Although I haven’t known Mel Heflin long, I’m already a huge fan. I first saw her in 2018’s Stirring (read our review – here) and am looking forward to all her upcoming projects. She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with, not only in the indie horror community but the community as a whole.
Mel sat down with me talk about how she got involved with the industry, who are women inspirations are and more!
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me, Mel! How did you get involved in the movie making industry?
Mel Heflin – I’ve always enjoyed a multitude of angles of the industry. I started out walking runways… partially because I could’ve never dreamed movies, specifically horror, would be in the cards. I thought I was dreaming big, but realistic. I was invited to an audition by a model friend and I got the part. Ever since then, my whole life has been consumed in horror and film. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
PopHorror – That’s definitely a dream come true! I know you act, but do you produce and direct as well? If not, would you like to?
Mel Heflin – I have worn multiple hats on projects where I’m already acting. When it comes to films I’m cast in, I’m willing to do everything in my power to help every aspect, whether it be casting, assisting with lighting, marketing, promotion, etc. I have even run sound on sets I’m attached to. I have directed twice, but I wouldn’t call myself a director. I feel like if you choose the people who already have the characters inside them, there’s nothing for me to do. I love everything, and I’m so easily pleased. It’s not really my forte to direct. I would love to produce more, since I have some pretty great resources available to me.
PopHorror – It’s pretty clear, no matter what you do, that you’ll be great at it. You’ve made quite a name for yourself in the horror industry. Have you always loved this genre?
Mel Heflin – At a very young age, I started loving horror, thanks to my mom teaching me early on it’s all special FX and not real. I’m not easily scared, but I do love chasing the adrenaline trying to get scared. I supported indie horror before I had the opportunity to work in indie horror, so it’s definitely my first love. I also grew up on the shows Tales From The Crypt and Are You Afraid of the Dark? and even as a kid aspired to work on similar things.
PopHorror – Same here! What was the first horror film you ever did?
Mel Heflin – Scarlet Rain, my first film, just got re-released on Amazon. I admit it’s very bizarre for me to go back and watch the movie from before I really learned what’s what. It’s fun in the same respect to see my tiny 19-year-old self, barely legal and naked, self-immortalized forever. I also still follow everyone from that film and have made a couple great friends from the set during that time.
PopHorror – In one of your recent films, Stirring, your character is bullied horribly by the other sorority girls. Could you relate to this at all? Have you ever been bullied or gone through anything like this?
Mel Heflin – I could definitely relate! Actually, I thought that first scene was almost tame. I was bullied pretty hard, especially in elementary and middle school. I remember one time I was invited to a slumber party as a prank. The girls were doing makeovers, but when they got to me, they had me close my eyes and wrote, “Fuck me, Satan,” on my face in marker. Things like what happened to Angela do happen. I love Kaylee as a person, but her mean girl character was so believable, it was scary. Watching that scene later, though, is almost vengeful for my little 9-year-old self.
PopHorror – Ugh, that’s so horrible! It’s scary how awful people can be. Thanks for sharing your story, though. What was your favorite scene from Stirring?
Mel Heflin – My favorite scene to film was when I had blood splattered all over me to look almost like Carrie. I just felt so iconic. It was tough to only giggle at the fun we were having between takes. Moments like that, I just have to take it all in and breathe the moment in while it’s there. My favorite scene to watch is hard to pin down, because it all flowed so nicely. The one that really sticks out, though, is a huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming at the end that I’m trying not to spoil. I didn’t read the full script, so I could be surprised when I watched it.
PopHorror – I know what you’re talking about, and I didn’t see it coming either! So, if you could have played any other character in Stirring, which one would it be?
Mel Heflin – I’d have also loved to play Amber or the killer. I’m often partial to killer roles because it’s fun to see how the other side lives.
PopHorror – February is Women in Horror Month. Which women actors inspire you?
Mel Heflin – I have a giant list of women actors that inspire me, starting with the greats like Cassandra Peterson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Barbara Steele, to my amazing indie peers that are out there like me, hitting the grind and doing an incredible job at it: Brandy Mason, Jenny Jannetty, Kaylee Williams, and Erica Leigh Boseski, for example. I feel that all the women in the horror industry make it what it is. I love seeing my favorite ladies in films as much as I love the anticipation of getting ready for a new film they’re making!
PopHorror – Me, too! Which women directors inspire you?
Mel Heflin – I have a huge respect and admiration for the female directors I’ve seen in action personally. Libby McDermott and Shiva Rodriguez are such different people and quite different directors, but both of them are inspired and have found a way to bring the character out of people. It is incredible to work with both of them. I would like to work with more female directors in the future, given my track record for finding awesome ones!
PopHorror – I’ll have to check out more of their work, and I hope you do! Speaking of the future, do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Mel Heflin – I have so many upcoming projects! This week, I’m working on a short for the anthology Horror Tales by Jeff Kirkendall. I’m attending the premiere of Bill Zebub’s Exploitation this month. Over the next couple months, I’m finishing both Bottom Creek and Zomboner 2. Also awaiting the releases of Swamp Zombies 2 and Zombies Can’t Eat Airheads. There are also a couple more things that need to be scheduled, but I never jinx myself by counting unhatched chickens!