Monthly Archives: March 2012

Want to Write a Guest Post for Women and Hollywood?

Change Agents: Creating Tangible Social Change...

Change Agents: Creating Tangible Social Change: How to Move People to Action (Photo credit: Average Jane)

by Melissa Silverstein

I’m looking to diversify the voices and experiences of people on the site.  As you can tell there are already a variety of guest posts on the site, but I want to be a bit more proactive.  If you have a story, experience or idea and you think it would make a guest post, this is your chance to go for it.  I believe it is imperative that we get diverse voices of women working in the field out to the world so they can see the great talent that often goes overlooked.

 

Here are some keys and rules for guest posting. 

  • Only posts about women and issues related to entertainment and pop culture will be considered.  But keep in mind this site is not interested in who is wearing who or who is dating who.  Nothing related to any products will be considered.
  • No press releases masquerading as posts.
  • Make it real and honest in your own voice and relevant.  Please be familiar with the tone of the site. 
  • Don’t make it longer than 700 words.
  • Submit it in text format.
  • Send links you would like embedded into the post next to the location you want them embedded (I will embed).
  • Attach an image with the post.
  • Make sure to give it a title.
  • Make sure to send a one line bio and a link to your site or film.
  • Make sure to include anything about when and where the film opens or when or what channel the TV show will be on.
  • Please don’t use this guest post to fundraise.  Posts that focus on fundraising will not be considered.

Keep in mind that submitting a post is not a guarantee that it will be used.  All posts will be edited.  Also, there will be no compensation for guest posts.  Sorry.

Send all guest post to melissa@womenandhollywood.com

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FFF Winner, Crime After Crime – Feted

Crime After Crime, one of the Women In Film Foundation’s 2010 Film Finishing Fund Grant has won the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award.

Crime Time

Image via Wikipedia

We congratulate producer-director-editor Yoav Potash, the rest of the production team and the documentary’s subject Deborah Peagler.

“THIS RIVETING AND DEVASTATING DOCUMENTARY follows the sustained efforts of two land-use attorneys who decide to take on the case of a woman incarcerated for years due to her role in the death of an abusive boyfriend. It relates a great miscarriage of justice—but also one of heroic legal perseverance, with a surprisingly colorful cast of characters.”
New York MagazineCRITICS’ PICK

“IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE A BIGGER BOMBSHELL being dropped in the lap
of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office than “Crime After Crime.”
Variety

“…A TREMENDOUSLY MOVING STORY, strong in social commitment and deftly woven out of years of footage.”
The Hollywood Reporter

www.CrimeAfterCrime.com

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Stephanie Allain Named Director of LA Film Fest

Art. Motivation.

Art. Motivation. (Photo credit: Be.Futureproof)

Newly elected WIF Board Member, Hustle & Flow producer and former Jim Henson Pictures president Stephanie Allainis the new director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, the festival said Wednesday.

She begins immediately and succeeds Rebecca Yeldham, who stepped down after nearly three years with the festival.

Read more about it at:
The WrapVarietyThe Hollywood ReporterThe Los Angeles Times

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Film Finishing Fund 2012

The Women In Film Foundation’s Film Finishing Fund (WIFF FFF) supports films by, for or about women by providing cash grants of up to $15,000 and in-kind services.Since the inception of the Fund in 1985, the Foundation has awarded more than $2 million in cash and in-kind services to 170 films ensuring that innovative films can be completed and seen by audiences worldwide.  Cash awards range from $1,000 to $15,000, with the number of grants varying from year to year.  In-kind services may be available upon request.

Among the many FFF success stories is Oscar® winning Short Documentary Freeheld, directed by Cynthia Wade and produced by Vanessa Roth, which was a 2007 grant winner.  Says Wade, “Women In Film came in at a critical point. The Film Finishing grant was a vote of confidence – it’s lonely as an independent filmmaker.  Unless you have the resources, the film is only as effective as the audience you can reach.  I’m grateful to have the understanding that women filmmakers need to be supported.”

Film Finishing Fund recipients’ films have won many major awards including Emmy and Academy Awards, and have screened at festivals worldwide including Sundance, Toronto, South by Southwest, LA Film Festival, Vancouver, AFI Fest, Tribeca, San Francisco, Montreal, Berlin, Avignon, Dubai, and Chicago. They have aired nationally on HBO, PBS (“Frontline” and “POV”), OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network), Showtime, and internationally on various European, Asian, and Australian television channels.

