Interview with Denise Gossett, Founder of Shriekfest [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
Thank you so much for including me! I’m Denise Gossett, Actress and Festival Founder/Director of Shriekfest Film Festival! We are currently in our 21st year!

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I love horror films! I love creatures, I love to be scared, although it’s really hard to scare me now after 21 years of watching films.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
My parents inspire me, they showed me that you can do anything you set your mind to. My husband and daughter inspire me too… they show me what life is really about… love and kindness.

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?
Well, I feel it’s important to recognize the hard working women in this genre. When I started Shriekfest 21 years ago, there were hardly any female filmmakers submitting their work and now we get all kinds of submissions from women. And, it’s fun to see all of the female fans that attend the festival. In the beginning we didn’t need to order women sizes for our t-shirts, now we do. So, I have seen first hand that there is progress being made and it’s wonderful! Keep up the great work ladies!

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 look at it that way. If you are good at something people will take notice. I get asked this question a lot in reference to my starting a film festival as a woman…honestly I don’t feel like I was treated any differently. It all comes down to passion and how you treat others. Just because we are women does not mean we are weaker…so, embrace your strength and show them how it’s done! And if you get a “no”, ignore it and keep moving forward! You’ve got this girl.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
Since Shriekfest was one of the first horror film festivals run by a woman, there wasn’t any one to get advice from. I always tell people naivete will take you far, because what you don’t know can’t stop you.

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?
Oh wow… there are so many. Devi Snively, Lou Simon, Liz Adams, Brooke Lewis, Staci Wilson, Elizabeth Pinto, Lo Avenet-Bradley, Audrey Cummings, Jessica Cameron, Caroline Williams, Jennifer Kent, Elissa Dowling, Josi Kat, etc…I could name ladies all day! They all rock!

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
Shriekfest, will hopefully be soon, we are holding out for an in person event. And once everything is cleared up we will celebrate like we’ve never celebrated before! In the acting field I have a cool Sci-Fi film I just booked called “Timegirl”, so, that should be a lot of fun!

Thanks again for including me in this! Go ladies!

Pop them links to follow your work here:
Twitter: @shriekfest