By: Ryan Larson
Cinema is famous for its collectives: The Rat Pack, the similarly named Brat and Frat Packs, New Hollywood. A group of talented individuals who team up to bring a fresh perspective, a change, something new and exciting and electric. Often, it leads to a paradigm shift along with it. Get ready. That’s what we’re looking at with The Fatale Collective. Lola Blanc, Megan Rosati, Francesca (Frenchi) Maldonado, Danin Jacquay, Natasha Halevi and Linda Chen are the women who make up The Fatale Collective. Formed in 2019, the six artists come from a wide spanning range of mediums and experience but with one thing in common: a love of horror and film. In a truly impressive fashion, the Collective took only two months from creation to not just production but also completion of their first short, Bleed.
After debuting at Fangoria and then having it’s film festival premiere at the Chattanooga Film Festival, Bleed has already started taking the horror world by storm. A series of six micro-shorts, the film is an eclectic and diverse range of storytelling. Everything from animation to supernatural spookies and slasher antics, Bleed has a little bit of everything that makes it instantly appealing on a wide range for horror fans. Like the Power Rangers of the genre, individually these women are incredible and powerful voices that are a force to be reckoned with. Together, the Megazord of horror, they are unstoppable. As soon as I saw the short, I was instantly captivated and it was one of those gut feelings, when you just know that something big is going to happen. These creators are going to change the genre. Luckily for me (and us), they agreed to an interview about the Collective as a whole, Bleed, and what the future is going to bring.
How did the Collective start? Did you all know each other before the inception of the group?
We all knew each other socially, but not all of us knew all of us – it was like six degrees of separation. After talking separately in twos and threes about our frustration with the horror scene, and the lack of opportunities for women directors, we decided to combine forces to create our micro-short anthology Bleed. It was in the group chat pre- and post-production that the true friendship BEGAN.
All of the shorts in Bleed are so different, it makes for such a mesmerizing experience that at the same time feels breezy, albeit scary. Did you all develop a theme that you wanted to work around?
The horror of being a modern woman. We wanted to explore the intersection of the internet, technology, and ‘group think’ and what that means for femmes today.
Even within the shorts, so many different themes are explored, from the paranormal to a more grounded slasher-esque approach and even animation. Do each of you have a favourite niche of the genre you like to explore?
We do! The fun thing about being a part of a collective is that when one of us doesn’t like a certain kind of horror, generally somebody else in the group will enjoy it. It’s fun because we each get exposed to content that we probably wouldn’t seek out otherwise. Lola loves tension builders with a gothic twist – think Funny Games by the way of Guillermo del Toro. Tasha comes to horror by way of Troma, so she has a special place in her heart for kitschy, over the top, disrupt-the-media horror, but she’s currently vibing with sci-fi horror. Frenchi has always gravitated towards more fun horror – teen horror is almost always an instant classic for her. SCREAM is her favourite. Danin loves the trippy visual aesthetic and sexy boundary pushing of films like Cam and Climax. Megan loves creepy body horror with a psychological twist, like the French film Evolution(look it up), Existenz, and Black Swan.
Definitely refreshing and much needed, the stories in Bleed all focus on women in a variety of circumstances. Was that the intention?
Totally. We’ve seen the same stories from the same perspective for almost a hundred years, and it’s time to shake it up. We are all passionate activists in our politics (check our Instagram lol) and horror is a great way to address the urgent issues of our time without being preachy. Bringing a feminine point of view to horror is not just great politics, but it’s also great FUN.
What’s next for Bleed? It had it’s Fangoria debut and also a great reception at CFF, so where does this particular set of shorts go next?
We’re currently streaming on SPAMFLIX with other shorts from Fantastic Fest 2019, and you can also find our short on Vimeo and Youtube. We would love to make a feature length anthology and we’re working on that as we speak. But ultimately, our goal with Fatale is to create a ~safe space~ that allows fresh female horror creators to share their shorts with the world. An opportunity that currently doesn’t really exist in nature.
In an unbalanced industry that is overcrowded with men in power, has that had an impact on the Collective in any aspect?
Frenchi: I’m sure there are more important problems that exist, but man, y’all gotta get more female creators in your festivals. Support them. Help them with passes. Find them on social media. It really should be more balanced.
Tasha: As female filmmakers, at least until there is real balance and equality, it’s our responsibility to correct that balance by emphasizing female stories, perspectives and characters, as well as supporting other female filmmakers and making a log of effing noise while we’re doing it.
Megan: I’ll say the effect it’s had on me personally is spurring me to START the collective. I found myself frustrated while pitching over and over again, to enthusiastic people in development, only to see my projects killed when they got passed up to the top of the food chain because some middle aged white man didn’t get it. I’m not making my horror for them. I’m making it for people like me, and I can’t wait until we are the ones in charge.
Is the Fatale Collective working on anything now as a group? And what are each of you separately working on?
We’re working currently on putting together a feature length anthology, with a focus on including some exciting new WOC filmmakers we know. Lola has a podcast about cults called Trust Me coming out soon, a new music project, and she’s writing a feature. Tasha’s horror short Beauty Juice about women and their relationship to beauty also made a 2019/2020 festival tour and won the Audience Choice Award at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival. Her sci-fi short After Ray made its premiere in New York on March 7th about a week before coronavirus shut down the US and she hopes it will have a new life post coronavirus, whenever that day comes. Frenchi is currently writing a personal project and using this quarantine to come out of the gate ready to make some magic. Danin has been busier than ever in quarantine, and has photographed some HUGE brands we *cannot name* while pursuing her personal short projects. Megan wrote her first network television episode this year for Two Sentence Horror Stories, and is looking forward to continuing that journey once quarantine has eased. Megan has a column out in the latest issue of Frangoria, and is currently working on a feature.
I mean it when I look at your work and truly see the next generation of filmmakers in the genre, and that’s exciting. What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers and creators, specifically women in the industry?
Thank you. Trust yourself, take comments (it’s important and essential) but then trust that your unique and creative voice is worth being heard in your specific and weird way. Don’t let people water down your uniqueness. Figure out what you have at your disposal already and exploit those resources! Know a dancer? Or a makeup artist? Do you live by a weird bridge that looks cool at sunset? Figure out how to use what you have excellently instead of aiming to make the next Star Wars on a Troma budget. Finally, you’re going to die waiting for permission, so stop. No one is going to suddenly tell you that you’re good enough to make a short, or another short, or a music video, or a feature. You have to decide that your voice and what you have to say is more important that people seeing your work before it’s mastery. Make them. Make more. And when you make anything you’re proud of, find a publication to premiere them for you, or submit to festivals! Your audience is out there – you just have to find it.