In order to apply for a FFF grant, a filmmaker must have completed principal photography and a rough cut at the time of application.  For specific application requirements, please follow the link and refer to the application.  The program funds filmmakers working in both short and long formats in all genres—narrative, documentary, educational, animated and experimental.  You do not have to be a Women In Film member to apply for the FFF, and we encourage applications from around the world.  Please note that student projects are not eligible to receive Film Finishing Funds.

The FFF is run by experienced industry professionals who have an eye for spotting talent and potential.  For more information, contact the Women In Film Foundation coordinator atfoundation@wif.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Women Make Good Box Office

SusanS_06-09-97

SusanS_06-09-97 (Photo credit: markbult)

By Susan Cartsonis

Telling stories from the female perspective is good box office.  However, only 16 percent of movies are made specifically with women in mind even though half of the ticket buying public is female, which means Hollywood is missing the bet financially—with a few notable exceptions that prove my point.

There are many reasons why there’s a dearth of movies made for women: it has to do with how women are treated in the business in the boardroom, the pressures and logistics of the business, and “conventional wisdom” as opposed to facts and the reality of the changing audience landscape. 

Note to the studios:  stop trying to get the boys back and go after the women.

Here are some facts:  not only do women account for more than 50% of the ticket buying audience, they often choose the movie a couple sees, and choose movies for their children. 

Here are some movie marketer/distributor observations:  Women are often repeat viewers, and view cross-generationally – as they did for The Princess Diaries which was made for grannies and five-year olds but all the women of in between ages came too, making it a hit that grossed $126M in world wide box office—although it cost just $26M to make, and.  Women view therapeutically too—how many women do you know who watch Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, or Brigitte Jones’ Diary repeatedly and fight over who the best Mr. Darcy really is?  Movies for women don’t have to be expensive because they’re more “people powered” than special effects-powered.  Think Twilight:  it cost  $37M and made a $384M return!  Or The Help: a $22M investment that generated $180M at the box office – so far!  That compared to a Transformers or Spiderman or Pirates Of The Carribean – which we may love but they cost well over $100M to make and don’t have nearly the profit margin of a well-made romantic comedy.

Here’s what I know in my bones:  Women have a need to hear their stories told in an authentic way.  And they’re also interested in the inner lives of men.  I know because I’m an audience member as well as a movie-maker and there are too many Friday nights when I feel that there’s nothing I really want to see.  Nothing that speaks to me personally.  And if a movie is made that speaks to me, my friends and I throw a party and go en masse!

I’ve made well over a billion dollars in movie ticket sales as an executive and a producer (leaving aside the huge ancillary markets that include DVDs that would triple the amount of money made).  I’ve done this by making movies from a female perspective, often with female writers, subject matter, and directors.  So I don’t believe that the female audience isn’t a good audience.  I know it’s a great audience.

I’ve had to fight to get a lot of these movies made and marketed well.   I’ve had to fight for marketing dollars when I should be able to use my energies to make more and better movies rather than to justify the market.  I think, no, I know that within the business we can and should change the way we perceive women and entertainment for women.

There are great champions for the female perspective such as Geraldine Laybourne, the founder of Nickelodeon, Oxygen and the Chairman of Alloy Entertainment.  She told me that she feels that we need more female media company owners.  In other words, women who have the power and support to “green light” material that is unique and speaks to the hearts and minds of women.   Men who run the major media companies give the go-ahead to projects that speak to them most viscerally—and I have observed that the visceral overrules any number crunching a company engages in to predict success.

Clearly, telling stories to women is good business.  And when men come too—well it just adds to the profitability.  Look at how well Bridesmaids did. Here’s to Judd Apatow for extending a hand to his fellow comic geniuses Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumulo and helping Bridesmaids get made.  But look at what a well-documented struggle this was!

The studio seemed afraid that men would stay away from a movie that showed the iconography of a line of bridesmaids on a movie poster, so they seemingly marketed almost exclusively to men pre-release.  In fact, men went in groups, a phenomenon that they called “wolf-packs”.

Anecdotally, I found that a lot of women stayed away that first weekend thinking that the movie was purely a gross out comedy, until they heard Bridesmaids had romantic and emotional content with female-friendly humor.  When they did go, they found exceptionally original moments like the “cupcake making scene”.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say:  had the studio done more marketing to women pre-release, the film, (which cost  $32 M and made $169 M) would have made 20 to 30 percent more money because women would have come in even larger numbers that opening weekend.  And I’m going to go out on another limb and say that men probably loved the cupcake making scene—because it’s a little peephole into the inner lives of women.  They want to know what makes us tick, particularly if it’s told in an original way.   When we did the market research on an extraordinarily female oriented and female marketed film (it was even an Oprah’s Book Club pick!) we found that men rated the film even higher than women.  Turns out men want to know about the inner lives of women, too.

