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Q&A with Lisa J Dooley, Director of “The Lonely Host”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

Ripley, from Alien. Aside from liking to think I’m a badass like Ripley, I also have a very similar relationship with following the rules. I would have never broken protocol and allowed that thing onto the ship, but once it was there I too would’ve thrown the rulebook out the window and burned the place to the ground! Screw you, MOTHER!

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

This is an amazing question. I try not to judge ideas as good or bad, just hits and misses. I don’t really dwell on the ideas that don’t pan out, but I do remember a doozy of a miss having something to do with Moonstones and kids becoming pod people. It never made it to a full draft and has been long since deleted, never to be seen again. The misses you can feel early on; they never feel right or come together in a satisfying way. Luckily that makes it easier to shrug them off and move on! To get past them, I shoot the shit with friends throwing out crazy idea after crazy idea till something gets me excited and I give that a chance to become something!

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Absolutely! Over the years of making horror shorts I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a lot of really amazing people in this community. I always tell people horror films have the best fans! I’ve also been lucky enough to do multiple World Tours with the amazing women at Etheria Film Night which has been a great way to build my network of badass women in horror!

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

The rabbit hole of the internet is a weird, amazing place. I see my film in my head long before I even start researching, but what is important to me is allowing myself to be surprised. While researching I pull art, photography, music, film stills, interior designs, etc. But if I was being honest, I would have to say eBay and craigslist are where I find most of my inspiration. Finding a specific item (book, dresser, statue, couch, etc.) that captures the visual tenor of the film is really what makes my imagination run wild.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

Ha, I kinda do every day! We shot ‘The Lonely Host’ in my condo. Though I will say, on a normal day it looks very different (my home is not normally decorated like, in the words of one hilarious review, “a Laura Ashley-filled abomination”). In all seriousness, I haven’t checked in to a BnB since making this film without asking myself what I would do in that situation. I think I probably would make a similar choice as Silvia and hope for a better outcome!

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Hannibal Lecter (Brains), Xenomorph (Brawn), Pennywise (Supernatural) Samara Morgan (Creep Factor)

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre-Apocalypse?

Freddy, Stephen King, Practical, Pre-Apocalypse

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

I have always loved to put together the props. Finding the right mix of reality and specificity is super important to me. To bring a character to life they have to own items that are a little extra, something that tells us who they are. For me with ‘The Lonely Host’ it was all about finding the perfect mug for Rebecca. Once I found that horrendous, impossible-to-drink-out-of Rainbow mug everything else that we purchased or built branched out from there. To make a prop believable you have to make it belong to the character, an extension of themselves.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

Sharks, and hell no!!! I have a phobia of sharks so much so that the only parts of Jaws I’ve seen are the scenes not in the water! You won’t see me making a shark film anytime soon.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’

Today I would say Hereditary. I had nightmares for weeks so hats (or…heads?) off to you Ari Aster! But ask me some other day and it’d probably be different depending on my mood!