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Egomaniac: a horror film about the horrors of the film industry

Writer-director Kate Shenton is back with a horror-comedy inspired by her experiences in film

The film industry is a tough old business, full of loud people with loud voices and even louder egos. It’s an imperceptible and frustrating thing, even for the people who work in it. So it’s fortunate for everyone that Kate Shenton, the uber cool indie female filmmaker who wrote a fantastic piece about sexism in the film industry for us, has written and directed her second feature film Egomaniac.

Based on Kate’s personal experiences, Egomaniac is a satirical dark comedy about independent filmmaking with a grizzly horror twist. Starring Nic Lamont, Adam Rhys-Davies, and Lawrence Harvey (of Human Centipede fame), it tells the story of Catherine Sweeny who’s determined to make a zombie horror romantic comedy but struggles with industry suggestions to include a talking dog. Desperate to realise her vision she’ll go to any lengths – but too much compromise can kill.

Egomaniac had its world premiere at Fright Fest 2016 and has had a hugely successful theatrical run. Ahead of its VOD release on iTunes on August 15th (it’s out now, buy it here), we were lucky enough to get some time in with Kate and shoot her our questions.

Egomaniac has such a vivid concept behind it, can you tell us where that came from?

It had been two years since my previous film On Tender Hooks and I was on the verge of giving up. I had a whole bunch of meetings and promises which had all lead to nothing. I was frustrated and I realised I had to give up and re-evaluate my life or make a film about my personal experiences, which is where the concept for Egomaniac came from.

It is a meta semi-autobiography, fictionalised but based on personal events. It was an incredibly cathartic thing to write and make and probably saved me a huge bill on therapy! I had no idea whether people were going to love the film or hate it. I didn’t care, I just had to make it. It was either this or give up filmmaking altogether! The thing that surprised me the most when going round the festival circuit with it was how many people connected with the film and said they’d gone through similar experiences. It took making a feature film about my personal experiences from me to realise that I wasn’t alone.

Writing, directing, and producing as an indie filmmaker is never easy – any horror stories to share?

Not as many as you would think! We made the film on £5000 so naturally it was a bit crazy but we had an awesome cast and crew which helped. It was only a 10 day shoot and I don’t think we could’ve made the budget stretch any further. I remember debating with myself about whether to get an extra memory card or a meat cleaver prop… we didn’t have the luxury to afford both!

With a film like Egomaniac you have to accept that you can’t have everything and that the film is not going to be perfect. I think that adds a lot to its charm however and I don’t think this story would’ve worked on a higher budget.

You previously wrote about sexism for us, has anything changed in the last couple of years? Do you think the situation is improving at all?

There are more female directors now which is something I’m very excited to see. The recent successes of films like Raw and Prevenge have definitely spiked strong interest in the female perspective which is helping to pave the way for more horror films directed by women.

I think the industry is getting better but it’s slow progress. I definitely don’t experience sexism to the extent that I used to but I’m now more established and I think that helps. However, newcomer female filmmakers I speak to are still experiencing many of the things that I discussed in my previous article. You’re vulnerable when you’re starting out, especially as a female filmmaker, and people take advantage of that. It’s challenging and off-putting and prevents a lot of women transitioning from shorts to feature films.

It’s essential for female filmmakers to look out for and support each other. Things are getting better, but it’s not going to change overnight – I still have those moments which leaves me thinking ‘Really… not this again!’

Egomaniac has been a hit on the festival circuit, what’s next for you?

We are developing a mobile app game which is based on Egomaniac. It’s being developed by Feature Games with the wonderful games designer Paddy Murphy and allows users to emulate the idea of the film and make their own decisions within the film industry. I’m incredibly impressed with the work that they have done and cannot wait for the game to be released. It should be out in autumn.

I’m also working on my next project Bloody Burrito with Jo Lewis and Ben Callis from Fast Food Films. It’s been a passion project for a long time and I’m very excited about making it.

Egomaniac is now available to download on iTunes, get it here!

Want to hear more from Kate? Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or read her blistering account of sexism in the film industry.

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