So my solution?  Get out and vote with your dollar, see women’s movies.  Women drive over 60% of messaging in social media—talk about the movies you like and encourage your friends to go.  If you’re a film maker, keep making films and find a way to invest in your own work financially so that you can drive the creative and financial decision making process.  Your voice and your perspective are legit and profound and powerful—and will find an audience.

Susan Cartsonis is a producer and former studio executive. In 2000, she was named one of the top five grossing producers of the year, thanks to her box-office-record-breaking film What Women Want starring Mel Gibson, and Where the Heart Is, starring Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, and Sally Field Most recently, Susan produced the upcoming Beastly (a retelling of Beauty and the Beast) for CBS Films and Aquamarine for theatrical release. While at Fox, she developed and supervised: Nell, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Rookie of the Year, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which launched the successful television series. Susan was an instructor with New York University’s dramatic writing program. She received her MFA in dramatic writing from NYU and a bachelor of arts in theatre from UCLA.  Susan was recently elected Chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees of Women in Film.

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WIF Grant Winner Gets Oscar Nod

 

Jury Prize (Cannes Film Festival)

Image via Wikipedia

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, winner of the WIF/National Geographic All Roads Grant and the Sundance Short Filmmaking Jury Prize in 2012, has been nominated for an Oscar®.  WIF congratulates Director/Producer Lucy Walker and the the rest of her creative team.

The film tells the story of survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan’s recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins.  It’s a stunning visual poem about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower.  Featuring photography by Aaron Phillips and music by Moby.

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WIF Celebrates Black History Month 2012

Français : Sofia Coppola, le 7 novembre 2010 à...

Image via Wikipedia

Women Make Movies was founded more than 30 years ago to address the under-representation and misrepresentation of women in media. According to the latest industry statistics, the fight goes on! Below are a few startling facts about the status of women in the industry, some heartening information from Women Make Movies, plus links to other great resources for the latest statistics, articles and opinions about women in the industry.

Film & Entertainment Industry Facts
Facts About Women Make Movies
Other Online Resources and Links 

Film & Entertainment Industry Facts

  • There are 39 film festivals solely dedicated to showing the work of women directors throughout the world. –Women in the Director’s Chair
     
  • Twenty one percent (21%) of the top 250 domestic grossing films released in 2007 employed no women directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, or editors—a 2% increase since 2006. None of these films failed to employ a man in at least one of these roles. Celluloid Ceiling 2007 Report
     
  • Women accounted for 6% of directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films released in 2007, a decline of 1% since 2006. This figure is approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 2000 when women accounted for 11% of all directors. Celluloid Ceiling 2007 Report
     
  • A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2007 and 1998 reveals that the percentage of women in all behind-the-scenes roles (directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers) has declined. Celluloid Ceiling 2007 Report
     
  • Women accounted for 10% of writers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2007. Eighty two percent (82%) of the films had no female writers. Celluloid Ceiling 2007 Report
     
  • Women working behind the scenes influenced the number of on-screen women. When a program had no female creators, females accounted for 40% of all characters. However, when a program employed at least one woman creator, females comprised 45% of all characters. -Boxed In: Women On Screen and Behind the Scenes in the 2003-04 Prime-time Season, by Martha Lauzen
     
  • Men write 70% and women 30% of all film reviews published in the nation’s top newspapers. -Thumbs Down Report
     
  • Forty seven percent (47%) of the nation’s top newspapers do not include film reviews written by women, whereas only 12% do not include film reviews written by men. -Thumbs Down Report
     
  • On average, films employing at least one woman as director, executive producer, producer, or writer earned slightly higher opening weekend U.S. box office grosses ($27.1 vs. 24.6 million) than films with only men in these roles. -Women @ The Box Office
     
  • On average, films employing at least one woman as director, executive producer, producer, or writer grossed approximately the same at domestic box offices ($82.1 vs. $81.9 million) as films with only men in these roles. -Women @ The Box Office
  • In Academy Award history, four female filmmakers have been nominated for best director (Lina Wertmuller-1977, Jane Campion-1994, and Sofia Coppola-2004, Kathryn Bigelow – 2010), but only Kathryn has won. -Women’s E-News
  • WMM has more than 500 films in its collection, representing more than 400 filmmakers from nearly 30 countries around the globe.
     
