The following interview is courtesy of Shriekfest, a topnotch genre film festival taking place September 30th through October 3rd.
Denise Gossett: What is your name and company URL?
Snively: I’m Devi (pronounced DAY-vee) Snively. Our company’s Deviant Pictures.
DG: What is your specialty… filmmaking or screenwriting? If filmmaking, which aspects?
Snively: I’m a writer/directrix with a penchant for black comedy.
DG: Directrix: I like it! What are you currently working on?
Snively: Yowsah! I guess I’m a bit schizo these days – I’m currently traveling with a number of shorts (Death in Charge, I Spit on Eli Roth) and our first micro-budget feature (trippin’) out on the film fest circuit. We’re in post on our latest short (Last Seen on Dolores Street) with hopes to shoot another short next winter. I’m also working with my new producer on our first budgeted feature (Paige & Hadley’s Prom From Hell) scheduled to shoot next summer and, in my “down time,” I’m working on a my latest feature script and co-authoring a book with 2 well-published authors. Another director is currently in development on one of my non-horror feature scripts which will hopefully go into production next year as well. And, if it doesn’t kill me first, a group of us is flirting with a webisodes series idea to boot. Phew! Never a dull moment.
DG: Have you been a finalist or winner in any festivals or competitions?
Snively: I’ve been very fortunate with both screenwriting competitions and film fests. To date our films have garnered about 50 awards (and over 200 fest acceptances), and 8 of my screenplays have placed in various competitions including Slamdance, Scriptapalooza, Austin Film Fest and, most importantly, Shriekfest of course!
DG: Devi’s film Death in Charge won Best Horror Short Film last year at Shriekfest. Why do you think the horror/scifi genres have such a large following?
Snively: That’s easy – they’re fun, they’re social, and they are so delightfully universal. It doesn’t matter whether the “monster” is a zombie, a martian, nature, another person or even one’s own self – underlying feelings of alienation, fear, and/or repulsion are ones to which we can all relate and which we can all indulge (whether we want an adrenaline rush, catharsis or an excuse to grope our date!)
DG: What do you love most about this business?
Snively: When I’m writing, I love that best; when I’m on set I love that best; when I’m editing, I love that best; when I’m watching our films with an appreciative audience, I love that best; when I’m lost in somebody else’s truly great movie, I love that best; when I’m having a blast at a film fest, I love that best; when I’m engaged in great discourse with other filmmakers and film-lovers, I love that best. So, I guess in a nutshell, I love being able to spend so much time engaging in all of these things that make me so happy.
DG: What do you dislike most about this business?
Snively: I’m least fond of the actual “business” aspect. I think movies should be based on their own merits rather than merely the way that they’re marketed. We’ve all seen posters or trailers for a movie that have nothing to do with what they’re about – yuck! And I think it’s a total drag when a “big” movie with a fancy marketing campaign makes bank the first weekend, then bombs once people actually see it and realize it’s just not an enjoyable movie. Meanwhile, there are so many great indies out there seen by but a handful of folks because the producers don’t have millions to spend on marketing. It’s positively heartbreaking. It shouldn’t be just about “getting asses in seats,” it should also be about making those asses happy for the duration they’re in those seats.
DG: I agree, which is why we do this film festival… we want as many people to see the awesome indie films as possible. Any advice you’d like to give to newbies?
Snively: Do it for love and do it all the time. Hone your craft constantly. Don’t get too precious about one project. Strive to always improve. Stay true to your vision, but also see how your work plays to an audience. Take notes. Raise the bar constantly. Be honest with yourself about your work’s shortcomings as well as its strengths. Surround yourself with people you trust and respect. Listen to constructive criticism as you find and develop your artistic voice.
If you’re not passionate about it, if it doesn’t give you joy despite the inevitable rejection and criticism, then perhaps filmmaking isn’t the right career path. And one more thing – be generous with your filmmaking peers. This is NOT a competition. Tearing somebody else down isn’t going to help anybody. Besides, it’s far more fun when we help each other. Film is a collaborative medium. It takes a village to raise a child and the same can be said for giving birth to a film.
Above all, don’t forget the people who’ve helped you along the way (like Shriekfest – hint, hint…)
DG: Ah, thank you! Anything else you’d like to say?
Snively: Despite everything I’ve said, there IS actually more to life than filmmaking. If one doesn’t have a full life outside of film, what kind of stories is she likely to tell? What will she have to say? All work and no play… ” as the saying goes. It’s important to live a full life outside of film and the horror genre. However, it’s great to know when we want to return to our horror home, the Shriekfest community is always there waiting with open arms. Thanks, Denise!
DG: Thank you Devi. It was great having you. The Shriekfest community meets almost every month for a networking session, check times/dates for the next one on our website.