It has only been in the last few months that i have had the pleasure of knowing Jenn and getting to see and review some of her work. She is one of the most hard working people i have seen in all the years i have been in the Horror Genre, so i thought it was time for Lestat Horror readers to get to know her too. She graciously agreed to do an interview with me and as always, when Jenn is involved it has been fun to do.
Q) You have done so many projects, how did you get into Horror?
I grew up with horror all around me. My dad is a huge horror fan so it was normal to see the universal monsters or Alfred Hitchcock on our tv set. He was the one that introduced me to “The Gate” which terrified the life out of me. I thought little creatures were going to come out of our garden in the back yard! Plus, I grew up in an area where the Salem Witch Trials took place and a Mental Asylum (Danvers State Hospital – Session 9) was down the street, so all of this was a way of life to me.
When I first started self producing, I tried to do everything but horror because I wasn’t sure I would be good at telling scary stories. Finally I decided to write and act in a short film based on the haunted house I grew up in (Demonic Attachment) and I just loved every second working on that film. Hence, I started my work in Horror. The genre can be unpredictable and can go places other genre’s can’t. I feel so alive in it!
Q) Your Resume is a long one! Tell us about some of your past projects
Where to begin? I helped produce and acted in “GUIDES” a sci-fi comedy webseries that showed me how to really think outside the box and create your own content. It was the first on screen/film project I helped produce. I then moved on and did a dark comedy short film “Coat Room“, but felt horror really calling to me. So that was when I moved onto “Demonic Attachment” and just kept going with a lot of short films. “The Deal” ended up going viral, which was absolutely amazing and surprising at the same time! It was just a little short film that we were making so Colton would have footage for his reel and I really wanted to try something different that I would never usually play. “SLIT” has been in the film festival circuit for a year now and that was originally made for a “no budget” horror anthology. It’s based on Kuchisake-Onna, or the Slit-Mouth Woman. I’m really proud of where it has gone seeing as though I only spent $200 on it and has gone on to win numerous awards and was up for “Best Horror Short” against some fierce competition this past year at the Action on Film Festival.
Q) Malvolia.. tell us about her and how she came about.
Oh this Queen of Screams! Originally I had written an outline/treatment for a horror film series that was politely rejected by the creator/original director but one of the producers encouraged me to move forward with it. Not being under the restrictions of the film series any longer, I knew I wanted to say and do something that no one was really talking about. A couple months later I went to ScareLA where they were honoring Elvira herself. I was pretty amazed by the hair, makeup, and attire in real life, but also, the amount of people that couldn’t wait to get up there and have 5 seconds with her to take a selfie. I was entranced by this because I wasn’t allowed to watch “Elvira” growing up, so this was all new to me. I thought, “Hmm, Horror Host. What could I do with a horror host?!” I tried changing the feature film around, but it hit me one day that I should just make her a modern day horror host, put her on YouTube, and see what happens. I tried to go with a more Vampira/Morticia Addams look and I never pigeon holed her as a “witch” or “demon” or “vampire” because, well, I wanted Malvolia to be whatever I wanted her to be in the episode I was writing. I really wanted her to be more evil and sinister and I’m ecstatic that as the season went on, we got gorier! I chose the name “Malvolia” because the name just struck a chord with me and it is an Italian Vampire name meaning “Ill Will” (hence how the Ill Will Cocktail was created!). I used “the Queen of Screams” as a play on for “Scream Queen“. I have been complimented recently on how I host horror short films and that really makes me happy because, I am also a horror short filmmaker, so I really love supporting others in this way
Q) You are a Writer, Producer and Director. Was that a choice to learn all aspects of the industry?
I never wanted to be a writer/producer/director/editor. Acting is the love of my life. But nothing in life is free and when one is self producing, there is usually low to no budget and we have to take on many hats during production. To play the characters I want to play and to tell the stories I want to tell, I had to write them myself. To get this into production, I have to cast it myself. Coordinate it myself, etc. It was never the goal to learn or take on these other positions, but it has been a blessing. I have SO MUCH MORE respect for all these other positions and know what it is like to do all of them (even all at the same time) so, I feel like I am more appreciative and have a better understanding of how other sets are run and why they are run that way. Therefore, when I am only on set to act, I enjoy every single minute and am thankful for it.
Q) We love to see you act, but tell us more about your writing projects.
