Lori Bowen was introduced to the world of horror at a young age (much like myself), when she watched CUJO for the first time when she was six. From there, her interest in the macabre transcended to the likes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Fulci’s Gates Of Hell. She saw that last little diddy at the age of ten, so major kudos to a fellow horror nut who leapt into the deep end at a young age.
When you are a twelve year old girl and you write a script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Last Dance, chances are you are on the fast track to a pretty kick ass career in the horror filmmaking world. I love Lori for many reasons. One of those reasons would be the fact that she has never graduated from a film school or college. Her education has come the good old fashioned way- hard work, tireless nights and an undying enthusiasm that puts most Tinsel Town directors to shame. I am in no way putting down a formal education, but quite frankly, that outlet is unavailable to many of us these days (due to several different reasons, one way or another) and I think it’s awesome that Bowen has excelled, rubbing elbows with some of the genre’s best and becoming one of the most well-respected Women In Horror on the indie scene.
She writes and directs her films, giving her full creative control of the project she takes on. Lori’s also done producing, cinematography and special effects work on her projects. She’s truly a one woman army in the industry! Lori has directed five films thus far, with a big 2012 still on the horizon. So look out, world! Lori is far from her Last Dance…..
Please enjoy the following interview Lori so graciously participated in!
1. You’ve been a big horror fan since you were a child. Who turned you onto the genre?
I saw Cujo when I was six thanks so some teenaged friends of the family who enticed me with talk of cute fuzzy puppies, but I was six! It scared the crap out of me! My mom reminded me that it was all fake and did her level best to explain special effects to me — this was the mid eighties and the most famous effects guys at that time were Tom Savini and Dick Smith. I was intrigued at the idea of these people creating these things, but wasn’t so enraptured with the genre until I was almost 9 and saw A Nightmare on Elm Street. In that case, you can say that my brother inadvertently introduced me to the film since he’d taped it on the same tape as a more age appropriate (for me) movie, but I was by myself when I first watched it. In fact, I introduced myself to a lot of classic horror flicks thanks to intriguing cover art, but almost none of them were with someone else or recommended to me by someone else for a long time. Very few of my non-filmmaker friends, even now, like horror…
2. You ran your own film festival, “Hallowscreen”, in 2010, and have left the door open for another festival in the future. Who were some of the amazingly talented people you showcased?
Hallowscreen was being run to benefit a non-profit (the Sarasota Chalk Festival) and the original director of Hallowscreen dropped out, dumping the whole thing on me. I’d worked film festivals before, but as a film projectionist, not on the administrative side so I was put into a very difficult position a month out from the festival and wound up pursuing nearly every film I played. Thankfully, the horror community really is just that, a community. I had the honor of playing films from the likes of Mel House, Barbara Stepansky, Sage Hall, Steven Shea, Ashley Maria, Gary Ugarek, Alex Horwitz and so many others. I didn’t run an awards section, though. I didn’t feel comfortable with that. I really just wanted to show some awesome indie horror flicks and expose more people to these filmmakers and their work.
Also, Full Moon let me play David DeCoteau’s classic Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama in honor of our first Queen of Hallowscreen, Brinke Stevens. And I screened the original Nosferatu and asked my brother’s band, World Collision, to create a brand new score for it. We played it outside during the Chalk Festival, and the band played live to the movie. It was AMAZING! I’d also partnered up with Asif Ahmed’s Vampire Film Festival which, at the time, took place in New Orleans, and played a selection of their shorts featuring work like Tyrrell Shaffner’s Threnody.
I plan on starting the festival up again, hopefully next year, but filmmaking comes first. With the exception of the projectionist, I ran Hallowscreen by myself — no volunteers, no staff, just me. I was out cold for days afterward!
3. Kimyoo Films has quite a nice catalogue. How long does an average film take from pre to post production (in a perfect world)?
Thanks! I’ve only done short films so far, trying to learn more and more about the process. I do everything myself and I try to get it done as quickly as possible and to the best of my abilities. The longest I took to shoot and cut a film was three weeks and that was a very post-heavy film (A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema, a silent film-style experiment about a Biblical end of the world). The shortest was a day, that being aftershock (a one room, one actress, no-zombie zombie movie.) I’m planning on making my first feature this year.
