Continuing on with our coverage of Women In Horror Month, Shannon spoke with Chattanooga Film Festival programmer, Dre Boulet about her passion for film festivals, her love of cinema, and her decision to create her own film festival.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Dre, thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off can you tell us a little bit about how you got into programming film festivals?
Dre Boulet: The first film festival I ever attended seduced me instantly. I had arrived and participated in an event that changed everything for me. I wanted to be a part of something larger. Making films was what I wanted to do since my childhood but when I became part of the film festivals circuit, it really made itself clear to me that this is what I was meant to do. I knew I had to get into festivals at a badge level, so I became a film journalist and attended festivals as press, and then as a filmmaker and then as a programmer. I attended the Fantasia Film Festival for a consistent seven years and met some pretty incredible people who eventually became collaborators, mentors, and most importantly I had made a few forever friends. Unfortunately, not all film festivals have that “Summer Camp” like feeling, so I invested time in the ones I had already been attending to enforce those lovely relationships I had made while networking. In time, those friends gave me opportunities and asked for my advice on films they were considering for their own festivals. I did this for a year or two, programmed for a small genre fest, attended a few staple genre festivals, which then led me to the Chattanooga Film Festival. I take programming very seriously because I realize the impact we can make within the genre film and indie film community. Programmers get to see ALL of the content being made, we get an in-depth view to the artist’s visions and values. We then have the privilege to curate it and then give it to the public to ultimately educate, entertain and shine a light on the auteurs who are making their mark on the world, on any and all scales, so that they may find a platform and be heard. It’s very exciting stuff!
Nightmarish Conjurings: You’ve spoken on many occasions about your love for films/filmmaking. Where does that connection to films come from?
DB: My love for filmmaking comes from storytelling and being entranced by films as a child. To this day there is nothing I have ever experienced that has influenced me more on who I want to be as a person in this world more than Cinema. It is a magical way to capture time and then travel through it. The way it transports me through different emotions, through image, sound and light, in such a short amount of time, has me spellbound. I will never forget some of those screenings. Sitting in a dim room watching and hearing a film you had never seen before with your peers who respect the screening so no one is talking or texting.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Well, it would seem all that hard work has paid off as you are about to kick off your own film festival! Can you tell us a little bit about it and what the focus will be?
DB: It’s called Torque Fest, a touring action film festival. You read right. I really love action films from all over the world and grew up with them. I think the people involved in making action films, such as stunt teams, are not represented enough so I decided on an action festival so I could collaborate with them and give them another platform and supportive community. I say touring festival because Torque Fest will be in a new city each tour! I would like to have at least two tours a year and spread the Torque love! Stay tuned! We plan on having the very first Torque fest this summer!
Nightmarish Conjurings: You are also a writer, producer, actress and filmmaking. What is it about the filmmaking process that drew you in?
DB: Ah filmmaking. A place and process where I can escape but also create. I love building worlds where I can comfortably sit and play inside of. I was always molding stories and fantasies in my mind as a kid and a weird teen. I became curious in the people who had made these films and started noticing their styles and consistent collaborators. I had to find out how they did it. So I went to film school and fell in love with cinema all over again because I got a vicious education in the history of cinema and saw some really important shit made by really important artists, and learned about all the classics from each part of the world. I realized that the fundamentals of filmmaking were basically the same all over the world but otherwise it was a very personal way of expressing oneself. In my first year of film school I said to myself “fuck yeah, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”. It’s cheesy but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else; other than world-changing philanthropic work, duh, or space cowboy.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What advice would you give other females interested in wanting to become a festival programmer or filmmaker? What changes would you like to see within the industry to lead to more opportunities for women?
DB: My advice is this: watch as many films as you can from the beginning of film history. Build your passion. Read scripts, books and interviews about film. Take what you want out of it and do not think one method is better than the other. Attend festivals. Be professional and respectful but also demand it back. Believe in yourself. Dream big no matter what. Be humble and kind. Be obsessed. Read poetry and see art. Listen to music from films and dive into the beautiful world of composers. Travel and educate yourself on other cultures. Take it seriously but not too seriously. Be a leader but also know that feedback is a gift. Be fierce and loyal. Build your team and film community with people who you believe in and trust. Support the ones who you believe in. Work harder than you’ve ever worked before. You’ll need a day job or four and that’s normal. Be okay with some people not understanding your art or not liking it. Fail often. Fail with grace. Learn as much as you can. Know that it’s okay if you don’t know the answer. Be brave and bold. Don’t be an asshole. Take no shit, respectively. Make art. Stay stimulated.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but certainly not least, what does being a woman in horror mean to you?
DB: I’m so proud to be a woman in horror. It means I get to be part of something larger. Something more important. I’m very grateful.
To stay up to date with Dre, follow her on social media on Instagram and Twitter @dreboulet.