Kate Shenton | EGOMANIAC

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Director Kate Shenton was back at FrightFest this year with Egomaniac. It’s a semi-autobiographical satire following a lady horror director who wants to make her film but is told to insert a talking dog (and other things) she’d rather not have into places she doesn’t want until it results in deadly consequences. Shenton was nominated for the inaugural Screen International Horror Rising Star Award at FrightFest. We spoke to Shenton about the psychology behind Egomaniac.

STARBURST:  What was the motivating factor behind Egomaniac?

Kate Shenton: It’s kind of almost about the heart-attack of getting into the industry and realising the beast that you are dealing with. I think it's a film that a lot of filmmakers will associate with. It's surprising how many people have already come up to me and have said they have experience of that beast.

Such as how the industry can be rather sexist? How does the lead character of Catherine (actress Nic Lamont) demonstrate the issue?

It's not a sexy film. At all. If I'm honest it’s quite harsh about the way that sex is used in the industry and there are a few scenes that touch on it very, very closely. I think that anything that may be perceived as a little bit sexy is done in quite an ironic and quite a dark way. It isn't a ‘look, she's all scantily dressed and running for her life’ type thing. If anything it's, I wouldn't say slightly critical, but it's kind of assessing that side of the industry. But no, it's not a sexy film. I'm sorry guys, I'm sorry.

How would you like audiences to react to the characters?

I think there is a real honesty to the brutal stereotypes of the characters. It's easy to look at the characters and go ‘that's a stereotype’, but even though this film is not based on anyone real, the characters are an amalgamation of different people that I've met and that I know other people have met. I'm taking certain lines people have said and taking certain actions and combining into a character. It's a very fictionalized version of what has happened to me. We made sure in the script and in the performance that no one was an impersonation, but there's definitely a lot of elements of certain people that have been come across. Already people who have watched a film have recognised characters in that they've experienced someone similar. They've had someone in their career that has done similar things and said similar things. It seems very close to the bone...

How was Egomaniac filmed?

There was a lot of room for improv. The photography scene was entirely improvised and I would say about a third of the film is improvised. A lot of the actors are people I've worked with before and also people I know who’ve had tough experiences within the industry as well. As much as it was a cathartic release for me, I think it was also a cathartic release for much of the cast. I was planned that in the script and it was always written down that it would be improvised and I knew the cast that I had were strong at improv, particularly the lead actress, Nic Lamont. She and Adam Rhys-Davies are the two leads and they have done improv musicals. They are a comedy double act so they connect very well. You just know that if you put those two into the room they’re going to rock it and have fun and they have that chemistry between them. That's where the humour comes from as that's what the film is about: it is about people. It is about the characters in the industry and the kind of people you can occasionally come across.

How would you like people to react to Egomaniac?
I hope it will make people think. I hope that if anybody has behaved in a way shown in the film… it may make them question their behavior. Mainly because someone might make a film about it! I don't think people are really that aware of it. People have come up to me and have said ‘I didn't realise the kind of things that are happening until I saw the film and now I'm seeing it all the time’.
Maybe it'll start a discussion and maybe that discussion will make it slightly easier for someone who is just starting out.

What can audiences do to best support growth in filmmaking?
Even something as simple as following someone's Facebook account or Twitter page and sharing the content and getting the word out there. Even if it's just putting a little bit of money towards a campaign – it doesn't need to be a lot. But you need to do something otherwise it's all going to disappear. If people don't cover their costs they won't be able to make another film. I think that something you need to be conscious of if you love film. You need to put something towards it and then films can get made.

Egomaniac will be screening at festivals all over the world soon.

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