The Real Scream Queen: The Legendary Women, Inc. Awards for Excellence in Film presents Heidi Honeycutt
“Women, both as filmmakers and actresses, have changed in genre films just as women and western society have changed in general over the past century. With social and political change comes change in all artistic expression; film is no different.” — Heidi Honeycutt
Heidi Honeycutt is a director (her short film Wretched portrays a woman wrestling with the effects of verbal abuse and an eating disorder), actress, writer, webmistress, and director of programming for Etheria Film Night, which is a showcase of the best new horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and thriller films made by emerging women directors. Throughout her career, Honeycutt has displayed a singular dedication for giving other women a hand up in the film industry; along with constantly marking her own achievements in the world of motion pictures.
Now she is a 2015 honoree in the Lucindie division of The Legendary Women, Inc. Awards for Excellence in Film. Meet The Real Scream Queen, Heidi Honeycutt.
1. Heidi Honeycutt, you rank as one of the most accomplished recipients of this year’s Lucindie honor in The Legendary Women, Inc. Awards for Excellence in Film. You’re a director, actress, writer, webmistress, and director of programming for Etheria Film Night, a showcase of the best new horror, science fiction, fantasy, action, and thriller films made by emerging women directors. How do you explain your passion for film, and your dedication to promoting women who want to make their voices heard through this medium?
Wow, you make me sound great! I am genuinely interested in women’s roles in genre films. I think that the phenomenon of women directing and creating horror films has only superficially been explored, since it is a fairly recent phenomenon. It seems common now to see women making genre films, but fifty years ago, for instance, it was quite rare. I want to explore that and follow the way women evolve as directors.
2. What do you like best about the horror/sci fi genre? And how do you feel that women’s roles have changed and evolved in this genre — both as creators of and characters in these films?
I love best being scared. I do. I love being terrified and watching violence and horrible things happen onscreen. It’s cathartic! Women, both as filmmakers and actresses, have changed in genre films just as women and western society have changed in general over the past century. With social and political change comes change in all artistic expression; film is no different. If you look at the overall evolution of the film industry from the early 1900s to the present day, women’s involvement as directors, writers, and producers changes as the industry changes. In the early days of Hollywood and before, women were very likely to direct films as on set jobs were less rigidly defined and less lucrative. As the studio system because more conservative and powerful, and the Hayes Code made expression more limited, women were pushed out of the director’s role. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s when the studio system began to weaken, that TV became popular and challenged film for the same audience, and that independent theaters were able to compete with studio theaters by showing independently produced films, that women began to be hired in power positions again. Of course, the women’s liberation movement and the civil rights movement had profound effects on women and minorities in the film industry, both in front of and behind the screen. Genre films are just a sub-section of the film industry as a whole; whatever is happening in mainstream film, it’s also happening in the horror film industry only on a smaller scale.
3. Tell us more about Etheria Film Night, scheduled to take place June 13 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. What can guests expect from this year’s festival?
Etheria Film Night was created with the express purpose of bringing awesome new genre film directors, who happen to be female, to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Genre TV series, major film studios, producers, managers, show runners, and executives often say they can’t find women capable of directing major genre productions because women either aren’t interested in directing genre, or are not very good at it. Etheria is a showcase of amazing genre films with great directors, so we make it easier for the industry to find women genre directors. There’s no excuse not to hire them when a showcase like ours exists. This year, we’re hoping to show an incredible lineup of action, horror, sci-fi, and thriller shorts, along with one feature film. We’ll have a special guest to receive this year’s Inspiration Award, and we’re hoping to have a familiar face as our event host. In short, people can expect one night of relaxed, fun, top-notch films and plenty of open-minded industry attendees interested in hiring women for genre productions.
