All this month, 20th Digital Studio is premiering a wild selection of genre-bending short films for Halloween 2020. Ranging from horror comedy to psychological thrillers and everything in between, these films were created by a diverse group of 30 exciting new filmmakers from different countries, identities, and backgrounds. 20th Digital Studio’s continuing mission is to guide and finance the growth of these artists’ careers beyond this program, and in this weekly series, we’re introduced to the artists behind these scaretacular shorts. Today we get to know Ryan Jennifer Jones, whose film OLD MAID is now screening across digital and broadcast platforms, via Freeform, FX, and Hulu’s Huluween platform hub and YouTube channel.
What draws you to the horror genre?
What really excites me about the horror genre – and what I would argue all great horror movies share – is a strong sense of allegory. Through our monsters, we get to tease out our cultural fears in a way that’s fresh and dynamic. Invasion of the Body Snatchers isn’t just a terrifying premise – it also dares to ask: Can we ever really trust the people around us? For me, it’s these questions that deliver the long-term chills.
Who or what are your biggest influences as a filmmaker?
I’m inspired by filmmakers with a strong sense of realism, and I tend to gravitate toward stories involving some element of taboo. Lynne Ramsay, Claire Denis, and Paul Verhoeven are all heroes of mine. I’m sort of genre agnostic, but for my money, a good story – be it a comedy, a drama, a slasher – lands in your guts before it lands in your brain.
What do you hope viewers take away from your film?
I hope they think twice about playing “Old Maid” the next time they’re at grandma’s house.
Stay tuned for more mini interviews with Bite Size Halloween filmmakers every week this month!