Friday, February 26, 2010
Interview with Filmmaker and Actress Kimberly Amato
Kimberly Amato has appeared in a variety of independent films, including Fistful of Sand, Deception, Perfect Criminals, Weekend Rental, Amity and Billy’s Choice. Most notably, she portrayed the title character in Susan Adriensen’s Under the Raven’s Wing. The role garnered Amato with critical acclaim with coverage from wide variety of places including Pretty-Scary.net, AfterEllen.com and Curve Magazine. The film was awarded the best film of 2007 by BumsCorner.com.
Amato has a knack for getting into a characters mind having in her arsenal a BA in Psychology from Hofstra University and a MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She’s been called a “Jack of All Trades” working behind the camera as well as in front as often as possible.
Along with the award winning television pilot Party Girl Amato has co-produced Under the Raven’s Wing and two other short films. Most recently she and Michelle Tomlinson created The Mis-Adventures of McT & A as sketch comedy series which will be screened at the Pretty Scary Blood Bath Film Festival in 2010.
As if that wasn’t enough, Kimberly Amato is also working with Bridge and Tunnel Media on a Spanish Novella trilogy and is in the final stages of editing her first novel.
Fatally Yours: How and when did you fall in love with horror?
Kimberly Amato: I don’t know exactly when, but I remember Nightmare on Elm Street being the first horror film I saw. There was something fascinating about it. I’ve always been interested in the macabre and this is just an extension of it.
Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?
Kimberly Amato: It’s the ability to take the simplest and most inane thing and make it terrifying.
Fatally Yours: What are others’ reactions when you tell them you are involved in the horror genre?
Kimberly Amato: Some people scoff at it asking how often have I taken my clothes off. Others ask to become part of my next project if I’m producing it. I’ve met very good mix of people and I truthfully enjoy hearing everyone’s opinions. It gives me more to work with on the next project.
Fatally Yours: Why do you think the horror genre has primarily been a man’s domain?
Kimberly Amato: I think it’s because there has always been the idea of women not being strong enough to combat evil. Fortunately, with the advent of the women’s movement, strong female characters have gained momentum.
Fatally Yours: As a woman, do you think you are viewed differently than your male counterparts in the horror genre? If so, how and why?
Kimberly Amato: I do think I’m viewed differently, partially because of my gender but also because of my background. The viewers are used to seeing women in certain roles, so it’s hard to bring a strong female character to life and still give the fans what they want. You have to bring sex appeal across even if you are fully clothed, buried in mud or just sitting at the kitchen table.
Fatally Yours: Even though women seem to be getting more and more involved behind the scenes in horror, why do you think there are less female horror directors, writers, producers, etc. in the genre than males?
Kimberly Amato: I think it’s because it’s difficult to be taken seriously in other genres after you have directed horror. For men it can be a stepping stone, but it feels like for women it makes you a one trick pony. I co-produced a feature horror film and didn’t get credit for the hard work I did from people outside of the horror industry. However, once I co-produced, starred, co-wrote and directed a comedy television pilot – I earned more respect. The work load was the same, but the recognition and respect was not, unfortunately.
Fatally Yours: What elements can female filmmakers/authors/journalists/etc. bring to the horror genre that are lacking in males’ perspectives?
Kimberly Amato: I don’t think it’s that we bring something specifically different to the table. I think it’s the opposite. Women in general can make a movie just as well, complete with gore, nudity, and all the elements that make a great horror flick – but are not being given as many opportunities to do so.
Fatally Yours: Do you think it’s harder for women to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males?
Kimberly Amato: In some ways, yes. If you notoriously have women being used as nothing more than skin, why would you take them seriously? Film has some basis in the real word – does a woman who sells her body for show get respect? Not really. Why would filmmaking be any different? Unfortunately, women in general are utilized for our bodies more than our talent or our minds. Slowly, we are dispelling these generalizations but in order to succeed we have to play the same game as men. We have to sell DVD’s or tickets and skin sells.
Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles in the industry?
Kimberly Amato: I have seen more women taking strides behind the camera to make quality productions as directors, producers and writers. Having been in a horror film directed by a woman it’s wonderful to see the trend continue with more fervor than ever.
Fatally Yours: Do you ever get annoyed at how women in horror movies always end naked or with their clothes ripped off?
