an early stop in London and while having my coffee I wrote the script in one hour, but I was thinking about it since a month.

Shock:  How much time did you have to knock the segment out and did you have total creative freedom?  Did you, at times, feel you were taking it too far?

Gens:  I never felt like I was taking it too far and I had total creative freedom.  For me the most important thing was the message behind it.  It took me two months from December 2011 to January 2012 to shoot and post-produce the film.  I did have a very strong help from [executive producer] Michel Teicher, Rita Films, betc agency to do it – without him the film would not exist

Shock:  Upon meeting the actress you used, what were her thoughts on the idea…had she much experience working with that much practical FX?

Gens:  The actress Sissi Duparc was so cool, it’s a difficult part because there is full exposure of her body and she was giving full energy to do what she is doing.  For me, the most important was to focus on her performance – the make-up and practical FX are quite simple.  It’s Olivier Afonso – who I’ve work with since Frontiere(s) who did all the FX with his fantastic crew.  Sabine Fevre, Laetitia Hillion and Nicolas Herlin from atelier 69, too.

Shock:  The tried and true question: How much practical blood was spilled for your segment?

Gens:  To be honest I think around 30 liters – it was a real swimming pool of blood.  It took us a full day after to clean it up.

Shock:  Anthologies are making a wider comeback – what are your thoughts on the anthology format, does it provide any challenges for you that you thought were exciting?

Gens:  I think anthologies are like big party holidays for filmmakers.  The challenge is to take pleasure to do what we love to do.  When we are making a feature film, there are always problems to deal with.  Here we can explore new stuff and try new things.

Shock:  Have any favorite segments from ABCs from your colleagues?

Gens:  I really like “D is for dogfight” and “T is for toilets.”  Also, I  like “Q is for quack.”  “F is for fart” made me laugh a lot .  “O is for orgasm” is really beautiful…and there are many others.  It’s so cool to be with so many talented filmmakers.  It’s like a wonderful family and I really appreciate it – love you guys!!! Wish the best for my colleagues for their next feature and the long road of life.


The ABCs of Death is now available on Cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox Zune, Playstation Market, VUDU and Google Play; in theaters starting March 8th from Magnet Releasing.


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