Sunday, 7 September 2008

Reyna Young 'The Last Doorway' interview

Were you always a fan of horror growing up? Was there one specific moment that won you over and did you always want to work within the industry?

"Since I was a little girl I read Edgar Allan Poe and was always interested in horror. It wasn't until I saw John Carpenter's Halloween that I really fell in love with being scared. The tingling down my spine excited me and my nightmares would have frightened me but also for some weird reason made me want to watch more. I then started going through my father's horror collection and started watching Texas Chainsaw and whatever I could get my hands on. I then started to write my own short horror stories and dark poetry. I have been writing for so long it's my number one passion. I never thought I'd be able to do my own films, I thought women were only suppose to take their clothes off and die in the movies. At a young age, I started to practice my screaming and taking acting classes. All I wanted to do was be in a horror movie."

Which movies inspired you the most when you were younger and which filmmakers were the greatest influence?
"I would have to say that Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alice Sweet Alice. I was influenced by all the old school horror movies. Then my father showed me the old, old-school Frankenstein and Dracula. I love the old horror movies because they scare me and they're creepy. Not like the nowaday movies that are just killing, blood and guts, the story sucks. Great directors like Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper. These are the directors that were just wow! A huge influence for me. Even back then I wanted to come out with my own horror movie, but it's just so male dominated I thought I wasn't allowed too. But being younger and not knowing as much as I know now I didn't think I would be able to do my own horror films. The old school horror films were so creepy, and the music is so original. For Halloween to make such a huge impact and there's really no blood in that movie, is awesome. The mood that John Carpenter sets in the film is inspiring to me as a filmmaker. Just like Hitchcock, Psycho was to me a masterpiece. Something different and unique on the whole serial killer aspect. Also he always had great actors. I always go by Hitchcock's movies that the unseen is scarier then the scene itself. I guess that's why The Blair Witch Project was so intriguing to me. It really took on the aspect of the Hitchcock theory. Not being able to see the witch was scary to me. It makes your imagination wonder, and that to me is what makes a good movie then now a days seeing guts and pointless killing. Zombies eating people to the point where it makes you sick. Horror movies to me have died!"


Do you feel that horror is still male dominated? There has been a rise in female-orientated horror online, with such sites as Fatally Yours, The Chainsaw Mafia and Ax Wound becoming prominent features of the genre. Do you feel that the balance is shifting in favour of a more equal opportunities industry?
"I feel that the horror industry is about to get a lot tougher being that there's nothing but remakes. Plus, I haven't seen anything really original and good lately. I mean, I love horror movies but damn people, where's the originality. I think the industry is going to be hit hard by blood wrenching females, starving and thirsty for showing the men what they are capable of doing. I feel that this is the time for females to come out and hit the men hard on what we can do and how our sick and twisted minds work. There's no doubt that horror is male dominated but that won't last for long. I admit I'm pretty twisted and I'm not the only one. Just like Shannon Lark, we are coming out of our shell and it's only going to get better. We are sexy, twisted and ready to take on the horror industry. I love Chainsaw Mafia or Fatally Yours, Pretty-Scary. Strong females in the horror industry doing what they love. I keep in touch with all of them. I feel that we Horror women should stick together."

What led to the creation of Last Doorway Productions? Were you hesitant as to how a company ran by a female would be received within the horror community?
"Before I started my production company I wasn't hesitate too much. It did worry me on how much of a reaction I would get. But as soon as I read an article about Shannon Lark in the Guardian paper, I fell in live with her. Seriously, she was my hero and I knew if she could do it then I could do it. So I did! I did get a little heat by people actually. People I know and I didn't care what they thought, I went for my goal and my dream and I'm still going for it. I am amazed on how far I have gotten too! I have had people I met, guys laugh when I tell them I make horror films and run my own little company. There are people out there who still think women cannot do it. That bothers me because we are capable of doing just as much and more. Not to sound sexist but a lot of guys I've met while doing this are assholes. It makes me want to work harder to show them they are wrong. I wanted to start and run my own company because horror is what I love and I wanted a chance to do my own thing, have my own production company and do whatever I wanted with it. So far it's been a lot of work but work that I love."


How did you promote the company when you first started out? Were sites such as MySpace and YouTube an important part of how you developed a following?
"Before my website I did start a MySpace page. Myspace is a great tool for networking, that's how I started meeting other females in the genre. Soon after, about six months I think, my boyfriend and now co-owner, John Gillette, started the website. I basically draw out how I want each page and he creates it for me. We make a great team. He's a huge help and we help motivate each other as well. He too would love to see more females in the horror industry. It's great having someone there to help me out when I need them and with the same goals. Youtube, yes I have YouTube. It helps getting my short films seen other than MySpace TV. Also another great tool for networking. I also started writing to other sites, female run of course, to put up what I'm all about to help get my name out there more. Whatever horror sites I come across I'm always sure to let them know who I am. I love meeting new people and am always glad to help with what I can."

What was your intention with Last Doorway? Was it primarily to promote other people's work or to produce your own?
"Last Doorway was primarily set up to help get my stuff going. All my short films. To show off who I am and what I'm all about. I have been doing a lot of cross-promoting and advertising for all my friends on my website to help get their stuff out there as well. It's turning into that promoting other's area. Which is fine with me, I love to help others and I love meeting new people and watching new things. So it's a win-win thing. I am now branching out with The Last Doorway Show website for my online show which helps promote other local independent horror artists. I host that under the name Miss Misery. I do interviews and show there films, I also go around to the conventions and interview horror icons. It's fun and I have a great time and I'm happy to do whatever I can to help others. I mainly started the show to give people an opportunity to let everyone know who they were and what they were all about."


