The world of Indie Horror Film is alive and well. While the horror genre has long been a gateway for various filmmakers, writers, and actors before moving on to larger careers, horror filmmaking is becoming a bastion for burgeoning women filmmakers looking for a chance to tell their stories. One such filmmakers is Staci Layne Wilson, who was able to sit down with the Legion and share her perspective on horror filmmaking and the industry at large.
LegionOfLeia: You started out as a journalist covering various media and for numerous outlets. How did you find yourself transitioning from that into proper filmmaking?
Staci Layne Wilson: I started with a short film in 2010, something I was just inspired to do. One thing led to another, I started directing music videos and short films which led to an opportunity to direct my first feature, Fetish Factory, after meeting Jennifer Blanc-Biehn. She’s given great opportunities, particularly for female filmmakers.
LoL: Between filmmakers like the Soska Sisters, Jennifer Kent, Ana Lily Amirpour, horror seems to be becoming very much a genre for women filmmakers. Why do you think the genre is becoming more popular and open with women behind the camera?
SLW: I think it’s great, being a female. I’ve loved horror since I was a kid, it’s becoming more acceptable like comics and science fiction. Opportunities have opened up and you just try to get into it, you know, you do it on an independent level. It’s hard to make a living, but it’s a good way to get out there.
LoL: You also have several books under your belt. Can you tell me about the differences in writing for the page and writing for the screen?
SLW: Well, when you’re writing a book it’s a very interior, solitary experience. You have to create this whole world all by yourself, which has a certain allure to it. But then when you’re writing a script you have to think about the fact that actors are going to bring it to life and the director is going to bring another dimension to it, the DP is going to make it look a certain way, eventually editing a score it’s going to be a whole different thing. So when you write a book you’re starting it and finishing it as you. Whereas when you write a screenplay you’re starting it as you but ending it as a whole team. Which has a different sort of satisfaction when it’s all done.
LoL: What impact do you feel shows like Scream Queens and The Walking Dead have had on audiences and the horror genre in general?
SLW: Well, the word “Horror” is still kind of a dirty word. People who don’t think that they like horror actually do cause they do watch those shows. I think it’s a good thing, though. It’s a great way to tell stories. Especially in turbulent times and our political climate I think we’re gonna see a lot more horror stories as a way of working out fears that are in the real world in a more supernatural, more heightened way. So, I think it’s good.
LoL: That opening for The Fiance, was it a riff on The Walking Dead credits?
SLW: Oh yeah, absolutely, yeah. The director, Mark Allen Michaels is a fan and he loves zombies. Actually his next movie is a zombie flick that we just wrapped and it’s being edited now. He’s a big fan of the comics and the show.
LoL: You’ve worked with actress Carrie Keagan on several of your films. What dynamic do you feel adds to that work relationship in the environment of filmmaking?
SLW: It definitely gives you a short-hand. The fact that Carrie is such a likable person. I met her through journalism, she was also a junketeer, about 10 or 11 years ago. So we’ve known each other, just being colleagues. I knew she was reliable, easy to work with. All those things count as much as talent to me, especially on independent films. You don’t have a lot of time to figure somebody out. Knowing Carrie has definitely been a great time-saver. So the fact that she really comes across beautifully onscreen, and I can guarantee that, that’s a big help for me.
LoL: You are making your feature debut with Fetish Factory. Can you describe your inspiration behind the project and the challenges of making films on a micro-budget?
SLW: We actually shot it a couple years ago, it sometimes takes a long time for these things to really come together. It will be hitting the festival circuit soon. But I’ve never worked on a big budget film, so I guess I don’t know what I’m missing. I also don’t have the pressure of big studio producers with millions of dollars riding on things for me to worry about. So that’s good, because you know what you have to work with. We shot Fetish Factory in five days, working twelve hour days with no breaks, and you just have to run and gun like Roger Corman style in that way. Which is great because you can’t stop to worry about anything. You just have to do it. And that’s how I like to work anyway: I love to start something and then finish it. That’s a great thing. I actually enjoy working in the low-budget indie world. But my landlord doesn’t love me working in it so much. But that’s why I still do horror journalism, I write books, do a lot of different type of writer-for-hire things. Which I love, two, because I like variety. I’m not yet making a living on the film world, but it is something that I love doing. So I hope when people see the movies, they’ll love them too.
The Fiance is out now on DVD and VOD. Fetish Factory will premiere November 27th at The Gindhouse Planet Film Festival.