Women in Horror Month focuses pretty heavily on actresses and directors every year. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of many pieces I read each February that don’t center on a beloved Scream Queens some girl power super slasher film that didn’t actually have a woman working anywhere behind the lens. But this month isn’t just about actresses and storylines about women and empowerment. It’s about recognizing women on and off camera who make some of our favorite horror movies live and breath. Women like Mary C. Russell who happen to be on camera and off camera kicking ass and making that scary. Actress, director, producer, casting, script supervisor, camera, sound, costuming...I could go on. At 52 Weeks of Horror, we’d also like to see her officially known as a Scare Maker and a Woman in Horror.
Recently, I had a chance to ask Mary a few questions about her career and her experience as a woman in the film industry.
DAN - You've done an incredible amount of work on film in your career. Can you tell me what work fans and readers might recognize that you've had a hand in?
MCR - Thank you! Yes. It's been an adventure. I started in acting, then moved into directing fairly quickly. There is something about film production that is more fulfilling to me. I like being a creator in film. For projects I've had a hand in. I was a big part of the creative production of the horror slasher feature "WTF!" and "Ugly Sweater Party".
DAN - What interested you the most about horror?
MCR - The horror and thriller genre has been attractive to me since I first saw Hitchcock's, "The Birds." It's taking something so simple and using that to push the boundaries of entertainment. That's what I love about it. It isn't ironically scared of showing human thoughts.
DAN - As well as actress, director, and producer, you've been involved in design, editing, camera, sound, electrical...I mean literally almost every aspect of film production. Is there anything you haven't done yet that you're waiting for a chance to do?
MCR - Funny that you mention that, I'm actually going back to school to learn cinematography! I've noticed the more I've tried in the beginning, the more I see clearly how to direct with an understanding of the different departments.
DAN - Of all these roles in filmmaking, which has been the most fulfilling for you?
MCR - Directing.
DAN - Like a lot of industries, filmmaking can be a boys club and an extremely harsh environment for a woman to make a name for herself in. Has this climate been a challenge for you to overcome in your career? Do you have any advice on how newcomers can navigate or even change this environment?
MCR - I think it's about not pointing out the difference between women and men in film. Talking about the subject less like a charity. It's about finding talented people and working with them. The less we divide, the more talented people will feel included. For newcomers. The best advice I can give you is try to not feel let down when you don't get your dream gig. Create that dream gig for yourself. I've noticed you can't always rely on everyone else. Your work has to come from you.
DAN - You have some films coming out this year, right? What can you tell me about them?
MCR - Thanks for asking! Yes, I have a comedy short film I was hired to direct. Different from my usual projects. And I'm sure you will see some more work from me. Also in the works of a feature or two
Mary C. Russell is behind the lens on two upcoming short films, Long Step and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Theatre. You can check out the impressive list of credits on IMDB and be sure to keep an eye open for more movies and shorts by this incredible filmmaker and Woman in Horror.
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.