Kimberly Amato: Very much so. I understand the main audience demographic is male, so that’s the driving force behind it. I wish it was different, but at this point in time it isn’t. Personally, if the female character is going through something where nudity will enhance the story line – I’m all for it. However, seeing a woman nude for the sake of nudity just seems wrong and such a step in the wrong direction for women in the entertainment industry.
Fatally Yours: What horror movie would you say is equally fair in terms of men being objectified or at least, losing the same amount of clothes?
Kimberly Amato: I wish I could name a few, but honestly none come to mind.
Fatally Yours: Do you feel you’ve become desensitized to stereotypical scenes in horror like the half-naked girl screaming and running for her life in slow motion? Or are these types of familiar horror tropes still effective and necessary?
Kimberly Amato: I have become extremely desensitized at this point. I love horror and enjoy watching it regardless, but sometimes I wish the tired old adages would change. Heck, at least shoot them in a different way. To be blunt, my friends are not huge horror fans, but for them to tell me a film is very predictable with specific cliché scenes – things need a new point of view or a different presentation.
Fatally Yours: Do you feel that other people view women as being “soft” and not able to endure horror as well as men? How do you fight this stereotypical view?
Kimberly Amato: I don’t know if people view women as “soft” since we are expected to be easy going. So, I wonder if “soft” is the right term. However, some people would view women as incapable of making a good, solid horror film. The only way to combat this view is to keep our integrity, never quit and put the most amazing project we can out there. Once more people see what women are capable of, the more doors open.
Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire and why?
Kimberly Amato: I admire Jamie Lee Curtis as a mainstream Scream Queen. She took her following and made it into a massively successful career. Then there is the obvious choice of Brooke Lewis, she can create a feature, a web series and anything else she puts her mind to – all the while bringing the best possible performance to the screen to accompany the project.
As far as up and coming actresses, I admire Michelle Tomlinson. I saw her film, The Cellar Door, and found she did more stuck in a box (literally, she was trapped in a wooden cage) than someone with a script full of dialogue and a huge set. Since I started working with her, I find her ability stretches much further than the average Scream Queen.
Fatally Yours: What advice would you give women who want to become involved in the horror genre?
Kimberly Amato: You better have a thick skin. This industry is hard and there are women and men willing to knock you down a few pegs to get what they want. Be true to who you are, fight for what you believe in and don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes passing on a project you feel ill at ease being a part of is a good decision. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Fatally Yours: What’s the last disturbing horror movie you saw?
Kimberly Amato: The Descent – I hate small spaces and seeing the women trying to climb through these little caverns, with no air, the roof collapsing. Yeah, it freaked me out a bit.
Fatally Yours: What’s one horror movie you think is HIGHLY overrated?
Kimberly Amato: Paranormal Activity – the new Blair Witch… all hype and very little return on my money. What makes it worse, they ordered a sequel.
Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?
Kimberly Amato: I read mostly non-fiction books about various criminals so that in itself is frightening. I have always been very partial to the Nightmare on Elm Street series, The Descent, the first Saw film (the subsequent sequels lost the essence of the original) and Silence of the Lambs.
Fatally Yours: What is your ultimate goal while working in the horror genre?
Kimberly Amato: To create films that showcase the worst of humanity in the most realistic manner possible. They don’t have to make a fortune, but they have to be good quality films.
Fatally Yours: What upcoming projects are you working on?
Kimberly Amato: I’m working on a bunch of projects this year. First, there is the web series, The Mis-Adventures of McT & A, Michelle Tomlinson and I have begun working on. The first episode is located on my YouTube page and we have a Facebook group where fans can send us suggestions, emails and images. Michelle and I are also working on two feature films this year. One called Touch – the teaser trailer is also available on my YouTube page. Then there is Dreaming Reality – both are in the pre-production phase. We’re also doing a benefit for abused women in Los Angeles.
I’ve also been brought on board to work with Bridge & Tunnel Media on a Spanish novella trilogy. We’ll be shooting the first episode of the first novella in the next few months. And last but not least, I’ve just completed my first novel. It’s a murder mystery and the lead is a female psychotherapist.
Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?
“The Mis-Adventures of McT & A” Facebook Group