Today the Gore Splattered Corner welcomes a project very close to my dark little heart, The Women in Horror Calendar, created by Melanie Light and featuring some of the most fabulous female talent based in and around the UK. This has been set up to raise funds for two amazing charities The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and Rape Crisis. For all of us in the UK the Sophie Lancaster Foundation has been a shining beacon challenging perceptions of ‘difference’ and promoting acceptance of goth and alternative lifestyles and dress. The Foundation was set up in the wake of the tragic and senseless death of 21-year-old Sophie Lancaster in August 2007 at the hands of disgusting thugs who attacked Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltby because of the way they dressed. As Sophie clung to the unconscious body of her boyfriend, the attackers continued to kick her until both she and Robert were in comas. Robert survived, but very sadly Sophie did not. It was a case that struck a chord personally, as I am sure it did for many of us who have experienced bullying for being ‘alternative’, and I found it both shocking and upsetting and still do to this very day. This very moving animated short below gives an account of what happened on that fateful night and is worth checking out.
This is why I am very pleased to promote the Women in Horror Calendar at the Gore Splattered Corner. Rape Crisis as well are a very worthwhile cause, a UK based charity which work tirelessly to promote awareness around the issue of sexual violence and provide support for victims and their families. Not to mention Women in Horror, what is not to like about that? We have some insanely talented ladies based in the UK and this is certainly something to celebrate! Not to mention it features some stunning imagery by photographer Tina Korhonen (check out the link below for some of her other work). The brainchild of Melanie Light, and here is what she says about her reasons for creating this brilliant project…,
Melanie: “ Around Christmas time last year I decided that I needed to give something back and work on a project which covered many of my interests. The Calendar idea popped in my head and the strength is to showcase strong creative women in various roles all with a macabre subject matter. Why I don’t know entirely to be honest but, It has been interesting tracking down whom I wanted, I wanted to show women who have a solid and creative background. Why a calendar a friend asked me and not a book- I like to be organized ! I also felt it’s better to start small. It’s not a ‘pin up ‘ calendar it is a showcase of talent crediting the studio to make-up artists and photographers, jewellery makers and fashion designers. There is some huge talent out there and I want people to know about it. “
After spending some time looking into which charity to support and send profits to, ‘Rape Crisis’ stood out amongst all of them. As well as support for women they also cover abused children and the trafficking of women. Having some close friends, male and female, that have been abused and raped being able to donate to keep up the support for victims of such horrible circumstances, it is important to nurture these people as unfortunately the prevention of rape and abuse is the hardest to control.
The SOPHIE charity, hits hard with Melanie, having been bullied herself at school for being ‘goth’ she feels that even today with the popularity of tattoos and alternative culture that it is very much a ‘ok’d’ form of abuse. Being able to add to the charity to bring awareness to the hate crimes of such people and addressing the issues today is an extreme importance.
From an early age Melanie was drawn to a strange interest in odd things, having collected roadkills with her siblings and burying them in the neighbours garden creating their own ‘Pet Cemetery’ drawing deformed medusa like demonic women for her GCSE art projects she then attended Art School in Brighton where her work moved towards a more darker influence with a keen interest in Serial Killers and the dark arts and then movie making. After being at one of the last proper UK based Horror conventions ‘Chillerfest’ in 2003 Melanie discovered her calling card to get herself involved in film making. She has been Production designing and Art Directing various Horror films, music promos and short films since 2006. In 2010 she decided to take on the challenge of directing her own short horror film ‘Switch’, a turn around of the usual male killer and feeding her huge interest in the female serial killer, a subject matter of which she studies profusely. ‘Switch’ was a part of the Film4 Frightfest, the BEV festival’s special on ‘Bloody Women’ at the ICA, and won best short film at the Queen of Horror festival in 2012. She continues to work on films of a very dark subject matter and recently Art Directed a Horror Sci-Fi ‘Scintilla’
“ People don’t realize how much work goes into being a part of the design department in a film. Often the art department is the biggest team and the vision, especially for a horror film has to be so strong. Being another layer to create the feel and emotion of the scene which strengthens the viewers psychosis. Without a set what do you have to shoot , light and act in? “
I managed to catch up with Melanie who is very busy at the moment running between film locations, so we had a brief chat and she was able to provide me with some press packs as well.
Could you tell me a little bit about the concept behind the images, for example was there an overall theme, or did you go for shots that reflect the personality of the models?
Melanie: For this I sent images of the studio to all the girls and then also links to Tina our photographers works and asked the girls to think about what they’d like, Tina then ran with it on the day as she is so great. We all chipped in and some shots were an experiment which ended up better than the original idea.
How was the experience, and has it inspired you to do more toward promoting women in and around the horror industry?
