This Women in Horror Month I’m celebrating some of the women who focus on short horror films. Every day from now until the end of the February, I’ll be featuring a new Sinister Seven interview with a different short horror film director to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in the business of giving us big scares in small doses.
I’ve already had the chance to sing Lyndsay Sarah Doyle’s praises in a previous Short Cuts that featured her film Room of Doors, a film that rushes headlong into darkness but pulls up just enough at the last minute to offer a small ray of hope. In the Sinister Seven below, Doyle talks about her love of the short horror format and gives a tease of her next film.
What attracts you to the short film medium? If you’ve also done feature length movies, how do they differ (other than length)?
Making films can be overwhelming, and the desire to make films but not having access to the resources or time can be just as overwhelming. Short content allows for you to have that creative outlet. It’s also a great “playground” to try out new things and take risks that won’t cost a lot.
Edgar Allan Poe believed that a good short story achieves a “singular effect” that elicits one strong emotion from the reader throughout. Do you believe this to be true of short films?
Oh yeah! Without the luxury of time, we need to get our point across fairly quickly and effectively. People’s attention span in a short film doesn’t last long, they’re not tucked into a nice comfy seat and ready to watch a long film, they want to be entertained quickly.
A lot of short films have an independent, DIY vibe. What are some of the benefits and the challenges of making films in those circumstances?
With limited resources and crew, both a benefit and a challenge is taking on multiple tasks at once. Being able to multi-task, while keeping on top of your main priorities often is a challenge. While not ideal, having had to take on multiple roles has actually served me well. It takes the pressure off having to rely on others, and in moments when our team needs to quickly adapt to changing circumstances I know I can step in, and in the event that people drop out of the project last minute I know I’m going to be okay, and that the project will go ahead because I’m capable of carrying the load. The show will go on!
Do you deliberately convey your experiences as a woman through your short films, or do you just make a film and whatever comes through is incidental?
My experience on this planet as being in a girl and woman’s body will no doubt have some kind of influence over the stories I tell and characters I create, but probably more subconsciously. I don’t tend to make a deliberate point of it. I just create what I want to see and what feels natural for me. Maybe one day I will be more conscious of creating something to explore what it’s like being a female in this world, and then I’ll have the opportunity to really think about it. But for now, I’m just expressing what comes out of my head, and having a lot of fun while doing it!
With countless stories of misogyny affecting feature productions on both studio and independent films alike, do you find you get to bypass some of those issues and have more control on these short film productions? Are there still hurdles that you face as a woman that men wouldn’t have to deal with?
I don’t suppose any of my male counterparts have been referred to as “sweetie” when they’ve been directing their films? I’m yet to experience any facet of my world where sexism doesn’t creep in. Misogyny and sexism run deep in our society, so doesn’t just disappear the moment you fund your own film.
What advice would you give a woman looking to make their first short horror film?
Do it!!!!!!!! And don’t be afraid of being called bossy or controlling, ‘cos it’s gonna happen anyway. So speak up, stand your ground and run your set, girl!
What are some short horror films created by women that people should be seeking out (of course, please include your own)?
Check out my latest short horror DIRT, doing its rounds in the film festival circuit, and is available on Vimeo.