  • In the last decade, WMM has worked with dozens of local women’s organizations in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to support new International Women’s Film Festivals.
     
  • Projects that WMM has supported and distributed have been nominated for and won all of the most prestigious media awards, including the Academy Award, Emmy Award, Peabody Award, and the duPont-Columbia University Broadcast Award, among others.
     
  • WMM now sponsors more than 200 projects in its renowned Production Assistance Program, and has helped filmmakers raise close to $4 million in funding over the last 5 years.
    Film director Kathryn Bigelow after a showing ...

    Image via Wikipedia

     

  • WMM has returned more than $1.5 million in royalties to women filmmakers over the last three years.
     
  • WMM serves as an advisor to pioneering projects around the world including: the Gender Montage Project which trains filmmakers in the former Soviet Republics; and a groundbreaking program developed to promote filmmaking in Iraq.
     
  • WMM films have been aired by major broadcasters around the world, including HBO/Cinemax, PBS, Sundance Channel, IFC and international broadcasters such as ZDF, Arte, KBS Korea and TV Globo Brazil.

Other Online Resources and Links

New York Women in Film and Television’s Resource List
www.nywift.org/article.aspx?id=60
NYWIFT’s list of resources that document the status of women in the industry. Contains articles, statistics and links to important reports on the subject.

Professional Organization of Women in Entertainment Reaching UP!
www.power-up.net/
POWER UP works to promote the visibility and integration of gay women in the arts and all forms of media. POWER UP runs a workshop series as well as providing grants to filmmakers.

Women’s Study Section
www.bama.ua.edu/~mbarrett/filmwsslinks.html
A compilation of research from the Association of College and Research Libraries provides links to information concerning women in film. There are general sites, directories, criticisms, reviews, and organizations which give links to substantive information regarding women in film.

The Guerilla Girls
www.guerillagirls.com
The Guerrilla Girls are a group of women artists, writers, performers, film makers and arts professionals who fight discrimination. They produce art posters, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in the art world and culture at large.

“The Woman Behind the Camera” Ann Lewinson www.independent.jknet.hk/AnnLewinson.htm
This article talks about the biases society imposes on women thus limiting their career in the film industry. Early NYU film students were told that women could not make feature films. These confessions along with chilling statistics from the Celluloid Ceiling tell the current status of women behind the camera.

The World’s Women On-Line!

Zdjęcie zrobione podczas międzynarodowego fest...

Image via Wikipedia


wwol.is.asu.edu
The World’s Women On-Line! is an electronic art networking project originally established to be presented at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995. Utilizing the Internet as a global exhibition format, this site focuses attention on the challenge of bringing the vast resource of women’s experience and culture into the rapidly developing field of information technology. The World’s Women On-Line! demonstrates the professionalism and achievement of women artists internationally; bridges language barriers through art imagery; and promotes the interdisciplinary collaboration between technologists and artists.

 “Status of Contemporary Women Filmmakers” Dr. Katrien Jacobs pages.emerson.edu/faculty/Katrien_Jacobs/articles/womenfilm/womenfilm.html
This article gives an in-depth analysis of international filmmaking and the ideologies that restrict women filmmakers. The effects of globalization and American corporations have made the emergence of women into the industry more difficult. Yet, there are still companies that are prevailing including WMM. There are some great quotes and analysis of current trends and how they will affect the woman filmmaker.

“Two Women Filmmakers Win Oscars” Cynthia L. Cooper www.womensenews.org/article.cfm?aid=490
Woman filmmakers are making their mark in the 2001 Oscars, despite the fact that a female director has never won the director of the year award. This article praises the feminine use of documentary. Cooper writes, “The golden statue is just a distant glimmer for most in the expanding opus of women’s work.” There are also links to other film and media sources that focus on women.

University of Berkeley
www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/womenbib.html#industry
University of Berkeley’s bibliography of books and articles concerning women in the industry.

Women In the Director’s Chair
www.widc.org/links.html
This site has a plethora of information that can be used by a filmmaker and/or academic looking for resources for women.

