Interview with HEAR US SCREAM
Get the interview here https://www.hearusscream.com/interviews/wihm-ali-chappell Tell us a little bit about yourself! What is your role in the horror community? I’m an actor, filmmaker, writer and producer. My focus tends to lean more towards horror because horror truly is my life and I love it. I find comfort in things that may be a bit more scary. I took the plunge late last year and tried my hand at writing and directing a short film, Verified, that ended up at a ton of film festivals and now I am hooked. I can’t wait to get back behind the camera again.
What was the first thing you encountered that made you fall in love with horror?
VHS boxes. 100% seeing the video store aisles lined with the colorful and spooky horror movie posters. Picking movies based on the cover alone. That was what really brought my love of horror to life. I can still remember the first VHS tape that stood out to me. Dead Alive with the mouth. I love that artwork so much. Same with April Fools Day and the braided noose on the girl. I always wanted long enough hair so I could do that. Maybe I should invest in extensions. Plus, I was the girl at slumber parties who would introduce their friends to horror movies. I miss slumber parties like crazy, let’s bring those back.
What does the horror community mean to you? Because I grew up as this weird kid who loved horror films I never really fit in. I wasn’t bullied or anything. I was like “popular adjacent”. I got invited to all the parties and hang sessions and had a blast but I never really felt connected to most of these people because the only thing we really had in common was growing up and going to the same school together. When I got to college, it was a triple threat college (singing, dancing, acting), I realized that I fit in even less. The other girls were ballerinas and I was wearing my ripped up Forbidden Planet shirt over top of my leotards in dance class. We hung out and partied but again, because the one thing we had in common is that we basically spent all our time together in class. So when I started to meet more and more people in this little Toronto horror community, I felt like I finally had people to talk to. People who knew my references and understood me a bit more. That was when I started finding all the genre theaters showing horror films and the film festivals and the local magazines. I even interned for Rue Morgue while I was in college because it felt like a space that accepted me for being a horror geek. Now I have this little horror family and so many spooky friends that it feels like I’m finally finding where I belong. I always knew I was a weirdo but now I feel like I’m not the only one.
Who are your favourite women in horror? Oh snap, that is tough because there are just so many wonderful people in horror. I want to list them all. Well, first off I gotta give a huge shout out to Maude Michaud, not only do we run a women in horror podcast together but she is an incredible writer and filmmaker. I can’t wait to see all she does. Izzy Lee, we recently interviewed her on our Let’s Scream podcast and she is just such a heavy hitter with a strong powerful voice and I know that whatever she does next is going to blow the roof off everything. Basically everyone I list in the answer below are also women I am championing. Lauryn Kahn and Mimi Cave are really making some serious waves in horror and I can’t wait to see what they both do next. There are just too many to name that I want to support and give love to.
If you could invite one woman from horror to dinner who would you invite and why? Well, since I love a good dinner party, it would have to be a party. I’d have to be Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira (my true idol), I would try not to fan girl out but I would probably embarrass myself a little. Sandy King - the woman behind the man who has created such a powerhouse career and yet somehow we never talk enough about her. Let’s change that. Mimi Cave and Lauryn Kahn, the writer and director of my 2022 favorite movie FRESH. I just want to pick their brains about how they managed to hit so freaking hard with their first film. Finally, Zoe Lister-Jones, she wrote and directed the new The Craft movie and I would just have so many questions about going down the horror route after spending years making us laugh so hard we cried on shows like New Girl and Life In Pieces. It would be 5 courses and end with us all playing the VHS board game classic Nightmare over cocktails. And we would all become best friends for life.
Women in horror have been making progress, but it’s clear that a lot of work is still needed to ensure that representation is correct and widespread. What is the importance of Women in Horror Month?
First, it shouldn’t be JUST a month. We should be putting the spotlight on women all year round. We deserve more than a month. I also still find that women should be allowed to make bad products. Bad movies, bad stories, bad whatever. Men get to make bad films all the time and get offered chance after chance to redeem themselves. Whereas women, if they make one not so great movie all of a sudden it's like “Well, we gave her a chance and they didn’t deliver, let’s move on.” I want to see women make something not great and still get offered chances to do it again and show that they can do it. It’s only fair. This month is important because every time it comes around I get to see all these women who I didn’t know before and get a glimpse at what they’re doing. I find new blogs, new writers, new filmmakers, new everything because this is the month when we get to show off our work and have it spread so widely because we are women. Again that is why it should be Women in Horror year, and not just a month. I can only imagine there are so many more amazing women who I haven’t met yet and I am dying to meet you. I’m really good at forcing my friendship upon people so don’t be shy if you want to DM me anytime.
As a filmmaker, what have been some of your most memorable moments when creating your debut short film, Verified? We made Verified in two days. I was under this crazy impression that we could easily film this in like 8 hours cause the script itself was so short. But wow, that was my first lesson. It takes way longer than you think. I was so nervous all day, I had never written a script or directed a film before so I kept leaning over to my DP Jared and asking if this is ok? Does this work? Does this look good? Also, that was the first day I had met him. So he had to bear a lot of my anxiety and he did. He’s officially my team for life. But there were all these small moments where we would Where we would get these perfect shots and just look at each other. "Like fuck yeah. This is perfect" and it gave me so much confidence in my filmmaking ability as a lil filmmaking virgin.
What do you want audiences to walk away with after watching your debut short? Well, obviously, I hope they walk away and want to see more of my work haha. But truly. As someone who spends way too much time on social media, I want people to take a step back and think “do I really need to post this?” cause I feel like we are all at a place where if you aren’t posting constantly then you’re somehow being forgotten about. If you aren’t getting 100+ likes on a photo then you aren’t succeeding. That is a super toxic culture. I am really bad for it. I post constantly and hope they take off. I’m on all the socials and I kinda hate it but also I can’t stop posting to them. It’s an addiction. Then on the days when I decide to leave my phone on silent and facedown and not look at it for a few hours, I feel guilty. That’s not normal. At least it wasn’t 15 years ago. I really hope that people will see Verified, this short about a girl who so desperately wants attention that she won’t even go to a hospital as she dies, will see that maybe our whole lives don’t need to be online. That maybe there is some beauty in just living, maybe even being bored. When was the last time any of us were just bored and not scrolling through insta? Boredom used to breed such intense creativity for me. Now I feel like I”m always comparing myself to other people on social media which is also unhealthy.. Especially kids. I see so many kids just spending all their time on phones. When I grew up the only phone use I had was when someone called the landline and my mom answered. Part of me wants to go back to that minus, you know, my mom answering my phone.
What do you have coming in 2022 that you can talk to us about? I am in a short that is being filmed at the end of the month. I have a few short films I wrote that I plan on directing in the coming weeks to months. As long as covid is cool about everything. I was the model for a book by Staci Layne Wilson, and that is coming out very soon. So excited about that. I also recently did a body positivity photo/video shoot for a company called Knotty Knickers, a subscription based lingerie company that focuses on inclusivity and body positivity. I’m really excited about that. I love seeing women of all walks of life feel sexy in their own skin and have lingerie made for whatever body types they may have. It’s a great company. And if all goes well I will have a bigger project to start being able to discuss very soon. Fingers crossed.