Within the tendrils of independent film, amongst the lashing tentacles of talent that make all our horror indie fodder possible, gleams the beautiful talent of the equally beautiful ladies that lend the genre glamour and ravishing sex appeal.
Such delectable virtues are less commonly found among the rotund men who direct and produce most independent British horror films. But what we lack in charm, we make up for in sales and by purchasing adjustable rubber belts at George of Asda’s homeware division.
You might find me there in the supermarket aisle, crying into a plastic bag containing my rotisserie chicken, but you’re less likely to find indie genre goddess Dani Thompson.
Australian beauty Dani Thompson is a popular glamour model who’s blazed a trail through the British press, in cut-out pages that probably still adorn the inside walls of your uncle’s bike shed, as well as in lads’ magazines, Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, and Marie Claire.
From modelling, Dani pivoted towards a career in acting, where she soon erupted into an exciting new Scream Queen, starring in the likes of Axe to Grind and Rockband vs Vampires, as well as an intoxicating femme fatale with a wickedly alluring glare, in the films of Troma-inspired director Liam Regan, including My Bloody Banjo and Eating Miss Campbell.
Dani regularly attends the horror convention circuit, and with good reason, as her talents mesmerise fans from around the world, from Milton Keynes to Kirkcaldy!
Today, I’m thrilled to delve into the film industry’s secrets and successes with Dani Thompson through our sacred 10 questions. Her insights are as enlightening as they are entertaining. If you find yourself captivated by her charm and talent, don’t hesitate to follow Dani on Instagram, and please be sure to improve your horror movie by casting this wonderful lady.
Can you share your journey into the world of indie filmmaking, specifically within the British horror genre? What inspired you to pursue this path?
After training at drama school, I didn’t set out to just work specifically in horror, but I’d always loved the genre and just organically fell into it and as it turns out, found my niche.
Now that I’m established within the genre, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get to work with some really talented and creative people time and time again who have such a passion for the genre, and there’s a sort of family feel within the horror community.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the indie film industry, particularly in the horror genre? How did you overcome these obstacles?
Within independent filmmaking there are, of course, budget restraints, so filmmakers often have to think outside the box and be creative. Also, crew and actors often pitch in on set to cover various jobs. I’ve held a boom, attempted to work a clapper board, helped with makeup, and even catered on location for a week’s shoot.
Lawrie – it’s enormously refreshing to hear that someone working in independent film as an actor, can still appreciate the demands and challenges of independent film, and to assist a project beyond the confines of their discipline. A great point for all actors, and crew for that matter, to bear in mind. Always.
In the realm of indie filmmaking, some individuals focus on a single discipline while others juggle multiple roles such as writing, directing, acting, or producing. Could you describe your approach in this regard? How do you balance your responsibilities, and what unique challenges does your chosen path present?
I trained as an actor, and I’d say that’s certainly my main focus, but within my drama school, we also had writing modules and learned how to structure and format scripts. When I’m not working, I like to be creative and write if I have ideas that I think can be developed and basically create my own work, and then through this, I have ventured into producing and, more recently, directing.
I’ve been very supported by other independent horror filmmakers while venturing into other disciplines, so it’s definitely been a lot easier with their help and advice.
How has the landscape of the British horror genre evolved in recent years, and how has this impacted your work and approach?
I think there are a lot more people working in independent horror than ever before.
There are a lot of genre-specific festivals where a lot of the filmmakers descend and always go away feeling inspired to create more, and that goes for me as well.
Lawrie – Dani’s right there. The amount of times I see my filmmaker friends posting laurel leaves depicting town names I never knew existed! Amazing! There are more festivals now than there are films! Oh god… Oh Jesus Christ!
How do you navigate the financial constraints typical of independent filmmaking? What impact does this have on your creative process?
I was lucky enough to have a solo investor for the first feature film I wrote and produced. But with that, you can lose creative control. The second feature I produced was crowdfunded with a fraction of the budget of the first. Although I maybe couldn’t do as much with the budget, I think the shoot ran a lot more smoothly. People actually enjoyed themselves more on the production, so there are pros and cons of working with bigger budgets versus low/no budget, but of course, it’s a job, so it is nice when everyone can be properly paid.
I’d say I generally tend to write around locations I have access to or have in mind ways of creating effects when I’m scripting to make sure everything can be done within my budget, so that impacts the creative process a little.
Balancing creative freedom with commercial viability can be challenging. Have you faced any significant compromises in this regard?
I haven’t really thought too much about that with my productions; I create first and then worry about the details later.
Lawrie – Note for film producers, never write that in your shareholder report!
What advice would you offer to aspiring filmmakers looking to break into indie filmmaking, especially in the horror genre?
Watch lots of films, study, be willing to help out other filmmakers and gain valuable experience, go to festivals, and have a side hustle, as independent filmmaking won’t always make you rich.
Lawrie – I’ve also warned film students at Adam Smith College, that such side hustles should never include turning tricks in the Burger King restroom at Dublin Airport. No number of wet wipes can wipe away the shame…
What personal or professional sacrifices have you made in your career, and how have they shaped your journey in the film industry?
When I went to drama school, I also had a mortgage to pay and three dogs to keep fed and could only work on weekends, so I sacrificed my car — I sold it to pay the tuition fees — and my social life. I went from being a model and partying 4/5 nights a week to not going out at all. And food — I’d kind of like my starving figure back now… But it was just for a year, and it was worth it as I wouldn’t be doing what I love now if I hadn’t!
What changes or developments do you hope to see in the British indie horror scene in the coming years?
I’d like to see more money/investors taking the independent horror genre seriously, and I’d like a resurgence of practical effects being used within horror.
Could you share a particularly rewarding experience or project in your career that reflects the unique challenges and triumphs of working in indie horror filmmaking?
It’s rewarding to see a film through from start to finish, from the initial seed of an idea to the script, and then from filming to seeing that final edit and then seeing that film up on screen at a festival.
It’s also rewarding for me to meet fans of the genre who love the films and who, despite budget constraints and obstacles, enjoy what you’ve created.