Horror’s Scream Queens and Rising Talent: Six Questions for Maureen “Mo” Whelan
“Maureen “Mo” Whelan is a former automotive gear-head turned producer, director, writer, actress, and traditional artist. She has worked at several production and post-production studios in the Los Angeles area, and is currently working in Digital Media. Previously, she was in charge of film licensing and acquisitions for Awntv.com and was a content producer for Animation Nation, a television series that aired on MyTV New England. In addition; she wrote, produced and directed two short films The Suburban Count and A Sin That Cannot Be Forgiven. She has also produced a few short and feature independent films.
She’s acted in several independent films, appeared on television shows and was a guest interviewee in a few documentaries including; Bring Me The Head of Lance Henriksen, Forgotten Tales, 7 Deadly Sins: Inside the Ecomm Cult, Adventures in Plymptoons!, and Welcome to my Darkside! She has also written several articles that have been published on-line and in print for various publications, including Girls and Corpses Magazine, Digital Producer Magazine and AWN.com. Her artwork has been featured at several art exhibits throughout the Los Angeles area.
Her second short film A Sin That Cannot be Forgiven was an Official Selection of the 2013 A Nightmare to Remember International Horror Film Festival and was an Official Selection of the 2012 AOF International Film Festival. Her first short film The Suburban Count was screened at The Bungalow Club in March 2011 and was released on Funny or Die in October 2011.”*
1. How did you get into the industry?
I originally started in animation. I took an animation class at the age of 17 which helped me obtain an internship at 19 with a small animation company in Los Angeles. Soon afterwards, I began working at Crest Digital, a post-production company and also on the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. I didn’t get into the indie Horror scene until 2007 when I was freelancing at Space Bass Films, a stop-motion animation company. There I met Patrick O’Bell who asked me to produce his slasher feature film, Client 14. Around the same time, Robert Rhine asked me to write a few articles for “Girls and Corpses Magazine” after coming across one of my blogs.
2. What Scream Queen/Woman in Horror inspired you most?
I have to say Sigourney Weaver, mainly because she kicked ass in most of the Horror / Sci Fi movies she’s acted in such as the Alien franchise while also being seductive in Ghostbusters. She’s always had a strong presence about her. She’s an environmentalist and is involved with non-profit groups that help people living in extreme poverty. I respect people who are interested in helping others along with the environment.
3. What horror film hooked you on the genre and why?
Hellraiser has always been one of my favorite films. I love the character design, blood, torture and fantasy aspect. It’s also a great little gruesome love story. I was also really into Alfred Hitchcock, Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt. I wanted to be the Crypt Keeper’s friend! I thought it would be cool to hang out with him and roll some heads. My dad was a big fan of horror, Sci Fi, and war movies. Most of my taste comes from his influence. My mom hated horror and war movies. I think he got my sister and me into them to torment her. My dad also got me into “Benny Hill”, who isn’t horror, but it might explain some of my weirdness.
4. When you are presented with a script or movie concept, what are the things that draw you to certain projects and away from others?
I honestly prefer scripts that are a little twisted with a little sense of humor. Kind of like my personality. Scripts that’ll make a person think and mess with one’s mind psychologically. I also like concepts that are based on actual events, something to learn from, real life events. I like to have fun on set, so I try to work with a team that meshes well with each other.
What draws me away are people with over inflated egos or people who immediately ask me for funding without considering my financial situation at the time. I don’t always have change falling out of my pocket – nor do my investment connections. I also have an issue with people who faked their way through the industry.
5. The evolution of women in the genre continues to change almost daily, so what are your thoughts on how things have changed and what do you see coming for the current and future women of horror?
Professional hardware and software products becoming prosumerized has made it easier for all independent filmmakers to create content. Anyone can now obtain a digital camera and editing equipment to create a film. People can even create a short film on their smart phone. More women have been crossing over from being in front of the camera to behind. People are trying to create stronger female images in film and not just a trip, fall and die girl. I see more journalists, such as you, covering women in horror. There is more awareness about women behind the camera and not just in the horror genre. It’s good to see more women picking up a camera and creating their own content. I think you’ll be seeing more cross over women leading film productions.
6. What are the next couple projects you are working on?
I currently have a couple short films in the film festival circuit: Seeking Valentina is a psychological thriller written and directed by Armin Nasseri. It has been showcased at several festivals and won several awards. I was a supervising producer, assistant director and production manager. Dinner with the Dwyers is a horror / comedy film written by Trevor Wright and directed by Edward Payson. I was a co-producer. It just started its rounds in the film festival circuit.
I have a couple feature films scheduled to be released this year: Polaris (to be re-titled) will be released in the summer of this year. It’s a psychological thriller with a few indie horror names attached. Patrick O’Bell wrote and directed it. I was a producer on the film along with Andy Gates. Doll Murder Spree is a campy grindhouse horror film written and directed by Reyna Young. It is currently in post-production awaiting release this year. I was an executive producer and first assistant director on the film.
I also acted in Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen, written and directed by Michael Worth. It’s a mockumentary about Lance that touches on ageism. I’m excited about that film because I got to improv with Tim Thomerson. It should be released this year. I plan on finally finishing a short story and poetry book that I’ve been working on for a few years.
Other than that, I’m just trying to focus on my health. I kind of recently had my own horror story where, I was diagnosed with a small unruptured cerebral aneurysm. I spent October 2016 to early January 2017 wondering if my brain would explode if I made the wrong move or if I’d need brain surgery. Luckily, it’s really small so I don’t need surgery anytime soon and my brain shouldn’t explode. My neurosurgeon is keeping an eye on it to see if it grows.
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*Bio Courtesy of Maureen Whelen