4. You were the writer, co-director and producer of the film Wretched. Tell us more about this short film.
Wretched is so old now! I made it in 2006/2007. Essentially it’s a short film about a woman with bulimia in an abusive relationship. It has some very dark moments. It was cathartic and awesome to make, it is definitely flawed, but I think it has its moments. It was a wonderful exercise in learning how to express myself through the medium of film, to write a script, and to engage in the entire process. I learned so much from making it, and I encourage everyone interested in making a film to go out and do it. I had a wonderful pair of friends — Leslie Delano and Jessica Gallant, my co-director and cinematographer — making it with me, and a close friend, John Bloom (Joe Bob Briggs) agreed to be in it, for which I am forever grateful.
Making a film when you have no idea how to make a film hard, but it is rewarding on so many levels. If anyone wants to watch it, it’s right here!
5. You’ve appeared as an actress in nearly 20 films, many of them in the horror genre. What do you look for when you choose roles?
Well, I basically just take any role offered to me that seems fun because, let’s face it, I’m not a great actress and I am not really a professional actress. I mostly act in films because it is fun. I like losing all shame and improving and doing ridiculous things onscreen. It’s so much fun. I love being ridiculous or funny, especially. I don’t send out head shots, or audition for anything like that. I mostly just get a phone call or an email from a friend saying, “Hey, do you want to play the crazy mom/prostitute/vampire/whatever in my film? I can’t pay you, but it’ll be fun,” and I generally say yes. Though I have been saying no more and more as I get older.
6. You’re also a film writer whose work has appeared everywhere from Fangoria to Film Threat. Who are some of your favorite interview subjects? And I understand that you’re also writing a book about the history of female horror directors?
I am actively writing a book and have been for a few years… quite a few years. It’s a very long book about the history of women directors making genre films, beginning in 1895 through the present. Writing a fact-based, non-fiction film book backed up by references, when most of the films from 1895–1950 are actually lost, is quite a task. I liken it unto writing a dissertation, except there is no PhD at the end of the tunnel.
Most of the horror film books I read tend to be copy-and-paste interviews, or short film reviews listed alphabetically. I always want to read film books backed up with references, with in-depth analysis and discussion, and relevance other than that the author just likes horror films. I also feel like the world deserves a really good book about women horror directors that actually provides some historical relevance instead of just a list of films. Why were the films made? Who were these women? What happened in the film industry and in their cultures that shaped their films? Those are the questions I am hoping to answer.
7. What advice would you give to up and coming female directors?
Go to USC film school so you can make friends with rich people and other filmmakers. Network. The film industry is all about networking and being friends with people. Bad movies are made every day and the directors are making millions; you could be one of them if you only have the right friends and go to the right BBQs. Be a famous person’s child. Is your father a famous director? Then so are you! If not, apprentice to a filmmaker you like: be Clive Barker’s assistant, or work for Larry Fessenden, or schmooze with Michael Bay. If your parents aren’t in the film industry, make sure they’re very rich. Did your father create a computer company in the early 1980s? Now you’re a film producer! Become “one of the cool people,” and you will never want for anything in life when it comes to getting hired for work in the film industry. That’s the truth.
Okay if none of the above applies to you, and if you’re 99.9999 percent of the population it doesn’t, then make a film. Make a few films. It doesn’t matter if you have a low budget — just make sure it has a great script. Make it good. Enter it into some festivals. Make another film. Fine-tune your talent, and then take advantage of film festivals because that’s where you’ll find recognition. Sometimes, a film will be surrounded by massive amounts of hype which will launch a director’s career. There is often no reason to hype one movie over another, but festival darling films occasionally crop up and critics will gush about them. You want your film to be one of these films. Never give up and keep moving forward.
8. What are some of your future plans?
My future plans consist of continuing Etheria Film Night and putting out my book. After that, I am going to write erotic bestiality fiction and self-publish it on Amazon.
Heidi, we’re so pleased to honor you with the first Lucindie award for The Real Scream Queen; a woman that is advancing the roles and success of women in the horror/fantasy genre. Thank you for all that you do to support the concept of women in film. Now tell Legendary Women readers where they can find you and your work on the web!
Come check out my festival at www.etheriafilmnight.com! If you’re in Los Angeles, come to the event on June 13th!