As Summer begins its fade into Autumn, many of us get excited for all the things associated with the season. Things like colder weather, sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, and spookiness. There is something about shorter days that makes us excited about what lurks in the dark.
Filmmaker & SFX Artist Bianca Crespo might know a thing or two about what lurks in the dark. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bianca started her entertainment career in Los Angeles in 2012. She has worked in several aspects of film/TV production, some of which include Special FX for AutonomousFX (The Maze Runner, American Horror Story, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, House, Bones), the archives at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and development for Millennium Films (Rambo, The Expendables, Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Paperboy).
She established her independent production company SANTA MIRA in 2017, where she has been able to create her own original content: award-winning short films BRUTE (2018), BANSHEE (2018), MIDNIGHT DONUT (2018), THE CARVING (2018) starring Nick Searcy (Justified, The Shape of Water), and CAROUSEL (2019) starring Alfonso DiLuca (Jane the Virgin, Burn Notice).
Crespo’s feature debut FREAK is hoping to bring the spooky in 2021. In this interview, we talk with Bianca Crespo about horror, the film industry, the paranormal, and Pennywise vs Pennywise.
How did you first get into filmmaking?
I first ventured into considering filmmaking officially while I was freelancing as a dual makeup artist and photographer at age 20. I would routinely host zombie photoshoots while working on my English major, and writing poetry/short stories on the side. While working creatively in all those capacities, I felt that progressing into visual storytelling through film was just the natural next step for me. I had always loved movies all thanks to my parents- action/horror/westerns with my dad and Old Hollywood/comedies with my mom.
At the time, Tarantino was my absolute favorite; he was a cinephile who was actually living his dream. I wanted that life. Traveling to LA in 2012 with Temple’s Internship Program made me realize that I could turn my passion into a feasible career. The rest is history.
Is filmmaking something you always wanted to do?
Not always. When I lived in London at age 18, intensely studying British Literature, History, and Shakespeare, I was convinced that I would be happy teaching Shakespeare as a professor, all the while writing plays on the side. But I found that as much as I adored that town, I was deeply homesick. It was not the right move for me at that point, but I am hoping to visit once things settle down in this weird world.
Throughout your career, have there been any moments that have surprised you?
As a Hollywood assistant in my early 20s, I would hop from job to job, as is the case in the wacky feeding frenzy that is the industry. While doing so, I experienced several… different bosses. One case involved a female filmmaker who wrote a movie about a very sensitive subject: an 11-year-old girl who is bullied and ultimately, commits suicide.
This filmmaker, my boss at the time, asked if we could put the wardrobe up for sale- mind you, this was the exact attire worn by the 11-year-old girl when she dies in the film. I asked if she meant for charity. Her response, “No, for me. I think it will be worth something one day.” I was disgusted, and quit. That was one of my first impressions of “showbiz”. Thankfully, I have met others who actually have a strong moral compass.
Can you tell us a little bit about your film “Freak?”
The story entails a working woman who travels to a cabin in the woods of PA to get away from the noise of Hollywood. That is about all I can say. You will have to watch to find out more!
Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?
Ever since I accidentally watched a clip of The Exorcist on my grandmother’s TV, yes, I have been equally horrified and fascinated by the horror genre and its acute ability to elicit drastic emotions from human beings
Do you feel like there is a stigma attached to women in horror?
Yes and no. Women can occasionally be the victims or the final girl trope. I feel that, as of late, the genre has certainly strengthened primarily in the latter. However, I hope I can shake up both ends of the spectrum by exploring the gray area of human nature with FREAK.
I heard your studio is haunted; is it true?
Yes. Our FREAK cast and crew experienced several instances of paranormal activity. The stories are quite chilling. We hope to share our tales once the film is released.
Did you believe in the paranormal before you owned the studio?
I like to consider myself an optimistic skeptic. In college, I was a paranormal investigator, but very skeptical of most phenomena. Until one night: I was exploring the Grand Theatre alongside three other investigators in Greenville, PA. As I was emerging from behind the screen of the theater, and walking up the aisle, I looked up into the direction of the second floor, where there was a small seating area on the left, the projection booth in the center, and an enclosed office to the right. A dark shadow was standing in the window of the office, the curtain parted. I was frozen, knowing someone was up there. The curtain then proceeded to move back, as though the figure wanted to hide upon being seen. I raced up to the office, but the door was locked. We had to have the caretaker open it for us. When we had it unlocked, we found nothing inside; not even furniture, or any other items that could have cast shadows. No one was there.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the film business/industry?
Don’t. Okay, jokes aside, it is a fun business. But like any business, it has its harsh realities.
What you have to do: figure out what you want to do by DOING. The more you talk, the more time you waste. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have met who yadda-yadda, but never actually execute their plans, and then complain that they are not where they want to be in life.
Get a full-time job to pay the bills and give yourself a steady schedule, leaving yourself open to create during your off-hours. You do not need to be in LA to “make it” anymore. The internet has broken this barrier with streaming platforms. All you really need is passion, savings, and a network. After that, building your material, making it quality, and meeting people will be your ticket to success. If you really want to be in this business, you will persevere no matter what.
This is Fandom Spotlie so I have to ask, what are your favorite fandoms?
It is definitely a cross between the fandoms of Tarantino and Twin Peaks. I have met several incredible creative people from these unique fanbases.
Could you tell us the nerdiest thing about you?
We would be here for months. *adjusts glasses* Some examples: back in LA, I dressed in full Butterfly/Arlene cosplay to attend a midnight screening of Death Proof at Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema (my second home), I dressed as Elvira to attend the WeHo Halloween Parade and hand out Halloween candy, and I am currently transforming one of the lodging rooms at SANTA MIRA into One-Eyed Jack’s from my favorite show: Twin Peaks.
Fan war question: Who do you think would win in a fight? 2017 Pennywise or 1990 Pennywise? And Why?
Why must you do this to me? Hmmm… well, I must say old-school 1990 Pennywise. Tim Curry’s PW would annihilate anyone. His intimidating presence alone would turn 2017 PW to ash and popcorn kernels. Hell, why stop there? If you look up Tim Curry’s “The Halloween Song”, that will surely scare the cotton candy out of 2017 Pennywise, or anyone for that matter.
Lastly, what plans do you have in 2021? What can our readers look forward to?
We start filming my next feature in Philadelphia in 2021: RO, a coming-of-age sci-fi thriller, featuring the legendary Lynn Lowry (Shivers, I Drink Your Blood, The Crazies, Cat People).