Maude Michaud is the director of the feature film DYS-; here is a link to her website:
Q: What made you interested in film making?
A: I’ve always been a huge cinephile, thanks to my grandma who would watch all the great American classics whenever she would babysit me. As a kid, I was also an avid reader and I started taking drama classes when I was 9. One day, when reading a magazine about cinema, I realized that filmmaking would be a way for me to merge my passion for film, theatre and storytelling, so I started experimenting with my dad’s camcorder and read everything I could get my hands on that was about the filmmaking process.
Q: What is DYS- about?
A: Eva, a former model, is fighting off a severe depression after she suffered a miscarriage while her husband Sam, a photographer, is unsuccessfully trying to mend their marriage. A sudden viral pandemic forces the estranged couple to quarantine themselves in their condo, which widens the divide between them. When James, Sam’s best friend, comes to visit and displays symptoms of the infection, the tension escalates for Eva and Sam as they both start dealing with their fear of the viral threat in very different ways. Sam descends into paranoia and madness, while Eva confronts the dark demons of her past. It doesn’t take long before they both realize that, despite the chaos outside their apartment, the biggest threat resides inside their apartment and within themselves.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: When I decided to write my first feature film, I was aware that I would have to work within certain budgetary limitations, so I chose to write a story with minimal locations and no more than 2 or 3 main characters. I just had to find the right story that would fit these criteria! At some point, I was talking to a friend about the oversaturation of everything zombie-themed and of how fed up I was about this specific subgenre of horror. As a joke, I said: “I should make a zombie film without any zombie!” The idea stuck with me and three weeks later, I had a first draft.
Q: How did you go about getting it into the festival circuit?
A: I’ve had my short films play on the festival circuit since I was 16, so I have built a pretty extensive list of festivals over the years. I usually sit down and plan the festival strategy – where do I want the film to premiere, which festival do I need to reserve a premiere status for, what are the submission deadlines, what’s my budget, etc. – and then send it out to those festivals. Usually, once it starts playing, other festivals and events start asking for screeners because they heard of the film, so it just snowballs from there!
Q: What have you done to publicize your film?
A: Once again, since most of my short films have been reviewed by different websites and publications, I have an ever-growing list of potential reviewers. As soon as the project was ready, I reached out to them to tell them about the film. Then, I researched new websites and reviewers, got the word out by using social media, and printed flyers to promote festival screenings. Just like it happens for festivals, once the film starts playing and generates some buzz, things snowball quickly and promotion gets easier.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: I have 12 years of theatre training, which definitely helped me understand directing and scriptwriting. Because I started making films when I was still a teenager, I taught myself many of the technical aspects of filmmaking through trial and error. Then I went to film school and got my undergraduate degree in Communication and Film Production. I also have a minor and Project Management (which helps with production) and a master’s degree in Media Studies.
Q: Who are some of your filmmaking influences?
A: I grew up watching the films of Alfred Hitchcock, so he’s still my biggest inspiration to this day. Later on, I discovered the work of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, which helped define the type of films I was interested in making.
Q: How do horror films directed by women tend to differ from those directed by men?
A: It depends; some films have strong feminist messages while, for other films, you could never guess they were directed by women. I don’t like making generalizations, but that being said, I did notice body horror seems to be a recurring theme in films made by women. I also noticed many of these films tend to be more psychologically brutal (as opposed to physically brutal) and have a more serious approach to the genre (as opposed to horror with a comedic twist). The horror genre is a wonderful medium to tell women’s stories and I feel that the way women filmmakers appropriate certain elements of the genre only helps it evolve and develop its potential for creative storytelling.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?
A: My day job is to coordinate special events and projects for an organization that produces audio-visual content. Even if I don’t directly work in production, I’m still fortunate to work ‘in the business’ and in a creative workplace. Most of my colleagues, like me, live a double life and are musicians, visual artists, writers, etc… which makes for really stimulating lunch time conversations! Being surrounded by so many driven artistic people keeps the creative juices flowing and keeps me motivated to work on my own projects when I get home.
Q: What would be more horrifying getting a horrible disease or having to live in isolation with your ex?
A: I’m lucky that I still get along with most of my exes and none of those relationships ended horribly. So, I definitely think getting a horrible disease would be way more horrifying than having to live in isolation with an ex. I’m a total wuss when it comes to being sick!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)