mini MUFF Profile: Amelia Moses
“I really want to see more flawed women on screen, women who make mistakes and who are emotionally complex.”
This month at MUFF we are bringing you two types of Halloween fare, the charming and nostalgic Practical Magic and the horrific #miniMUFF Undress Me. Before you indulge in the twee witchery of Practical Magic, we welcome you to experience Undress Me, a gory little slice of body horror cinema that will leave you utterly disturbed. Follow Alice, an anxious first year, as her life, and body, starts to fall a part after an encounter at a frat party.
Undress Me has screened at Fantasia International Film Festival, Etheria Film Night World Tour, Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, and more! Undress Me has also won several awards, including Best Special FX at the Women in Horror Film Festival and Best Short and Outstanding Female Filmmaker at the Stormy Weather Horror Fest.
Writer/Director Amelia Moses is based out of Montreal, Canada. She recently graduated from Concordia University and has written and directed four short films.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.
Amelia Moses: I’m originally from Vancouver and have lived in Montreal for about five years now. And I’m a recent grad of the Film Production program at Concordia University. My dad is a big cinephile and so I grew up watching tons of films — it really didn’t take long before I became obsessed with filmmaking.
Tell us about UNDRESS ME. Where did the idea come from?
AM: Well, it initially started with an image I had in my head of someone’s body deteriorating during sex and from there I worked backwards, creating the story in order to get to that final image. I really wanted to work within the “body-horror” genre and not only create something that was gruesome and horrifying but something that also explored deeper themes in terms of social conformity and anxiety.
The special effects in this film are fantastic! Were there any challenges associated with creating realistic gore?
AM: The biggest challenge really was trying to do all the effects on a small budget. Luckily the makeup and effects team were really great at finding cheap solutions to things. I knew I really wanted to embrace that 1980s practical effects feel and so for me it was less about realism and more about making creative choices in terms of how the body-horror elements were displayed. The film is obviously heavily inspired by early David Cronenberg and I find in his films the gore effects feel so timeless not because they are realistic but because they are shocking and creative and are used effectively within the world of the film.
Can you tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who worked on this short?
AM: There are so many! One thing I was really proud of on the set of this film was the diversity of our crew and I think it made for a very supportive on-set environment. Specific women who really made this film possible are Mariel Scammell, my producer, who has always given me her undying creative support and kept me level-headed and focused throughout the entire project. Kaye MacDonald, the special effects artist, who was there from the film’s conception and without whom the film wouldn’t have had succeeded. And finally Lee Marshall, the lead actress, who I was so fortunate to meet and work with. It was a challenging shoot for her and I was so honoured that she put her trust in me as a director.
Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it is important to your filmmaking?
AM: I’m a feminist because I don’t really see any other way of defining myself. In terms of filmmaking, we all know there’s a problem regarding gender representation on screen. The more women we have behind the camera, the more that representation will improve. On a personal level, I feel like a lot of films get stuck in this “strong female character” trope which can be great for certain movies but for me, I really want to see more flawed women on screen, women who make mistakes and who are emotionally complex.
What was your biggest personal highlight from working on this project? Your biggest challenge?
AM: The biggest highlight from the shoot was probably when we shot the bedroom scene where Alice peels off her skin. It was the first major effects scene we shot and I really had no idea whether it would work or not. We had a few issues applying the makeup and we had to really reduce the scene from what was originally written in the script. We pretty much just shot a single long take and I was completely blown away by Lee Marshall’s performance. Once I knew that the gore effects worked and that she could show that kind of vulnerability on camera, I knew I had the film I wanted.
Who are your favourite women working in the film industry?
AM: Karyn Kusama, Jennifer Kent, Lynne Ramsay, Marianna Palka, Jenny Slate, Olivia Coleman, Mackenzie Davis, Alice Lowe, Lena Dunham, Gaby Hoffman, Jill Soloway, Mindy Kaling.
What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?
AM: Don’t wait for anyone else to give you permission to make a film.
What are you working on now/next?
AM: I recently finished my first feature script, a cabin-in-the-woods psychological horror film called Bleed With Me and we are currently in the process of finding funding for that. And I also have a new short film that I am writing and am hoping to shoot next spring!
And now for a fun one! What’s your go-to jam?
AM: Currently it’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush.
Recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers:
AM: The Invitation (Karyn Kusama)