Fade In
Galloway_article.pdf
Reprinted from www.FadeinOnline.com
An article by Stephen Galloway entitled “Women On The Verge: In Today’s Hollywood, Even If Women ‘Pass the Test,’ Can They Get Past The Testosterone?” talks about the issues affecting women filmmakers after graduating from film school. The article dishearteningly mentions information concerning the existent “boy’s club” in a supposed liberal Hollywood. “Male Dominance in the Hollywood Workplace, and What is Means for Women Making—and Seeing—Movies”

Tamara L. Sobel, The Girls, Women and Media Project www.mergemag.org/1999/novdec99/lauzen1999.html
Sobel sketches the grim portrait of women’s participation in Hollywood. Though a bit dated, this article from 1999 acknowledges the lack of creative influence and opportunity in Hollywood.

“Interviewer Interviewed: A Discussion with Trihn Minh-ha” pages.emerson.edu/organizations/fas/latent_image/issues/1993-12/trihn.htm
Acclaimed filmmaker and professor Trihn Minh-ha reflects on the independent filmmaking process, compares and contrasts filmmaking and writing, and discusses feminism, the art of balancing scholarship with creativity, and how she defines the ‘political’ in an interview with Tina Spangler from Emerson College.

“Listen to You Own Voice! An interview with Native American independent filmmaker, Sandra Osawa
www.inmotionmagazine.com/osawa.html
Victor Payan chats with documentary filmmaker Sandra Osawa about her influences, film school, the documentary process, opportunities for Native American filmmakers, and how she navigated through a male dominated industry.

“Strong Women’s Roles at Toronto Festival”
www.thebigscreen.com/flix/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=32
In this article David Germain examines upcoming women’s roles in films at the Toronto International Film Festival. Using quotes from actresses and other women in the industry, Germain argues that while independent films have traditionally offered actresses roles of substance, films such as The Hours may have set a new standard in Hollywood filmmaking in terms of depth in women’s roles.

n.paradoxa – International Feminist Art Journal
www.ktpress.co.uk
Founded in 1998, n.paradoxa publishes scholarly and critical articles written by women critics, art historians and artists on the work of contemporary women artists post-1970 (visual arts only) working anywhere in the world. Each thematic volume in print contains artists and authors from more than 10 countries in the world and explores their work in relation to feminist theory.

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Incredible Girl

Incredible Girl is a sexy short film exploring female empowerment with same sex themes. It’s a coming of age story placed in a sexual playground.

Our Story

This project started with a blog post:

…as I was dancing ( in the club), I saw this female approach me in the most diva way one can imagine…She entered my space bubble with authority and stood right in front of me. I stopped my dancing, matched her stance and made eye contact with her. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen. In the next minute or so the world disappeared as she reached out and fingered the bottom of my shirt with her chipped red nails. She slowly started to work her fingers up underneath my shirt. I stood there unable to say anything because I was caught off guard by the sheer nerve she had. She crept up my solar plexus until she reached the bottom of my bra. She paused and stared at me hard and unflinching in the eye. With a quick step back I detached myself from her wandering fingers… I kept her eye locked for a second and then she stepped forward in a small gesture of respect (like after a sumo pair finish their wrestle), whispered in my ear “you’re gorgeous”, and walked away with as much flair as she approached me with. This is one of the most mind blowing people I have ever encountered in my life. The nerve she had was Incredible!

My good friend, Miguel Amodio, left a comment on it: “This is awesome! You should turn it into a movie”. Then we talked.

Mission Statement

And several years later, here we are with “Incredible Girl”: in homage to those people who have the power to inspire and revolutionize our lives because of sheer bad-ass-ness (i.e. confidence). My goal is to offer inspiration for others to revolutionize their lives, like she did for me. What bonds us as a team is that it’s important for each of us to be connected to work that excites us and has the power to change lives positively.

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Solmaz Niki-Kerman

Solmaz Niki-Kermani & Navid Negahban

Solmaz Niki-Kermani & Navid Negahban

Solmaz Niki-Kermani is an actress, writer, director and the founder of Mahtab Entertainment.  She was born in Iran, where she discovered her love for the arts.  An honor student in Mathematics, she won a national best actress award for a play taped for Iranian cable TV at the age of sixteen.  Less than a year later, Solmaz moved to the US to study at Harvard University, at which she earned a degree in Liberal Arts.

Her resistance to playing it safe and strong desire to tell stories brought Solmaz to Los Angeles early 2011.  Solmaz met Russell Boast soon after her arrival, and, after hearing her idea for a film, he encouraged her to write the script.  Russell produced her first screenplay, TO THE MOON, with Solmaz as the lead.  The film was helmed by English director Damian Harris, son of the late actor Richard Harris.

