Not So Lovely Film’s Jen Moss talks to Re/Action about loving horror movies, the difficulties of low budget filmmaking, and working with Kate Nash…
Tell us about your new short film. What’s it about, and when can we see it?
The Morning After is my second short film. After my first, Dumped, which was a dialogue-heavy short with very basic shots and camera set-ups, I wanted to make something a lot more visually engaging; something really colourful and with a lot of movement. The film is about a girl called Angel having to deal with the aftermath of her Halloween party. She’s hungover, she’s tired, her parents are due to pick her up for lunch and she has way more to contend with than just a trashed flat… We’re hoping to get the film finished by October.
And how did Kate Nash get involved?
One of my close friends is her manager and I was telling her about the short and how much more ambitious I wanted to be with it. I’d already managed to get a really talented crew in place and I thought it would be great if we could have some sort of “name” attached to play Angel as well. Turns out Kate is a massive horror fan, so my friend gave her a copy of the script and she really liked it and wanted to get involved. I was over the moon.
You wrote and directed both The Morning After and Dumped. Which of the two disciplines do you prefer?
Directing. As much as I enjoy the writing, it really is the collaborative aspect of filmmaking I love the most. Writing is a very solitary part of the process and I just get a lot more out of bouncing ideas of others, be it in pre-production with the art department or on set with my DoP and everything else in between. I love drawing on other people’s talents and using their expertise to help me get the results I want. I definitely want to continue writing my own films but having said that I would love to have a go at directing someone else’s script. I think it would be a completely different experience and one I’d like to try one day.
Would you like to get involved in any other aspects of film production?
By the nature of The Morning After having such a tiny budget, I ended up taking on a few production tasks and, let me tell you, it is really tough. I don’t think producers get anywhere near the credit they deserve, mostly I think because people don’t actually understand what it is they do (including me before this film!) There is no way I could’ve done it on my own so I’m incredibly grateful to my producer for taking on a lot of the hard work. In my day job, I work for a record label placing music in films and adverts so music supervision is something I have a lot of experience in and an aspect of filmmaking I really enjoy. I’d also love to develop some editing skills…
What inspired you to start making your own movies?
It’s just something I have always been interested in. When it came time to choose a discipline to study at university, I was torn between film and music. I ended up going with music which, if anything, only made my love for film grow stronger as it never became my job. I think though, it’s really been in the past 5 or 6 years of going to Frightfest and meeting and befriending lots of filmmakers that I’ve been given the confidence and support to finally give it a crack myself.
Have you found people are surprised that you’re working in the horror genre because you’re female?
I guess I don’t get it that much because most of my friends are horror fans but yes I do get the odd surprised reaction. But then anyone who spends more than five minutes with me quickly comes to the conclusion that rom-coms are never gonna be my thing!
I think, in fairness, the perception that women don’t like horror is one that is changing and that it’s less surprising to find female fans of the genre. I get the impression that as the genre has because more mainstream over the years, the audience for it has broadened and so Joe Public is starting to see that horror fans aren’t all sweaty middle aged loners living in their parents’ basement.
What is it about horror that you love, anyway?
Everything! I love that there are so many sub-genres to horror and therefore so many different ways to enjoy a horror film. I love the thrill of being genuinely scared by something, that rollercoaster ride feeling. I also love the comedy that comes from good old over-the-top gore and I also love the ability of certain horror films to really disturb, challenge and make you think. Generally speaking, I just think it’s a healthy way of indulging the darker side that all of us have within us…
What advice would you offer someone who wanted to start making their own films?
To quote a famous sports brand: Just do it. Pick up a camera, find some people who are willing to help you create something and start filming. It doesn’t matter if you don’t really know what you’re doing or you don’t have enough money to make something fancy, it’s all about getting hands-on experience. If you find that it’s something you’re really into then there are loads of great courses and books out there to help you hone your skills and develop your technical knowledge but there’s no better way to learn than just getting out there. That’s exactly what I did on Dumped: made it on a wing and a prayer with a bunch of film loving/filmmaker friends. I made a million and one mistakes but it’s the mistakes I learnt from the most.
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