Black Horror Filmmakers: Interview with Meosha Bean
To expand the “Black Women in Horror” interview series, I’d like to start including filmmakers along with authors to show how these two mediums combine to make stunning works of horror. My first director is the wonderful Meosha Bean. She is one of the directors for 7 Magpies, a first of its kind: a short horror film anthology written and directed entirely by black women. I consider myself lucky to be working on this project with Meosha, along with twelve other amazing creatives. but I wanted to know more about her work.
Turns out she’s a powerhouse and has made over a dozen horror short films within five years. One of those films is a standout in indie horror journalist circles. Meosha took a break from her busy schedule to chat with me about what it is to be a Black woman in the film industry.
Thank you for granting me this interview. Tell us a bit about yourself and your film making process.
Hi, my name is Meosha Bean. I'm a filmmaker, actress and artist. I'm from Florida. I'm a southern girl at heart. My love for film came to me at an early age, 7 years old. I knew at age 11 this is what I want to do with my life. Definitely beyond my years. From there the love for the art of film grew.
What inspired you to make films—was there a particular movie you loved and/or hated?
During the summer my mother and I would go to the library to rent movies and books. I was looking for the Pink Panther series by the funny Peter Sellers. For some reason the series was not available. I stumbled upon Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Which was a series of short stories covering elements of crime, horror, drama and comedy about people of different species committing murders, suicides etc. After watching hours of his shorts, I was inspired to make short films. I loved his way of telling stories. He was a genius in his time. I was 15 years old.
As a director you have hundreds—possibly more—of decisions to make. What are some of those decisions and what impact do they have on your end product? Is it all about choosing the right actors?
Great question. I think it's about the script. If you have a solid story. Of course great actors you believe in that can deliver. Then all you have to do is your job. Which is to bring the words to life. I always say it’s great to have good actors, but it’s even better when you have a solid script. I've seen it countless times in the business: people who have fairly large names apart from a production, but the script is not its best. Makes the actors and the production value go down. Everyone has a job on set to do. Everyone brings their A game. There's no way you can lose. It's going to be a success.
What research do you perform—before or after the cameras are on? How important is “getting it right” for a filmmaker when bringing a story to the screen?
For me, I see it in my mind and make a storyboard. It helps me stay focused on what shots I need to set up/do. It's just another way to keep myself organized as a director/cinematographer. It’s funny when you’re in the moment of filming you might go off the storyboard and add something else. Once you see it in the lens of the camera some shots you see differently as opposed to how it was written or drawn out. When you are in the moment, you have to make decisions. It is very important to know what direction you're going when making a movie. Everything falls on the director.
What’s your next project?
I have a few projects in the works. Fun horror feature film coming called Camera Phone 2. Directed by myself and partner Eddie Brown Jr., which is going to be in selective theaters in the spring. 7 Magpies with you lovely ladies from creator L.C. Cruell. L.C. selected African-American female writers and directors to create the horror anthology film 7 Magpies and change the perception of true diversity in the genre. Looking forward to creating that with everyone.
Hard Requital, a short film by Playhouse Productions and M.V.B Films Productions. Which is going to be screening at the Pan African Film Festival in February in Los Angeles. Come out to meet the stars of the film Mark Ridley and Richy B. Jacobs. We hope to see you there!
Eden’s edit: February has passed us by, but see the trailer to Camera Phone 2 here and the trailer to Hard Requital here.
What do you like to watch? Or read?
When I find time to watch or read something. I watch detective shows. Sherlock, Luther, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Peaky Blinders. Anything that involves solving a mystery. Maybe I'm a detective at heart. As far as reading, I love Millennium. It's a series of best-selling and award-winning Swedish crime novels, created by Stieg Larsson. Great series.
What shape would you like to see the future of horror take?
I'd like the genre to be taken more seriously. It's an art. It is a genre that is taken lightly and not many people feel it has substance. If you put the great film A Beautiful Mind by director Ron Howard against The Sacrament from director Ti West, most would say they are different categories and that one is a drama and one is horror. I say they’re both amazing films and the direction for both are shot effortlessly. Granted they are different genres, but let's honor what they both are: great films. There is no need to separate genres.
If there were one or more things you would change to make the film industry better for people of color and for women, what would it be?
There are many things. I think that it’s important to know why the industry is such a powerful force. Since the beginning of time the industry was not made for people of color. It's a sad fact but true. It was until a certain time that which people of color and women had movie roles on the big screen. I truly believe that people of color should work together more, to create a network that show positive images of African-American culture. I think once we understand that as a whole many things can change. The big misconception people have is that the industry is the only way to make it. That's just not true. There are countless of stories of filmmakers, actors and singers making a living independently. Why not make your own industry?
Is there a subject you refuse to touch?
I think as a filmmaker and a lover of art there is nothing that is off limits. When we put limitations on our self it stops us from ever growing as a creator. My main goal as a filmmaker is to tell stories. Some which are scary, dramatic, heartbreaking and comedy, all of which are a part of the human experience. We deal with all those things at some point in our lives. I'm just blessed to share film stories which highlight those elements.
What do you do in your spare time? (If you have any, that is.)
Funny thing is I don't do much in my spare time but work. If I had a certain amount of time, say a month. I'd like to travel. Meeting people, experiencing new cultures, just enjoying life. I have a few places on my list to see this year of 2016.
Thanks for the interview great questions!
Thanks to Meosha for her time amongst all the projects she has going one right now. You can find Meosha Bean and her work online at her website, on Facebook at M.V.B Films or Meosha Bean, on Twitter @MVB_films, and on Instagram.
Eden Royce is descended from women who practiced root, a type of conjure magic in her native Charleston, South Carolina. She’s been a bridal consultant, reptile handler, and stockbroker, but now writes dark fiction about the American South from her home in the English countryside. She has written for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dirge Magazine, and is one of the founders of Colors in Darkness, a place for dark fiction authors of color to get support for their projects. Find out more about Eden’s brand of horror at edenroyce.com or follow her on Twitter (@EdenRoyce)