Tonjia Atomic On Life-Changing Career, Horror
Tonjia Atomic Exclusive Interview
Tonjia Atomic is an award-winning filmmaker with twelve (12) directorial credits spanning nine years. Atomic also starred in fifteen (15) full feature films and shorts combined. The emphasis of her work focuses on the Horror genre. Besides her film production work, Atomic is also a musician, and writer. Her films include Plain Devil and Walking to Linas. Her writing circulated in several online and print magazines. Atomic’s recent film is titled; Manos Returns, the sequel to the 1965 cult film Manos the Hands of Fate.
The following interview is composed by Samantha Kolesnik, DecayMag Content Contributor.
Ken Artuz, Founder DecayMag
Samantha Kolesnik: Tell us about what you do in horror.
Tonjia Atomic: I am a filmmaker and musician. I work a lot in horror and comedy including the feature film Manos Returns which is the sequel to the 1966 film Manos the Hands of Fate.
Samantha Kolesnik: What is the best part about creating art in the horror genre?
Tonjia Atomic: To be honest, I love the effects. I love the makeup and the gore effects and also prepping everything to work out just right. On a deeper level, I think horror allows the storyteller to be able to delve into darker and more sensitive subject matter without having to look at it in a straightforward way that can be too raw and too painful.
If you can be honest and expose or explore difficult subjects in a way that also sparks creativity rather than just reliving a trauma I think it can be very beneficial.
Samantha Kolesnik: Someone comes up to you and says they’re about to make their first film ever. What would you tell them?
Tonjia Atomic: Hurray! Network. Network. Network. Filmmaking is the most collaborative arts process I’ve ever known. You have to find and work with the right people to get any film made. That’s also true for when the film is done. You have to network and make connections to get your film seen. Get advice from people who have done it before.
Samantha Kolesnik: What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your horror career?
Tonjia Atomic: I’ve had some people not take me seriously. Most of them, interestingly enough, were other filmmakers. I take what I do very seriously though and to me, that’s what matters.
Samantha Kolesnik: What are your horror plans for 2018?
Tonjia Atomic: I’m working on a feature film called Raw Meat. It stars Bill Oberst Jr. as a skinless killer.
I’m also working on a few things that I can’t talk about yet, but I can say that they involve Joe Sherlock from Skullface Astronaut, Jackey Neyman Jones from Manos the Hands of Fate, and Michelle Nessk from Horrors of the Pacific Northwest.
Samantha Kolesnik: Name one or more other #womeninhorror who have inspired, helped, or motivated you along the way.
Tonjia Atomic: Hannah Neurotica and Heidi Honeycutt introduced me to a group of other female genre filmmakers. That changed my life. Before that, I felt like I was alone. Jen and Sylvia Soska were the first people to ever write about me and my movies.
They’ve supported me from the beginning and I’ve recently created a PSA for their annual Massive Blood Drive with two other filmmakers who have also supported me for a long time, Nadine L’Esperance and Michelle Nessk.