Interview with “She Never Died” Director Audrey Cummings [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Photo credit: Ashlea Wessel

First of all, please introduce yourself a little:
I am an award-winning genre director who has loved horror films ever since I can remember. I used to sneak watch them to scare the crap out of myself as a child and find that fun. And I still do.

Most recently I directed the feature film She Never Died, a dark comedic that was a big hit on the film festival circuit and was well received by both audiences and top critics, and won some major awards including Best Feature Film and Best Director Awards. I’ve directed, written and produced several other award-winning films including the sci-fi thriller feature Darken, Burgeon and Fade, A Stolen Moment, Les Jeux d’enfants, and the horror feature film Berkshire County which won me the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film at Shriekfest Los Angeles making me the first female to win the award in the 20-year history of the festival. The film went on to win 9 more top prize awards including Best Director awards at international festivals and had a very successful theatrical release.

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I love horror films. I love how they take us to emotional extremes and can leave us feeling exhilarated and terrified at the same time. They are fun watch and even more fun to make because I’m working within these worlds of infinite possibilities where literally anything could happen. I have to say that one of my favourite horror films of all time is still the original Black Christmas. I love those old 1970’s baby-sitter-in peril movies. I never tire of them.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
I’m inspired by people who work hard and have the drive to keep pushing no matter what obstacles they encounter. I see a lot of these people on my film sets and it’s truly motivating. Film crews are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet. I’m also inspired by the kick ass horror fans that have a rabid lust for this genre. They truly are the best fans in the world and I’m always surprised by how incredibly supportive and welcoming they are. They make me want to continue making horror movies.

Women in horror have made great strides, but it’s clear that a lot of work is still needed to make it a most inclusive genre. To you, what is the importance of a movement like Women in Horror Month?
It’s important to keep showing support and recognition for women. Women clearly love the genre and it’s healthy for the industry to have a variety of different voices giving us new and diverse perspectives. Women also make up a huge part of the film going audience so it’s important to make movies that they want to watch and that resonate with them. Encouraging and supporting the female eye and female sensibilities heads us in the right direction of creating the kind of horror that women will really love and enjoy.

What would you tell an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror who sees that being a woman/identifying as a women as something that makes it so much more difficult at times?
I would say don’t get discouraged cause things are changing. I look back as little as 10 years ago when I was trying to make horror movies and it was a completely different landscape back then. So much has opened up and its incredible to watch – there are so many more doors open and so many opportunities to look forward to. I would also say stand up for yourself and make your voice heard. Don’t let people sway you from your vision. You need to firmly believe in yourself and your vision because there are constantly people trying to override and tell you what to do – a lot of mansplaining going on – and I think this is an area that affects women much more than men. If I look back on my career, the things I regret the most are the times when I let someone convince me to do something that went against my instincts.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
Refuse to take no for an answer! So many people said no to me when I was trying to make my first feature film Berkshire County and it was my non-stop perseverance that got the film made. I really do think that’s key. I was also told by a mentor to just get writing and shooting and give yourself your OWN start cause no one is going to give it to you. It’s a career you really have to make for yourself. You need to be willing to press your will upon everyone that says no, pushes back or stands in your way. If that’s what you want to – then go do it.

In honor of celebrating Women in Horror Month, who do you believe viewers should keep an eye on in terms of the creative ladies in horror?
There are so many wonderful films created by women that have been successful and influential and some equally great films that didn’t get the recognition they so well deserved.

One creative lady in horror that I met not long ago that I absolutely adore is filmmaker Lisa Ovies. We both had our films She Never Died and Puppet Killer traveling the genre film festival circuit at the same time. She is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she incredibly talented but one of the things I most admire about her is she really tries to prop up and offer a voice of support for women. And she’s out there slugging it out and working insanely hard to keep moving forward. So, props to this woman!

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
I have four feature films in the works which are all genre films of course, but they’re not ready to be unleashed on the world just yet. Ask me again in a month!

Pop them links to follow your work here:
Instagram: @audreyc416
Facebook: audreycummings416