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Monday, December 11, 2017

Maura Stephens Interview



Indie Horror Online had the pleasure to speak with indie horror actress Maura Stephens about her many short films and experiences...

Q: Tell us a little about your personal background...

A: I was a shy, morbid, homeschooled kid who got my jollies from playing weird characters and making my sisters laugh. We were always being creative – making up voices and characters, drawing comic books, and playing DOS games (which are still the best games, in my opinion – I recommend Hugo's House of Horrors, as a dorky side note). My fondness for playing pretend remained fully intact throughout the years, and ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, here we are. If there's something you feel deeply about, it's worth it to push past the fears, and anxieties, and doubts, and say "no, I'm going to give this a shot", which sometimes you end up having to say to yourself multiple times throughout the journey, but always, always give yourself a chance. And that's my Oprah moment for the day... (laughs)


Q: How did you develop an interest in horror?

A: My interest in horror started pretty young. I grew up watching The Haunting (1963), Nosferatu (1922), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), among other horror gems, and really loved those worlds. Sometimes the appeal was simply because it was fun to be scared. Other times, because horror can be cathartic. Then there are certain dark worlds that are actually really comforting and cozy. There's a lot to get out of the genre, and the people who perceive it as being solely gruesome or solely jump scares are missing out. So yeah, I'm definitely a fan. Even when I'd make camcorder films with two of my sisters we would do batshit horror comedies. It's always been a natural gravitation.


Q: You've been in a number of short horror films for Crypt TV. Tell us about working on them...

A: That was an exciting snifter of time that was very full and latex-y and bloody. I got to work with my long time friend, filmmaker Michael Horrigan, and my sister-in-law, SFX makeup artist Ashley Robinson, on all three of the films, so it felt like a family affair. I got to check a few things off the ol' deranged bucket list, too: I got to have my mouth stitched up and my eyes replaced with buttons in Doll House, I got to have my face torn off in The Other Woman – I mean, be still my heart. I get a lot of childlike joy out of playing strange or creepy characters. So I look back fondly on that. Terror Teds in the UK even made a doll out of my character in Doll House a while back, which was surreal and awesome. She'll probably end up being the bloody button-eyed angel on my Christmas tree for years to come. So wholesome. Such comfort and joy.


Q: Tell us about your entries into the 15 Second Horror Film Challenge...

A: I've done a handful of shorts for 15 Second Horror with Andrew (J.D. Robinson), some with other filmmakers, and some that I've directed myself. It's an interesting challenge because you have to think of a clever way to get the audience invested and affected fast. My first one, Ottoline, was my directorial debut. I remember sitting across from Andrew eating breakfast, it was the first year of 15 Second Horror, and he asked me if I did one what it would be, and I told him the idea of Ottoline and we both laughed and he said, "you should do that". It was actually an excerpt from a script I was writing that year. That's a cool thing about 15 Second Horror, you can take bits and pieces from longer works and play with them as a stand alone piece.


Q: Give us some insights into the making of Beauty Sleep...

A: Beauty Sleep was my first proper film with Andrew. It was a particular ride because I got to experience acting out an emotional scene backwards, which was really interesting. You have to force your tear ducts to "halt!" because it's in reverse, so if you cry the tears will be going up into your eyes. It was also a silent film, so having to communicate Mary Lynn's deteriorating psyche through my face and body, and the surrealism of the film versus heavy dialogue scenes or monologues, was a fun exercise. I got a lot out of that shoot. I'm still gunning for a sequel one day.


Q: Any new projects on the horizon for you?

A: I'll be playing a 911 dispatcher to Erin Kiniry's (from Mitchell Slan's award winning short Balloon) terrified caller in a new horror short film by Andrew. I love the script for this one – I get chills whenever I read it. I think people are going to really dig the ride.

For more information, check out the links below...