Samantha Hawkins

Women in Horror Month 2019: Interview with Samantha Hawkins

My next interview in this fantastic Women in Horror Month series is with the incredibly sweet, outgoing, and talented Samantha Hawkins. She is new to the business but I think we are going to see great things from her in the future.

Learn more about why she got involved in the film industry, her work on the Soska’s annual blood drive, upcoming projects, what being a woman in horror means to her, and more.

Samantha Hawkins
Shots fired by Akilah Williams

PopHorror – Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Samantha! I’m a big fan. How long you have you wanted to work in the film industry?

Samantha Hawkins – Thank you! Honestly, I never saw myself working in film. I grew up wanting to pursue a career in dentistry. I’m a dental assistant and I’m applying to hygiene programs. But once I got my feet wet making shorts and sharing that experience with my friends, it became my absolute favorite hobby. We started making shorts in 2017, so I guess that’s when I really got my director pants on. I can’t imagine not being involved in film in some way for the rest of my life.

PopHorror – I’m so glad you did. You got your Bachelors in Dramatic Art from UNC. Did that experience increase your love for filmmaking?

Samantha Hawkins – I really started as a theatre kid, so I guess my theatre background set up my transition into film. The Dramatic Art program involves theatre history and literature, acting, directing, and design for lighting/sound/costume/sets/etc. Graduating from the Dramatic Art program gave me all the bricks I needed to build a foundation in film, just for a slightly different method of performing. I think my time spent in improv (shoutout to Peter Friedrich, the best improv instructor in the WORLD) really gave me the confidence to take an idea and see it through. And of course, all the shows I’ve done and the acting courses have made me a more giving performer and a better listener, as well as a more effective director in terms of working with my cast.

PopHorror – Having a great and inspiring teacher can truly do wonders. In 2017, you entered the Soskas’ American Mary Swede contest and did a great job. What was that experience like?

Samantha Hawkins – Thank you so much! Short answer: a 24-hour whirlwind.

Long answer: we slept for three hours over the course of two days. We pulled every string we had, from filming in a rescue building with an actual CPR mannequin, to borrowing equipment from Jeffrey (shoutout to Jeffrey, and to my mom for putting up with us that morning) and to rogue-shooting in a local food place. I had no idea what I was doing when I sat down to edit, so that whole post process was a huge learning experience. I learned all kinds of wrong ways to make blood— kids, don’t use strawberry-banana V8. My hair and skin smelled like it for like two days. But honestly, I’d do it again right now. The rush of making something you care about so much in SUCH a short time frame, but being surrounded by people who want it just as much as you do, is a high like no other.

Samantha Hawkins and the Soska Twins
Samantha Hawkins and the Soska Twins

PopHorror – Oh man, that’s hilarious! You contributed to their Blood Drive PSA in 2018 and made one this year as well. Can you tell us the name of both of these and what they’re about?

Samantha Hawkins – Sure! 2018’s was called Party Prick, and I swear we wrote it before the Weinstein allegations really came to the forefront of the news. In it, my character gets groped at a party. Brett’s character witnesses it, and he has this daydream sequence of what it’d be like to kick this guy’s ass and be a hero. In the end, he snaps out of it just as my character seeks her own justice. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but the moral is that standing by and talking/thinking about taking action just doesn’t suffice. Report the creepy dude at the party, roll up your own sleeves and donate, you get the idea.

This year’s PSA is a little more lighthearted. I played on the phrase “drawing blood” and wrote a Bob-Ross-style episode of a would-be YouTube series, entitled The Joy of Drawing Blood. Brett hosts it as Don Nate Tudei and delivers some donation facts while he paints a ~*~unique~*~ masterpiece.

PopHorror – That’s so awesome. I can’t wait to see more of your work. Your directorial debut, Picnic made its festival premiere last summer. What is that one about?

Samantha Hawkins – In case anyone couldn’t tell from Party Prick, I have a thing for taking control of your own justice. Again, I won’t spoil Picnic, but what starts out as a simple anniversary picnic in the woods soon takes a turn for the worse, as the audience non-linearly watches a warm and fuzzy relationship do the same.

PopHorror – Ohhh. Sounds deliciously revengeful. Since it’s Women in Horror Month, who are the women in the industry that inspire you?

Samantha Hawkins – Jen and Sylvia Soska. Period. They go out of their way to be kind to people, especially their fans. They’re fans, themselves, and they make work that fans would want to see. They care so, so much about quality and integrity. They’re LGBTQ allies, feminist allies, and they’re very outspoken against Hollywood sexual assault coverups. I hope they run the world one day.

I met Dayna Noffke last year at Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, and she’s the realest deal. She commands a set, she has it together, she shares any bit of wisdom she can, and she makes phenomenal work. She and her daughter Viva (the Littlest Monster Maker) make the southeast look GOOD. A life goal would be working with her on anything at all.

Samantha Hawkins
Samantha Hawkins looking fierce

PopHorror – I couldn’t agree more to all of that. What are some of your favorite horror films/characters that are female empowering? 

Samantha Hawkins – I’d be crazy not to mention the original Halloween. JLC is probably most people’s idea of the original final girl. She claws and fights for her life and that is incredible to see even now, let alone in the 70s. Also:

  • American Mary. Again, encouraging women to change specialties since 2012.
  • Does Would You Rather (on Netflix) count as women-empowering? I mean, Brittany Snow’s character arc in that film is fantastic. She takes a beating. I adore that film as a whole because it made me physically uncomfortable the whole time, which takes some doing.
  • Carrie. When all else fails, hone your telepathy and set everyone on fire, am I right?

PopHorror – All great choices and I love that you mentioned Brittany Snow’s character. She is badass in that. What does being a woman in horror mean to you?

Samantha Hawkins – To me, it means I have this unspoken, badass gang of women behind me from all over the world. It means that regardless of how competitive this industry gets, somebody’s got my back, and I’ve got theirs. It’s the sorority we wish we’d had in college. It means that little girls are seeing more and more people who look like them doing jobs they didn’t think they could do. If 11-year-old me could be inspired by Shawnee Smith’s bear trap scene in SAW, imagine what seeing a woman directing/DPing/producing/stunt coordinating could do for girls today.

PopHorror – YES! Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?

Samantha Hawkins – I’m in post with a comedy short co-written by Brett Haynes and myself, starring Matthew Chappell (our Party Prick) and Justin Shoemaker, owner of Static Vision Productions. Between the four of us, we have a number of concepts on the table; it’s just a matter of selecting one to develop further right now.

Also, I can’t say as much about this one, but I’m set to appear in a thriller short by Philip Woods of FlamePhil Productions. I worked with him and Olivia Mathai of Evocative Productions on a 48-Hour Film Project last year and I’m grateful to have gotten to create with them. Philip has developed something in the style of one of my favorite films and I look so, so forward to working with them again.

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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