Women of Horror Interview: Katie Bonham Simon Fitzjohn February 15, 2016 Editor's Choice, Women Of Horror 1963 There’s something pretty cool about being around at the birth of something big – seeing that band at a small venue before they took off, spotting that teenage footballer before he gets snapped up by a big club or realising that kid next to you in the school play is destined for greatness. Well, that’s how we here at Movie Ramblings towers feel about writer/director/you-name-it-she’s-done-it Katie Bonham, a horror talent that has truly blossomed since we happened to meet her, purely by chance, on an unrelated film set more than a year ago. Having earned her stripes with the likes of Doll and The Porcelain Ground, Katie announced herself in a big way with The Paper Round, her third short that debuted at Frightfest Glasgow in 2015 to great acclaim. Well, a year on and Bonham is about to unleash her latest project, chilling Nicholas Vince short Mindless, for the lucky Frightfest audience at their Scottish shindig later this month, before rolling it out to other festivals through 2016. We chatted to Katie about her previous projects some time ago (check that out here – http://www.movieramblings.com/2014/11/17/women-of-horror-interview-katie-bonham/), but lucky for us she was more than happy to sit down again for an update: Talk us through your last year since The Paper Round debuted – it seems to have been pretty hectic! It has! I was lucky enough to work on seven short film sets in 2015; one of which was my fourth short film, Mindless, and six others in the role of assistant director. Damon Rickard asked me to First AD on his short film The Package, which was something I had never done before – but certainly not one to shy away from a challenge, I went away and learnt about the role. I’m pretty organised too, so taking on the role of assistant director seemed a natural move. I was lucky enough to go on to work as Assistant Director on five more short horror films, from Andy Stewart’s Remnant to Nicholas Vince’s first short film The Night Whispered. It’s been a pretty manic year, but I love what I do. You’re back at Frightfest Glasgow for your new film Mindless. It’s fair to say it needed a lot of effort and patience to get it to the screen… It did indeed. As you know my planned fourth short film Keepsake fell through at the last minute, due to the location cancelling a day before we were supposed to begin principle photography. It was a complete nightmare and I was devastated, but I went away, re-wrote the script and considered what made my other three short films work: there was less crew, one location, less ‘fuss’ and so Mindless was born. Mindless is a a psychological horror film with more depth and personal connection to me. I worked in a care home for 6 years, so this was a storyline which resonated with me. Writing with more restraints can be difficult, but it’s like most situations like that: the more restrained you are the more creative you have to be. I knew that I had to tell the story of Mindless, so myself and Candice Redford (My godsend) decided to shoot with three weeks notice. Looking back, it was the best thing to have happened. Mindless is much more in keeping with my style of storytelling and, in my opinion, a better film than Keepsake would have been. What can you tell us about the film – how does it mirror/differ from your previous work? Well it’s definitely got my ‘stamp’ on it. It’s similar to my previous work as it is a psychological horror film drawn into the social realism genre. Mindless does have more dialogue compared to The Paper Round, but this is an integral part of the storyline as we focus on the relationship between Peter, as the vulnerable adult, and Judy, his carer. Communication in those situations should be key, and you get a feel for how well cared for Peter is and how Judy fulfills this role – it is after all her responsibility. As mentioned, similar to my previous work there is a heavy influence from the social realism genre. I always aim to create both physiological horrors, which not only exist in our reality, but also fears that we all encounter day to day: the fear of growing old; memory loss; depending on someone who may not have your best interest at heart; and ultimately the fear of existing but not living. I think Mindless is more focused on character development too. I gave a lot of free reign to Nicholas, Katy and Eloise, who are, after all, in the ‘mind’ of their characters. I always encourage my actors to change dialogue and movements and feel it is important they live the character and draw from themselves the most real and organic performance possible. Pat Fagan, the composer, did send me a lovely message after his first viewing of Mindless and told me, “I can tell this is a Katie Bonham film”, which is kinda cool. It’s good to know that your style and way of telling a story can be recognised and reaches across all of my films – it’s what most directors aim for. You must be delighted to be bringing the film to Glasgow for such a knowledgable audience – although that must bring its own demands I expect? I am super excited! This will be my second year screening a short for its world premiere at Frightfest Glasgow! It’s great to screen in front of such die-hard horror fans, but yeah, it comes with a lot of added pressure. These guys know their stuff and although I would term Mindless a psychological realism horror, I am aware that this may be more of a niche horror film, so it’s always a nervous process. I am sat with a lot of friends including the editor, Dave Malcolm, and composer, Pat Fagan, who are both from Glasgow. It will be great to share the screening with them. What’s on the horizon for you? I’ve just finished writing a short film called The Mourning and have some projects I will be First AD’ing on later in the year. And I have also just completed the first draft of a feature script. I can’t say too much about the feature, unfortunately, but it’s a very exciting idea, and something I have never seen done before, so I have to be pretty tight lipped on it. All I can say is that it is a fantasy horror film with a secured woodland location in Norway. I also have a great Director of Photography involved. That’s all I can say! But watch this space! If you want to hear more from Katie, we’d like to give you a gentle nudge towards the recent ‘Chattering’ episode she did with Nicholas Vince, which makes for great listening/viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkt2SuRXN54 And we’ll have a review of Mindless up on the site as soon as we can!