One of the most exciting developments for female-driven genre content is The Final Girls. Created by Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe as 'a London-based screening series focused on exploring feminist themes in horror cinema and highlighting the representation and work of women in horror, both in front of and behind the camera', the brand launched its latest series of shorts highlighting female talent, titled 'We Are The Weirdos' at Soho House in February 2019. There will be a UK-tour of the collection at key venues around the country, including the London Prince Charles Cinema. STARBURST had the pleasure of speaking with the founders after the launch.
STARBURST: Tell us about how you created The Final Girls brand. THE FINAL GIRLS: We were both working together and bonded over a shared - and secret - love for horror films. The Final Girls emerged very organically over a WhatsApp conversation! In a matter of minutes we had the name, the date of the first event and the first film we wanted to screen. Since then, we’ve stuck to our original vision of exploring the intersections of horror film and feminism, but have also been increasingly more interested in creating a platform that can actively support and promote female talent in genre cinema.
Obviously we must talk about the genre itself and the films that have impressed you the most over the years. Are you more in tune with classic horrors like Halloween and The Exorcist, or do you feel the modern horror film has more to offer the audience who view it today?
Contemporary genre cinema is an incredibly exciting space - filmmakers are pushing boundaries, both in terms of form and content, and it feels like it’s a moment when the industry is also taking note of the creative value and impact of genre. Personally, we don’t have a favourite decade, we love diving deep into the bowels of horror film history and discovering new oddities, although of course we’ve got modern cinema favourites, like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Rosemary’s Baby.
Short films are always a good showcase for new talent. Of the directors who have been lucky to feature in your presentations, who is currently doing well in terms of features and other success?
Out of last year’s crop of We Are the Weirdos, Prano Bailey-Bond and Amelia Moses are currently developing their first feature films and, although we couldn’t feature her short last year, Kate Herron has just directed several episodes of Sex Education for Netflix and is working on her debut feature as well.
You tend to focus on feminist themes in horror and cult based content. Given the changes that women are seeking in the industry to become more aware and visible, are you going to look at other genres in the future and perhaps create a separate brand that highlights other directing talents?
Not at the moment, we want to focus exclusively on genre cinema - but there are so many opportunities that are exploring around creating a bigger platform that will, ultimately, be productive and helpful for women in the genre industry. And, potentially, actually producing original genre content.
Do you work with a lot of distributors as well when selecting your programme?
Yes, we work closely with film distributors on select new releases and re-releases, always within the realm of genre cinema. In 2017, we worked on the release of The Love Witch, and just last year we hosted a private screening of Assassination Nation, so we’re looking to do a lot more of those type of collaborations in the future.
What have been your favourite short films since the Final Girls inauguration?
We can’t really pick a favourite amongst so many great shorts! But some standouts include Prano Bailey-Bond’s Nasty and Shortcut (We are the Weirdos 2017), Kate Herron’s Smear and Gabriela Staniszewska’s I Should Have Run (We are the Weirdos 2017). This year, we were really floored by Kate Dolan’s Catcalls, which is included in this year’s Weirdos programme.
In addition to London, you also focus on the regions in the UK as well. How does the reaction to content in London vary around the country?
We’ve absolutely loved travelling around the UK and meeting some of our audiences in person. We still remember the first screening of We Are the Weirdos in Edinburgh, with audiences dressed up for it and absolutely pumped to see some great shorts.
Finally, can you see yourself producing content as a Final Girls Film Production strand and work with some of the talent you showcase?
Absolutely! That’s one of our goals!
Go to www.thefinalgirls.co.uk for more information on screenings, etc.