Indie Horror Month Interview and Short Film Debut: UK Filmmaker Jen Moss Discusses Not So Lovely Films and The Morning After
With a filmmaking dream in mind and horror in her heart, in 2010 Jen Moss established UK production house Not So Lovely Films alongside fellow horror lovers Ailsa Scott and Catriona Scott.
The trio met at the UK’s biggest horror film festival - FrightFest - several years before where the ladies discovered they shared a mutual love for all things horror; based on that mutual admiration for the horrific, the trio decided to combine their creative knowledge and talents (having come from varying backgrounds in the music, film and television industries) to fund and produce writer/director Moss’ first short film Dumped.
Now Moss and Not So Lovely Films are back with their delightfully demented second short The Morning After, which stars musician Kate Nash as Angel, a recovering addict of sorts who hilariously struggles to live two very separate lives in order to fulfill both her parents' high expectations of the young woman as well as Angel's desire to lead a more sinister lifestyle which would no doubt disappoint her parents.
In honor of Indie Horror Month, Dread Central recently caught up with Moss to talk about Not So Lovely Films, the inspiration behind her comedic horror short The Morning After, the independent filmmaking climate across the pond as well as what the future holds for the up-and-coming filmmaker.
Read our interview with Moss below, and afterwards make sure to check out the official debut of The Morning After exclusively here on Dread.
Dread Central: Can you tell us a bit about your background- how you got interested in filmmaking, more about your career before The Morning After? Also, what kind of films first inspired you?
Jen Moss: Career-wise, I've actually been working in the music industry for the last 8 years or so. Music and film were always my two great passions, but I ended up studying music and going down that path (albeit working in music supervision so keeping close ties to the film industry). I've been a film fan since as long as I can remember and over the years had always talked about making a film myself one day. A couple of years ago I decided it was about time to stop talking and start doing so I decided to just grab a camera, grab some willing friends who were also keen to start making films and so was born Not So Lovely Films (myself and my two producers Cat Scott and Ailsa Scott).
Without really knowing what we were doing, we made our first short film Dumped. Technically speaking, it obviously wasn't great but I fell in love with the filmmaking process and the short got some positive feedback online. I decided to study up, signed up for a directing course and that led to The Morning After.
DC: So where did the idea for The Morning After come from?
Jen Moss: Well, when it comes to writing, I find it easiest to take inspiration from real life situations and personal experience as a starting point. Dumped was based on a recent break-up I'd just come through, and for The Morning After the idea started with a hangover and a living room full of passed out guests after a particularly big night out. I took the idea of not quite being able to remember all the horrible things you got up to the night before and then just pushed that to the extreme. Combining that with setting the story at Halloween (my favorite time of the year for obvious reasons) I thought would allow for something really visually interesting.
DC: I loved the blending of comedy and horror (something that speaks to me as a horror fan)- can you talk a bit about creating a comedic horror story for The Morning After? Was there a hint of a Shaun of the Dead influence in there (I kind of felt it during the phone call particularly)?
Jen Moss: Thank you. I have a very dark sense of humor so I'm always pleased when other people get it! As much as I love straight horror, when it comes to the kind of films I personally want to make, I'm much more comfortable with the horror comedy stuff. I really enjoy making audiences laugh but in a sick, twisted way! I'm a big Edgar Wright fan so things like Shaun of the Dead and Spaced are definitely big inspirations, particularly with all the film references. We tried to get a few horror winks into The Morning After. As a fan I always enjoy spotting those little in-jokes so I wanted to create something similar so we have little nods to Poltergeist, IT, Carrie, etc.
DC: Talk a bit about working with Kate and how she came on board the project (I really enjoyed her work in the short).
Jen Moss: Kate was amazing. I'm close friends with her music manager, and when I'd first finished the script for the short, I was talking to her about it and how I'd love to have someone recognizable for the lead role. As it turns out, Kate is a huge horror fan and had recently decided to get into acting properly so my friend offered to pass on the script. So we sent it over, not expecting anything to happen, and then before we knew it, we were going over deal terms with her LA agent.
Kate really liked the script and wanted to be involved. It was an incredible feeling. She was an absolute trooper on set, too. I had her doing some really unglamorous stuff, but she got well and truly stuck in. Her comedy timing is great, and she also came up with some of the best creative swearing I've heard this side of Malcolm Tucker!
DC: Since I'm on this side of the pond, can you talk about any challenges you've faced as an indie horror filmmaker in the UK? Or perhaps as a female filmmaker?
Jen Moss: I have always struggled with these kinds of questions since I have yet to come across any negative consequences to being a female horror director. If anything, with it being such a niche, I think it can be helpful in getting your films out there, especially thanks to things like Women in Horror Month. I do sometimes get surprised reactions from non-genre fans, but that's just about me liking horror in general rather than me making horror films.
Generally speaking, I think it's tough for up-and-coming filmmakers, such as myself, starting out and making short films, as there is just no funding out there. I was lucky enough to be able to self-fund The Morning After, but for this next one we're going to need some extra money. Short film funding in itself is pretty hard to come by these days, but for horror shorts even more so. I'm very interested in the concept of crowd-funding as an alternative source of investment so I think we're going to look into that.
DC: So what's up next for you then?
Jen Moss: Well, The Morning After has had a few public screenings now, having premiered at the Vue Leicester Square as part of the FrightFest All-Nighter, and we've been selected for a couple of festivals, too, which is great; hopefully more to come later in the year also.
In the meantime I've just finished writing a new short which we're hoping to shoot late spring/early summer. It's going to be another black comedy with horror elements. This time I got my initial idea from my relationship with my brother, although I have to stress that what I've ended up with is a character who in no way resembles him; otherwise he'll never talk to me again!
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