An accomplished writer at an early age, Carly Street turned her success into the formation of the genre production company Resurrection Films which has started producing it's first genre entries. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about the early stages of her writing, the formation of the company and it's upcoming projects.
Me: Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this. First off, where did you get the urge to get into the genre?
Carly Street: I was always a big horror fan starting in my early teens. When I first started writing and teaching myself screenwriting it was short horror stories which I then attempted to convert to screenplay format as a writing exercise. I must admit, I fell out of love with writing the genre for a little while - I never seem to be able to make things scary enough or gory enough or it went to the other extreme where it was just far too much! It's taken a few years to find a good balance when exploring a story and realizing that those elements can be added or removed at various points for a multitude of reasons.
Me: Were you always into genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
CS: My mother is and continues to be - an absolute horror nut. I'd try and sit up with her and watch them. She always rumbled me until I pretended to be asleep during a particularly gruesome episode of The X Files. When she realized I had been awake and watching it out of one eye the entire time, gone to bed, woke up and been absolutely fine she said, "Well if you can watch that, you'll love this!" And it carried on from there. Practical effects and ghosts were our absolute go-to. It was right around the time Asylum was launching and they are our family's official guilty pleasure!
If I had to be picky... Near Dark, Scream, The Sixth Sense... The Frighteners CGI blew my tiny mind! Ghost Ship and The Lost Boys would be the key films that gave me a shiver or a cinematic connection. In recent years, Would You Rather?
Me: When did you first discover your passion for writing?
CS: In school. I'd been fascinated by the mechanics of films for years but it was high school that first allowed me to independently learn about it all. I used to sit a hand-write sections of script about my least fave teachers and classmates during class. The first and last time I ever wrote a comedy! I actually fell short on a creative writing GCSE assignment and put in a ten-page script. They had absolutely no idea how to mark it or what to do with it so it passed. After that, I thought, ah-ha! There's definitely something to this! I pieced the scenes together, very badly, I might add and declared the first draft. I actually fired it out to a few actors who were very kind in their responses. In a world of 'No', I was lucky enough to have a few handwritten 'thanks yous.' I entered a competition with a short horror script about an abandoned fair whose ghostly inhabitants came alive at night and tormented kids that would break in and amazingly - won. It got made into a short film and we had a summer workshop building the entire set as a miniature. So much fun!
Me: Coming from the UK, was there any inspiration from the local scene that influenced you?
CS: One of my absolute favorite films is The Asphyx starring a young Robert Powell. I recall it being one of the first films I ever watched and I was utterly transfixed. I found the questions it raised to be more terrifying than the events portrayed in the film and I was hooked. The Hound of the Baskerville led to more obvious horrors such as An American Werewolf In London. I initially found it a struggle to find my voice listening to fellow UK writers, in a scene, which at the time was saturated with comedy and crime thrillers. It's shifted a lot, films like Eden Lake, Howl and Long Time Dead almost entirely replaced the gangster films over the course of ten years, which I find interesting and exciting. In our local BlockBuster (showing my age now!) the low budget UK films would always be on offer Friday and Sunday to rent and ex rentals were in the bargain bin for next to nothing so we'd just grab two each week. There's always been gems to unearth - Below, one of the best ghost films I think I've ever seen and very underrated. Dog Soldiers. 28 Days Later. The Cube, Canadian but still in the UK bargain bin to be grabbed. Severance. Numerous Blair Witch rip-offs that were actually pretty good! Exam is a particular example of horror, done well to a scale with an almost perfect balance of gore and psychological scares.
Me: Was the early success for your stories and art projects a major factor to continue on in the field?
CS: Yes and no. The initial success also brought a sudden and jarring crash course of how the industry really works behind the glitz and glamour which I found hard to reconcile at first. Especially being more of a spectator. I got to see the amazing highs and the crushing lows, not just for me but for those that had literally put blood, sweat and tears into projects over the years. For example, when I optioned my first feature I thought I'd made it! Little did I know that it was going to collect dust on a shelf and never see the light of day. That was a hard realization to come to terms with. You learn to find the victories and sit back and say well, at least someone bought it! It also gave me the most incredible experiences and created lasting relationships, which I still have to this day. I've been very lucky to have been able to dip my toes into a couple of avenues - film, art, Motorsport, performance. When I circled back into film, I was able to draw upon that early success, the lessons and experience from that to make me more proactive, aware of future goals and set the boundaries.
Me: Is there any specific type of character you prefer writing? What is the process like when you start in on a new story?
CS: I love to write older, cantankerous characters and throw them into a situation. Usually, I get the story first and then think about what type of character I'd be either surprised or excited to see thrown into that world or situation. I'll normally have a clear stand-alone scene, normally the ending, which I'll write. Then I'll write a few with each character to find a couple more key scenes, establish relationships or moments and then once I have those I'll move to a beat sheet and iron out the story itself. Occasionally inspiration captures me and I will be struck with one clear scene with no rhyme or reason and I'll write that out and then shape a story around that one moment.
