She directs. She writes. She acts. Is involved in art direction, the special effects department, editing...really just the overall production of the film-making process. Oh, and all the while being an awesome mom to two lucky boys (both of which do a phenomenal job in her film, 'Dolly Deadly'). Heidi Moore is part of a refreshing wave of independent women film-makers that have done an admirable job in bringing fans of the horror genre exciting new content, hitting various thematic ranges and even tackling many different social topics. In the case of 'Dolly Deadly', Heidi Moore gives us her take on the subject of bullying.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you became involved in the film-making process.
I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since I was in high school, but I grew up in a town with very little encouragement. One day I finally got tired of being all talk and decided to go for it. What’s the point of taking the safe route, or listening to your shitty ex husband who never believed in you, or playing the “poor me, I’m a single mom card”? It’s just silly. Once I realized what I am capable of, I never looked back. Watch “Boyfriend”, my first full short film; it’s pretty fun.
What was the inspiration for "Dolly Deadly"? Did you draw upon any personal experiences when developing the film?
There are several things that influenced this movie; one being that I am obsessed with the trailer park culture, but I mean, who isn’t? The story originally was supposed to be about a possessed doll using a creepy doll I found at the thrift store, but as I wrote, it became about the little boy who owned the doll. There are so many issues these days about gender roles in society, and I started thinking about this time my youngest son got made fun of by some dad at the park for wearing tap shoes. Then I thought back to when I was a kid...I remember hearing things like “quit being such a girl”, “don’t hold your hand like that, that’s what gay guys do”, “Call Pee Wee Herman Pee Pee Herman because he’s gay”. That got me thinking about kids who don’t conform to their gender and how much the shit the adults around them say could affect them. I know they say, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but god damn, how much can a kid actually take? Plus wouldn’t it be nice to not have to put on that facade? It’s so draining pretending you’re okay, and that you’re above the bullshit people put you through. Anyhow, this all filtered into the story creating this movie. It’s much more than a slasher, it’s a whole genre bending mash up.
It couldn't possibly have been anything less than a challenge covering as many bases of the film's production yourself; how did you cope? What was that process like?
Golly….working with a micro budget can be so challenging. People can’t afford to stay on board for the entire project and a lot of the crew that says they want to be involved don’t always pull their weight. I didn’t intend on doing so many things, but unfortunately I had to take over. It gets to a point where you can tell someone is going to flake or you can see someone isn’t doing what they should, and instead of playing the whole “what are we going to do” game, I decided I will just do it. I think I went completely insane at one point..have you ever seen The Shining?? I was Jack. Filming took 2 years; I got things done paycheck to paycheck, little by little. In the end I am glad I did the camera work because I was able to film any time I had the chance; I even was a one lady crew at times. Luckily I had the help I did have though, all the people who stood by me until the end, I will be forever grateful to.
Looking back on how "Dolly Deadly" turned out, is there anything you wish you could or would have done differently?
Ha! Of course. Our motto on set was “we get what we get”. Sometimes we had to just shoot and whatever we got was what was going in the movie. There were times I spent more money than I should have, locations I wish were different, little details that I’m not going to point out because I don’t want you guys to notice! Although having my son play the main character was hell at times (I will never fucking work with kids again), I am glad I have this movie to always look back at and remember how cute and little he was. I’m so proud of him.
What's something you've gained from this experience that you'd like to take with you into the next project?
I have learned so much. I think now I could do a lot more with the budget we had to work with. I can tell you after this I won’t work with film students...they cry….oh boy do they cry. And my next movie sure as hell won’t take 2 years to complete; eff that noise.
We're huge fans of the visual style, in particular, the colorful escapist dreams had by Benji. Where did you get the idea for these sequences; what were it's visual inspirations?
Cassandra Sechler wrote most of the dream sequences, so as for the inspiration behind the scenes themselves, that’s something she could answer. I however did direct and design the scenes. My inspirations come from everywhere; old sitcoms, bits and pieces of movies/commercials/music videos I watched as a kid, etc. I wrote the last dream sequence and my inspiration came from David Lynch movies and shows, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Legend, dumb people I know...there’s even an Exorcist reference in there.
How would you describe the experience directing your own children? We felt they did an amazing job given their roles, did it take much direction from yourself to elicit those performances?
To be honest it was hard. I would get so angry at them sometimes, and it would get so stressful. When it’s your own kids, it’s a lot easier to yell at them and expect so much more than you would expect from someone else’s kid. But it was so great to see them be team players and tough things out. I remember one night after we shot Donald and Mitzi’s death scenes, we wanted to film a part of one of the dreams. It was 3 am by the time we were set up for it and Justin (Benji) drank a soda and killed it. I am actually getting emotional thinking about it because he did so good. What a good boy. Thank you Justin!!
Is there any one particular aspect of film-making you'd like to concentrate on with your next outing, or are do you prefer the level of control you had with "Dolly Deadly"?
I would love to only be the director. That’s all I want to do. On my own micro budget films I will still be the producer as well, but if a producer comes along with money, I am so down to direct only!!
What can we expect next from Heidi Moore?
I have another micro budget horror in development that I am currently seeking a writer for. I don’t want to reveal too much, but if there are any writers out there who are interested in getting involved, hit me up...oooookaaaaay?
Any wisdom you'd like to impart to those involved in the independent horror scene?
I would say, before you get going on a feature, assess how serious you are about film-making. It’s not easy, and it’s not for the weak. There are going to be a lot of people out there who don’t get what you do, and they will talk shit. It sucks, but independent horror isn’t for everyone and you have to always remember that. Make sure to get your work to the right audience or you will be sad; so very sad.
You've made fans out of the staff on our site. Any chance we'll be able to catch you at a horror convention in Florida any time soon?
I submitted “Dolly Deadly” to Spooky Empire so if it gets accepted, I will be there! Tell them to play the damn movie so I can go to Florida.
IF SOMEONE FROM SPOOKY EMPIRE IS READING THIS - PLAY HER FILM >:-)