Interview with Director Lisa Ovies [Women in Horror Month 2021]

Please introduce yourself.
Thank you so much, My name is Lisa Ovies. I am a director and producer working predominantly in horror. I started off as an actress in 2008 and quickly learned that I was not going to get the roles and jobs I wanted unless I took a more active role in my career. In 2011 I launched my first production company I No.Films and in 2014 I started my directing career.

My feature debut as a director ‘Puppet Killer’ did 4 months on the festival circuit in 2019-2020 before Covid shut us down, receiving 79 nominations and awards including several for best overall feature, best director and Jury awards for best film.

Outside of directly working in film, I own the acting studio Rogue Studios, which I launched in 2017. I work with amazing professionals in all walks of the industry to bring a very inclusive education to our students and I am always over the moon to brag about the fact that many of our students have gone on to become leads in TV and film.

What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
I have always loved horror and I don’t really know why. I sort of feels like it has always been in me. I get incredibly inspired and excited when I watch on screen practical effects and have always been fascinated by animatronics. It was the original IT mini series that really started me into horror and then my first viewing of Alien that sealed the deal Now that I am a creature and lucky enough to tour on the festival and convention circuit I can say horror fans are hands down the best fans and so supportive, loyal and passionate. They make it so amazing and rewarding.

Who inspires you in your work and in life?
So many people. Current day, I would say people like Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr of ADI studios that are so heavily involved in creature design and creation. I always want to have my hand in as much as possible when it comes to practical effects and the work they have done in the past and continue to do is really inspiring. As for who really inspired me back in the day it is an insanely cliched answer but it was the Sam Raimi’s, The Tarantino’s and the Robert Rodriguez type of trail blazer who kicked down doors and never took no for an answer. I still look to them and their energy for motivation but nowadays it is nice to add female’s in the genre like Gigi Saul Guerrero to the mix. I want to be half as cool and talented as her before I die please and thank you

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?
Tricky question as I am not necessarily a huge fan of the idea of Women in Horror Month, specifically because it became an organization which stepped on the much needed voices of Black History Month. But, if the question is more what is needed to continue to promote women in horror and help raise up their voices then it is exactly what you are doing. There is an amazing group of women and allies within our community that continue to fight all year round to elevate our work and our causes. The idea of actively promoting underrepresented humans in all areas of the arts is incredibly important and the more we all come together the more the genre world and film in general will start to see the amount of talent there is out there. If more female lead films gain popularity and success, then more opportunities will be given to other female representing creators. It is really important to keep the press, interviews and support going all year long and I thank you for doing your part.

The other thing that will help with inclusion is everyone taking an active stance against gatekeeping. It is a terribly toxic and damaging practice that needs to be ended. Nerd culture, Horror, anything you are passionate about. You should be invited to participate, to enjoy and to learn at any level in your fandom. Enough with the gatekeeping. Honestly, I am really here for an active end and if you are reading this, you feel free to tag me in anything that needs my voice. I am very happy to get loud about the things I am passionate about and stopping anyone from living their best life is one of those things.

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, you are not alone. And great news, so many of us before you have started kicking down doors and we are happy to hold them open. There is a great group of womxn in horror that have stopped listening to the false narrative that has been shoved down our throats for years that womxn need to be in competition with each other. Seek out the ones reaching one hand back down, we are out there and we are proud of you. We won’t always be easy to find so in the meantime remember your passion, your dedication, your ability to not take no for an answer, those will be the tools that help unlock the doors.

Do not wait around for an opportunity to be handed to you, create the work. If you can’t go to school, make a film and learn. If you can’t make a film, volunteer and learn while others create. If you can’t get on set, read books that others have written. I was told no a million times, I will be told no a million times more. But that has never stopped me and I don’t want it to stop the next generation of creaties either. Keep envisioning the day that the doors are not longer shut and you get to be the one reaching back down. Support and lead from example and never be afraid to ask for help or advice from someone more experienced. And above all else, trust your gut, you’ve got this.

What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
I would say the best piece of advice I got was if you want to be a director. Try to learn as much as you can about everyone else’s job on set so you can lead them efficiently. I never went to film school so to learn, I volunteered for years and years in every department I could and it has been invaluable. Another great piece of advice I got when I was in full time acting school was do one thing every day to further your career. And let me tell you, I took that to heart. It is impossible not to consistently improve and move towards your goals if you are doing 365 tiny things every year to get you there.

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 amazing womxn creators so keep an eye out for them all and share their work as much as you can! For me specifically in 2021 I am looking to Gigi Saul Guerrero who is really breaking down barriers for Latinx horror creators like myself. She is incredibly hard working, passionate, talented and above all else, one of the nicest people I know in the industry. Her wins make the whole community feel happy and inspired and that is a testament to the footprint she leaves. The other human I have my eye on this year is Gemma Hurley. She is one of the writers of my favourite movie of 2020 ‘Host’ and yet consistently does not get mentioned alongside the other two male writers. Say her name.

And Nia DaCosta while we are at it. Let’s not forget she directed Candyman. Jordan opened a fuck ton of doors and we love him, but it is her movie in my eyes.

What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
I have my feature debut ‘Puppet Killer’ releasing this summer that I am over the moon about.

I just directed a segment of a horror anthology under crazy strict lock down regulations. My segment is called ‘Witches Midnight’ and will be released with the anthology as well as a stand alone short. This was a crazy accomplishment and I am really proud of what my entire team pulled off. I remote directed actors from Toronto, LA and Vancouver and at one point between myself and my DP, we were remote running 15 devices. My actors ran two camera’s a piece and I ended up camera op’ing a huge reveal because …well, I had to. It worked but lets never ask me to do that again.
Other than that I am in talks for a few upcoming projects I really hope to be able to share soon!

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