In a world where horror and film are both dominated by men, there stand three women who defy this backwards way of imagining horror films. In a city filled with pretentious and ridiculous filmmakers who continually put out crap starring Julia Roberts and Hilary Duff and make us want to vomit, there stand three cool chicks who give us what we want; days on end of new, terrifying, frightening, and fun horror films...
Denise Gossett: The Los Angeles Horror/Science Fiction Film Festival & Screenplay Competition
Denise Gossett founded Shriekfest Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles Four years ago. Denise is also a horror fan, actress, and she throws a bitchin' party. What would possess this petite blond chick to start a horror film festival, when horror is so, I don't know.. Icky!?
Denise giving the best screenplay award to Christopher Allan Broadstone in 2004. Denise is the small blond one.
About 5 years ago I starred in a horror film called Chain of Souls. During several dinners with the producer, Dennis Devine and director, Steve Jarvis I asked them if they were going to enter the film into some festivals. They said there weren't many horror festivals out there, so I did some checking and sure enough there weren't. They encouraged me to start one. And the rest is history.Swarms of people, literally, apply to get into Shriekfest, which is held in Hollywood every September. There have been many films that have gotten distribution deals since they have been in Shriekfest. I get contacted all of the time by people looking for screenplays or films. I've connected screenwriters with filmmakers too, just a few months ago I helped a screenwriter sell his screenplay, so it does happen. I will do my best to put the right people in touch with the artists. But, with all of that being said, Shriekfest is not a market to sell films. Judging Horror films is a tough business - why should we trust Denise's standards? After all, what do blond chicks know, anyway?Every year we have a group of judges made up of industry professionals and a few that are just horror/sci-fi fans to give a general audience perspective. There are no rigid criteria when it comes to judging films. Generally, they look for interesting story ideas, unique cinematography, and good editing, just to name a few. For screenplays they look for good story concept, well-developed characters, structure, and general writing skills. Todd and I make final decisions if there are ties. We believe that films and screenplays should be judged as an overall project, to look past small flaws and see the project as a whole.
I am an actress and have been in the industry for almost 13 years. My resume for film and television work is extensive. I have worked in various crew positions on productions, but never produced or directed my own film. I recently started a production company, Ankh Productions, and I am actively searching for projects to produce.
Denise giving and award to Mark Redfield in 2002. Mark is not blond.
What types of films is ANKH looking for?I am actually looking for films for myself to star in. My role will be very hands on, I am a perfectionist, but Todd will be able to reel me in. Denise must get a lot of crappy submissions I'll bet! I mean, I get over 100 crappy independent horror films a month, so I can imagine that Denise must be overwhelmed! Watching bad horror everyday can seriously be bad for your complexion
I think Horror has always been a popular genre and it's a great way for filmmakers to express themselves. The fact that horror is a genre that is easily sold straight to video is another reason there are so many horror filmmakers. I love digital technology! I have taken many classes just to learn about it. It is fascinating the things that can be done so inexpensively now. Cameras are more easily accessible because the cost to buy them is much cheaper, many filmmakers purchase their own cameras and editing equipment. I just think digital cameras have allowed more people the chance to make a film that wouldn't have been able to years ago, whether it was for money reasons, film knowledge, or accessibility. Some amazing films have been made on consumer quality cameras.
Heidi with friends at the Shriekfest Opening Party 2004.
One of the things we try to focus on at Pretty/Scary is the women filmmakers, because there are so fewer women making horror than there are men - what are your opinions on that?I think the number of female filmmakers is rising, but it is still men who make up the majority. I think women may be the minority because of other priorities like raising children and I think there may be a population view that horror is too graphic, too tough, etc., for women to be involved in, but we know that is silly and I predict that more and more female filmmakers and writers will be taking their rightful places in this industry.Do you think it's harder for women to be taken seriously as horror filmmakers?I think it is more difficult for women to be taken seriously, but it's like that in most fields. Until we prove ourselves it will always be like that. I don't think being a woman has shaped my perspective on horror films at all. I watch them as a person, not as a woman. Maybe there are some women out there who can't stand the gore, but it really doesn't bother me.Women are often pictured in horror in very violent and humiliating circumstances, do you think that's a bad thing necessarily?I think the violence in horror is equally spread to the men too. Now, I have seen some films that cross the line... rape films, stuff like that I do not care for. Of all the horror actresses out there right now, who's your favorite?Well, I have personally met several of them and I really enjoy them all. I think Brinke has to be one of the sweetest ones out there, but I think they are all talented in their own ways.