Thursday, March 9, 2017

Black Women Horror Filmmakers: England Simpson's Prelude: A Love Story



Charlotte, North Carolina native England Simpson (@englandsimpson) is an actress in film and television who cites old classics such as Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and The Evil Dead (1981) as nostalgic comfort viewing as well as a source of insight and inspiration. Her immense love for the horror genre plays a crucial part in England's filmmaking debut.

Prelude: A Love Story, an “arthouse thriller/horror follows the story of Sarah (Simpson), a conflicted woman failing miserably at controlling her new-found obsession with murder." England described the balance of directing and starring in her own film as a welcomed challenge. "Sarah was an average woman until one event changed her life. Sarah could be any one of us, and I found that fascinating. The internal struggle she experienced, transforming from victim to villain, made me want to tell her story," England says. "From an actor’s standpoint, I needed a character that would stretch me… I’m known for my humor and goofy nature, but I needed everyone to see more of me. Sarah came at the right time."

It's inspiring to see artists stretch their comfort zones a bit and do something fulfilling that they've always wanted to do, regardless of the obstacles. England is really a great example of this, "I’m a very paranoid actor. There were times where I thought my performance as an actor was compromised because I was focused on directing and vice versa. Then there was the crying! Our second day of filming was the 'emotional' day for my character. I got there emotionally, but after my scenes were over I could not stop crying! Needless to say, I can’t wait to do it all again. Of course, I’ll do a few things differently, but now I’m just as much fanatical about directing than I am about acting. I love it."

England (left) as Sarah | Production Still: Willie Kimbrough

There's much more to affirm with the release of Prelude. England is passionate about the significance of representation, especially in the horror genre. She confesses why it is so important for Black artists interested in the horror to know their stories matter, stay encouraged, and never defeated: 

A few years ago I was asked to compete in a Scream Queen competition for a well-known genre magazine. Being the only woman of color in the competition, a fellow actor warned me that I’d be wasting my time if I drove all the way to Indiana for the event. I ignored his sage advice. Even though he is a recognized horror actor, having worked with all of the judges in the competition, I knew that being a prepared actor would allow me to succeed.  

Each contestant was promised a profile on the magazine’s website and a video interview. The reporter for the magazine came out to the event. He interviewed and photographed everyone competing in the event, except me. I thought it was an honest mistake, but it wasn’t. When the competition began, each contestant was asked to perform a monologue. Three out of the five contestants didn’t bother to perform a monologue. They strutted around the stage like strippers. I performed a monologue and received a standing ovation from the audience. 

Members of the audience congratulated me (even family members of the other contestants), but I didn’t win. I overheard one of the judges (a female) mention that I should’ve won, hands down. The other judges quickly dismissed her and said, “Someone like that doesn’t sell horror movies.” 

I have never told anyone this story, but that is the reason I will continue to make films, especially horror projects. Because, yes, a woman that looks like me can sell a horror film.


The teaser trailer for Prelude: A Love Story is now available to watch below. Be sure to like and check in on England's Facebook page for updates.


After being tortured and held captive, Sarah (England Simpson) struggles to lead a normal life outside of her own personal prison. Overcome by the horrific experience that plagues her past, Sarah transforms from victim to villain.

Prelude: A Love Story also stars: 

Angela Pritchett (Joey/Josephine)
Vanelle (Anna)
Matthew Martini (The Man)
Ryli Morgan (Unconscious Girl)


Thirty Sadface Productions 
"The day after my 30th birthday, I’m 33 now, I had a doctor’s appointment. The intake nurse asked for my age but I didn’t want to say it aloud. I didn’t want to speak thirty into existence. So, I stole a sheet of paper and wrote down 30 L. The nurse laughed hysterically and told me that my 30th year of life would be my best. That night I went home and started writing."
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