I’ve met a lot of talented women in the horror industry because of my writing and I’ll be forever grateful for that. One of them is the Artist/Writer/Director Abigail Braman.
I got a chance to sit down with Abigail, as she discusses her new stop-motion animated horror short film titled Cadillac Dust, her artwork, writing, and experiences in the horror industry.
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me, Abigail! How long have you been a fan of horror?
Abigail Braman – You’re welcome! I would say I’ve been a horror fan since a pretty young age. I grew up on the classics such as King Kong, The Wolfman, Creature From the Black Lagoon, etc. I was never allowed to watch slashers, or anything super violent (though I did anyway), yet I was allowed to watch movies like Alien and The Shining when I was a child… go figure. Everything about horror has always captivated me, from how these movies are made, to the creatures and monsters, and how to effectively emulate a believable scare and feeling through all of these elements.
PopHorror – Classics are a great start! What was the first horror movie you ever saw?
Abigail Braman – The first horror movie I have a memory of watching would be The Wolfman with my dad. We would watch television a lot together, on our black and white set from the 70s.
PopHorror – Love that one! How long have you been involved in the industry?
Abigail Braman – Not very long, probably a few years now – I’d say since 2014/2015? It all kind of blurs together after awhile, haha.
PopHorror – You mentioned to me that you’ve worked on several film sets. Can you name a few for us?
Abigail Braman – Several is probably a stretch, I’m not sure why I said that, haha. I’ve worked on two film sets for an upcoming horror anthology called Holiday Hell, starring Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond). I’ve worked on two out of the five segments for the film, doing some puppeteering and production assistant work, which basically includes anything and everything from running slate to setting up equipment and scenery, to creating blood, and getting the cast and crew their coffees, etc. It’s a great way to learn all of the ins and outs of how a film set operates, and I definitely learned a lot and am very thankful for the experiences.
PopHorror – That’s awesome! Cadillac Dust is your directorial debut. Are you excited?
Abigail Braman – I most certainly am. Cadillac Dust is a very near and dear project to me, and one that is incredibly time consuming and has total and complete control over my life, haha. Stop-motion animation done at this level requires a certain amount of intricacy and patience, and I’m very thrilled to be able to show everyone what we’ve been slaving over.
PopHorror – Can you tell us what it’s about?
Abigail Braman – Cadillac Dust is a stop-motion animated horror short film that I wrote and will be directing, that involves two friends who take their classic car out deep into the woods for a very grisly night’s work. The story is pretty dark and primarily dialogue driven, with only two speaking roles. I’m working with Fabricator David Ernst (Celebrity Deathmatch, Prometheus, and Bob) and am currently in the process of hiring artists and animators from Laika Studios Inc. (Coraline, Paranorman, The BoxTrolls, etc). We are approaching Cadillac Dust in the most professional way possible, and are going for studio-level quality. All of our puppets, sets, and props will have a very realistic and eerie look to them, which I think horror fans will love since you never see stop-motion animation done at this level that is just straight-up horror. We’re basically going for a look that resembles the films Anomalisa and Fantastic Mr. Fox, as far as realism goes.
PopHorror – Wow, it sounds freaking amazing! I can’t wait to see it. Do you have any cast/crew members yet?
Abigail Braman – We do – I cast Matt Mercer and Chase Williamson for the two main characters. Matt has been in such movies as Contracted I and II, Beyond the Gates and The Mind’s Eye, while I’m sure you’ve seen Chase in John Dies at the End, The Guest, Beyond the Gates, and Victor Crowley. These two are perfect for their chosen roles and are some of the nicest guys you will ever meet. We had an absolute blast in the recording studio in Los Angeles back in 2016. What a fun time and a great experience. They are incredibly professional and super fun to be around and work with.
For the crew, I cannot say enough about David Ernst – he is immensely talented, and the quality of his work blows me away. His attention to detail and added realism to everything he creates is pure art. The Cadillac car he’s been creating is just unreal. Seeing it in person would just make your jaw fall to the floor. I’m very lucky to have him on board for this project. I’ve also recently hired Christy Becker (Laika Studios) to create the sculpts of our two main characters, and to design the victim. I don’t have enough words to describe how talented she is- she took my character sketches and sculpted them into exactly what I was going for. I’m very grateful to be able to work with such talented artists. Along with writing the story and directing, I’m also doing all of the producing, and have created the concept art, character design, and storyboards for the film.
PopHorror – That’s insane! You really know what you’re doing. I’m impressed! When do you plan on filming?
Abigail Braman – Thank you! That is a good question, haha. Stop-motion animation is a labor of love and a very, very expensive one at that. Everything has to be built and made by hand… everything. We’ve been creating things as we go whenever we get the funding at the time. We are currently looking for more executive producers who want to come aboard and give us the proper funding so we can bang this out in a timely manner. With the right amount of funding, I can hire the adequate team that I need, and I already have artists waiting in the wings and are ready to go. So yes… it all comes down to money, as does everything in life, haha.
PopHorror – No kidding! You’re also an artist. Tell us more about that.
Abigail Braman – I’m primarily a macabre oil painter, doing commissioned works and personal subject matters. I do a lot of horror portraits, and deer skeletons in dreary, swampy settings. Painting is definitely the art form that I am most passionate about, and I don’t know how I’d survive without it. I also love to illustrate and do a line of Holiday Horror greeting cards that I release during certain times of the year. I just never want to limit myself, and love learning new things.
PopHorror – I know you write for Nightmarish Conjurings. How did that come about?
Abigail Braman – That started when Shannon McGrew and I became friends, actually. We became acquainted at Monster Mania awhile back – I was a vendor there, selling my artwork and prints, and Shannon approached me and was interested in doing an interview. That’s actually when Nightmarish Conjurings was just getting started, and I’ve been on board ever since. I absolutely love writing for this site, and I love my friendship with Shannon that came out of this whole experience.
PopHorror – I love NC as well and Shannon! Have you ever written for any other sites?
Abigail Braman – I’ve written one other article for Dread Central, but that’s it. I’ve been majorly swamped in the past year and haven’t gotten to write much else for them, but I would very much like to get back into it.
PopHorror – I know how you feel. February is Women in Horror Month, who are your female inspirations?
Abigail Braman – Some of my female inspirations would be actresses like Frances McDormand, Sigourney Weaver, and Jamie Lee Curtis. They just have such immense talent and are always an inspiration to watch in anything they do.
PopHorror – So glad you mentioned Frances McDormand! No one else has and I adore her! Do you have a favorite female-driven film?
Abigail Braman – A few of my favorite female-driven films would include Fargo, The Silence of the Lambs, Alien, Halloween, etc. There’s just so many! Haha.
PopHorror – Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Abigail Braman – Just Cadillac Dust at the moment, and I’m also creating a new series of paintings. I shouldn’t say a series, it’s more of a change in direction. Horror portraits are fun and a great learning experience, but I’m beginning to steer away from that and come into my own. These new paintings I’ve been creating have been in the works since about 2012, and I will release it once I have about 10 pieces completed, to avoid idea and style theft. It’s really different, and the subject matter and approach is a huge piece of me, and something I’m very passionate about. Almost all of my free time (since about 2012) has gone into this. I hope people will enjoy it!