Shriekfest 2011: Exclusive Q&A with Filmmaker Devi Snively

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On Thursday, September 29th, the 2011 Shriekfest Film Festival kicks off in Los Angeles. The festival annually celebrates the best filmmakers working on the independent horror scene, and to get you indie horror-loving fans out there ready for this year’s films, Dread Central will be bringing you a series of exclusive Q&A interviews with many of Shriekfest’s featured filmmakers over the next week or so.

Check out our first interview with writer/director/producer Devi Snively, whose short film Last Seen on Dolores Street will be screening at Shriekfest as part of “Shorts Program #2” on Sunday, October 2nd, which begins at 12:00 noon. Snively is no stranger to Shriekfest as several of her projects have made the festival cut over previous years.

Snively’s other short films include Death in Charge, Meat Is Murder, I Spit on Eli Roth, Raven Gets a Life, Confederate Zombie Massacre! and Teenage Bikini Vampire. Read on for more about Last Seen on Dolores Street, what influences Snively as genre storyteller and what’s on the horizon for the up-and-coming filmmaker.

Dread Central: Congrats on getting into Shriekfest again! Can you talk about how it feels to be back with your Shriekfest family for Last Seen on Dolores Street?

Devi Snively: This marks our fourth film to screen at Shriekfest, and I feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz – ‘There’s no place like home!’ Shriekfest has been part of our journey since the beginning of our filmmaking endeavors, and watching the other films and meeting the other filmmakers in Shriekfest’s nurturing environment has helped me grow as an artist. If horror has a fairy godmother, it’s got to be Denise Gossett.

Shriekfest 2011: Exclusive Q&A with Filmmaker Devi Snively

DC: Can you tell our readers a bit about Last Seen on Dolores Street and where the story inspiration came from?

Snively: Last Seen on Dolores Street is an allegory for my first year in L.A. when I got mired amidst the bottom feeders and carelessly lost my soul (Luckily it grew back – phew! Thank goodness they do that). I realized it was the perfect fodder for horror. It’s the story of losing one’s way and coming back stronger than ever (with a fun, horror noir twist).

DC: Would you say that this was this an easier or harder experience for you than your previous projects?

Snively: Every project has its own distinct challenges. We had to shoot around a tornado for this one, which was certainly a new twist for us. But we needed some puddles anyway so it wound up being a good thing — production design courtesy of Mother Nature, sweet! For the most part, I’d say it was easier. Our cast and crew feel like family now, and each new project feels like a celebratory homecoming.

DC: Being a female filmmaker working within the genre, do you feel like there’s a little more pressure on you since it’s a very male dominated field?

Snively: If anything, I suspect there is less pressure on me simply because the expectations are lower and, in some cases, non-existent. When I first embarked on the horror festival circuit, I was almost always the sole female director. I’d show up to claim my filmmaker badge, and the programmers would inevitably be shocked, having presumed from my name (and genre) that I was a dude. But I never felt I was treated any differently.

Nowadays there are far more females producing horror films; I think it’s all the more ‘acceptable’ and even encouraged. Sadly, I fear the bigger issue is discrimination against horror filmmakers in general, regardless of gender. I think the pressure is on us all to raise the bar so that horror is recognized for the valuable genre it can (and should) be.

DC: It’s clear from watching your films that you are a horror fan- what are some of the films or filmmakers that have either influenced you or continue to influence you now?

Snively: My all-time favorite film is dark comedy as opposed to horror, but it was my ‘gateway movie’ to the dark side- Harold & Maude. It showed me that social commentary combined with humor, the macabre, romance, tragedy, a touch of gore and the occasional dance number is the perfect storm for me when it comes to storytelling. Then The Bride of Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London and Roman Polanski’s entire oeuvre completed the transformation.

As for more contemporary influences, I’m seriously digging Japanese director Sion Sono and some of the indie horrors coming out of Scandinavia (like Dark Souls from Norway – a new fave!)

DC: So, what’s coming up next for you on the filmmaking front?

Snively: The reality of the film industry these days is that one is forced to spend far too much time in between shoots raising financing for the next one. As such, I try to keep as many balls in the air at once so that I’m never off a set for too long. After all, we’re ‘filmmakers,’ not ‘film-having-maders,’ you know? So I’m on three different tracks right now:

On the high end of the budget spectrum (for me anyway), I’ve got four feature projects in the $1-$5M range being shopped around town and overseas. A sneak peek of one is online at our website for Paige & Hadley’s Prom from Hell, the first of a franchise of 80s “punk rock teen romantic slasher comedies.”

In the mid-budget range, we’re in the crowd-funding stage for our most ambitious short to date, The Bride of Frankie, which is our affectionate nod to Mary Shelley and James Whale with a feminist twist and featuring our first homunculus! Info is online at BrideOfFrankie.com. The short is also part of a bigger documentary project about Mary Shelley and the continuing impact of the Frankenstein mythos in contemporary society. We’ll be traveling the world seeking different artistic and scientific examples of Frankenstein phenomena so anybody involved in anything related is encouraged to contact us should they care to participate.

Finally, on the other end of the budget spectrum, we’re kicking off a collaborative web series called Martini Mom & Devil Spawn (imagine Rosemary’s Baby meets “Absolutely Fabulous”). Each episode will highlight different writers and directors I’ve met out on the film festival circuit, highlighting their unique styles and talents. We start shooting in November and hope to air the first season by spring.

Also this spring all of our shorts and our micro-budget feature Trippin’ will be released on a compilation DVD and VOD, about which we’re very excited.

To keep up with filmmaker Devi Snively and all of her projects (current and upcoming), make sure to check out her official site at DeviSnively.com for more info!

Shriekfest 2011: Exclusive Q&A with Filmmaker Devi Snively

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