Multi-Talented Artists Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein
–Tell me about yourself and your career
We run the production company, Launch Over, with a primary mission of creating socially conscious narrative and documentary films, especially in the horror and science-fiction genres. We’ve release four features so far: social satire horror, Clickbait (2019); vampire throwback, Blood of the Tribades (2016); cerebral time-loop trance, Magnetic (2015); and deconstructed murder mystery, TEN (2014).
–What projects are you working on now?
We haven’t announced anything formally yet, but we have four micro-budget feature film projects that seem to be going forward. A lot of the timelines on these will just depend on money. The only one we can talk about is a documentary currently in post-production about women’s experiences in rock music, as part of the Women of Rock Oral History Project, for which we’ve been shooting video interviews for years.
–What attracted to you them?
We try and choose projects with social and entertainment value that can be created affordably and using resources that are available to us.
–What do you hope fans like about it?
We want to always bring something surprising to the people who follow our work. We really try to make sure that every project is something new and different while ensuring that our DNA is clearly expressed in every project. We are big fans of theme-driven filmmaking and so far, the constant interwoven thematic threads present in our work seem to be the most relatable element to our audience. We want to start conversations and get people thinking while they have fun watching our movies.
–What are some memorable moments from your career?
We are quite bad about stopping to enjoy our successes. We just prefer to give a nod and keep moving toward the next ideas and next goals. It’s really just an honor and a pleasure to know that anyone gives a bit of their time and money to watch something we’ve created.
We’ve had music videos in TIME magazine year-end lists, songs in Dance Dance Revolution video games, got to shoot interviews with some of our film and music heroes, had a vampire film play in Transylvania, and had so many other surreal and interesting moments that it’s almost hard to single anything out. Really, we just try and find a way to make every day a new adventure.
–What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge from the beginning, and probably until the end, is money. We have many, many ideas and scripts and projects that we would love to complete, but money is always the primary factor in deciding what goes forward and what sits on the shelf. Some of our top creative choices will likely never get greenlit because they are too ambitious or too esoteric. There was an era in the film industry in which most films were ambitious and esoteric!
–What would be your dream project?
Our current dream project is an Italian-horror influenced witch movie – The Caul. We have a first working version of a script and look book for it, and it has done well in screenplay competitions. Unfortunately, the story involves lots of children, even more animals, and full access to a scenic, seaside town that can pass for the 1970s. So, while it’s not exactly a superhero movie by budget, it’s pretty large scale for a film that is a little more modest in potential mainstream audience appeal.
We also have a science-fiction TV anthology series in development called The Unnaturals that we would love to see become reality. It’s a kind of bite-sized storytelling approach to dystopian worlds like those of Philip Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, etc.
–Who are some people you would like to work with?
We just try to work with actors and crew who live and breathe film. We really appreciate when people get into the field because they love the art and possibilities. We meet a lot of people in film who barely actually watch movies. We want people who watch 300 or 400 movies a year.
On the more famous side, when you see someone like Nicolas Cage performing in a movie, you know he is using the entire history of cinema to make decisions about how to create that character. He always swings for the fences with everything he does, and he always brings study and thought to each project. That is really what we want our collaborators to be like.
–What else are you working on?
Our fourth feature film, Clickbait, recently came out on VOD, so we are busy promoting that. You can see the trailer here! We also have several short films on the festival circuit at the moment.
We produced a horror-comedy short, Half-Cocked (trailer), about two scientists who learn how to raise and grant eternal life to the dead, but don’t really carefully consider whether the subject they chose will be happy about this new gift.
We directed a short documentary, Umbilicus Desidero (trailer), about our friend Neal Jones, who lost his belly button in a surgery. Even though it’s obviously silly in a way to mourn the loss of a belly button, we wanted to kind of treat it seriously, as a representation of any kind of loss or change.
Our episode of the Tales from the Grave TV series, The Dial Tone of Doom, about a haunted touch-tone telephone, is also hitting a few fests.
We try and travel to as many of the festivals as possible in between other productions and work.
–What is a fun fact that would surprise fans?
We have played in a number of different thematic bands including: Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, with songs and videos inspired by the ‘60s spy-fi show, The Prisoner; Darling Pet Munkee, a garage-rock tribute to items sold in the backs of old comic books; and Space Balloons, a children’s band with songs about the strange customs of the planet Balloononia and Kurt Vonnegut.
–What are you watching on TV these days?
We mostly like to watch any show set in space! We are lifelong Trekkers and really love Star Trek: Discovery and look forward to the other upcoming Star Trek series. The only show to recently buck the space trend was Deutschland ‘83 / ‘86, which is a really awesome spy show about East & West Germany with an incredible ‘80s soundtrack.
–Anything else you want to tell America?