Q&A with Kristine Gerolaga, Director of “Concealer”

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

On a spiritual/personal level, I relate to Sadako from Ringu (1998) because deep down (in the well) she’s just a creative person desperate to express herself and share her art. So much so that she resorts to extreme measures to get people to watch and share her experimental short film by threatening to kill people who’ve seen it unless they share it with someone else within seven days. It’s really hard to get people to watch short films, especially experimental ones, so I respect her approach. I can’t be the only filmmaker with this answer! Also, we’re both Asian women with long, dark hair.

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?

A few years ago, I wrote an over the top satirical sketch calling out the absurdities of the pro-life movement that some people thought was a bad idea due to its highly controversial subject matter (Understandably! I still want to make it, though)! It’s so important to have a trusted group of people you can bounce ideas off of who really understand the stories you’re trying to tell and who you are as a filmmaker. Steven Krimmel, my long time collaborator (who plays Manny in Concealer, is the editor as well, and is an excellent filmmaker in his own right) is someone I love talking through my ideas with. Our ultimate goal is always  to make the best film possible, so it helps to be open to exploring every piece of feedback you get until you find the notes that really excite you, inspire you, and help you push your story in the right direction.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

I do! As scary (no pun intended) as Twitter can be, the horror filmmaking community there has always been nothing but supportive.

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

I start with real life itself because I’m really interested in stories that explore how absurd mankind and society can be. Also, some real life stories are way more stranger than fiction and therefore, a lot of fun to bring to life on screen. For Concealer, I read so many first hand accounts and horror-stories about being in MLMs and that helped with world building.  And of course, I look to other filmmakers and films that I love for inspiration.

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

With the knowledge I now have about how predatory MLMs/pyramid schemes are, I wouldn’t even call my friend back. There would be no film! It would just end after her voicemail.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Only because it means I would be protected from them since we’re friends: Sadako (an excellent filmmaker and film marketer), Jaws (sharks are cute), Madeline or Meryl Streep’s character from Death Becomes Her (hilarious), Chucky (in case I need someone small and agile. Also, he reminds me of my dog), The Xenomorph (also reminds me of my dog), and The Birds (fun gang), and Jack Torrance and Annie Wilkes can be my evil parental figures.

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

Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. And leaning toward Pre Apocalypse right now!

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

For Concealer, we had to create a cosmetics multilevel marketing brand. And even though today these kinds of companies are more aware of what might look asethetically pleasing on social media, I still wanted to make the brand as tacky as possible to reflect how many people feel about MLMs. As for the set, we were fortunate enough to film in our friend’s incredible Los Angeles home. Her home provided so much character and we provided all the hoarded MLM trash.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

People and all the terrible things we do to oursevles and each other, being alone at home, walking back from the bathroom in the middle of the night, real life ghost stories, going anywhere alone as a woman of color, axes, cockroaches, drowning…The list goes on and on! YES, my fears absolutely inspire my storytelling!

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

There are so many great horror films that it’s really hard for me to pick just one. A usual go-to would be J.A. Bayona’s El Orfanato (2007), but right now, one that really affected me and has stayed with me since I watched it is Michael O’Shea’s The Transfiguration (2016).