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Interview with Indie Producer Nikki Wall

Anne Rice

Image via Wikipedia

Interview by Sarah “Fatally Yours” Jahier

This interview is part of Fatally-Yours’ Women in Horror interview series. We’ll be featuring interviews with women in the horror industry the whole month of February! Read more about Women in Horror Month here!

Nikki Wall is an indie producer who has worked, so far, solely with her husband, Creep Creepersin. The two met at the age of 13 and became teenage sweethearts. Now married with two kids of their own, the filmmaker duo has completed several titles including Orgy of Blood, O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown, Vaginal Holocaust and Caged Lesbos A-Go-Go. Nikki also played keyboards and performed backup vocals in their horror rock band, Creepersin. She has begun writing and hopes to direct her own film by the end of 2010. Nikki is also currently a subject of the upcoming documentary entitled Brides of Horror by fellow female filmmaker, Heidi Martinuzzi, and is in the process of being filmed with her family for the first season of their own reality series expected to air in the fall of 2010.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you fall in love with horror?

Nikki Wall: I remember seeing my first “scary movie” when I was 12. It might seem funny but it was Lost Boys. Haha! I had a very sheltered childhood because I was raised Jehovah’s Witness. I had gone to a sleepover with some other girls from church and when we went to go rent our movies, we all paid with our own money to get that movie because we had to sneak it. We had to show her mom at least one movie we had rented with her money that was an approved movie. I don’t even remember what the other one was, but after that, we just wanted to keep watching more horror movies. When Bram Stoker’s Dracula came out, I believe I was about 14 or 15 and I ended up seeing that movie 17 times in the theater. I was so fascinated with it!

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Nikki Wall: Horror to me is just a genre of entertainment that I enjoy. It encompasses the more forbidden side of things. On a daily basis we don’t see giant monsters coming out of the ocean and destroying cities, or acid blooded aliens out in deep space or even masked killers going from house to house in a small town killing young girls. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s a fantasy genre. For me, I’ve always had an overactive imagination and a lot of fears and anxieties about what awaits me around the next corner. Watching horror, ironically enough, usually makes me feel prepared. That might sound strange, but I have learned a few things from all the flicks I’ve seen.

Fatally Yours: What are others’ reactions when you tell them you are involved in the horror genre?

Nikki Wall: Well most of my family hasn’t watched anything I’ve done. Even my in-laws are pretty conservative. I know most of my family would like me out of the genre.  When I tell other people what I do, they seem interested more in the fact that we make indie movies than seeming to care that they’re horror movies so I can’t say that I’ve had any negative reactions so far. There are a lot of my friends that just think it’s the coolest thing in the world. Overall, I guess I would say the reactions are mixed.

Fatally Yours: Why do you think the horror genre has primarily been a man’s domain?

Nikki Wall: I don’t know that I’d necessarily describe it as such. I can’t think of a single horror movie that doesn’t involve a lot of female influence. Men may have been the ones making up the crew for the films but I don’t think by any means the genre would have been successful at all without women’s role in it. Some of the classics were written or co-written by women even. Frankenstein, Halloween, all the Anne Rice vampire movies, and a lot of others were created first when a woman put her pen to a piece of paper and got it all out of her head.

Fatally Yours: As a woman, do you think you are viewed differently than your male counterparts in the horror genre? If so, how and why?

Nikki Wall: I wouldn’t say that I am any worse off than anyone else that’s at my level. I think actually I might get a little more respect than some of the male peers I have because people fear mistreating me, but it might also be just because I’m good at my job. What I hate more than anything, and I’ve noticed this a lot, is that the lower on the totem pole someone is in the entertainment industry, the more attitude they usually tend to have versus the bigger players. For instance, I had the privilege of speaking with Francis Ford Coppola at one point and he was just the sweetest guy in the world compared to some of the indie actors out there that act like real a-holes because they have a film out with some no name distributor. I treat everyone the way I want to be treated until they show me that they deserve to be treated otherwise and I think that’s why I get the respect that I get. If more people did that, the world would be a better place.

Fatally Yours: Even though women seem to be getting more and more involved behind the scenes in horror, why do you think there are less female horror directors, writers, producers, etc. in the genre than males?

