Lou Simon is an American filmmaker who's debut feature The Awakened established her as one to watch. Now with HazMat she has taken on the found footage slasher genre and took some time to talk with us. HazMat is available now online.
How did you get into making horror films and what is it about the genre that attracts you?
I started out initially to be a screenwriter and that was really all I wanted to do. Itís really difficult to get into the industry though so after a while I realised that the way to get your name known was to make something yourself. With that in mind we made The Awakened and I enjoyed the whole process so much. Thatís how I ended up doing HazMat.
Where did the inspiration for HazMat come from?
I had just had some major surgery and I was stuck in bed watching lots of horror movies. The Sci-Fi channel was showing this programme called Scare Tactics which is this prank show with a scary angle. While I was watching, and feeling guilty about laughing, it felt like a great idea as you just donít know how people are going to react when really scared. Thatís where the story began for me, how people might just snap
Do you feel that filmmakers these days need to be involved or skilled in all aspects of the process?
Absolutely. Itís great if you have a team behind you though and for me directing just came naturally. It was really about wanting make sure what I had written was transferred to the screen as I saw it. We also didnít have enough money to hire a big time director!
Is it difficult to find a balance then between the different roles you have to take on?
It becomes your life and who you are. When I was going to film festivals it felt like HazMat was my baby. Because I had done so many things in the film it became my obsession but itís such an amazing feeling when people like it.
Lou: "There is an inherent scariness about confined places".
Did the final film differ a great deal from your original vision?
Yes and no. When I first wrote it I had no idea what kind of budget I would have. Initially it was just going to be a found footage film but when we got a little more money we added in the regular footage.
I wondered if thereís something about confined spaces that you find interesting or frightening?
Itís more about the limitation of the budget to be honest. Using one location allows me to make the films I want as itís cheaper that way. There is an inherent scariness about confined places though and being trapped
Many filmmakers find it difficult to find distribution or an outlet for their films. How have you found this?
With The Awakened we self-distributed and itís more work than actually making the film. Thereís a reason why big companies have teams of PR people. There are ways though to get traffic. Weíve just placed The Awakened on youtube to try and monetise it but with Hazmat we seemed to get a lot more buzz which may be to do with the genre. We now have a distributor which is amazing and has happened so quickly. Weíve finally been picked up by 101 Films in the UK which is really exciting but we donít have a release date yet.
Lou: "I watch so many horror films right now, possibly around 20 a week".
The Awakened was a supernatural horror and HazMat is a slasher movie. Would you like to cover all the sub-genres if possible?
Iím probably more of a supernatural person I think but HazMat just came to me. Iím more driven by premises and if theyíre interesting from the start and thatís what inspires me to write.
Has there been one particular film or director that has influenced you most in your career?
I watch so many horror films right now, possibly around 20 a week and I take a little from each one. I thought a lot about Wes Craven though as Iíd just read a book about him when I was making HazMat.
What will we see next from you?
Weíre in pre-production on Agoraphobia right now. Itís about a woman who suffers from anxiety and terror about going outside into open spaces. She inherits a home where she thinks she might be able to overcome those fears but the house is actually haunted and she ends up trapped in there with the ghost.
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Lou.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."