Interview with Filmmaker Tara Price [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
Hey there! My name’s Tara Price. I’m a writer, director, and producer. I directed the award-winning horror short films Earworm, starring Ernest Thomas, and Tea Time, featuring Rob Van Dam. The latter is currently playing the film festival circuit!

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I’ve loved horror since I was a kid. I was pretty rebellious growing up in a somewhat conservative household and horror was my great escape. Mostly books, but there was this brief period during my childhood where we actually had cable TV so I would watch as many horror movies as I could after I knew my parents were asleep. So, as an adult the world of horror has that kick of nostalgia that makes it such a fun genre to work in. I also love the spirit of camaraderie that’s found within the horror community. I think we all relate to each other because there’s a part of us that never wants to grow up.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
There are a lot of people, but one person who has made a very big impact on me is Frank Darabont. He’s been a champion of mine for many years and I don’t know if he’ll ever even understand how much it means to me. I was a very big fan of his work long before we met, and to have someone of his stature tell you that they believe in you is immensely inspiring. His words of encouragement have carried me through those difficult times when I’m struggling to reach the finish line on a film. This might sound sappy, but I keep a note he once wrote me in my desk drawer. If I’m feeling discouraged about something, I peek at it to remind myself that this wonderful person whom I admire is rooting for me.

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’m appreciative of it shining the spotlight on so many talented women who would otherwise be overlooked. We still sadly have a long way to go. I’ve shared this story with a few peers; I was interviewing DP’s for my short film Earworm and one contender was a man who in the middle of telling me about himself suddenly announced that he “had experience working with women before.” And it was said with such confidence as if that would somehow make him a shoo-in. Can you imagine? What does that even mean? He didn’t get the gig obviously, but it reminded me that I’m still not entirely considered an equal in this field, even compared to male filmmakers with less experience.

And my frustration is not unique. It’s a collective frustration all of us women hustling in this industry feel every time we read about yet another man, who’s maybe directed a single music video, suddenly be handed a directing gig on a studio feature film. We’re still an afterthought often only considered when there’s some sort of female quota to fill. Put it this way, I’m usually quite busy this time of year with interviews thanks to Women in Horror Month, while the rest of the year tends to be crickets. This movement is an urgent need. I hope one day it won’t be, and I want to see that happen in my lifetime.

What would you tell an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror who sees that being a woman/identifying as a woman as something that makes it so much more difficult at times?
Sexism and misogyny exists in all fields, the world of horror is no different, so don’t let it stop you. I don’t know of a single woman who hasn’t experienced a man trying to take credit for her idea at some point in her life. That happens here too, so surround yourself with solid people you can trust. Women who have your back. Men who know how to be allies. The rest will weed itself out. Most importantly, remember that this is a business, so even if you’re working with people you consider friends, you need to separate the personal from the work side of things. In other words, always put things in writing.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
To quote Frank; “wear comfortable shoes.” Hahaha… but it’s solid advice when you’re shooting! He also expressed the importance of making your day. You will always run into obstacles, just keep shooting and make it happen. I also love this quote I read from Ava DuVernay; “If your dream only includes you it’s too small.” That one stays with me because of how important I feel it is to take care of the people who stick by you. I’ve worked with the same costumer on five different short films, four were my own, and one was a job I recommended her for.

Her name is Janet Tennyson and she always brings her A-game. The first time I worked with her was on a project that had nary a budget. Yet she showed up and was as professional as if she was working on a multi-million-dollar movie. She blew me away. I want to hire her for everything. I want to see her one day win an Oscar for her work. You can want to succeed and also want others to succeed. Don’t ever get trapped into thinking there’s not enough room at the table for all of us. Just build another table.

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?
If you’re not aware of the incredible women who founded Etheria Film Night, you need to be. Heidi Honeycutt and Stacy Pippi Hammon are two of the biggest advocates for women in the indie horror community. Last year as everyone was scrambling to figure out what to do with film festivals (when it was becoming apparent the pandemic wasn’t going to be a short-lived thing,) I watched these two pivot on a dime and partner up with Shudder to create a streaming platform for their annual film festival that’s usually held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Their creative and collaborative efforts are something to behold. I adore them both and applaud everything they set their minds to and make happen. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
Tea Time is coming to FilmQuest in Provo, Utah this May. I’m also in pre-production on a documentary about one of the Silent Sentinels who protested in front of the White House during the women’s suffrage movement. Her name was Nell Mercer and she was a suffragist from Virginia who spent five days in jail before the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 and women finally won the right to vote. She was also my great-great aunt.

Pop them links to follow your work here:
Official website: http://taraprice.com
Tea Time trailer: https://vimeo.com/444709060
Earworm on Prime Video: https://amazon.com/Earworm-Ernest-L-Thomas/dp/B07WPFQKSN