August 1, 2010

Scream Queen of the B Scene

"Never thought this would come out of someone who looks like... Jane Austen." The older gentleman in my screenwriting group looks up, horrified. He's just read a graphic scene involving a severed head. I smile. "What is WRONG with you?" I often hear that when people get a glimpse of what's really going on in my head. Well...

Baby Scream Queen
At the age of six, I was introduced to Freddie Kruger and proceeded to have reoccurring nightmares about him well into my late teens. A few years later, my stepfather brought home Puppet Master thinking it was a Pinocchio movie... I watched toys come to life, drill into skulls and eat brains. So I blame my parents.

As an actor, I've become very accustomed to death. I've been eaten, burnt alive, shot, electrocuted, bludgeoned, and most recently, hooked through the chest. I've been both the victim and the victor. See, I was born with a killer set of pipes. I was brought into this world screaming and I just can't seem to stop.

In 2009, I lost a job I hated and used my severance package to take time off to make some short films. Those films won awards at the Edmonton International Film Festival's 24/One and City TV's "5 Minutes of Fame" Contest.

In 2010, I lost another job I hated that was robbing me of my sanity and life essence. So then I took time off to write a screenplay and see if I could get someone interested in my ideas. Within a month, I met producers who were looking for a feature horror. At some point, you just have to say "OK Universe, I get it."

So screw the day jobs, hello poverty artistry! This is the year of experimentation, a great creative venture of developing my ideas into full grown celluloid demons.

So why horror? Well, it's not all I write, but there is something that certainly pulls me into the dark. As a woman, I have a story to tell and it's not about flowers and sunsets. More and more women are consuming horror and looking to the genre for satisfaction, yet most production companies won't even look at a screenplay with a female lead. I've been told that if I want my scripts to be successful, I should change Jennifer to Jack. But women are often the protagonist in horror. Even in films where they writhe on the floor in a wet t-shirt, they are often the last person standing against an unspeakable oppressor. So, unlike any other genre, horror has great potential for feminist narrative. Horror can remind us of the violence towards women and our inherent power of survival. Even in death, we witness the valiant struggle. Women will not go quietly into the long dark night.

And sometimes, I just want to feel something that stops my heart. And Sandra Bullock just doesn't do it for me, though I love you Sandra. Any Questions?

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