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.
In her short film Dread, Gawby Weinstein throws us into the frenzy that erupts in our own heads when we’re left isolated and scared. Below, however, Weinstein talks about how making such a movie requires collaboration with great people and how it can really be a lot of fun.
What attracts you to the short film medium? If you’ve also done feature length movies, how do they differ (other than length)?
I think I’m mostly attracted to being able to get my idea out there faster. It might be more of a challenge that way, but I just haven’t considered diving into the long process of a feature length. Being able to shoot something with your friends over the weekend and then get right down to post production can be exhilarating.
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?
I suppose I can’t speak on behalf of all short films, but for the most part I would say that this is true. When you only have so much time to show an idea, you really have to emphasize it. It would make sense that short films would have a similar effect.
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?
This is a fun question. The benefits that I see from working in a DIY environment are just knowing you have full control over your work. You’re not under a contract by some big studio head and you’re not obligated to do anything you don’t want to do. It’s complete artistic freedom. Unfortunately it also means that your budget is probably really small (or in my case for my film Dread totally non- existent). I’m extremely lucky that I have friends who were simply down to work on something with me despite knowing that I wouldn’t be able to pay them. In the future I’d like to avoid that because they’re my friends, but they’re talented and deserve more than just pizza for their work.
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?
So far I’d say the latter. I haven’t yet written anything that specifically comes from my experiences as a woman. I’m putting a strong emphasis on “yet.”
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?
So far I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had to deal with misogyny on any short film of mine or on other productions. I think everyone I’ve worked with so far is simply aware of what is appropriate and the men I’ve worked with have been extremely chill. I don’t doubt that misogyny still takes place in short film productions though. It’s everywhere.
What advice would you give a woman looking to make their first short horror film?
I’d say just do it. That’s the advice that was given to me. The world can always use more horror films in my opinion and short horror films are so fun.
What are some short horror films created by women that people should be seeking out (of course, please include your own)?
Well anything by Crystal Friedman. She has some short horror films coming out soon (that I actually did the cinematography for). She’s an inspiring writer/director. And I’ll be releasing my film, Dread really soon. It’s been a long time coming.