Nikki Wall: This is probably going to piss off a lot of people when I say this, but if you know me, you know I just go with what’s in my heart and don’t sugar coat anything. The best way I can put this is that women need approval. Bottom line. We’re insecure creatures and if you’re young and beautiful and/or talented, you can get in front of the camera and at the end of the day, there’s less judgment placed on you that affects you as a person. Let’s say your performance was off, there’s a million excuses that could be used later that would point the finger back at a male director. You could say he didn’t know what he was doing or the conditions you were in sucked, etc. On the other hand, if you do well, women have that hope of someday becoming a big Hollywood star instead of ‘just an actress’. I can also say that I think it’s ludicrous. Women are more in touch with their emotions and willing to admit them, typically speaking. That being said, I think female writers tend to really pull people’s heart strings for better or for worse than a lot of male writers do.

Fatally Yours: What elements can female filmmakers/authors/journalists/etc. bring to the horror genre that are lacking in males’ perspectives?

Nikki Wall: I’ve noticed that in general, men and women tend to lack very good communication skills with each other, for many reasons and because of that I think the female perspective and therefore the female character, tend to be wrongly portrayed in story lines. That’s a woman’s fault just as much as it is a man’s however.  I think when women write scripts they do the same thing to men. It’s almost like we make these caricatures of each other if you can get what I’m saying. Certain aspects will either be exaggerated or will actually be under-accentuated for fear of offending others. Either way, it’s just an imbalance of all things in general.

Fatally Yours: Do you think it’s harder for women to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males?

Nikki Wall: Bottom line is that there will always be a war of the sexes no matter what you’re doing and you can either take that to heart and use that “I’ll show you” mentality to get where you want to get, or just ignore it and follow your heart. I’m a fan of people following their heart because at the end of the day, the nature of women might make it even more difficult to get to the top of a female dominated industry more so than a male industry anyway. You gotta just do what feels right for you, in or out of the film industry.

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles in the industry?

Nikki Wall: The only thing I can say about that, since I haven’t been around long, is that women seem to just get it done. I hear a lot of talk and planning on men’s parts and when women want to do something, we just do it for the most part. That’s not always the case, but it seems to be the case MORE OFTEN with women than with men, obviously my crazy husband excluded. Haha!

Fatally Yours: Dario Argento once said, “I like women, especially beautiful ones. If they have a good face and figure, I would much prefer to watch them being murdered than an ugly girl or man.” Alfred Hitchcock elaborated by saying, “I always believe in following the advice of the playwright Sardou. He said, ‘Torture the women!’ The trouble today is that we don’t torture enough.” What is your reaction when reading those quotes?

Nikki Wall: I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me for saying this, but it’s a movie, its not real life, get over it. It happens several times a day every day. It’s life. Women are the target of a lot of horrendous things, and so are men, so why are we sticking our heads in the sand? As far as attractive women go, yes, I would rather watch an attractive woman be the character in a story anyway, so if she’s the one that gets killed, so be it!

Fatally Yours: Do you ever get annoyed at how women in horror movies always end naked or with their clothes ripped off? Do monsters not like men’s abs?!

Nikki Wall: I really don’t and I think this is a common feminist question. First of all, in Cloverfield, the monster apparently really liked the fat camera guy so there’s that. But, outside of that funny thought that came to my mind, I think in general it is a fact of life.  Women get brutalized in real life every day. I think instead of it sexualizing and brutalizing women, it’s making monsters out of men and I think that’s unfair. Most men aren’t killers. Most men just seek the comfort of a woman and just need their approval, at least as far as my experience has been. At the end of the day, men still seem to hold the majority of the power, but it’s all fueled by their need for approval just like we need their approval and I will argue that to my grave. When you really think about it, it seems almost cookie cutter for every film to have the surviving woman and the villain dead … at least until the sequel. Either way, this doesn’t irritate me at all, it doesn’t annoy me at all and I really wish women would just ‘get over it’. If you’re going to say that art imitates life then at the end of the day, most of the time a ‘sick’ man has turned into what he is because of his female interaction in life. That’s just a psychological stat.  If you don’t like it, go yell at the psychologists of the world.

Fatally Yours: What horror movie would you say is equally fair in terms of men being objectified or at least, losing the same amount of clothes?

Nikki Wall: I don’t know if this is being completely missed in all of this, but there is an entire sub-genre of horror that revolves around gay men and every single one of those ends up the same way, but I don’t think, again, that this is a very fair question. I feel like its being implied that EVERY movie rips off a girls clothes and that’s just not the case. Most of the really popular films out there don’t involve that. I look at that as if there was an era of film and a very small portion now. I can’t say what took place within the industry to make that change happen but I think for the most part, the films that are using that now, are using it as a sales tool because the story just isn’t strong enough, unless it really is pivotal in the story. It’s like an easy special effect if that makes sense.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel you’ve become desensitized to stereotypical scenes in horror like the half-naked girl screaming and running for her life in slow motion? Or are these types of familiar horror tropes still effective and necessary?

