Pia, please tell us a bit about what drives you to create films.
For me it started out as necessity. I’m an actress first and I wanted to do more than play the token wife or girlfriend roles. So, I wrote my own script and included a character for myself that I found more interesting. Once I finished the script, I announced it on my personal facebook page and (at the time) joked about making my own movie. Then local filmmaker friends offered to help me with their gear, time and skills! Once I picked my jaw off the ground, shit got real really fast and before I knew it, I was a filmmaker! What was I getting into? So much work, so much to learn! I swore I’d never do it again, but within a year, I wrote two more scripts! I guess I got bitten by the bug.
Why do you think you find yourself working in the horror genre?
I never got into the sappy romance stuff. I was always drawn to the macabre, creepy and forbidden. As a child in Germany, I watched my father create the most beautiful tombstones and gravesites. Sometimes he let me help out in the cemetery, carrying his tools and such. Death was a very natural, every day ‘thing’ to us and it paid the bills for my family, as harsh as that sounds. The hushed tones and whispers of the people who came by to commission my father always conjured up the wildest images in my head. We had tombstones and sculptures all around our front and backyard for display, which made it look like we lived in a cemetery. I like to joke that Wednesday Addams got nothing on me!
As a horror filmmaker, what inspires you?
Great stories that get under your skin and stay with you for days. Stories that are unpredictable. For example, ‘The Babadook’… The characters were so well portrayed and just drew me in completely. The progression of the mother’s physical and mental state, that kid, the atmosphere…just brilliant! The way the last chapter can be interpreted, how it all played out. I thought it was so smartly done, I can only aspire to write horror like THAT one day! Obviously, I can’t wait to see what director Jennifer Kent does next!
What are some of your big influences and why do they resonate with you?
That’s a tough question, because I immerse myself with lots of other genres besides horror. So, it’s hard to pinpoint an influence. Just sticking to horror, I’d say Neil Marshall (I just LOVE his ‘The Descent’ and ‘Dog Soldiers’) and Guillermo del Toro (‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’, ‘Mimic’). His imagination knows no bounds!
As a woman in a still male-dominated genre, what does the Women in Horror Month movement mean to you?
I think it’s great! I first heard about it from the Soska sisters…or was it at one of Miguel Rodriguez’ Horrible Imaginings Film Festivals? I can’t remember for sure. Either way, I got to meet Hannah Forman and all I can say is, kudos to her for starting it! I think it will continue connecting women in horror across the globe! Last year, I was invited to add one of my dark paintings and poem to a book curated by an artist in Ireland. It’s a fantastic movement and I’ll support it however I can.
Who are other female horror filmmakers and writers you believe need more spotlight and why?
I really enjoyed Karyn Kusama’s ‘The Invitation’ and yes, ‘Jennifer’s Body’. Another female horror director whose vision I really like is Pablo Absento. Check out her short films ‘Shi’ and ‘Slit’! I can’t wait to see their next projects!
What would you say to a teen girl dreaming of making horror films, writing in the genre?
I say, go for it! And let your horror freak flag fly! Just start; and don’t wait for permission from others.
On a more personal level, do you believe being San Diego based has influenced your art? If so, in what way?
Not really, except maybe I’m subconsciously trying to balance out all that happy go lucky, beach going, sunny and oblivious lifestyle!
What do you hope the public takes away from your work?
I hope they are get something out of it, anything! As long as they’re not bored, I’m good with that.
Please tell us about your upcoming work, and what you have coming for fans of your work that you can talk about.
I’m working on my next short film, a horror comedy called ‘Things we dig’. It’ll have 3 times more cast members and much more bloody fun! I’ll also be acting in Dante Moran’s horror feature ‘Penance’.
I’m also continuing with several art projects under my ‘Her Dark Half’ moniker. You can find out more on my website.
Then in July I will have some art up for auction again in the Art Show at San Diego Comic Con 2017. This will be my 6th year.
Thank you Pia and we will keep looking out for your work.
Thank you and have a bloody great week!