Interview with Xanthie Milton, Creator of the Horror Web Series “Smile” [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
I am an Australian writer/producer starting to dip my toes into horror with a web series entitled Smile. I love bringing stories to life, especially those with complex/badass female characters.

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
Horror films have always pushed boundaries, pushed audiences and explored important social themes. Watching a horror film is like a time capsule of the social fears of that period. Plus they can be awesome and scary.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
I’m inspired by the people I work with. Especially on set, I find that being involved with talented creative professionals reinvigorates me and energizes me to keep working.

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?
I think women need to work together to give each other a hand to be successful in the genre. This goes for any genre, but the fact that horror is such a niche makes us a close-knit community. We need to support each other’s work and involve more women in our stories, tell more complex female stories, and fight to move past the male gaze that so many past horrors have been confined by.

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 consider myself an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror and what I would want to hear from my fellow creatives is to stick with it, follow my intuition and continue to support other women in the field by watching their films, bringing them onto my projects, etc.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
Question everything – when looking at horror tropes, ask why we use it and who it serves. For example, the sexualization of female horror characters – who does it serve? If it serves the plot, fantastic. If it’s empowering, even better. But if it’s a product of the male gaze trying to objectify female characters, make them sexual objects, subvert that.

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?
Shout out to my fellow Australian woman in horror – Jennifer Kent. The Babadook is such an inspiration.

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
Smile (Web Series) is currently in production and can be found on Facebook and Instagram @smile.theseries. It follows the story of good girl Faith as she, over the course of a week, realizes that she needs to kill her whole family. Trigger warning to sexual assault, Smile is a slow burn horror written and produced by myself, with a female director and DoP.

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