Simone Kisiel Talks Feminist Horror and Her Fav Webseries
By Eva Crocker
WIFTV (Women in Film and Television Vancouver) are hosting a genre contest for women screenwriters, called
The winner receives a cash prize as well as some pretty exceptional opportunities to help promote and develop their project. To get you inspired to write your genre film outline I spoke to Simone Kisiel about her new feminist horror series '
Check out Simone's horror webseries "Housed" and some of her current favorite webseries below!
SJIWFF: Can you briefly describe BUGS and what inspired you to make it?
SK:‘BUGS: A Trilogy’ is a three part horror film in the style of the 1975 made for TV movie ‘Trilogy of Terror’ starring Karen Black. Each segment has a new story with new characters with the common theme of bugs. This is not, however, an insect film. It’s a psychological horror film based on real terrors that women face such as a violent child, an infection, or an infestation. I wanted so desperately to see a horror film that stars women, both as the victim and the villain, where they aren’t required to take their shirts off and run around screaming. I think women are smart, savvy and sophisticated. We’re not dumb enough to walk into that dark basement or to not call the police. So I decided to make a film about women (for everyone) that doesn’t rely on graphic violence or explicit sexuality, but instead is based on the premise that horror begins in the mind and in the imagination of the audience.
SJIWFF: What about the horror/suspense genre appeals to you?
SK:I like horror films because feeling fear (or anxiousness or excitement) is one way of feeling vibrantly alive. Of testing the limits of what we can handle, what we can imagine. When I watch horror films I am constantly thinking “Oh yeah totally that’s what I would do” or “NO! WHY! THAT’S A HORRIBLE IDEA WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” The science around dreams indicates that we have them so that our brain can test out actions and behaviors in certain situations. Since evolutionarily speaking, we no longer have to fear tigers or wolves, we dream about losing our wallets or standing naked in front of our coworkers. Our brains are anticipating conflicts that haven’t come up yet. Horror is like that. It’s a way to explore the disturbing without putting ourselves in bodily harm. It genuinely serves a purpose. Not to mention it’s a boatload of fun.
SJIWFF: What about the webseries genre appeals to you? What are some of the challenges and advantages of doing a horror piece as a webseries?
SK: I think the webseries genre is really cool because there isn’t anything to hold a filmmaker back. You usually don’t need a huge budget or a crazy location or an A list actor; there are so fewer gatekeepers and no one to greenlight the project. All you really need to create a new show is an idea and a camera phone. It’s an exciting time to be in film because anyone can be a content creator today. The advantage of making a horror piece as a webseries is that I think people have a little bit lower expectations for true scares. If there’s some blood and some interesting effects the audience seems pretty happy. The disadvantage of a low budget horror webseries is that sometimes the director ends up wearing gloves, standing on a chair and yanking on a two-headed demon baby attached to fishing wire to make it look like it’s exploding out of one character’s chest. In the webseries genre, there isn’t always a budget for a special effects expert so sometimes you have to wing it and get your hands on a really good editor.
SJIWFF:What advice do you have for emerging female filmmakers?
SK: Keep your eyes open. Watch people, listen to everything, absorb it all. I think general experience and specific knowledge are what make a good filmmaker. That said, work begets work. Don’t turn down that PA job because you only want to direct. Get in there and work your way up. My formal education is in acting, which I rarely do anymore. Every single opportunity/relationship/project is a stepping stone. Use them all!
SJIWFF: Can you recommend some other webseries you enjoy?
SK: I enjoy ‘Cam Girls’ a lot because it explores female sexuality in a way that is often taboo and not talked about in our culture. I love ‘Croissant Man,’ it’s one of the most original and hilarious things I’ve ever seen on the internet. And I also really like ‘Young. Black. And Barely Dangerous’ because it’s entertaining and I believe stereotyping is an important topic that should be explored.