It was a great experience and such an inspiration to spend a weekend with such talented women. I was Art Directing a feature film at the time and was a little tired and over worked. I would have liked to have been more focused but it all worked out brilliantly. Everyone was super happy with the results as am I. I’m really pleased with the results as it has turned into exactly what I wanted it too. A calendar jammed packed with talent and with great images promoting different genres of creatives within the horror society. To be for a lot of us it is a way of life not just watching movies, its the clothes we wear, music we listen too and books we read.
So who is in this wonderful calendar I hear you ask? Well here is some of the press kit which explains a little bit more…
The idea and concept for the calendar was something that just popped in my head one day. It was born out of frustrations I had with some other ‘Women in Horror’ collections that just centred around film makers and then grasped at straws with talent within the circle. Horror isn’t just about films it’s a form of lifestyle. From what we wear, listen to, read, watch and take a part of. The calendar was an idea to show off talents, using my Art Directors background to create something visually creative with then links to everyone’s works.
Ufumoa Urie the creator of The Little Apple dolls is an old friend I met at a Horror convention years ago. Her creepy but cute dolls were a cult hit and she’s recently back with a vengeance with new dolls, something like this is a great way to get her work out there to a larger audience, she’s so super talented and I want the world to know about it. She was one of the first thoughts for the calendar, as was Emily Booth, she presents the Horror Channel, knows her horror films and has been in various B-movie horror films, she’s been a pioneer for years bringing horror films to our TV’s.
Wanting a diversity in creative arts for the calendar was a challenge. As well as the creative side I needed to include women that were giving something back to the horror society. For example : Nia Edwards- Behi a Co- Director of the Abertoir Horror film festival in Wales.
I spent a few months researching, trailing the internet for all different types of women with a creative form of art in the macabre . It was quite hard and fun looking into it. I emailed the poetry society and various other groups in arts. The Last Tuesday Society lead me to Tessa Farmer and I was overwhelmed by her reaction to wanting to be a part of the calendar and loved her art work too!
Frankie Lynn owns and runs her own Emporium of horror treats and customises shoes with a brilliant horror twist. She sings in a band and runs her own performance and dance school. She also makes the cutest skull sugar cubes in witchy jars.
I saw Marisa Carnesky perform her Jewess Tattooist piece at my old University in Brighton over 10 years ago and her work influenced my own macabre background so much. I went on her Ghost Train when it was in Shorditch and never forgot how great a live action performance piece it was. I’m a huge fan of her work and to have her involved was such an honour for me.
Barbie Wilde I found through following her on twitter. She’s renowed as the female Cenobite from Hellraiser 2 but also writes. Her book ‘The Venus Complex’ is super twisted and sexy in a deranged serial killer way. Barbie has been a great support with the calendar.
The full house of the Calendar is: Marisa Carnesky- Artist performer and creator of the Ghost Train now permanently in Blackpool. Tessa Farmer- Fine Artist. Pollyanna McIntosh- Actress. Emily Booth- Horror Channel Presenter and Actress. Barbie Wilde-Writer and Actress. Grog -Singer and Bassist from Die so Fluid, Frankie Lynn-Performer, shoe maker, Emporium owner. Ufuoma Urie- Artist and Doll maker. Nia Edwards Behi- Horror Film Festival organizer. Prano-Bailey Bond- Director.Not So Lovely Girls-Film Makers and myself Melanie Light- Art Director and Film Maker.
It was important to have a mixture of established and not so established creatives in the calendar so to give a platform of enlightenment to the buyers. It’s certainly been a challenge. I should also add how fantastic our photographer is Tina Korhonen who added the perfect rock and roll aspect to the shoot and also introduced me to the Murder Mile Studio in East London.
I’ve had some great support for the calendar, the reactions from the women when I first asked them was just what I wanted as I was a little nervous at first. Finding a way to create and give something back in an artistic form for charity has been really important for me. It’s has been achieved!
When I first created the twitter and Facebook page I had someone go hard at me saying how disgusted they were that I was shooting a calendar and then being hypocritical with my intentions of giving profits to Rape Crisis. It blew my mind and then the support I had from people on the Facebook page supporting the calendar was over-whelming. I was insulted that a person could think such a thing and not see how tasteful the calendar is as its very artistic and fun. Not sleazy in anyway. I’d love to post that person a calendar.
I’m thinking of doing one with Men in Horror next year, that will be a challenge as there are so many guys out there involved in the macabre in many different ways. Which is precisely my point of finding those horror women in the UK, we need more, where are you?
Nia Edwards – Behi quote: “I’m really proud to be able to take part in the Women in Horror calendar. There’s such a range of us featured in the calender that a really all diverse interpretation and manifestation of ‘horror’ is presented! It’s an honour to appear alongside such talented women, all while raising money for some truly worthy causes.”
So what are you waiting for? Great project, lovely ladies, fantastic cause! Order your copy today, the Calendar is also featured in UK Bizarre Magazine so grab a copy if you want to read more!