ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - WOMEN IN HORROR
Interview by Nate Ludwig
Innsmouth on Shudder
Postpartum on Short Ends/Project Alpha (The Nerdist)
Tilberian Holiday in "Wicked Witches,"
a New England Horror Writers Anthology
The Lake Children in "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: A Charity Anthology Benefiting The Jimmy Fund" (Book also includes Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore)
The Lake Children in "Hydrophobia: A Charity Anthology Benefiting Victims of Hurricane Harvey"
INSTAGRAM - @nihilnoctemfilm
NL: What's your story so far? How has filmmaking shaped you as a person?
IZZY: First of all, I'd like to provide you with a soundtrack to this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaWmM_2kB70 This scene and song was a perfect end to one of the most amazing shows (Hannibal) ever created. Anyway, I'm just your run-of-the-mill lunatic that has dreams of making stories. I started as a writer, painter, and actor, then evolved into festival programmer and genre journalist. Now I write and direct weird films and write fiction. It's good to get the demons out.
NL: You're originally from Massachusetts, but you have relocated to Los Angeles recently. How has the transition been? Has it opened more doors for you or is more of a challenge?
IZZY: I'm not sure yet, I've only been here for seven months. I do have a lot of indie horror friends out here, and that's comforting to me. Back home, I was looked down upon for loving weird stuff and creating horror. Here, they get it. It's also awesome to be among an endless supply of ridiculously talented cast and crew, and you never know who you'll meet or collaborate with. This town is strewn with broken dreams, yet overflowing with incredible opportunities; see Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard. Plus, you can go to amazing screenings like one I just attended --- a 35mm projections of Don't Look Now with the cinematographer in person!
NL: Your short films are raw, visceral and primed to jump off the screen and rip your face off. How much of that untamed energy is autobiographical? Is it more conscious or subconscious?
IZZY: Hahahahahahahaha, that's an amazing pull quote! I'm fueled by anger at the state of this world. We don't often get the justice we should in this society, and the art I create is a reflection of needing to right those wrongs. I must admit to being kinda untamed, and there are pieces of any artist in any works created by that person.
NL: GenreBlast has played your films Innsmouth, For A Good Time, Call... and Rites of Vengeance. You have tackled everything from slut shaming to rape culture to pedophilia to maternal horrors. Do you have certain issues you feel like you need to tackle with each film in a methodical way, or do the films you want to make kind of just sort themselves out with what you want to say when it comes time to make the next one?
IZZY: Yes, and thank you for that! I don't really sit down and say, "I want to write about X today," but I started out wanting to explore a certain issue with my first short, Legitimate. That tackled the concept of "legitimate rape" as put forth by one of our most out-of-touch lawmakers. I was so angered by that bullshit that I decided to try a new medium --- film. There are so many things I could have done better, but I still love the concept.
With other shorts, things have just happened, whether I've written, co-written, or filmed from a friend's script. The material has to hit me. And with such dark stuff, sometimes I need to lighten up a bit with a horror comedy as with A Favor or my upcoming short, My Monster. The PSA version of that one is a snippet of the film called "It's in You," and is even funnier because there's zero exposition before the action kicks in.
NL: What are some of the other shorts you've worked on? Tell us a little bit about those.
IZZY: You can see a thinly veiled jab at the Westboro Baptist Church in Picket, which you can find online via Fear Haus. If you look up my name plus "Invisible Friend," you'll see another publicly available short that might be spook you a bit. Innsmouth is still on Shudder, and Postpartum starring Kasey Lansdale is on Short Ends via Project Alpha/The Nerdist. I got interviewed by Andre Gower and Ryan Lambert on set for that show, too.
I played a terrifying woman in a mask who roughs up a very bad priest in Skip Shea's Ave Maria and just had a two-line voice over role as a police dispatcher in Maude Michaud's entry for this year's Women in Horror Blood Drive PSA from the Soskas. My own entry is going live any minute, and it's called "It's in You," about a monster with certain needs who stalks a woman (Brea Grant) at home. That's a snippet of the full short film, which will be hitting festivals very soon.
NL: In addition to making films, you're also a talented short fiction writer and film journalist. I recently read your short story "Tilberian Holiday" and it is laden to the brim with anguish, dread and raw emotion. It affected me deeply and I still can't shake that feeling weeks after reading it. Can you talk a little bit about writing that story and also talk a little bit about differentiating your short films with your short fiction?
IZZY: Wow, thank you. Being able to access those kinds of emotions is both a blessing and a curse. I was surprised and humbled to have been published on my first try in that anthology, "Wicked Witches," and you can be sure that there's more to come from me down that path. With fiction, I don't have to worry about budget, animal or demon wrangling, so I can write with abandon and have those crazy scenes in "Tilberian Holiday" and other stories. Fiction is also a great way to delve into a character's inner emotions without dialogue.
Writing is beautiful and horrible all at once. When it goes well, it's a dream. When it doesn't, it's a slog or you don't create anything at all. I gotta say ---- signing a book and seeing your work in print is an amazing feeling. I also FUCKING ADORE my horror author friends. Most of them live in MA, and I miss them very much.
NL: Are you planning on jumping to features any time soon? If so, what have been some of the challenges of trying to get a feature off the ground for you?
IZZY: I'm trying! This is part of the reason I just moved to LA. However, I've yet to find a producer who's said a definitive "yes" to any pitches. Getting anyone to read a script, talk to you about a project, or god forbid, fund one, has been excruciating. I also have the yearning to make films with people I'd want to be friends with, a film family, a chosen family. That might make it even more difficult, I'm not sure. I'm trying to avoid assholes, but that's not always possible.
NL: What's the number one thing you'd say to up and coming women filmmakers to help them preserve their own identity as a creative individual in this day and age? What's something that most men take for granted about women in the indie film industry?
IZZY: I'd tell them what Wes Craven told me when I briefly met him: don't give up. You're going to die, so use your time as best as you can. Fnd find your tribe here on the Internet and at film festivals; we are LEGION. And help other women. We are only stronger together. Most guys don't understand what an uphill battle women who make films face. No one wants to fund or trust us, and this becomes a horrible cycle in which we can't develop our skills. I'd love for the men in power to "take chances" on us.
NL: If you could bring any project to life, regardless of budget or any other constraint, what would it be?
IZZY: There's a Joe Lansdale story and adapted script that I have the option for that I'd love to make happen with some funds, but also a supernatural resurrection story I've cowritten, and a more personal, sci-fi/horror drama that I'm writing now that I'd love to get off the ground. Also, if we're really dreaming here, I'd kill to direct something starring Mads Mikkelsen, Tom Atkins, Eva Green, and Gary Oldman together, EP'd by Guillermo del Toro.
NL: Seen any good movies lately?
IZZY: You need to see schlocky good films like Ten to Midnight with Charles Bronson and Invasion USA with Chuck Norris. They're beautiful and ridiculous, and currently streaming on Amazon Prime. More serious titles: Get Out, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, and I, Tonya.
NL: Izzy also writes for several online publications including Screen Anarchy and Birth. Movies. Death. Many thanks to her for taking the time to chat with us.