Do I think my scripts are amazing? No, but I do feel they are relatable. I feel audiences get my characters. And that’s all I have ever wanted from this! “Demonic Attachment” was based on the haunted house I grew up in, plus, I am really big on paranormal, so when I was learning about what a demonic attachment is and how one has to get rid of it, I knew there was a story that could be told. “SLIT” was based off the Slit-mouth woman, but, I didn’t involve the children aspect – I focused on the urban legend part where Kuchisake-Onna was punished for her adultery (her face being slit so she wouldn’t be attractive to other men and she couldn’t cheat on her husband again) and had her punishing adulterers but also absorbing their souls and carrying on the mission. “The Deal“, well, I knew I had an apartment I could shoot in, another male actor I would be working with, and he wanted to be able to use a fire arm – and my imagination went wild with that one! I’m HUGE into true crime/murder mysteries, so I usually take parts from those and write about them or situations in my life and make them more grande.
Q) It’s been Women in Horror Month. How important do you think it is that we now have more women working in the Horror Industry?
HUGE. Extremely important! Not only is it a celebration for us women in general, but indie horror bloggers were concentrating more on the up and coming talent and the under dogs that don’t usually get the lime light. I learned SO much about so many different women across the country, the world, it was amazing! I’m so thankful for this month! It’s nice to be appreciated when you’ve worked SO HARD.
Q) Who are your inspirations in the genre?
James Wan and Leigh Whannell. I love everything they do. I love, love going to film festivals and seeing what is going on in the indie circuit! I could watch Barbara Crampton for hours. Karyn Kusama – I loved what she did with “The Invitation“.
Q) In your own projects, where do you get inspiration for the characters?
I said this earlier, but true crime/murder mysteries. Everyday life. As scary as this is going to sound, a lot of my dialogue comes from my inner dialogues in my head. Everyone has a reason for why they do the things they do or say the things they say, so that is what I keep in mind for every character. Why would this person say this? Why would this person do this? Why is this person here? What happens to this person get if they get what they want? The more simplistic these answers are, the more raw you can get. Well, for me any way…
Q) Tell us your favorite horror movie
I always go to “Insidious“. That film just spoke volumes to me. And the score always, always, always gives me chills. Even though I know some of the scares are coming, they still give me a little jolt. And that creepy old woman! I love seeing Philip Friedman at cons and at other horror gatherings. That veil and the dress always come to mind when I see him!
Q) Do you have a movie you have starred in that you really loved working on?
Can I pick 2? I loved being apart of the “Irrational Fear” family. I was only on set for four days, but it was like summer camp! Everyone was so supportive and loving, it was just an amazing, amazing experience. When I was filming my death scene, if anyone has seen it, I die alone, so it was pretty much Hunter (director), Jordan (Director of Photography), and Tim (Sound) filming my last couple scenes. Once I finished my last take, I heard a huge applause and people cheering. The rest of the cast had watched me through the windows of the house we were staying at and some even came out to hug me and take pictures. That has NEVER happened to me before and that is a moment I truly appreciate and relive whenever I am having a bad day. I thought I was alone, but I had so much support!
My other one would be “10/31″. Writer/Director Rocky Gray contacted me late in the project saying he wanted to add a horror host to his anthology and if I was interested. If anyone knows me, I usually say “yes” to everything, but for this I was shocked! I had being hearing so much talk about “10/31″ and I thought, “ME?!” Just Hunter Johnson (Director), Paul Stephen Edwards (Director of Photography) and I filmed my segment (which is pretty quick), but this has made a huge impact on Malvolia. I was floored when I saw the trailer and then I was amazed at all the positivity I received from this project. Rocky Gray since day one was supportive, encouraging, and just plain amazing. I’m so grateful that he even thought of me! Some “10/31″ fans don’t realize that Malvolia has her own show, but they are starting to catch on… It’s just so cool to see everything growing from this project.
Q) Can you tell us about your future projects?
I have a couple short films I will be filming in the next couple months that I wrote. I will be traveling to Kentucky this June to film “Inverted” with Deranged Minds Entertainment (Tristan Clay and Destinie Ordnoff) that I seriously CANNOT wait for. This is a part unlike ANYTHING I have played before and I hope this is a huge “I told you so” to other people that wouldn’t give me a chance or believed I take on something like this. At first I was a little nervous about it, but now I am like, “I OWN THIS! LET’S DO IT!” It’s such an empowering, sexual role – no girl next door here…. Lastly, I will be filming a studio film at the end of the year that I am under a strict NDA for, so I can’t talk about it, but it is a genre I have never been apart of and I am thankful for this opportunity!
Q) What advice would you give aspiring writers etc, that want to join the industry.
What are you waiting for? Just do it! Don’t wait for ANYONE to give you permission. We need your voices heard! Sit, write, create!
So there you are! I can’t thank her enough for doing this interview. She is amazing inspiration to Writers and Indie Film Makers like myself and many others that would take too long to name!
You can find Jenn and support her on any/ all of the links below. Trust me, she is horrifically good.
IMDB – Jennifer Nangle