Hellbound Heart: Female filmmakers are still a minority in the scene, although -as I can attest – female horror fandom seems to be on the rise, with more and more women represented in festivals and screenings, and things do seem to be changing…as both fans and filmmakers, do you think the horror/indie scene has been welcoming? Do you think you have faced any particular issues?
Sylvia: Going into making Dead Hooker in a Trunk, we knew that we would have to have craziness to get people interested. The title alone has gotten people fascinated in the film, but has also had people get instantly turned off from the film. […]
Jen: We’ve really been embraced by the horror community. Perhaps we’re just fortunate or all the cruelty is done behind our backs. I’m really grateful to the horror community for their support of us and our work. I still think that we do have a ways to go in the way of the work. Simply because a film is made by a woman we shouldn’t think it’s wonderful or crap. We should let the work speak for itself. If a man makes a movie and it’s shit, everyone jumps on him. I’ve seen women make crap and have their work protected because it was apparently some great accomplishment that the poor dear even tried. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for any man or woman who has the balls to go out and make a film. It’s rough and you deserve a lot of credit for pulling it off. However, I’m a feminist who believes women shouldn’t be cut breaks because of their gender. Even if it’s positive, it’s still sexist. I think men and women should be treated as equals [Amen to that! - K]. Besides, it toughens women up. And you need to be tough in this business. You ever read the Preacher comics? There’s a bit Sylv loves where one of the badasses are talking about terrorist situations and he says kill the women first. Because if a woman is standing among those men, she’s not only worked every bit as hard as them to prove she deserves to be there, she’s blown away her male competition and she is truly a threat to be reckoned with.
I don’t even know what they’re trying to say. I mean, I’m always disappointed that they don’t often address the gendered issues in their work head-on (especially given that they went through, like, 20 minutes of talking about the use of stereotypes and tropes in their film without even mentioning how those tropes are implicitly gendered.) I don’t want to be like, “Hey lady filmmakers! Be the spokesperson for your entire gender! You must be a feminist! Because you are a lady! Talk more about being a lady!” But I mean, freals: their movie is called Dead Hooker in a Trunk. That’s calling for commentary. And, frankly, I call bullshit on that whole discussion above.
Honestly, I don’t know anything about the industry of film production that I didn’t pick up from Lucas over dinner after he comes home from shoots or just like, in the Lloyd Kaufman books he leaves in the bathroom. (Or the porn industry, I guess.) But I seriously doubt women are getting cut any slack in this industry, especially in genre films. I mean, maybe, maybe, once in a while. You know, the Sally Ride effect: you are a powerful feminist because you did something! So proud of you! But I’m pretty positive that 90% of the women who even try to make films can’t get their ideas pushed far enough through to even get reception. You know, because they are women.
But all I really know about is visual language, slut-shaming, dead hookers, Trachtenberg getting her head cut off, high school parties, Sontag, Arnheim and Johannes Fabian.
Lucas says it sounds like they’re just glossing over their politics to protect their asses—kind of like the Italian guys who were clearly making postcolonial statements, but every time someone asked about it, they were like, “Nope. Just Cannibals. It’s a movie about Cannibals.”
I haven’t seen Dead Hooker in a Trunk, actually. Obviously I’m interested in it. But it also reminds me stylistically of all that Blaise Christie porn I watched when I was a freshman in college, the ones with that tiny tattooed cokehead girl that I went to school with in Flint, where they were always getting fucked on meth and listening to, like, “Rabbit Fur Coat” and Radiohead. I just don’t know if I can go there again. So L.A.