Nikki Wall: It seems to me that a lot of the movies you’re referring to were limited to a very short time in horror history and also the small indie films that can’t afford to do more elaborate stories. I watch a minimum of 5 horror movies a week and frankly I’m not seeing as much of that as you seem to be seeing. Maybe for women in general, because I can’t include myself in this so I’m generalizing it, there is an irritation towards scenes like that, so they’re only noticing those scenes and that is unfair to the artists today who aren’t using those ploys. If anything I think they’re comical like the scene in the remake of My Bloody Valentine, where the chick runs out into the parking lot?  Yeah, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it but I think that is hysterical!

Fatally Yours: Do you feel that other people view women as being “soft” and not able to endure horror as well as men? How do you fight this stereotypical view?

Nikki Wall: You’re asking the wrong girl. I would prefer to be soft and have my man protect me than be a ‘bra burner’ who feels like they have to bar brawl with men to prove themselves. Men and women were given different gifts in life and my femininity is my gift among many other things. I don’t feel like I have to be as strong as a man, nor would I want to be. But again, I’d like to stress that the horror genre in general typically has a heroine at the end of the story, so stronger than them or not, maybe we’re more spry or have more control over our weapons but most movies don’t end up with the bad man conquering all the women.

Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire and why?

Nikki Wall: My favorite actress in general, including the non-horror she’s done, is Naomi Watts. I love her versatility, the way she plays out her emotions in films, her beauty, it just seems like everything about her is perfect. I could easily be a lesbian for her Haha! She’s my girl crush. Other than her I love Sigourney Weaver but the Sigourney Weaver that was in the entire Alien series. Watching her character from beginning to end and the transformation it takes is fantastic! Throughout the series you see how she’s trying to protect something frailer than her and yet, to prove my point, she needed something stronger than her to protect her and yet there is so much love in her character. For her cat, her daughter, Newt, even the alien that was a part of her. Even when she’s getting all bad ass and buff, her maternal instincts are always there with her, first and foremost. I think it’s a beautifully written character in spite of all the chaos around her.  I just think it’s amazing.

Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to become involved in the horror genre?

Nikki Wall: Go for it! Be ready for the sacrifices though. It’s not easy these days. The indie scene isn’t what it used to be and the competition is becoming stiffer. Have a plan B, just in case. Also, do what feels right for you. Don’t let someone else tell you that doing something or not doing something will ruin your career or not because for each side of the argument there will be plenty of examples. It’s all about you at the end of the day.

Fatally Yours: What’s the last horror movie that made you think “this is some effed up shiznit!”?

 Nikki Wall:  I guess the answer depends on what you’re referring to. But I would have to say on several levels that Evil Ever After made me say that for a lot of reasons and not all of them in a positive way.  I can see what the creator was trying to do, but it just didn’t work for me.  I’m not a fan of putting down anyone else’s film and I’m always going to give props to anyone who can get a movie made and out there, because I know how hard it is, so I’m not saying that it was a bad movie.  Just that I didn’t get it.  I’m glad I got to see so many of my friends and other familiar faces in the process, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?

Nikki Wall: I like the entire Alien series, and some of my favorite Naomi Watts’ films are Funny Games (although the original was fantastic as well), The Ring series (but also the Ringu series) and I’m really excited to see her in The Birds remake. Of course when it comes to indie horror I would say my husbands’ films but that would make me prejudice right? Some more of the other random films I like are Cloverfield, Jeepers Creepers, The Descent, Feast…obviously I like creature features a lot.

Fatally Yours: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?

Nikki Wall: Currently I’m working on a script I wrote called The Catacomb Tapes which I’m really excited about because it is the first film I’ve decided to direct. I also am working with my husband to do The Brothers Cannibal which will be wrapped by the time this is published and a butt load of other movies him and I have been putting together.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?

 Nikki Wall: I just want to get my hands dirty. I really don’t see myself acting in very many things because I just don’t have that in me, although I can do it if necessary. It’s my roots from college actually. Other than that though, I don’t care if I’m writing, producing or directing, I just want to take part in making really good movies and hopefully get myself and my husband out of the indie scene and into the mainstream.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?

Nikki Wall: Creep keeps a blog up at www.creepersin.com and while it’s mostly his projects I’m getting honorable mentions in there.

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