Opening the interviews this year for Women in Horror Month at Cinema Crazed is Lao filmmaker Mattie Do. Her new film The Long Walk was released on VOD on 03/01/2022.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Mattie Do, and I direct genre films in Laos, a tiny little country in South East Asia. My last film was THE LONG WALK, which was the first Lao film to premiere in Venice, TIFF, Rotterdam, Busan, and a bunch of places… suffice to say, there haven’t been a ton of Lao films, but I’m pretty proud of that.
What is it that attracts you the horror genre for your chosen field of creative work?
Horror is an extremely relatable genre worldwide, and it’s super fun to work in as well. Creatively, most of my ideas veer pretty dark, so it’s rather natural for me to want to do horror. I think everyone enjoys something thrilling, and everyone no matter where they’re from, understands what it’s like to experience fear. Besides that, the horror community is so friendly and supportive when it comes to telling new genre stories. It doesn’t matter if the horror film is from India, North America, Europe, or Africa, it seems like the genre audience is willing to give it a spin. I don’t know what it is about general audiences and other types of films, but they suddenly forget that they can read subtitles and enjoy a story from another country, but when it comes to horror fans – as long as it’s a good thrill, they totally don’t mind if it’s subtitled or from a culture they’ve never had experience with before. I love that! In some ways, that’s very attractive to me that I can share aspects of my culture with a huge slice of people who would otherwise never encounter it except through horror films.
Who inspires you in your work and in life?
My mother inspired me in my work and in my life because she is the hardest worker I know. As an immigrant to the US, she left her home country during a time of war, ended up in a refugee camp where she gave birth to my older brother, and then when she reached the US, had to adjust to a completely new language and culture. I remember when I was a child, seeing her work a manual job at a cannery by day, then going to school by night to hone her English and learn basics of business in the US. She eventually was able to open her own business and be in her element, but she worked so damned hard all the way to her final days. No matter how difficult my life or career might be, I remind myself that it’s nothing near the challenges and trials that my mother faced bringing up my siblings and I and it helps me to move forward or to take risks that perhaps others might not be willing to take.
What are your passions, cinematic or otherwise?
My passion was ballet, and I suppose it’s still ballet – I’m just unable to dance now that I am unpracticed and not in peak physical shape. Age sometimes feels like a horror movie too the way it can wreak havoc on your joints, haha! I still watch ballet often and follow the goings ons of the ballet world, and my original background was in dance not film. I also love taking care of animals, and have four furry family members that have all randomly found their way to my home. It’s a goal of mine to someday earn enough through film to comfortably be able to take in more animals that need a home.
Considering this is 2022, why do you think we still need a movement like Women in Horror Month?
It feels ridiculous that we have to ask why we still need a movement like Women in Horror month or Black History month in this modern day, but the reality is that despite the tiny “strides” (I’d say steps) that have been made, and the very loud or public performative actions that we’ve seen for Women in Horror or Black History, it’s pathetic that we’re only here in the year 2022. When someone’s gender and ethnicity is no longer called into question anytime they get a job in film or in anything for that matter, when their gender and ethnicity isn’t discussed, and when they have the same opportunities and the same consideration across the board as everyone else, and when we women and people of color don’t have to work twice as hard to prove that we’re just as capable or trustworthy, then maybe we can ask this question.
Maybe some people think we don’t need it, but isn’t it cool, awesome, and respectable that we have it? Every damned day is White Occidental Dude in Film (and everything) Month, so can we just have February? We don’t need to justify our already marginal place in the world of film, we earned it, we merited it, and we deserve it.
What would you tell an up-and-coming creative in the world of horror who sees that being a woman/identifying as a woman as something that makes it so much more difficult at times?
When asked what I’d tell an up-and-coming creative who is a woman or who is non binary what to expect or do about our career being so much more difficult at times? I’d tell them it is difficult, and it will continue to be, and sadly we will have to work harder just to prove that we are valid and worthy of our place in this world. It’s an unfortunate truth. The day that a woman can throw a baby-pants-hissy-fit like a dude can on set and be considered an exacting artistic genius, then maybe that will be the day that we know things are beginning to change. The reality is, most women are too dignified and strong to go full two-year-old tantrum.
What are your favorite bits of helpful advice that you have received about your work or your field?
My most helpful bit of advice relates to the last statement, and it was when my screenwriter and husband said to me, “You’re just going to have to face that to be acknowledged and to have respect in your field, you have to work twice as hard and your skin has to be twice as thick.” It’s so far still accurate and it’s what keeps my head above water.
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?
In honor of celebrating women in horror month, I believe viewers should keep an eye out for all stories told by women and IPOC at all. I think they should openly try to consume the films told by us without pre-conceived notions, and that if they have criticisms, they should consider whether they would have those same critiques if the film had come from a guy.
What do you have coming soon that you can talk to us about?
I am currently working on three films, one is a more straightforward American thriller that takes place in Thailand and Laos, and I also have a love story that’s a really dark and painful take on the concept of soul-mates. My third film is a creature feature about an old, fat, American sex-pat who lords himself over a small village in Laos and has a history of human rights abuses towards the women and young girls of the village. He gets killed by three kids in the village by accident, and his corpse gets reanimated by a demonic entity in the jungle only to come back and terrorize the three children and this village again.
What do you hope to leave behind in your legacy as an artist?
I hope that my legacy as an artist is that we women, indigenous people and people of color can and should tell the stories we want to tell and that we need to tell, and that we don’t need to spoon feed or dumb-down our lived experiences and culture in a palatable way to the rest of the world.
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