Me: Having worked on various aspects of film production, do you have any particular preference for working on any?
CS: Well, in truth, I became a producer more out of necessity than want but started to find that it helped elevate me as a writer. I began to find myself able to write new stories to fit a purpose or specific budgetary requirements, whereas before I would just let my imagination run wild. Producing allowed me greater freedom as I was almost forced to come up with more interesting ways to convey a scene or location knowing budget restrictions and then scale up, as opposed to the other way round, which I find very difficult to do.
Me: In addition, you and Jason Morris started the company Resurrection Films. What was the inspiration for starting that?
CS: Jason and I formed it but there's actually four of us working in partnership - Jason, myself, Troy Foreman and Mark Francisco. We all complement one another and have worked together that long that we have an easy shorthand with one another's' styles and personalities. It's actually rooted in a script, Room 19, which I had used as a way to spill my brains, essentially, onto a page. I didn't really know what to do with it and because it was so different from everything else I'd done before in terms of formatting and story - it was almost a perfect example of how to break every known screenwriting rule. But for some reason, it resonated with everyone who read it. I sent it to both Troy and Mark, the feedback Mark gave me absolutely blew me away. I couldn't get what he said out of my head. Still can't. I had a false start or two with it, was getting disheartened and whilst chatting with Troy about it, I happened to mention how I pictured it as a moody, noir supernatural horror and he instantly said "I know the perfect person for this. You gotta speak to him." Within a couple of days, we were all chatting about it. Jason and I have very similar tastes, ways of working and experiences so it was a perfect fit. Mark and I had known one another for a couple of years, had a great way of working out the kinks in one another's' scripts having worked on a couple of projects previously and Troy had been my absolute corner fighting creative rock for a few years. The moment that we all got on the phone we instantly knew - it clicked. We all just wanted to make films, regardless of whether we had $100 or $1,000,000. Each one of us had stories to tell and ideas on how to tell them. Jason and Troy were finishing up the documentary in Vancouver, Canada, so we met up, despite all odds (missed our plane, bad weather, you name it and it tried to conspire against us but somehow the universe made it work) and just had the most crazy fun time, which even involved an impromptu trip to The X Files set to meet my absolute writing idol (Chris Carter) and literally the minute we got back we started writing a new feature which became Dark Winter.
Me: What is the creative process like between you when developing new projects?
CS: It's funny because when we started going back over unfinished roughs and ideas, it turned out that we've been writing similar stories for years. When we connected we started working through them to piece together a project from our fragments and as a team, we naturally generated more stories and ideas as we went along. We have so many projects we want to work on but right now the focus is to continue to build the foundations of the company, our audience and community.
Me: What are some of the goals of the company moving forward?
CS: To provide the highest quality entertainment, regardless of the budget. We just want to tell interesting stories, our way. To have the most fun projects and welcoming environments, that's very important to us. We want people to want to get stuck in with us and want to be a part of a resurrection film production. Every day is a school day, thankfully in this business we are constantly learning and evolving as a company and individuals on ways to do all of the above more efficiently.
Me: What are some of the upcoming projects you’d like to mention for our readers?
CS: Currently on Amazon we have Dark Winter, we've distributed revenge thriller, Story of Eva starring Eric Roberts, grindhouse horror -The House on Devils Road, a horror sci-fi called Collapse and multi-award-winning Millennium After The Millennium, which is a documentary set 20 years after Chris Carter's landmark television series ended, is getting it's North American release very soon so one to watch out for!
We are actively working on bringing Room 19 to fruition. We have an amazing cast lined up and we have so much love invested in that.
We also have a murder mystery spoof coming soon because this is another genre we absolutely adore. We've taken our three most loved sleuths and pitted them against the ultimate master of deduction - Sherlock Holmes so that should be fun to share.
Script wise we are currently working on a very crazy gorefest. A project which will pay tribute to the best slashers of the 70s/80s and hopefully raise a chuckle or two in the process. A very dark and twisted revenge tale called Simon Says...
Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself? Thank you again for your time!
CS: I think the most important piece of advice I ever got, which was early on, I was sat with Lance Henricksen for a shoot and admittedly I didn't pay much attention to it at the time but now, it's almost my mantra, he said: "You know what you gotta do, you gotta find your tribe, that's the most important thing." Find good people who you enjoy working with. If they're inexperienced - learn together. If you can - teach them. You can't go far on your own so never be afraid to reach out and connect with people.
Never compromise on your worth and always conduct yourself well. Manners, honesty and integrity go a long way when asking for favours!
I think the most important message is that there is no such word as can't! It's I haven't tried enough. Nothing's impossible if you put your mind to it and have the right people on the journey with you to help realize it. Things will most likely go wrong along the way but accept it, find a workaround, implement it and find the lesson.
This interview ran as part of our month-long Women in Horror Month celebrations. Click the banner below to check out all of our interviews and reviews we've conducted for the event: