“We are proving that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a good film — the studios should really pay attention to that motto.” -Denise Gossett

DarkMedia Interviews Denise Gossett:

Over a decade ago, actress Denise Gossett made a decision that changed the face of the independent horror industry forever.  What began with the discovery that there were no film festivals for independently produced horror films ended with the Los Angeles based Shriekfest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition, which only grows in popularity and success every year.  Widely recognized as one of the most influential women in horror, Denise took time out of her busy schedule to talk with DarkMedia about this year’s upcoming festivities and how, between the festival, her acting career, and Shriekfest, she’s able to do it all.

How many judges do you have this year? We hear most, if not all, of them keep their identities under wraps. Does that surprise you, or is it something you’ve encouraged?

We have over 40! Some like to remain anonymous, but most are listed on our site. They come from all aspects of the industry, so, it’s a really nice mix.

Other than film submissions, what else does Shriekfest accept for entries?

Screenplays, webisodes, original songs, and under 18 films/screenplays.

Shriekfest was part of the grass roots movement for the indie horror genre. Now, in it’s 11th year, what do you think of the evolution of indie films and their success?

I think indie films have become even more popular through the years and it’s very exciting! We are proving that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a good film — the studios should really pay attention to that motto.

Which areas of indie filmmaking would you like to see progress further?

The funding.  I wish it were easier for these talented filmmakers to get their funding; it seems to be the bane of all indie filmmakers.

With all the trials that go with being the Director of Shriekfest, what has been, hands down, the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

All of the work! It really is a full year, a full time job, and trying to balance that with my acting career and my family is very hard. I have overcome it by surrounding myself with awesome help, great judges, wonderful interns/volunteers, etc. I am grateful to them all.

Can you give us the name of a mainstream horror film you’ve seen recently and what you thought of it?

Well, first let me say I don’t get to the movies very often anymore for several reasons.  I have a 3 year old and I am constantly watching Shriekfest movies, so there isn’t any time to get to the theatre. I will say that when I do get out, they really can be very disappointing. There are too many remakes being made and not enough original ideas. Ok, maybe everything has been done in some way, but let’s try to make some new stories and leave the original ones alone.

You’re an excellent actress with a wide variety of different roles over the years. With everything that you do for the festival, do you find it hard to juggle your acting career as well?

Thank you very much. Very sweet of you. Yes, it is extremely hard.

Is there a role, in any movie, from any genre that you would have wanted to play? Why?

Well, as an actor I want to do all kinds of roles.  I really want to play a detective hunting down a serial killer, a real thinking movie, like Se7en.

Shriekfest has gatherings throughout the year, in the spirit of a meet-and-greet. Can you tell us a little more about what goes into that?

We have been doing these networking events for over 3 years now. They are a lot of fun, everyone is so down to earth. People get jobs from these; it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.

Recently there was an announcement that trophy sponsors are being welcomed this year. How does someone become a sponsor, and is this something you plan on doing from this point forward?

Oh yes, we’ve been getting trophy sponsors for years now, but last year we let the sponsors present the award and it was great fun! Email us if you are interested, there may be a few categories open.

What’s the best way for fans to support Shriekfest, and the indie film industry in general? Where can we find you on the web?

Come out to the networkings, come to the festival.  Watch the films, talk with the filmmakers, support them, follow their careers. You may just find the next big filmmaker and you’ll have helped boost his/her career. Spread the word about the fest and the films! Our website is Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a delight!


Denise Gossett can be found on DarkMediaCity, Facebook and Twitter (@DeniseGossett and @Shriekfest).  For more information about Shriekfest, and this year’s upcoming festivities, please visit their official website.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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  1. The Week in Writing: 29th August–4th September, 2011 » markaeology - September 5, 2011

    […] DarkMedia Interviews Denise Gossett: An interview with the driving force behind the Shriekfest Film Festival & Screenplay Competition. […]

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