Next up in our 2020 Women in Horror Month series is our interview with the incredibly talented director, Jennifer Nicole Stang. She’s a jack of all trades in this business and a force to be reckoned with. I personally love her horror short, The Whistler (read our review – HERE) and I can’t wait for more people to see it when it begins streaming on a very popular horror site!
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me – I love your work. How did you get involved with this business?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – Thank you very much! I appreciate it. I started getting involved as an actress when I lived in Los Angeles. I went there to finish an album as a singer-songwriter, and just naturally got interested in theatre and film. I had studied acting previously, but I had always bounced back and forth from music to acting. After I completed a two-year course at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I decided to practice my craft with fellow actors, and we made a short film together. From doing that short, I realized that I enjoyed being behind the camera, and from there dipped my toes into editing, cinematography, producing, writing soundtracks, and basically putting together short films from inception to post. I realized that I enjoyed the entire process of storytelling, and from there got more involved in writing and directing.
PopHorror – That’s awesome. You’re a jack of all trades: director, writer, producer, actress, etc. Which one do you enjoying doing most?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – That is hard to say, as I enjoy story-telling in all aspects. I do, however, really enjoy directing the most. As a director, you get to be involved with the project from pre-production to post, and it’s satisfying to see a story grow and develop as you move through each step of the filmmaking process. I like to see a story change during production, and then change again during post. I also enjoy becoming involved with each department to execute a particular vision. It’s always a team effort, and working with artists that are skilled at their craft is always a pleasure.
PopHorror – That’s what makes you amazing! Your short The Whistler is now streaming on the popular horror service SHUDDER. How does it feel to get your work on a popular channel like that?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – SHUDDER is my dream VOD platform for The Whistler. I have followed the company since it began, and knew it would grow and become an exciting platform, which it has! I am stunned and honoured to be on Shudder, especially since The Whistler is a short film. Having their support means a great deal, and I’m absolutely thrilled!
PopHorror – I’m so excited for you! Can you tell us about where the inspiration for The Whistler came from?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – The Whistler was inspired by the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning. In the original version, the Pied Piper leads the children over the cliff to their death, which made me want to write a short about a child reading a kids’ book that has a darker reality behind the apparent story. I’ve researched various folklore and mythology throughout the years, and I always feel that there is some truth to the stories, a secret or mystery or even an explanation that has yet to be revealed. It’s fun to imagine a possible reality in regards to a particular folktale, and expanding on that visually is really exciting.
PopHorror – I can totally see the familiarity between the stories and I love it! The special effects, makeup, and cinematography are beautiful in this short, was that important to you?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – Thank you for that! Yes, I had discussed with our DP, Naim Sutherland, at our first meeting that I wanted to produce the best quality that we could for this film with our limited budget. I thought that the story called for a more slick production, and wanted each aspect of the film to portray excellence. We searched for a while to find a makeup artist that could pull off the monster’s look while using very cheap materials. We couldn’t afford doing a mask for our actor, so our makeup artist, Chantal Ratcliffe, used already-made prosthetic pieces, combining them to obtain the look that we were going for. It was a challenge, but we had a great team.
PopHorror – It definitely shows! What you ever consider making into a feature film?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – I have absolutely considered making The Whistler into a feature film. In fact, I’ve already written a script. 😉
PopHorror – Hell yes! DO IT! So, since it’s Women in Horror Month, who are some of the women who inspire you?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – There are many women who inspire me. Some of my favourite women directors are Agnieszka Holland, Sofia Coppola, Gillian Armstrong, Patty Jenkins, Catherine Breillat, and Mira Nair, to name a few.
PopHorror – Do you have a favorite horror film directed by a woman?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – American Mary directed by the Soska Sisters, Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Julia Decournau’s Raw, and Danishka Esterhazy’s Level 16 are all really excellent films.
PopHorror – All great choices! Any other projects you’d like to talk about?
Jennifer Nicole Stang – I have a few scripts that are ready to be produced. A few of them I’d like to direct, so that’s what my company is focusing on this year. I’m always writing, so there are always potential projects in the works, but there are a couple horror films I’ve written in particular that I’m very excited about; I can’t wait to start telling these stories visually!