Black Fawn Films have put out some quality horror films over the last few years, combining some original ideas and smart filmmaking to elevate the standards in a genre that sometimes finds itself falling back on too many clichés and downright bad stories.
On top of that, we have seen the treatment of women change from victims to strong characters who wish to fight back. Black Fawn Films have two new films debuting at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Antisocial 2 and Bite, both of which are female heavy and give the audience some more characters that are much more than simple eye candy.
To get a much better understanding of what it’s like to be a woman acting in the horror business, I was able to talk to some of the actresses involved in both Bite and Antisocial 2. One thing they do agree on is how much they’ve enjoyed their experiences with Black Fawn Films, even when they didn’t get the part they were auditioning for.
“I auditioned for The Drownsman and even though I didn’t get the part the great people behind Black Fawn had piqued my curiosity” Annette Wozniak said. “Funny enough, I got a call to audition for Bite and was very happy to get the part. The Black Fawn group is a huge inspiration to a lot of people and I was so grateful to work on Bite.”Josette Halpert agrees. “What attracted me to Black Fawn Films is their unique marriage between classic and modern horror. Both Bite and Antisocial subvert the original horror trope of a male protagonist. They prey on the fears of a modern audience and create films with a unique amalgamation between old and new.”
Composer Steph Copeland is also pleased at how Black Fawn Films have chosen to portray women in their films. “Black Fawn has really been good to us ladies. I love Sam and Casey of Antisocial 2 and Bite. However there is a long way to go in the genre as a whole. Time after time I still cringe and think to myself has the writer ever met a woman?”
Elma Begovic and Denise Yuen, both starring in the upcoming Black Fawn movie Bite, also believe the view of women in horror is changing. “In the past, we were often solely victimized or sexualized and even when we were stronger or tougher, we were often fairly one-dimensional. These days, protagonists in horror films are often women and, as opposed to just being victims or sex objects, they tend to be built with far more complexity and thus are easier to relate to.” Denise says. Elma takes it one step further. “I think that woman are driving leads more, and can carry a feature with true substance, rather than portraying the marginalized “female” roles we’ve seen repeatedly in film in general.”
I was also interested to find out whether these actresses thought the average horror fan would be excited about this portrayal of a stronger female. Josette Halpert certainly thinks so. “Absolutely. It’s refreshing to have stories featuring strong female characters who embrace their human vulnerability but don’t need saving from a male counterpart. They’re resourceful and fight back, creating a more interesting plot than if they’d been killed off in the first 45 minutes in a skimpy outfit.” Elma Begovic also agreed with this line of thinking. “I hope that audiences are excited to see strong female characters and performances! I think both of these movies work so well because of their female leads, and I think audiences will be both surprised and intrigued by how bad ass and tough these characters are. “
Finally, I figured who better to ask then a collection of women in the movie business about the state of the ‘old boys club’ mentality and whether or not things are finally evolving past that od and outdated way of thinking. “For sure there is still a boys club but I think its phasing out as a new generation of socially conscious film makers like those from Black Fawn break through. Women are definitely gaining ground” states Steph Copeland. “Although the film industry may be seen as a “boys club”, we are coming closer to an equal representation and balance between men and women in film. Both produce compelling pieces of work that aid in the progression of Canada’s film identity” Josette Halpert said.
I’ll leave the last comment on this subject to Elma Begovic, who sums things up pretty well. “I think that the film industry is a work in progress. The sad truth is that while we see more female leads in movies, pay rates still vary between men and women and male actors still have a heavy input in who gets cast as their female co star in films. Thankfully, well reputable actresses are speaking out about this, and informing audiences and fans about how things need to change. And time, hopefully they will. Boys club or not, I think some pretty strong women can hold their own in this industry, and I hope to be one of them.”
There is no doubt that while the attitudes and depiction of women in the horror genre has been terribly slow to change, it is indeed changing, thanks in no small part to companies like Black Fawn Films who have given women a voice and strength in their movies that is not simply a token gesture but something with substance, showing off the talents of these great actresses.
Let the old boys club beware, the women are coming and they are kicking ass and here to stay. From this writer’s perspective, it’s about damn time.
I want to thank actresses Josette Halpert, Elma Begovic, Denise Yuen, Annette Wozniak and composer Steph Copeland for their time and insights.
Keep up to date on Bite and Antisocial 2 here: