It’s not the easiest thing in the world to create a ‘zomedy’. Mixing zombies with comedy has been attempted ad nauseum, and frankly, besides ‘Shaun Of The Dead’, it hasn’t been done quite well.
Meet Ashleigh Nichols- a writer and director who has a laundry list of credits to her name, including one such ‘zomedy’ titled ‘Summer Of The Zombies’. The 2011 short is one of my favorites- it’s not only hilarious (vegan zombies!!), it’s also got excellent special effects.
Nichols, the brains and eye behind the camera along with Eddie Beasley, has been honing her skills all over the industry. She’s truly a Woman In Horror you’re going to want to keep an eye on.
Ashleigh has made it clear she’s ready to take charge and help lead the crusade of narrowing the gap between male and female players in the horror industry.
I had the privilege of interviewing Ashleigh for my WiHM celebration. Proceed with caution- there be zombies…..
1. Your resume is quite impressive. How did you break into filmmaking?
Thank you, that’s nice to hear! I had gotten my Bachelors degree in Theater Arts, and was not having much luck getting work…well really I was scared to try to really pursue acting. I was dating my now husband Eddie and he was working as a PA and he was working on a show that needed some day players, so he told them to call me…so I did. I started off day playing as a set PA. I found I really liked working behind the camera and started working quite a lot. I started interning for a producer, and then from there I met a lot of people and have been working for the past several years.
In 2009 I was very lucky to have been asked to produce my first feature “The Last Lovecraft.” It was an amazing experience where I got a chance to work with some of the best people and I learned a lot. This has lead me to being able to produce other things and finally get the nerve to direct my first project, which is “Summer of the Zombies.”
- Your short “Summer Of The Zombies” is one of my favorite shorts I’ve ever seen. How did you and Mr. Beasley come up with this?
We were having dinner with some friends, and we were all making jokes…and the idea was one of them…it started off as a joke. We knew the second we said it that it was a great idea and we needed to jump on it at once. We wrote it that night.
3. Has there been a specific project you’ve worked on that you can pinpoint as your favorite?
I would have to say “Summer of the Zombies.” It was my first film that I got to Direct and Produce and I loved how creative I got to be. I also got to work super close with my husband and it was amazing. It showed how strong we are as individuals…but more importantly that we are a strong team.
- What do you think can be done to close the gap between male and female horror directors?
In order to close the gap, maybe it has to come more from the independent horror movement. If we keep putting quality work out there, people will respond and change will start happening. That is what I am working towards as a director.
5. As a director, who are some of your role models behind the camera?
I admire Kathryn Bigelow. As a director her films have crossed many genres and I believe that is a good thing. Women Directors as a whole need to be recognized and I think she is a great inspiration to all the women in horror and women in film. I hope to make films that make you cheer, cry, scream…feel, like she does.
6. Who are some women in horror you admire?
I admire Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the Horror Queens. She is a great talent, and from what I hear a great person. I admire that she has had a career and kept it for several years. She is a strong public figure. I feel the same way about Sigourney Weaver, she is strong and totally kicks butt in the Alien films. Both of these women have been in the spotlight for years yet they continue to do great work.
7. Who is your favorite Final Girl in horror?
Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance in the Shining! She is amazing to watch, and she holds her own against Jack Nicholson. The film is so visual and so creepy yet I feel she is so powerful in her role that she commands your attention.
8. Can you recommend an underrated horror film to the masses?
I am a huge fan of the French film Them. It’s a great example of how to do a low budget movie the right way. 2 Main characters, very few locations, talented actors…this film is almost a course in how to do a movie with no money, and it’s great at the same time!
9. What makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
A great hero who gets a shot at revenge. I really really love the idea of it. I think its cause so often in society we do not get to do it ourselves, that when I hear a new revenge flick is coming out…I get very excited!!!!!! I also love when you really really feel for a character, good or bad I want to relate to someone.
10. Can we expect any new horror projects from you in the near future?
A writer friend of ours is writing a feature set in the South for us to direct. We plan on raising funds for it next year and hope to be shooting soon afterwards. We are also writing a comedy horror film ourselves and hope to do something with it soon as well.
I greatly appreciate all of Ashleigh’s time and support with this project! I look forward to many, many more fantastic projects from her!
Take a look at Ashleigh’s resume!
Check out the Facebook page to ‘Summer Of The Zombies’!