When people dissect the importance of Women In Horror Month, it’s imperative they understand the whole picture. It’s not just about making horror films and it’s certainly not a “girls only” club. It’s about supporting one another as filmmakers, as artists, as people.
With the film industry hemorrhaging incompetent story lines and crap by the boat load, it’s truly awesome to read about a woman in horror like Cindy Baer.
Cindy is the type of woman every parent wants their daughter to grow up to be- a successful, exuberant and generous person. Her creative spark is matched by few.
A performer since she was 14, Cindy mastered theatre before founding her own production company in 2001. Free Dream Pictures allowed Cindy to produce and direct her debut feature film, ‘Purgatory House’, in 2004. The film was written by a young woman who was considered at-risk and Cindy mentored in the Big Sisters of Los Angeles Program. The film went on to win 12 film festival awards and was a featured story in over 60 media outlets across the country.
Following the enormous success of ‘Purgatory House’, Baer knocked it out of the park with her short comedy ‘Morbid Curiosity’ and has since rattled off a number of awesome shorts, including ‘Slashdance’, which I will be reviewing later this month!
As if all that weren’t enough, Cindy also founded the 501(c) nonprofit company ‘Patron Of The Arts’, a group dedicated to helping emerging filmmakers and artists connect with people who wish to support their art.
Without further ado, I am honored to interview Cindy Baer.
- Who are some of your role models as directors?
Hmmm. I’d have to say I have three that come to mind immediately: I love Milos Forman (HAIR, MAN ON THE MOON, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST), Peter Bogdanovich (PAPER MOON, A THING CALLED LOVE, LAST PICTURE SHOW) and Wes Anderson (RUSHMORE, DARJEELING LTD)
2. You’ve been acting since you were 14. What drew you to acting?
The need to escape my life. Growing up I needed a positive creative outlet, and acting gave me that. I think I was starved for attention, and luckily this was a healthy way to get it. Plus, I’m a big ham! I love to make people laugh!
- Your first film, “Purgatory House”, is not only stunning and eye opening, but embodies everything Women In Horror Recognition Month is about- women reaching out and helping one another (literally, in this case). I know you had a close relationship with the 14-year old writer/lead character and actress. Do you still keep in touch with Celeste?
Thanks for the compliments!! It’s hard to believe we shot that 10 years ago! It took 2 years to complete and then played the festival circuit for 3 years before getting distribution! Celeste was in high school when we shot it, and she moved to Michigan shortly after. When she moved back to LA we kept in touch but time has taken its toll…
- ‘Morbid Curiosity’ certainly tested your chops as an editor. How long did it take you to finish this project?
Haha! This will be very surprising to hear, but the editing went super fast! I’d say it took no more than a few days. We put it together fairly quickly, because the story (other than the video confessional/interview footage) is all still photos! It was great fun doing the visual effects for the still images myself in Photoshop, and I was super lucky to have the talented Mark Alan Thomas at my side to do the live action visual effects. He brought our great ending to life!
- Considering ‘Morbid Curiosity’ is a collaborative effort with your husband, how much does the acclaim mean to you?
Well, I’m just thrilled that MC did so well on the festival circuit and continues to be invited to screen even to this day —when we shot it back in 2006. It was the first of Matt’s short stories that I produced and I love that we got to create this together. He’s the most talented person I know!
- You are another BleedFest alum. Who are some up-and-coming women in horror the world should start keeping an eye on?
Elisibeth Fies, Barbara Stepansky, The Soska Sisters, and Vanessa Newell are a few of my faves.
- As a director, what has been the most difficult of your films to work on or finish? For what reason?
That would be my feature PURGATORY HOUSE for three reasons: 1) It was a full length feature. 2) I’d never produced or directed anything before (except theater) and 3) I knew what I was doing —but I didn’t know that I knew! haha.
8. What makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
I may be in the minority here, but for me it’s all about what you don’t see! Leave it to my imagination and I’ll come up with something more terrifying than anything you could see on screen. I’m a big fan of “less is more”, slow reveals, and great music!
9. What has been your most proud moment as a woman in horror?
Can I pick a few?
It was pretty cool when MORBID CURIOSITY was invited to screen at Fantastic Fest, since that is such a well respected Horror festival and mostly male dominated. Also, I LOVE getting audience awards because it means the audience (the reason for making the film) really liked it. So winning Audience Awards at Bleedfest, Valley Film Festival and Night Gallery meant a lot to me.
Shooting SLASHDANCE at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival without anyone knowing what we were doing and having a great female DP (Jenny Ramirez) was pretty fun.
And finally, when STALKED (which was the 4th film I produced penned by my husband Matt Irving) was offered distribution by HD Shorts. Yeah, that was pretty cool too. And of course when PURGATORY HOUSE got such unexpected critical acclaim and appeared on 5 “best films of the year” lists, and then got distributed by Image Entertainment (which is one of the largest DVD distributors in North America). That was very cool. Even if we still have not seen one dime in profit, despite the fact that it has over 12,000 ratings on Netflix. Go figure. But I digress. These were my proudest moments.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Wow!! That’s a great question. Since the whole industry is changing, I really need to find a way to better monetize my projects or I’ll have to get a real job! I have a feeling I may be self distributing my own projects, even though it’s not something I necessarily want to do. But hopefully I’ll have my third feature in the can as well. We just wrapped my second feature, which is a non-genre film called ODD BRODSKY that I hope to have on the festival circuit by the end of 2012. In five years I’ll also probably still be running the nonprofit company POTA (Patron of the Arts) that I co-founded as well. We help emerging filmmakers get their films made.
I would like to sincerely thank Cindy for all of her time and enthusiasm. Please take a moment to check out the website to Patron Of The Arts as well as her production company!