Shannon Interviews Aaron "Small Hands" Thompson and Tristan Risk of "Love is Dead"

I first met writer/director Jerry Smith a few weeks ago at a party in Los Angeles.  Immediately upon meeting him, I knew that I was sitting in front of a truly humble and honest individual who had extensive knowledge of the horror genre as well as an honest to God passion for it.  Even though I’ve only met Jerry once, I was completely taken by his kindness and generosity.  When I found out that he was going to be starting a Kickstarter for his short film “Love is Dead,” I wanted to do whatever I could to help.  

“Love is Dead” is a story that I think most of us can relate to, whether we want to admit it or not.  “Love is Dead” tells a story of emotional violence and a loss of love; as well as the pain that we can afflict onto those we are closest too. This isn’t a romantic movie, but one that hits you right in the gut, and one that is extremely personal to Jerry.  

Director Jerry Smith

Director Jerry Smith

“Love is Dead” has an all-star cast directed by Jerry Smith.  Smith is an active critic/journalist within the horror genre and along with being the Editor-in-Chief of Icons of Fright, he also writes for Blumhouse.com, Fangoria and Delirium Magazine (among others). 

Aaron "Small Hands" Thompson

Aaron "Small Hands" Thompson

Tristan Risk

Tristan Risk

Ruben Pla

Ruben Pla

The cast includes Aaron “Small Hands” Thompson, an accomplished adult film star under the name of Small Hands, Tristan Risk, of AMERICAN MARY, THE EDITOR, and the upcoming film FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS, and Ruben Pla, of INSIDIOUS, BIG ASS SPIDER, and CONTRACTED.  In preparation for the film, I was able to talk to both Aaron Thompson and Tristan Risk to find out more about LOVE IS DEAD. 

Nightmarish Conjurings:  What attracted you to Jerry Smith’s short film “Love is Dead”?

Aaron Thompson:  Initially I was attracted to this film because it’s dark…Like…really fuckin dark.  I generally play less serious roles and this one really stood out to me because of the chance to play (for lack of a better term) a SERIOUS fuckin asshole.

Tristan Risk:  I love horror.  I think that oftentimes it can too easily get swept away in the fantastic.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but there is a real day-to-day horror that most people experience, and oftentimes it’s roots are human emotions.  “Love is Dead” is an example of how that high-running volatile and complex feelings can inflict the worst horror.

NC:  “Love is Dead” deals with some heavy topics (emotional violence, loss of a loved one, etc).  How did you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for this sort of film? 

AT:  I listen to a ton of Nick Cave, drink whisky, and really go down the rabbit hole into my bad place….

TR:  I think everyone can find some ways to relate.  I have gone through a lot of emotional turmoil in my own personal life, so I think that tapping into that will not only serve the purposes of the film, but be cathartic for myself as well.

NC:  What type of research did you do to get into your characters role? 

AT:  None, I have known people who mirror this character (this is not a compliment haha) and I drew from personal experiences. 

TR:  Life experience.  Mother always said experience is the best teacher. 

NC:  What are your thoughts on each of your character’s personalities?  What are their strengths and weknesses? 

AT:  I’d rather let that play out onscreen, I have my own ideas of what the other characters should be like, but I prefer to see what the other cast brings to the table and I trust their instincts! 

TR:  I don’t want to give too much away with regards to the plot.  However, I’m excited to portray a woman who is lovelorn, and both extremely determined and emotionally agitated.  I think that despite her pain, she possesses a steely resolve to inflict maximum damage. 

NC: Do you believe that there are different definitions and degrees of love and that ultimately love can die?

AT:  How much time do we have? haha… I guess my short answer to that would be: If you have ever considered love to be “alive” in any way, if it has ever made you feel alive, changed your life, struck a deep chord with you, then by natural logic it ultimately CAN die.  All living things die at some point, it’s the how/why/when/where that makes things interesting…but on the same token since love is not a tangible thing that we can hold, grab, squeeze tightly, lock in a drawer, chain to a pipe in the basement, etc….maybe it can’t die?  Maybe it just changes shapes and forms but lives forever?  Or maybe it’s all made up bullshit we created from our own insecurities and fears of being alone and not mattering in the world…when someone loves you, you MATTER.  So when someone takes that away… you can feel…well…like you have no value, no place, no home, no soul.  You’re just a floating blip in the vast universe, a tiny pointless spec of garbage in a world where no one gives a shit…that’s a sobering thought. 

TR:  I do.  I think there is a kaleidoscope of degrees of both love and hate.  I believe in ghosts and the paranormal and very much that strong emotions can leave a psychic stain on both the landscape and the soul.  As a closet romantic, I’d like to think that true love never really dies. 

NC:  What do you want the audience to take away from “Love is Dead”?

AT:  I want to bring them to a new low…I want people after they see this to be visibly uncomfortable, sad, exhausted and pretty much feel beaten down. Because that’s how I felt after I read the script.  This ain’t no Hollywood rom-com. 

TR:  To treat the people you love well.

NC:  Thank you so much Aaron and Tristan for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving our readers a look into what we can expect from “Love is Dead.” 

Are you interested in helping get this movie made?  If so, go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/488540865/love-is-dead-0 and donate. Whether it’s $5 or $500, every little bit helps and there are amazing perks such as signed photos from Aaron Thompson and Tristan Risk to exclusive artwork from Stephanie Malone, and more!  Support if you can and lets see this movie get made!

Also, if you want to learn more about what the feel and atmosphere of the film will be, then make sure to check out the following clip.