REEL Lady: Ashley Fester

Canadian Filmmaker, Ashley Fester, formed her own independent production company, Breed Productions to produce, Celluloid Horror and Reel 33 Releasing to distribute it.

Celluloid portrays “horror critic/enthusiast and programmer Kier-La Janisse; the founder of CineMuerte, Canada’s first and only International Horror Film Festival.

“An absolute must see for all horror film aficionados.” (CBS)

“… teasing glimpses of obscurities from around the globe.” (VARIETY)

“Celluloid Horror is riddled with enough deliriously satisfying fan-boy moments to leave horror fanatics and festival fans salivating.” (RUE MORGUE)

READ BELOW as Ashley talks about her film project, being a woman in the Horror Genre and Kier La-Janisse!
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RL: TELL US HOW THE PROJECT, CELLULOID HORROR, CAME ABOUT FOR YOU?

AF: It’s quite funny actually, I was asked to create a promotional video for CineMuerte (Cinema of the Dead) Canada’s first International Horror Film Festival, because Kier-La the producer of the fest was having a challenge locking down sponsorship and a larger theatre to host the event.

The people of Vancouver were too scared, due to the unfamiliarity of the horror genre and the vastness it offers through its many sub-genres — especially off shore in Europe & Asia. People literally envisioned her audience members ripping the seats right out of the cement floors!

In fact, a few of these titles were banned in Canada, namely British Columbia, which is known for its quiet coastal and mountain retreat lifestyle. There within creating the need to discuss censorship, another topic covered in the Doc.

Once I started filming and sharing the work with my colleagues they found themselves falling in love with Kier – La, her friends and festival volunteers and wanted to see more. They wanted to know: Will she succeed? What are these rare titles she’s programming from overseas? and Who are these directors and cult actors she speaks of?

RL: NOT TOO MANY WOMEN ARE IN THE HORROR GENRE OF FILMMAKING, WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS FILM?

AF: My first camera operating job was on a film entitled, In the Belly of the Beast by director Alex Chisholm, out of Montréal. There I met many filmmakers through FantAsia, Canada’s largest Asian/Fantasy/Horror festival. So when I met Kier-La I had already befriended some of the same filmmakers she wanted to bring in & feature at CineMuerte. This coupled with Kier-La’s drive, unique ability of fearing nothing and never taking no for an answer was a dream come true… I guess one could say it was love at first sight!

RL: WHO IS KIER – LA JANISSE?

AF: Kier-La (pronounced Kayla) grew-up in Windsor, Ontario, the daughter of two horror fan parents, who by fifteen was sent to a series of foster homes, lock-ups and treatment centers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At seventeen she was awarded independent living and set out on her own.
Kier-La dropped out of high school four times before finally graduating with the Governor General’s medal for academic achievement.
While in university she published Cannibal Culture Magazine later renamed CineMuerte Magazine to coincide with CineMuerte. Kier-La produced and programmed the fest single-handedly for seven years without the help of government funding or corporate sponsorship.
After CineMuerte IV Kier-La moved to Austin Texas where she worked her way to head programmer of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Simultaneously, she founded BIG SMASH! Music-on-Film Festival and Bloodshots 48hr Horror Filmmaking Challenge. She has written for Filmmaker and Fangoria magazine and is the author of A VIOLENT PROFESSIONAL: THE FILMS OF LUCIANO ROSSI, published by FAB Press in 2007.

RL: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THIS FILM?

AF: My education was in the 4 year film studies program at Concordia University in Montréal – so it came naturally for me to structure the documentary in the same way. It’s like attending your favorite university course with film clips that will knock your socks off! We learn what these films mean to her, what she hopes the audience will take away with them and works to broaden our definition of the genre.

I love the live element of the doc as well. I recorded the festival happenings in its third year, the year that determines the success or collapse of a business. People faint, demand their money back, and a film even shows up in the wrong language – incurring a live translation of the entire film by Euro Cult star Udo Kier! Priceless.

RL: WHAT DIFFICULTIES DID YOU RUN INTO MAKING CELLULOID HORROR?

AF: Firstly, the main challenge was getting clearances for over 30+ film clips from over 9 counties, of which all had different definitions of “fair use”.

Secondly — music. No one could give me straight answer to the laws within the documentary medium, my music supervisor advised cutting out scenes with music playing in the back ground even if it was only 20 seconds and in a store which defined a part of the subject’s flavor. One day I will release a director’s cut!

The best part is the most challenging became the most rewarding – I have already used this knowledge to help other productions in town.

RL: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT?

AF: The project took 7 years to get to the DVD release stage. About 1 year of filming, 2 years of editing (4 editors) 3+ years of clearances and 1 year for DVD design and creation. All partly due to me paying for the project myself. I would take jobs as a Production Coordinator and invest the money for different stages of post production; color correction, transfers from PAL, sound design, entering festivals, and building the special features section for the DVD – who knew how laborious that would be!

RL: WHAT’S THE STATUS OF IT NOW?

AF: It had a great run through the North American festival circuit, gathered generous reviews and is now ready for purchase on DVD on my website: http://www.breedproductions.com. I am seeking further distribution and would like to see it play in Asia and Europe – both places love seeing what we think of their films. No doubt they’ll get a kick out of it.

RL: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU NEXT?

AF: My other documentary subject, Eric Solomon, a musician who seeks representation with a major label, has been keeping me employed with directing live music videos – which I enjoy greatly.

Having said that, this year is a year of completion – starting with “Soulmate” a Fantasy/Horror I directed last year that must enter post production.

RL: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FROM WOMEN IN THE FILM & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

AF: I’d like to see women with strong self-worth, fearlessly jumping into projects even if they do not know how or what they are doing. Men do it all the time. That is precisely how they get & stay in the game.

RL: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HORROR FILM?

AF: The Shinning. A seamless, masterpiece. Ahhhhhh Kubrick – what a genius!

To find out more about Filmmaker Ashley Fester and Celluloid Horror, CLICK HERE

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A Networking Community & Organization for Women in Film & Entertainment! View all posts by REEL Ladies

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