Monday, February 1, 2010

Interview with Indie Filmmaker Michelle Fatale

When Michelle Fatale was five years old, she was subjected to her very first horror film. Happily traumatized, she spawned a passion for film and a love of horror genre. Primarily a producer/writer/director, Fatale completed her first independent short film Dead Line in 2004. Since then she has produced and directed a handful of short films including Paraphilia and The Cleaner through her production company Chopping Block Films. The Cleaner is a multi-award winning short, and is available to view exclusively on IMDB.

Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre? 

Michelle Fatale: I saw a few horror films growing up, but I think I officially fell in love with the genre when I first saw Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers directed by Mick Garris. It was Halloween and on cable, and I was sifting through my pile of candy and became completely glued to the TV. After that, I watched it about 48 times, and then stopped counting. I think it’s such an underrated film. I began to walk to my local mom and pop video store every other day and rent everything from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Nightmare on Elm Street to C.H.U.D. You name it.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you?

Michelle Fatale: The genre is really diverse. It can be campy and fun, or downright gory and disgusting, or psychologically frightening. I see horror films as an escape. They take truly violent or horrifying scenarios and put them into a language our brains can process. The world is an ugly place, and horror films put us in touch with our most primal fears in a safe, entertaining way.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you get involved in the horror genre?

Michelle Fatale: I’ve been involved with the horror genre for about ten years now. I made my first indie horror short in 1999, and frequented Fangoria conventions and such until 2006 when I began writing reviews and interviews for different horror sites. I continued to make shorts, and basically just got involved and networked with people online and at cons.

Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?

Michelle Fatale: I think the greatest achievement was to win an audience award for my short The Cleaner. The whole reason I make films is so an audience can be entertained, so knowing my work was paying off was a real achievement for me. I’m still a newbie filmmaker, but I will always be proud to know people enjoyed themselves watching my films, even on a small scale.

Fatally Yours: How would you convince people who aren’t horror fans to give the genre a try?

Michelle Fatale: Make them watch Cannibal Holocaust. Just kidding. I wouldn’t. I think if people don’t like horror, why force it on them. I wouldn’t want to watch a Hannah Montana movie, so I wouldn’t convince someone to watch something they’re not into. If they were curious about it, they probably gave it a try already. I would be curious as to why they don’t like the genre though.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?

Michelle Fatale: I think everyone sees a woman in horror and thinks she must be an actress. That’s slightly annoying. I don’t think female directors are prominent in the film industry, period. I also think very strongly if we keep comparing ourselves to men in the industry, that’s what we will draw attention to. I say just do your thing, girl. Who cares what they say. Let your work speak for itself.

Fatally Yours: As a woman in horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males? 

Michelle Fatale: Personally, no. I’ve found most people to be very supportive, at least within the community. I think there just aren’t enough women making movies. I think people would welcome them.

Fatally Yours: As a female filmmaker, do you feel horror directed by women is different than that which is filmed by men? If so, how is it different and why?

Michelle Fatale: I think it depends on who the director is and what they have to say. I’ve seen films directed by women that could have completely been directed by a man. I don’t think a director’s gender shouldn’t speak through a film. I think if it does, your narrative is overly consumed and you’re not thinking about your audience.

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera, women writers, etc.?

Michelle Fatale: There’s a lot more coming out of the woodwork. More women behind the camera, definitely. That is a truly great thing.

Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire?

Michelle Fatale: Debbie Rochon and Tiffany Shepis. They’re my favorite scream queens of my generation, and they’re truly talented and hard working women. I admire them a great deal.

Fatally Yours: If you could direct one woman from the horror genre, living or dead, in one of your films who would it be and why?

Michelle Fatale: Bette Davis. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is amazing. I would love to have been able to direct her in a film because I’m such a big fan of hers
Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you?

Michelle Fatale: I’m inspired by many things. Other films, filmmakers, audiences. I’m motivated by going to the movies and seeing people jump and scream during a horror film. I want to be responsible for that one day.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films, books, etc.?

Michelle Fatale: I absolutely cannot answer that question fully because there are so many. Some top picks would be the Nightmare On Elm Street and Slumber Party Massacre series, Audition, and Suspiria. My tastes range from ultra B-movie cheese to psychological horror. I’m in love with Bentley Little’s books, and Richard Laymon. Stephen King, of course.

Fatally Yours: Outside of horror what do you enjoy doing?

Michelle Fatale: I love photography, and I’m also a musician. I have to be creatively stimulated all the time or else I go crazy. I love to read, watch movies obviously, and be with friends and loved ones.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?

Michelle Fatale: I want to be able to make a decent living doing what I love. I don’t necessarily want fame and mega fortune. I would love to get a spread in Fangoria magazine since it’s been a dream since I was a kid, and participate in horror cons and panels. I want my films to be seen, distributed, and enjoyed by people. I want to make long lasting relationships with fellow genre lovers.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?

Michelle Fatale: At my website: That’s got everything you’ll ever need to know about me!

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