4. JustUs is making the rounds big time on the festival circuit right now. Can you tell us a bit about how this specific project came to be?
I love a good revenge film as much as the next person, but it’s rare for a film to show what happens afterward, the personal and moral implications of vengeance carried through. I think anyone can empathize with a person, in this case a woman, who wants to make the perpetrators feel their crimes. My goal with the film was to get into a viewer’s head, have them think about what they would do as the character goes through with her revenge, and then have a simple close up of my lead with a fairly ambiguous expression do so the viewer could superimpose their feelings on her to examine them a little better.
I wrote the film with Sage Hall in mind for the lead — I mentioned her before, she directed the short film Candy which I played at Hallowscreen and it’s been kicking a$$ and chewing bubblegum on the circuit (and it toured with me and a bunch of mind-blowingly talented female filmmakers on the 2011 Viscera Film Festival tour so I doubt it’ll be running out of bubblegum any time soon.) I also wrote the role of the DJ specifically for Brinke Stevens, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to know since my first film festival as a filmmaker back in 2008. It was a voice over so she’s not physically in the film, but her voice and her performance really adds to the work.
Kristin Mellian and her husband Aaron Pushkar provided voices for the station bumpers and sweepers in the film and we recorded Brinke’s voice over in her home studio. She was the lead in my first film, Without/Within. Finally, Travis Garner worked on another film that Sage directed called The Couch — I recorded sound for her on that flick — and I thought he’d be good as the killer whom you don’t know whether you should pity or pray for.
The main shoot took place over two days and I had the film cut in about three or four days total, though I had to break at one point to fly back to L.A. for the Viscera Film Festival.
5. Congratulations on your win at Creative Loafing’s Reel Terror Film Festival for Best Faux Radio Broadcast! You’ve made Orson Welles proud. How many festivals has JustUs been at?
Thank you! I finished the film July 2011 and the current count, it being February 19 as I write this, the film’s been selected for eleven festivals, including the Canton Film Festival in Ohio, Rock and Shock Film Festival in Massachusetts, the October Enzian FilmSlam and CL’s Reel Terror Film Festival both of which are in Florida, the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in California, and the Turbine in Denmark. I’m very lucky and feel so honored that so many festivals thus far have played it! I look forward to seeing where else it travels!
6. If you could have a sit down with one filmmaker, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
This is a hard one… There are four directors to whom I really owe a lot: Wes Craven, George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci, and Dario Argento. Any or all of them would be nice!
7. What makes for a great horror film in your eyes?
• Story first. I’d like to care about the characters with whom I’m going to spend the next hour and a half.
• Practical effects. CG has its place as a tool of augmentation, not replacement. For example, the biggest disappointment in my opinion about The New Thing was how much of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr.’s work was covered up by sub-par CGI. One of the most perfect amalgamations of practical and visual effects would have to be Frank Darabont’s The Mist. That film is one of my top ten favorite flicks ever. The audience can see the difference between practical and visual effects and I think there’s a subconscious realization that The Thing, when it’s CGI, isn’t really there, y’know? That said…
• It ain’t the amount of gore or effects you have, it’s how you use them.
8. As a director, is there a taboo or subject you refuse to touch?
I haven’t come across one yet, but I’m sure there is. I work from my own scripts so whatever story I feel possessed to tell, I’m going to tell the best of my abilities.
9. What scares you?
Reality is far more frightening than any horror film. It’s the reality of the human monster, our propensity for evil and cruelty, that scares the hell out of me.
10. What would you like your legacy in horror to be?
It’s up to the horror fans if I get to have a legacy. I just hope that they like what they see and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to inspire others to make their own flicks.
I greatly appreciate Lori’s participation with this interview, as well as her constant support and enthusiasm every time we chat or I fill her in on a project of my own. It means alot!
For more information on Lori’s awesome films, check out her IMDB page!