Sponsored feature: Yikilmis Filmproduktion GbR
Pink Rabbit is a new fantasy horror film written and directed by Zetkin Yikilmis.
Martha’s daily trip from work to home and her young son becomes a nightmare as a figure dressed like a Pink Rabbit crosses her path. The Pink Rabbit character — played by professional wrestler Roland Ionas Bialke — forces her into three bloody quests, through three different time periods. Can Martha win these challenges and keep her promise to put her son to bed?
Pink Rabbit is a violent ride through time and space in which Martha is not just competing against vicious rivals, but is also confronted with her inner fears and insecurities as a mother.
A Q&A with director Zetkin Yikilmis
Congratulations on the release of your new fantasy horror film Pink Rabbit! How did you come up with the concept for the film, and more specifically the idea of a villain dressed as a pink rabbit?
Thank you! Well, being separated from my son while shooting Planet Zee my last feature film brought up some fears in me. I started dealing with social standards enforced upon women and motherhood. For how I saw this story, I was looking to find a villain reflecting a feminine side. Also, I was thinking about Alice in Wonderland, while writing. Roland Ionas Bialke who plays the Pink Rabbit is a professional wrestler. We worked together for 5 years so I knew he would support me by playing the villain. He is a massive guy and putting him into a pink jumpsuit was something I pictured in my mind and I really wanted to bring that image on screen.
In Pink Rabbit there are so many references and Easter eggs, from modern films like It, Donnie Darko and Fight Club to films by Takashi Miike.
You’re a fan of old-school exploitation films, and you can tell by watching Pink Rabbit how inspired you are by this genre. Are there any specific films you took references from while working on this project?
I am really in love with the aesthetic and overall vibe of Giallo, Mario Bava and Dario Argento; they are some of my biggest influences. In Pink Rabbit there are so many references and Easter eggs, from modern films like It, Donnie Darko and Fight Club to films by Takashi Miike (especially storytelling-wise as I am a big fan of Asian cinema – absolutely a fan-girl!). The handmade set design and props, with the setting of the lights and using specific colors in the different locations, I tried to give it a bit of a 60s – 70s vibe.
You made the film with a skeleton crew of just you and your husband and a small budget. What was your biggest challenge during the filmmaking process? Any tips for other indie filmmakers?
To be honest the whole process is a challenge when you shoot with a two-person crew. We went through trash dumps to find things we could use as props or set decorations. Building up the set was a ton of work, but I also love this part of the process. My husband Dominic did a great job of managing the camera work and sound all at once. I do the planning of every shot and prepare a shot list. I have every picture planned before shooting. Sometimes it’s hard for him to do exactly what I want alone – and I can be a beast when things don’t work. But he is awesome and did an amazing job here. My tips for other filmmakers: just do it! People will come and tell you it’s impossible, but it isn’t when you work hard.
What are the key themes you hope people will take away from watching Pink Rabbit?
Pink Rabbit, for me, is the fight of a woman against old-social stands enforced on her. It’s about the pressure of being a worker and a mother in a capitalist society. But this is just my view, the audience can interpret it differently. I hope people just enjoy the movie and find something to identify with on their own.
You wear so many different hats during the filmmaking process, from acting and directing, to production design and costumes. How did you manage to balance everything so well while bringing your vision to life?
For me it was hard to act and direct at the same time – especially with the physical work – it was not easy. I pulled focus for myself while acting or I helped my husband operate the camera when I was not in the frame. I love working behind the camera so in my next feature I won’t act and concentrate on that. It is a lot of hard work and you need the discipline to keep going, but with a lot of passion, love, and a little bit of self-enslavement I dealt with it.
It’s encouraging to see more female filmmakers working in the horror genre. How did you first get into the horror community and what are you hoping to see more of when it comes to women in this industry?
I got into filmmaking as an assistant director when I worked as a camera assistant. When I met my husband on the set of a student project, we fell in love and decided to do our own projects. As horror is my mutual love and an irreplaceable part of my life, there was no other possibility than doing horror films – and boom, just like that I was a part of the horror community.
When it comes to women in film I can say it is very hard for women on set. I have been in different productions, in different positions and I have to say I have personally experienced things happening to women on set that are very toxic and frightening.
I think women have to be strong and believe in themselves! Harassment and disrespect are unprofessional behaviors we may experience at times, but holding it together and speaking up for yourself is very important. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love. There are so many creative, intelligent and talented women out there and I really want to encourage them to do what they love and feel good with, no matter what people do or say to stop them. Just don’t give up!
Pink Rabbit was released through Gravitas Ventures on September 13th. For more information and to find out where to watch the full film, visit pink-rabbit.movie.