I’ll admit it- I love a good horror marriage. There simply aren’t enough of them out there in the world. I hope to one day join that list of happy folks loving life in monster matrimony.
Marichelle Daywalt is one half of arguably the most productive indie horror couple out there today.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a role in the filmmaking world that she hasn’t done. She possesses a quality far too many filmmakers these days DON’T have- she is able to tell a story with the camera. Not just point and shoot. There is a major difference.
As a worldwide force as a producer, director and editor, she’s worked on major films like ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Fight Club’. She’s also the brains behind some of the most memorable indie horror shorts out there today, including ‘Mockingbird’ and ‘The Many Doors Of Albert Whale’.
As if I needed another reason to be even slightly creeped out by my apartment when the lights go out, Marichelle gave me one. Now I need to worry about doors and cupboards being closed before hitting the sheets, thanks to ‘The Many Doors…’.
I’ll never trust a baby monitor again after watching ‘Mockingbird’.
For all this and more, Marichelle Daywalt is truly a Woman In Horror you should know.
Marichelle teams up with her husband Drew to keep the chills and thrills coming on a regular basis. A match made in horror heaven.
Mrs. Daywalt was kind enough to take a few minutes to chat with me as I continue celebrating Women In Horror Month.
Enjoy the read, and be sure to keep your demons locked up tight.
- Your latest project, ‘The Many Doors Of Albert Whale’, is incredible to say the least. With your husband writing and you directing, to what do you attribute your working so exceptionally well with your husband?
Not wanting to do each other’s jobs, which is the key to any scenario where you’re working with your spouse! And he’s an incredibly talented visual writer — whenever I read his scripts, I know exactly what I’m seeing on the screen. He has a great efficiency for the visual medium, so directing his work is easy. Plus, being together for almost two decades, I know his intentions as a storyteller. And he stays out of my way, which is remarkable for someone who is an excellent director himself. I think that’s because he knows that I bring a perspective that he doesn’t, and he enjoys watching me create something completely different than what he would have, even though the words on the page are the same.
2. As an alum of BleedFest, how awesome is it to see women coming together, supporting and embracing one another’s creativity?
Of course, it’s amazing! Admittedly, I’m in my little bubble of being a working mom, so I don’t get to do a lot of connecting with these talented ladies, but they’re always reaching out to me, trying to include me….it’s pretty incredible.
3. Who roped you into the horror genre?
My husband, although I’ve always had a dark sensibility (I studied acting at Emerson College in Boston, so there was lots of black in my wardrobe by then, hahaha).
4. Having produced, directed, and edited horror, is there a facet to filmmaking you enjoy most? Is there an aspect you least enjoy?
I love the editing process. I enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together. I HATE production. The long hours, the schlepping, the waiting….I can’t wait to get to the assembling! Half the craft comes in post — the editing, the sound design, and the music. You can create so much tension and horror after the fact.
5. You’ve also been a part of Viscera Film Festival. Who are some fellow women in horror you admire?
Izabel Grondin’s “Fantasy” and Victoria Waghorn’s “When Sally Met Frank” really struck chords with me, both thematically and visually. I loved that both asked the audience to question the definition of fantasy and beauty, respectively. I also love the Soska twins’ contagious energy in everything they do. Last but not least, Shannon Lark is one of the bravest starlets/filmmakers I’ve ever met. But these are only a handful — all of the women I’ve met over the past couple of years have so much to say and are outrageously talented.
6. Having won the best director award at BleedFest this past year, what makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
To steal a quote from my husband, it’s the moment before a horrible thing happens that is truly the most horrible. Dread is a wonderful tool to use in horror. I love the punch-in-the-gut moments of realizing that a character can’t go back to the way things were, reveals…. that “oooooooh nooooooo!!!!” moment (like in “Wolf Creek” when you see the garage full of cars, the room full of backpacks….or in “Se7en” when you realize what John Doe is doing to bring his cycle to a close). And always, ALWAYS, it’s about story, not spectacle.
7. What advice would you offer a young woman aspiring to join
the women in horror ranks?
Step 1: get a camera. It doesn’t have to be “professional”. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Even if it’s a FlipCam or the camera on your iPhone or iPod, get something you can shoot on. Hell, the professional-grade cameras are getting smaller and more financially accessible too — look at what Canon’s doing for the democratization of filmmaking!
Step 2: shoot as much as you can, as simply as you can. Shoot little nuggets of ideas. Shoot scripts that don’t require anything more that actors and a room. Focus on telling stories, even if they’re just character sketches. You don’t have to raise money to make movies — if you’ve got a good story, good actors, and enough money for dinner, you can make short films. Look at “Mockingbird” (my second film) — that was shot in a few hours on a Saturday afternoon in my living room for the cost of dinner afterwards. It’s only a couple of minutes long, it was my first time editing, and I think it works.
Step 3: get to know Shannon Lark and Heidi Honeycutt (formerly Martinuzzi). They have been instrumental in getting female horror out there, in my opinion!
8. Growing up, was your family supportive of your aspirations in horror?
I wasn’t very gothic growing up. I looked rather preppy, actually. I did everything a daughter from immigrant parents was supposed to do in a small town — I played the piano, I took dance lessons, I sang in church. Totally normal. I think my first encounter with the genre was catching “The Shining” on TV…it scarred me. I was always fascinated with dark films after that, but I wasn’t what you would consider an aficionado by any means. I was a “dabbler”, I guess. Even now, my parents are rather ambivalent about it.
What I find interesting though is my (former) friends who judge me & my husband’s parenting skills based on our work in the genre. Just because we explore our dark sides on film doesn’t mean we’re less loving or less balanced with our children! In fact, the parents I’ve met in the horror community have really great relationships with their kids.
9. I’m the type of writer/filmmaker who always has a mini notebook and pen on me. There’s a notebook on my night stand. Are you a compulsive note taker when it comes to your projects?
Not at all! I actually hate the physical action of writing. I leave that to my husband! Of course, when I’m prepping a film, I do write out my shot list and draw stick-figure storyboards just so that I don’t miss anything. But I’m not the journaler I was in college.
10. Who is your favorite horror hero? Villain?
Hero: Clara from my husband’s “Camera Obscura” webseries. She showed that there is strength in vulnerability. As for villain….it’s a toss up between Jack from “The Shining” (typical answer, I know, but he was my first and you never forget your first!) and Michael Gambon’s Albert Spica in “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” (yes, I consider that a horror movie), who was vile vile vile — brilliant!
11. What is one topic or subgenre you wish was utilized more in horror?
Everything is cyclical, so I don’t really wish anything were explored more than it is. Wait a few years and it’ll come around. I’m loving the creepy haunted house of “American Horror Story’ on FX right now….keep it coming!!!
12. What has been your most proud moment as a woman in horror?
My film “Mockingbird” running against my husband’s film “Bedfellows” in the Top 10 of Chiller TV/Universal Horror Nights Scariest Short Film competition one year. We got to walk the red carpet together alongside Rick Baker and Rob Zombie. Although he won, it was such a blast to see him accept the Eyegore Award shortly after Rick Baker accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award. The entire time he kept saying “She’s the better director!” I don’t know about that, but it was nice to get the shout-out!
It was a pleasure getting the chance to chat with Marichelle. For this, I thank her very much.
Folks, if you haven’t seen any of the Daywalts’ films, do yourself a favor and block off a good two or three hours of your schedule to browse through their Youtube page, ‘Daywalt Fear Factory’ at: