Erin Coates is an Australian visual artist and creative producer working across film, sculptural installation and drawing. In her screen-based work she draws from the visual language of body horror, science fiction and the abject. The female protagonists are cast as the lone-survivor or hybridised inhabitant of a post-human world. Her work draws on her background as a rock climber and free-diver, and her particular interests in female physicality and athleticism. Coates’ work has screened in over 40 international film festivals as well as major exhibitions, including Videobrasil in São Paulo, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and at the Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Jim from 28 Days Later – he is the shellshcocked bike courrier who wakes up from a coma to find the world in full-blown zombie apocaylpse. The past year has been so bizarrely calamitous that I feel sometimes like I haven’t really woken up.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I’m slowing finding my people, through conversations with other women horror directors, reading books like Alison Peirse’s excellent ‘Women Make Horror’, getting feedback on our films from peers I admire, building a team towards new projects. But it’s also difficult and at times I feel very isolated here in Perth, especially during COVID with a complete international travel ban for Australians. Our film Dark Water showed in over 20 international film festivals and we weren’t able to travel to attend a single one. Missing these opportunities has meant not being able to connect with the creators I most want to align myself with – other indepent film makers and particularly women horror directors.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration
Books, art, scripts, science journals, films and the news (the wackiest inspiration often comes from news and current affair stories). Also sometimes childhood memories and dreams.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
we would try to rewrite the end fast – they don’t usually end well for the characters!
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
the alien from Under the Skin, the doppleganger sex monster in Possession (1981 version) and Mister Babadook.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
neither, H.P Lovecraft, Practical, Post Apocalypse
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
We often make creatures out of clay and then cast them in silicon. In past works, we have drawn inspiration from the ocean, mythical creatures, folk narratives and monsters. We like to inject a sense of realism into the creation of our pieces but also look for ways to include our own imaginings and designs. Often this can result in exaggerating or distorting “real” features, mixing up species (hybridising flora/fauna) and pushing colour and form beyond the known.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
Reading about ecological destruction and species extinction scares the hell out of me. Though it is oblique, there is often a strong eco-horror thread my work, so I guess it filters through.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
The Descent. When I first watched it I thought it was a factual-style caving misadventure film with a kickass all-female cast. When the albino creatures suddenly appeared in the monitor of the night-vision camera I was completely unprepared and almost hyperventilated.