Lights, cam­era, equal­ity ac­tion

Kate Shen­ton and Jes­sica Cameron on how the horror genre is tack­ling its misog­yny

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS -

The horror genre is not famed for its gen­der par­ity ( The Fi­nal Girls notwith­stand­ing), par­tic­u­larly be­hind the cam­era. Just ask Kate Shen­ton, whose new horror-com­edy Ego­ma­niac will re­ceive its Ir­ish pre­miere at this month’s Hor­rorthon. Ego­ma­niac takes a sly swipe at the moviev­erse’s be­hind-thescenes sex­ism as its hero­ine – a young horror film­maker – faces down fi­nanciers with stupid de­mands (talk­ing dog is a must for one) and an in­dus­try that in­sists on a sexy pho­to­shoot with a chain­saw and high heels.

Shen­ton – who made her fea­ture de­but in 2013 with the skin-sus­pen­sion doc­u­men­tary On Ten­der Hooks – was, alas, in­spired to pen her fe­male re­venge movie by sev­eral real-life en­coun­ters. “One of the most bizarre in­ci­dences was be­ing in a meet­ing and hav­ing the vice pres­i­dent of the com­pany asked me to stroke his beard,” she says. “I ac­tu­ally couldn’t get though my pitch be­cause he kept show­ing me pho­tos of him­self on his mo­tor­bike.”

Cana­dian horror au­teur Jes­sica Cameron can re­count many sim­i­lar un­savoury in­ci­dences: “As a film­maker, I take a lot of meet­ings, and about one in ev­ery four meet­ings with men

Many dif­fer­ent doors: di­rec­tor Kate Shen­ton

ive of fe­male film­mak­ers and is re­ally push­ing to get women into the genre,” says Shen­ton. “Ego­ma­niac has had so much sup­port from within the horror in­dus­try. I found that I’ve en­coun­tered con­sid­er­ably less prob­lems with men in the horror in­dus­try, then I have with men in the in­dus­try in gen­eral. It’s just a very small mi­nor­ity that seem to have this delu­sion that they are some kind of Har­vey We­in­stein.”

Things are get­ting bet­ter, in­sists Cameron: “Slowly. But it’s a process. One that re­quires women to step up and speak out and not al­low it. I’m re­minded that good peo­ple can be hard to find and that’s why you keep them close. I’ve had trou­ble with cer­tain male crew mem­bers for the sim­ple fact that they don’t lis­ten well to women in charge; need­less to say, I don’t hire these peo­ple twice.”

Shen­ton agrees: “The big­gest thing I’ve learnt is that no one per­son can make or break your ca­reer. It is very easy to feel that you have to put up with cer­tain be­hav­iour be­cause that per­son po­ten­tially could open the door for you that would oth­er­wise be closed.

“How­ever I’ve now learnt that there are many dif­fer­ent doors that you can use to get into this in­dus­try. You just have to find the right door for you.”

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