ARTIST SPOTLIGHT - WOMEN IN HORROR
Interview by Nate Ludwig
NL: Get My Gun is an audacious narrative fiction debut for both you and director Brian Darwas. Talk a little bit about writing the script and what were some of your inspirations for the film as well as challenges in getting it finished and to where you wanted it to be for production.
JC: Brian came up with the story line and wrote a good deal of the screenplay. He reached a point and came to me saying 'I'm writing this movie with pretty much an all female cast, putting them into situations that I find frightening. . . but, I'm a guy and I need some female insight into all of this." We had been talking about making a Ms. 45 type film for quite some time. The assault scenes were read, rehearsed and discussed for weeks leading up to the actual shoot. It was very important that everyone on the set, from actors to make-up to sound, be completely comfortable with what was being filmed.
Most of the challenges we faced were due to having a small budget. We shot without any permits, and at just about every location there was always that person. Someone who needs to turn their car radio up when they see us, or someone with no authority asking us about permits. . . we actually had one guy fire up a leaf blower as soon as we called action. This was in June, (laughs). Its funny how things work out sometimes. I literally contacted 14 motels before finding the one we went with. But they were amazing with giving us the run of the entire building, so it really worked in our favor.
NL: You've worked with your creative and life partner Brian Darwas on several vehicular documentaries leading up to Get My Gun. What was that experience like and what did you do on those films?
JC: Making a documentary is a completely different task from making a narrative. Both include a lot of running around . . but, with a documentary there isn't as much of a pre-planned structure. A documentary can start off as one thing, then end up as something completely different. While that uncertainty keeps things exciting, it's also a bit nerve-racking at the same time. But most of the pre-production was making arrangements with the subjects, finding the right filming locations, getting releases- logistical and administrative stuff. Making sure things were kept on schedule and on budget. It sounds the same, but it is actually quite different.
I've found that a big part of producing is keeping many different personalities feeling comfortable and content. Everyone on the set needs to feel good about being there and in that aspect, producing is very much the same.
NL: Get My Gun premiered at the Brooklyn Horror Film Fest this past fall. How was the response and what was screening in your home town like for you two?
JC: We wanted GET MY GUN to premiere in New York City since that's where all of the cast and crew hails from. It was nice for them to be able to experience the magic of seeing it for the first time in a theater. . . as opposed to watching a screener on a laptop. No one had seen the film except for Brian and I, so it was an intense couple of days. Everyone involved worked really hard, most going above and beyond what we asked of them. It was a fun way to celebrate all of the effort that went into the movie.
NL: What have your experiences as a woman screenwriter been so far? Have you had any negative experiences at this stage of the game for you?
JC: Everything's been good so far. To be honest, I have not had any negative experiences at this stage. It is important to have a team that respects each other and the creative process. Having people who are truthful, but constructive with their criticism is priceless.
NL: What's some advice you might give to young women trying to make a name for themselves in filmmaking. How would you tell them to navigate the potentially treacherous waters of the film world?
JC: Just get out there and do. You want to make a movie? Write a script and make a movie. Find a talented and trustworthy team and just do it. Very few people get an opportunity handed to them, you have to get out there and make it happen for yourself. I know that sounds harsh, but if you wait around for someone else, you'll be waiting forever.
The world of film can be treacherous and you really have to have a thick skin. People will be rude and nasty. You will run into plenty of people that will insult your craft and disagree with everything you want to do. As disappointing as this can be, you have to push on. Be ready for it, but don't let it change who you are.
NL: What kind of art do you enjoy reading/watching/listening to in order to get inspired to make movies?
JC: I like watching other movies. I like to see what visual, and audible tools other filmmakers use to get the emotion of a scene across to the audience. Aside from being on set and witnessing the process first hand, the best thing you can do is watch movies (lots of movies) and pay attention to how the scenes unfold. The coverage of the scene, try and figure out how many set ups they used, and if they were all necessary. Take note of the camera angles, the lenses used, how shallow or deep the depth of field is and whether or not that does anything to move the story along. Shot motivation, etc. . . all of these things are important. Character development is also key. Spend the extra time to write and re-write and re-write again.
Also pay attention to the sound. Sound design is so incredibly important, yet it's something a lot of first time filmmakers over look.
NL: Congrats on your success so far with Get My Gun. It's still on the film festival circuit and has played at some quality fests. Do you have any distribution plans yet? Also, are you able to share what's next up for you as a screenwriter or a filmmaker?
JC: Thanks! We're in talks with a few distributors, but nothing's solid yet. Brian's putting the finishing touches on a new screenplay. So, hopefully I'll be able to get the wheels turning on the production of that soon.
NL: Seen any good movies lately?
JC: I, TONYA was fun. I remember the craziness of that when it actually happened. I also just watched IT COMES AT NIGHT. It was so heavy and full of suspense. I was really impressed that the director was able to make such a doom filled film in the current movie climate. The character development was flawless with very little dialogue. I am really impressed.