Interview with Filmmaker Julie Bruns [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
Oh, hello Cinema Crazed! My name is Julie Bruns, and I am an actor, director and writer. I’ve been keeping busy with the festival run of my short The Purgamentum, which is an eco-horror short set in the Pacific Northwest. Amy, a marine biologist, starts to hear strange whisperings through the underwater microphones of her remote research station, and calls in Stan, a diver, to investigate what is happening beneath the surface. It’s a dark little tale of retali-ocean.

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
Horror films are just such a wild ride, I feel like you don’t so much watch a good horror film, as experience it. Those stories and feelings can strike your psyche so deeply, and as a storyteller, that makes horror such a powerful medium for me. Even with my projects that are not strictly horror – like Influenced and Sense Memory, the first two shorts I did – those horror and thriller-esque elements were still very present because of the exquisite tension they bring and the impact that lends to the endings.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
I’m so inspired these days by a lot of female directors – I’m blown away by Emerald Fennell, Olivia Wilde and Marielle Heller lately – not just by their work, which is remarkable, but by the attitudes they’re bringing to the industry. It really feels like women are bringing this energy that the industry doesn’t have to be brutal to be great – you don’t have to suffer to be an artist. I think the film industry is really ready for that. The ‘I suffered, and therefore, so should you’ perspective doesn’t actually help the art, and it creates too much opportunity to exploit people. Also, the idea that you can’t say no to something, for fear of being replaced, that leaves too many of the most vulnerable people in the industry susceptible to mistreatment. That shouldn’t be a culture we encourage. We should always be striving to make things better.

And I’m also continually inspired by my partner, Steven. He’s a scholar at heart, as well as a filmmaker, and just being around him always motivates me to stay on my game and keep growing if I want to be the best artist and human being I can be. Also he often cooks for me while I write. Good food is highly inspiring/motivating.

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?
The awareness that it builds and opportunities it provides to women is so helpful. One of the biggest struggles in this industry is finding ways to connect with people who appreciate your work – finding your audience and building the reputation of your work. I also think it’s incredibly inspirational to be able to see so many women are out there doing amazing, ground-breaking work in this genre, and that visibility is seriously needed. Because of movements like Women in Horror Month, I don’t think that the traditional gatekeepers have any excuses anymore for not supporting women-led projects in horror – there are so many women out there with major talent, who have paid their dues however they could, and it’s easier to discover them and their work than ever.

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?
Trust your decisions and your vision, and if you’re not sure if you do, do the work to be able to. Find those stories that are full of your voice and tell them, not because they’re the only stories that you can tell, but because the ones that contain something that is you are inimitable.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
Emerald Fennell said in a recent interview that a director friend of hers had banned the question ‘Are you sure?” on her sets, and I think that’s a bit of advice that female directors should totally steal. I know I’m going to.

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?
Always a shout-out to Gigi Saul Guerrero! She’s got some very cool-looking projects in the works these days – and watch Culture Shock if you haven’t seen it yet.

Also the very rad Ariel Hansen – our shorts keep screening together in the same festivals, and I’m continually impressed by Clout every time I see it.

And watch Nia DaCosta’s Candyman when it comes out! I cannot wait to see that film.

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
I’m really excited for the release of The Purgamentum, coming around September-October, right in the heart of spooky season! Follow my social media to see behind-the-scenes peeks and be the first to find out when and where you can see it!

Pop them links to follow your work here:
Julie Bruns on Facebook
@ThatJulieBruns on Twitter
@julie.bruns on Instagram