Have you found that filmmakers and other websites have been very supportive or is there a lot of competition? Who in particular would you say have been the most instrumental in your success?
"I don't think there is any competition within all of our websites. We are all very supportive within each other. We all keep in touch and when there's something new and exciting going on we e-mail each other and ask if it can go up on their site or my site, no problem. Its a great circle we have and it's supportive and we do all that we can to help each other out. Shannon Lark of The Chainsaw Mafia and I, we do whatever we can to help each other out. I e-mail Heidi Martinuzi from Pretty-Scary when I need advice. I have met other girls who feel that there is a competition, even guys who think that we all compete and try to make it look like that. There is no competition. I never and will never think of it that way. I just do my thing and help keep the horror flowing. I'm supportive and love everything everyone is about, whether it be Chainsaw Mafia or Pretty-Scary, or Fatally-Yours, like I said before it's one big circle and we all do what we can for each other."

Is there any particular sub-genre of horror that you despise and, if so, why? Would you say that much of the negative criticism levelled at the genre is justified or ignorant?
"Right now I am not too fond of the latest craze in zombie movies. It just seems like each movie is trying to top the other one with more guts and body parts and they're trying to out-do each other in being gross. I cannot stand it. Zombie movies shouldn't be about being disgusting or bodies being torn apart. I just feel that it's getting out of hand and I don't watch them because of that. Plus my stomach cannot take it if it's over the top. It makes me sick to watch. So I'm turned off from zombie movies right now. I don't want to name any movies because I feel that it's very hard to make a movie and I give a lot of credit to everyone on set for making it happen but some movies just shouldn't be made. I'm going to leave it at that."


Do you have any plans to produce a feature of your own? How have your shorts and show been received, and have they attracted the attention of any prominent names?
"I am in the works of doing a feature film on my short Sinner. I have the script done and all the actors ready. I will start shooting that soon actually. Money-wise is very hard but I will be funding it myself. I feel comfortable that way, I would like to find a producer but right now I'm going to do this one on my own. My horror shorts have had some interesting opinions from people. Most of them good comments, some are bad, but I try to take criticism as something good so I know what not to do for next time. The Last Doorway Show has had some big names interviewed like 'The ladies of Evil Dead', or Kane Hodder. Walking around the conventions and people knowing who I am is a great feeling. We definitely attract big names which is great. We always appreciate people taking there time to interview with us."

How did you set up the A Nightmare To Remember Film Festival? How would you compare it to other film festivals and was it as successful as you had hoped?
"A Nightmare To Remember was an idea I had one night. I always wanted to put on my own film fest and I did it!! I knew nothing about how to put one together, John and I learned as we went. I just went with my instinct on things and hoped for the best. As I got deeper into it it became easier. It was very frustrating but worked out great at the end. I sold more tickets than I thought I would. I had 'Guest Of Honor' John Stanley, and special guest August Ragone. Plus 'Achievement Awards' went to Joe Flynn and Priscilla of The Joe Flynn Show. I was surprised as I showed up to the theater that there was a line of people waiting to go in and watch my film festival. I sold more than half the seats and for my first film fest it was fun and people actually showed up. My biggest fear was no one showing up. It was overall a great show. I cannot wait to do one next year. Compared to other film festivals, our festival was different because we focused on short films and not feature length. They were all independent artists, and we wanted to give them a chance to be on the big screen."


Your short film, Out of Print, won an award at the 2007 Viscera Film Festival. What was the premise of the film and has it helped raise the profile of Last Doorway? Did Confession receive a similar response?
"Out of Print was a dream I had. I was thinking long and hard to come up with an idea for the Viscera Festival and I couldn't think of anything. Then one night I had this strange dream and from there it all fell into place. It was meant to be a short, weird killing moment. Nothing with a story to it. I wanted to make something where people wouldn't understand it, it was just there, straight to the point.. I won! Surprisingly I won!! First film fest I've won too. I was very excited and I did work hard on it. It has helped bring traffic over to my website. It's an honor to be called winner on the DVD, especially by an all-female film fest. Confession is a huge controversy. I have people who literally hate me for making it because it was in a Catholic church. I have sinned and am going to hell is what I have been told. One guy said he was going to get his church group on me, he also wanted it removed from the internet. I heard so much stuff and at first it really bummed me out, but you know what, I am not saying sorry for my art. It's fiction, people, it's my take on how a serial killer thinks, it's not about Catholics whatsoever. People just don't understand at all sometimes. I'm very proud of myself for not apologizing to him though, he wanted one and I will never be sorry for something that I have created."

What are your intentions for the future with regards to Last Doorway? Is the genre making it more acceptable for women and do you feel that horror, more than any other type of film, is finally embracing this mentality, despite it still often being accused of misogyny?
"Last Doorway will be moving forward into doing more films, features, The Last Doorway Show will be on access channel in San Francisco. Another film fest, a Miss Misery comic book, more conventions and hopefully an actual Last Doorway Horror Convention in San Francisco... I feel that day by day women are pounding on that door to be let in and be created equal among the males of horror. I feel that it is now unwinding and a bunch of us will be knocking that door down soon. I think that the industry is now just starting to get use to women being around and more powerful. I feel that there's an acceptance but still not enough and it's going to take some time but we are working our way in. Power to all women in the horror genre and one day we will have our time and that time should be now!!!"


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