If you allow your eyes to scroll down past this interview, to the entry I posted about fifteen minutes ago, you’ll come across a review of an independent horror film titled ‘The Big Bad’.
Written by Jessi Gotta, the film deserves all the accolades it has received- both as a major force in the indie field and a fantastic film every horror fan should be enjoying during this year’s Women In Horror Month celebration.
Jessi Gotta has quite the impressive laundry list of stage and screen credits to her name. As a seasoned veteran of the New York City Theatre scene, Jessi has become a dynamic force as an actress, writer and producer.
With ‘The Big Bad’ blowing down the competition throughout the festival circuit and a new short film on the way, Jessi is also working on her next feature! She was awesome enough to give me a scoop in the following interview.
Look out world- Jessi Gotta has already kicked werewolf ass, and she’s just getting started.
1. ‘The Big Bad’ is an absolutely awesome film. It has so many levels and really hits the issue of ‘body horror’ right on the money. You’ve professed your weird fascination with body horror in the past. What are some of your favorite films that deal with this subject?
Thank you sir! The first film that pops into my head is THE FLY, so good, Carpenter’s THE THING, SLITHER and I still don’t know exactly how I feel about this film…but I would be remiss to not mention HUMAN CENTIPEDE as well.
2. You and Bryan Enk financed ‘The Big Bad’ completely on your own. How much more satisfaction comes with this project knowing that you did it all on your own?
I think the satisfaction came from the freedom that we had no one to answer to, but ourselves? No one else was trying to force their own ideas on us because they felt a sense of ownership. It was completely ours.
3. As a filmmaker, what is your favorite aspect of filmmaking and what is your least favorite (if any)?
To be honest I like a little bit of everything. I’m still learning so much as we go, it’s really hard to pick favorites. Least favorite? That moment of pure terror right as a screening begins.
4. You have an extensive background in theatre. Which do you prefer overall, acting on stage or acting in front of a camera? What are some of the differences and similarities between the two?
I really love both, I think I feel more comfortable with theatre, but that is just because I have done more of it. I really can’t wait to do more film! As I see it, the main difference between acting for film and acting for theatre is the audience and how you play to it. In film, the audience is the lens of the camera, and that lens can be a mere inch from your face. You have to adapt your performance for that. In theater your audience can be 10 to 30 to 70 feet away…sometime further and you have to adapt your performance to play to that. I think the similarity between acting for stage and for film is, just trying to be as honest as possible, whatever that means for the character you’re trying to play.
5. How did you get in touch with Bryan to work on ‘The Big Bad’? What sparked your working relationship?
Bryan and I met years ago, while working at the Brick Theatre inBrooklyn, and we became friends right off the bat. I remember being in HAMLET with him, he was the kind of actor you instantly trust on stage…you don’t find that everyday. Then he directed me in a show and we worked so well together. He is a brilliant director.
We had talked about making a film for a few years, and then one day we just got serious and committed to it. I can’t imagine having this experience with anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, its not all rose petals and rainbows, we can push each other’s buttons, but we balance each other and are simply a good team.
6. Weight lifting and combat are two of your skills. You certainly epitomize the badass woman in horror. To whom or what do you attribute your work ethic?
Wow, thank you. Well I would say my father has a lot to do with that. He was an amazing self-made man, a strong Marine and an extremely hard working individual. He is also the sweetest most honorable person I have ever known. My mother is no slouch either; she was a marathon runner and is an overall badass strong lady.
Also I have my own healthy bit of neurosis that aides in my work ethic, I can be obsessive, anal retentive, insanely organized and usually can’t stop something until it is completed, which can be great for film making, but I am sure can drive those around me a little bat shit.
7. What are some of your favorite horror films?
In no particular order: HALLOWEEN (original), THE SHINING, FRIDAY THE 13TH (original), DAY OF THE DEAD (original), DAWN OF THE DEAD (original), ALIENS, NEAR DARK, POLTERGEIST, EVIL DEAD II, DRAG ME TO HELL, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, DEAD ALIVE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, PONTYPOOL, JU-ON, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (mid series as Robert England was allowed more funny), WAXWORK, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (original), SCREAM, HOSTEL PART II, TRICK R’ TREAT (underrated), GINGER SNAPS (even more underrated), IT (TV mini series)….and I know for some these might not necessarily fall into the “horror” category, but in a way, I think they do, so I would also say SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, INLAND EMPIRE and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.
8. You’re already hard at work on your second feature project. From what I’ve heard, it sounds fantastic. How did the idea for this new film come to be?
Bryan originated the idea…and my initial reaction was “pass.” But damn if I couldn’t get his idea out of my head, I instantly began flushing out the entire story that night. This new project is a blend of sci-fi and horror and the sci-fi elements have certain demands that could pose filmmaking challenges. The concept itself is so solid, but we want to be able to do it right, which might be beyond our means and we don’t want to half ass it.
We are currently testing out some of the lesson’s we learned during the process of making TBB before diving right into this next feature, so Bryan and I are producing a zombie short I co-wrote called ANNIVERSARY DINNER. We want to make sure we are up to our own challenges and this script kind of just came about and demanded to be shot. I am taking my first turn at directing as well.
9. What advice would you offer a young woman interested in joining the world of theater or acting?
I always learned more by actually “doing” then I ever did in a classroom. Not that schooling is isn’t important, but you just learn so much by getting your hands dirty. Also you have to see your career realistically; it is really hard to pay your bills with NYC theatre. You certainly can’t be in it for the money!
10. Who is your favorite ‘final girl’ in horror history?
Many come to mind, but the final girl who stole my heart: Laurie Strode, always and forever.
11. Your work on ‘The Master Of Horror’, as part of the annual Grand Guignol NYC stage anthology ‘The Blood Brothers Present’, highlighted stage adaptations of Stephen King short stories. As a die hard King fan myself, what are some of your favorite King stories or books? If you could be a part of one that you’ve yet to be in, which would it be? (I can totally see you as a new age Wendy Torrance- minus all the whining and scaredy-cat aura Shelley Duvall brought to the role.. even though I love Shelley and that film!)
I think I was 10 or so and I was sent to my grandparents’ house for like 3-4 weeks one summer. My grandmother kept all these random books out on the front porch, and I stumbled upon Stephen King’s IT. That book blew my mind apart; I don’t think I slept for weeks. My parents expected me to come back all well rested and calm from G-mom’s, and instead I was a twitchy wreak, suffering from sleep deprivation! And I loved it.
…And Wendy in THE SHINING is all right, but hands down, I call dibs on Jack!
It was an absolute pleasure chatting with Jessi for this interview. She is truly one of the ultimate women in horror working today. I thank her for all of her time, enthusiasm and support.
Check out her personal website at
Also take a look at ‘The Big Bad’ official website!!