Interview with Co-founder of Monstrous Femme Films, Hannah May Cumming [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Hannah May Cumming, I’m a horror director and co-founder of the feminist horror collective, Monstrous Femme Films. I directed, produced, and co-wrote the neo-giallo short Fanatico, now streaming on ALTER, and I wrote, co-directed and co-produced the summer camp creature featurette, Camp Calypso. My work is very femme-centric, retro inspired and campy.

What is it that attracts you to the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I’ve always loved the horror genre, it’s just been a very consistent passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I think that I’m drawn to it as an adult and a creator because there are no boundaries or confines I have to stay within (financially though…that’s another story). I can explore whatever I want, however I want to. It’s very cathartic as a storyteller, to know that the sky’s the limit. Horror gives us the room to be as creative and experimental as possible, and it actually encourages us to go further and further into uncharted creative territory.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
John Waters, Stephanie Rothman, Jordan Peele, Stephen King, Anna Biller, Daria Nicolodi, Dario Argento, R.L. Stine, and Stevie Nicks to name just a few… And definitely my parents. Specifically my mom, whose eccentric taste and strong work ethic has influenced my work and life in so many ways.

Women in horror have made great strides, but it’s clear that a lot of work is still needed to make it a most inclusive genre. To you, what is the importance of a movement like Women in Horror Month?
I think it’s super important to take the time to celebrate and uplift women’s contributions to the genre, because there are so many influential women throughout horror history and so many women working in horror right now who could use the support and exposure. Horror has actually been turning out complex female characters longer than a lot of other film genres, and while of course there has always been an issue with misogyny and exploitation (a theme we like to explore and subvert at Monstrous Femme Films), it doesn’t mean that the genre hates women or isn’t for women. It’s nice for us to feel appreciated and recognized as horror spectators, creators, critics, experts, and fans.

What would you tell an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror who sees that being a woman/identifying as a women as something that makes it so much more difficult at times?
You are just as worthy and just as capable as the men who have been dominating the creative spaces around us, from Hollywood to your classrooms…you just need to believe in yourself. You need to think as highly of yourself as they do themselves… I know that’s cliche, but believing in your voice is the most important thing, it’s the first step. Everything relies on how you view your self worth. If you think you’re special, everyone else will too.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
“Make the opportunities for yourself.” Because chances are, when you’re so young and inexperienced, nobody is going to make them for you. I knew I wanted to make horror films. I busted my ass alongside my collaborators, and now I’m actually doing it. Regardless of if it ever becomes a sustainable career, I feel that I already made my dream come true, in a way.

In honor of celebrating Women in Horror Month, who do you believe viewers should keep an eye on in terms of the creative ladies in horror?
This year in particular I’ve met so many up and coming female horror creators, it makes me so excited to think about what the future of the horror genre holds with so many strong women taking over. I’m a fan of Chelsea Stardust, her two features are incredible and she’s a very sweet and supportive person. I also think with Tara Ansley’s recent acquisition of Fangoria, watching her next moves with one of the biggest horror platforms is a MUST. And of course, ME and all my Monstrous Femme folks!

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
Our first short film, a neo-giallo titled Fanatico, is streaming on ALTER’s platforms. Our retro summer camp creature featurette, Camp Calypso should be released in late Spring or early Summer. This year I will be filming my third short, a ‘70s prom night pro-choice body horror called Baby Fever. I think if all goes well that should be coming out sometime next year! We also have several other amazing projects that will be helmed by other members of Monstrous Femme, that I’m very excited to help bring to life. You can expect big things from us at MFF in the future!

Pop them links to follow your work here:
Follow me on Instagram at @hannahmayfilms and our whole team at @monstrousfemmefilms
Follow me on twitter at @hannahmayfilm and our whole team at @monstrous_femme
Check out our website at www.monstrousfemmefilms.com!