Name: Jaclyn Chessen
Birth Place: Los Angeles
Notable films: Shock Attack (2015), Dark Hole (2017), Dial M for Morons (2019)
When did you know you were queer? When did you come out?
Jaclyn Chessen: I came out much later in life, I was about 27 and had just met my future wife.
How did you get into filmmaking?
JC: I went into publicity for a studio right after college, but had studied film prior and knew it was a deep interest of mine. When I was a kid, I was always breaking out my dad’s video camera for one production or another. After realizing that publicity wasn’t what I wanted to do, I jumped over to creating the movies. I decided to go back to Northern California and work on indie films there, and quickly landed in the horror world.
You’ve got a creature feature film and several shorts under your belt. Why do you make horror films?
JC: No matter the medium, my art has always taken a turn into the dark. I have always loved the genre, and being introduced to it early in my career really helped to solidify it. I love that you can really break all of the rules and have fun with horror, all while sneaking in serious plots and viewpoints.
What films (queer or not) have made a significant impact on you and your work? In what way?
JC: Delicatessen and City of Lost Children had huge impacts. They are both stylized and have such fun, interesting characters with weird plot lines.
I really dove deep into Jaws for Shock Attack (pun intended, you’re welcome). Evil Dead, and the indie spirit they had making it, really helped me to realize that you can just have fun and make things on any budget when you really want to.
Oh, and I can’t forget Alien! I make it a point to create strong female characters whenever possible, and I just really love that movie. It’s one of my favorites. I feel like the list could go on and on, but those are a few.
How progressive or welcoming is the industry for queer creators right now?
JC: It is getting better, slowly. We are getting an invitation to the parties now, but it still feels very BYOB. There’s a lot of people starting to tell our stories, which is important in its own right, but we still aren’t getting a lot of the funding and opportunities to create them ourselves.
Do you believe that your sexuality informs your films?
JC: No, not really, it should always be about telling the characters’ story in the world that I’ve built for them. My characters are just more frequently open with their sexuality, but I love not making it “a thing”. They are just there, like we are just here, living our lives.
Have you interacted with many queer horror fans of your work? What has that experience been like?
JC: I have interacted with some, and it’s always so much fun when I do!
Several of your shorts are on the verge of release or in post-production. When can we expect to see these and what else do you have coming up?
JC: Dark Hole just made the festival rounds and will be releasing online. POV: In the Shadows, a web series that I created, is finishing up post for the final few episodes and will be released very soon.
I have a couple at the beginnings of their film festival run, and I’m in development for my next feature right now!
Follow Jaclyn on social media: