Sophia Cacciola [Interview]

So, we are wrapping up our Women of the Present showcase in the best way we could possibly imagine. Today’s interviewee is a person we have been talking about here at Trainwreck’d Society almost since our inception so many years ago. She is a filmmaker, musician, writer, and overall wonderfully talented individual that we have been fortunate enough to follow along a wonderful journey of artistic discovery. It is the great Sophia Cacciola.

Sophia Cacciola recently transplanted herself from the greater Boston area with her partner Michael J. Epstein (also no stranger to TWS), to the City of Angels, where she has been shaking up the scene as a woman behind and in front of the camera pretty much since she landed. And for those of you who haven’t been living in a box, you will also recognize Sophia as the vocalist behind one of our favorite bands, The Prisoner themed Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. So, she is no stranger to the TWS world, but we have never formally/digitally sat down and asked her some questions directly. We’ve talked extensively about her work over the years, but never got around to talking to her directly.

So, what better time to get a few words from her when we are celebrating the wonderful accomplishments of women in the world of film and television who are killing it in the business. We are so excited to have Sophia headline the entire gig, and wrap everything up so beautifully. So, please enjoy a few words with the great Sophia Cacciola!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a part of the creative world? What are some of your earliest memories that made you realize you were destined to live the life of an artist?

I’ve always known. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, on a mostly non-functional farm. When I was really young, I had a Fisher-Price cassette deck with a microphone. I think you were supposed to use it to sing along to Disney classics. Instead, I used it to write and record my own little songs. I remember wandering around the empty barn and fields singing crazy songs.

When I was twelve, my father gave me his guitar and sent me to a few guitar lessons and from there I was writing songs every day. By 14, I was finding cafes to play at. In high school, I was part of the AV club, which gave me access to VHS cameras, so in addition to shooting live events (plays/sports), I would bring cameras home on weekends and shoot weird little movies at my house (which is super-creepy, from the 1700s) either live cutting in camera, or later with two VCRs.

My parents were hippies, and I was never pressured into considering college or a “real” career. I was raised to be very independent and self-sufficient, and desk jobs (while I’ve had my share) never could interest me for long. I took off to Boston at 16 to play music, got a job in a record store, and started a bunch of bands. Nowadays, I’m much more in the film world than music, but both figure prominently into my output.

When you find yourself in the writing process, what is your ultimate end goal in story telling? Beyond the pure unadulterated entertainment you provide, what are you essentially hoping to tell your fans through your writing?

With my songs, I was always processing anger and depression into snippets of conversations. They always felt like they were part of another world; one that I created, full of snapshots of relationships, rooms. So, those are much more open-ended than films, and just about providing me a voice, and hopefully somethings others can interpret for themselves and relate to.

With films, and especially feature films (where you have more time to explore/develop), I have the express goal of having a message. I love science fiction and horror films, and the biggest thing that resonates with me is how they hold a mirror (exaggerated, yes) up to society to make commentary. I love leaving a movie and having something to think about. I feel a responsibility, especially as an indie-filmmaker,, to have something to say.

You made quite the splash with your following in the Boston area when you announced that you would be relocating to Los Angeles. I know people were obviously sad to see you go, but knew it was what was best for you. So how are you transitioning out in the City of Angels? Are you finding it easier to find work out west? How has your life changed since relocating?

I’m loving it in Los Angeles. For one thing, no winter can be beat! The big change is that I’m able to find lots more work in film. So, in addition to working on taking our films to the next level, I’m supplementing my time with doing cinematography (and other work) for other directors, which keeps me sharp and learning all the time. There are lots of every kind of project, and I want to work on them all!

You seem to always have like a dozen film projects going at a time. But how has the music been going for you? Are we going to get to hear more from our beloved Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling?

I’ve definitely been pining to start working on music again. Michael [J. Epstein] (my film/life/music partner) and I will probably be starting up a new band in LA soon. It’s time for an electro-punk revival. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling is still going for at least this year. We have two more songs to write/record in our series of 17 songs based on the 1967 British TV-show, The Prisoner. We are very, very excited to be playing at the upcoming PrisonerCon in Seattle in September. We’re coming together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner for a whole weekend. Our new, final songs, and hopefully some new videos, will be completed by then.


In your films like Ten, Magnetic, and Blood of the Tribades, you put a wonderful and rightfully empowered twist on subjects by featuring primarily women, and in the case of Ten ONLY women, and in Magnetic…just one person, a woman! These are brilliant yet practically unheard of things to do in the world of filmmaking, truly ground breaking. When did you decide that these were the types of films you wanted to make? And why do believe this idea is so rare in the modern world of filmmaking?

I decided I wanted to make films featuring interesting women, women actually doing things, because that’s the kind of film I want to see, and there really is a distinct lack of female representation in film. Everyone deserves to feel represented on the silver screen! It opens up whole new worlds for people, and if certain groups/genders are entirely ignored (as they mostly have been), then they don’t get the same inspiration from films the way others with better representation might. And worse, their stories aren’t told. We’ve had many years of the same perspectives and it’s absolutely time for new, fresh stories to be told. We have so much more ground to cover. I will always make films that feature fully fleshed out women, and I’ve been working on creating more diversity in my output as well.

When you think about other women who are working so hard behind the camera, do you feel as though there has been a good amount of progress? Even in a very male-saturated business, do you believe that women are finding ways to come out on top?

The statistics are still abysmal. Only 4% of directors are women and that number isn’t seeming to go up. Only 3% of cinematographers are women – camera work has become one of my main jobs. Only 26% of dialogue spoken in films last year was by women. It’s not a lack of interest from women, it’s that women are actively pushed out through not being pro-actively hired or given advancing opportunities.

It’s also generally a hard field to be in, as it is a “boys’ club,” and you have to push through a lot of micro-aggressions to begin to be respected, which is difficult when you are already doing a very physically and psychologically intensive job. So, it is still a struggle. That said, there are a lot of great opportunities and groups for women and for now, people seem to be recognizing that there is a problem. Women-led movies tend to do well when they are given the chance, but the common belief, despite evidence otherwise, is still that they won’t do well and they shouldn’t be funded. There is plenty of audience for these characters/stories, and the effort needs to come from the top-down!

What would you consider your dream project to work on if given any opportunity possible?

My dream-project would be a sci-fi horror film set in space! I’m the hugest Trekkie, so really anything set on a spaceship would utterly delight me. I also spent a month on a shoot in Roswell recently, which really got me thinking about how great a series about the events of 1947 (alien visitation? military testing?) would make a great thriller/conspiracy TV series.

What does the future hold for you? What should our readers be looking out for in the future?

Right now, I’m working on a thriller starring two women (big surprise!), with the hopes to shoot that with a decent budget, and then probably also some more wacky low-budget genre-features in the meantime! People can expect off-the-wall weirdness from me for many years to come!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A few months ago, we got to return to Boston to do some interviews with the cast and crew of Blood of the Tribades (our latest film, a 1970s-style lesbian vampire, Rollin & Hammer-homage). We turned those interviews into a feature-length documentary called, The Blood is the Life. Talking to the people involved with the film a year and a half after filming was really special. It was so amazing to hear their perspectives on the film, how they felt about telling that story, and their fun anecdotes from set. It also furthered and launched a few people into making their own films, it feels great that the experience inspired them. The interviews made me realize that my success as a director is bringing together a community of people and creating a family who will always be connected by this slice of time and film.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: