Director, Producer, Writer, Actor Nancy O’Brien Interview [Women in Horror Month 2024]

Meet the uber-supportive Nancy O’Brien:

To start, please introduce yourself:
Hello, I’m Nancy O’Brien. Director, Producer, Writer, and Actor.

What made you want to work in horror?
I’ve always loved horror. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, watching Alfred Hitchcock, The Twilight Zone, and many other films with my dad. My sister and I enjoyed watching slasher, paranormal, independent films, every and any horror film/Tv that was available to us when we were kids. My sister influenced me and got me into reading Stephen King’s novels. We watched his movies, television series and miniseries as well.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I get most of my inspiration from my real-life experiences and then I let my imagination run wild on the page when I’m writing the script. 

What would you like your legacy to be in the genre (or elsewhere)?
A film is forever, and that film will live on, long after the filmmaker has passed. I want people to resonate with my films, be inspired and create their own art.

What is Women in Horror Month to you and why is it still important this many years later?
There aren’t enough women being recognized for their talent or their appreciation for the horror genre. Women in horror month brings attention to the female filmmakers from
 around the world, who love the genre. It’s not just a boy’s club. Women tell the story differently from men, from a female perspective, and we have something to say. 

Who are some of the Women in Horror who you look up to and who do you want to bring attention to in your field or others? I admire Ida Lupino who was the 1st female horror director and the best so far. She directed 1953s The Hitch-Hiker, a couple episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1964. 

Of course, Debra Hill, who is a favorite to many, was an amazing Producer and Screenwriter. Best known for The Halloween movies. She produced Halloween 1978, my favorite. and Halloween II 1981. Plus, she wrote many screenplays too. Her resume is very impressive. 

Sadly, both women have passed away. However, they’ve left behind their legacy and paved the way for future female filmmakers in horror. 

I would also like to bring attention to some recent female directors who made films that I enjoy and recommend:
“The Black Mass” Dir by Devanny Pinn
“The Stylist” Dir by Jill Gevargizian
“Slaxx” Dir by Elza Kephart 

What are you currently working on that you can tell us about?  
I made my directorial film debut in 2023 with the comedy/horror short, “Hairball” that deals with ageism. An older single woman in her 50s, (Monique Parent) turns her dates, (Marshall Hilliard, Vincent de Paul, and Vince Lozano) into cats. The entire cast and crew were honored when “Hairball” became a finalist at the French Riviera Film Festival in Cannes for best comedy and a clip was featured in their festival trailer. “Hairball” was also selected in my hometown at the Pittsburgh Film Festival. “Hairball” continues to make its rounds through the festival circuit, as many are still undecided. So, please wish us luck to win these festivals in the future. 

Following “Hairball” is my next short, horror/mystery thriller entitled, “Cabin”, that deals with infidelity. A married couple, (William McNamara and Marian Aguilera) on the verge of divorce, take their therapist’s advice, and rent a cabin in the mountains for a romantic weekend getaway. External forces have other plans as the couple tries to salvage their relationship. 

Be on the lookout for these films. We will let the public know as soon as they’re available and where they can be seen. 

Everyone can check out the trailers for “Hairball” and “Cabin” through these YouTube links:
Nancy O’Brien IMDb link
Instagram @nancyobrien_official 

Leading and closing photos by Emilie Black @emybphoto