Nightcap
Veronica LaVery and Jiz Lee in Nightcap

Fans of queer horror are in for a seductive bloody treat with NIGHTCAP, a subversive horror thriller that leaves you hungry for more.

Viewers will be hard pressed to not take their eyes off the lustrous cast.

NIGHTCAP is written and directed by Bay Area filmmaker Nicole De Meneses. With the help of a very small talented cast and crew and strategic planning, the film was shot in 6 hours.

The resourceful filmmaker spoke to us in the lead up to the film’s anticipated screening at the ClexaCon 2020 Film Festival in April in the special late night Underground program.

 

Congratulations on NIGHTCAP. Can you explain where the idea for the short film came from and how you went about casting the film?

I had recently completed the pilot episode of my lesbian zombie drama “Dating in the Zombie Apocalypse” and I knew I wanted to do another kind of creature genre film.

My thing is I can’t just make a traditional horror film. I have to put my own spin on the genre and infuse my sensibilities. I specifically wanted an LGBT character in a lead role and I knew I wanted to showcase a strong female character.

So often in the horror genre, women and their sexuality are punished. Sexuality is used against women. For that reason it was important that when nudity was shown it was shown from a place of strength that owns being seen but not being naked, vulnerable. Veronica LaVery has both a delicacy and statuesque power and Jiz Lee has grace combined with agile strength.

I had met Jiz Lee at a lighting workshop awhile back and always thought they had a very strong and interesting look. Jiz is an Artist, Author, Activist and Adult Performer. I thought they could bring something special to the role. I’m a fan of John Waters films and always liked how he collaborated with distinctive and creative people like Divine and Tracy Lords so I thought it was worth reaching out. I was very fortunate that Jiz wanted to work on the project.

Veronica LaVery, I found on Backstage. I was instantly captivated by her film presence. She has that classic statuesque beauty reminiscent of the French and Italian scream queens that gave the Giallo film movement it’s feminist edge. I knew NIGHTCAP needed that.

I’m really looking forward to sharing NIGHTCAP with the ClexaCon Audience. I’m also excited to be guest speaker for a panel called Women in Action. The panel breaks down the nuts and bolts of directing an action scene using examples from my recently completed short film “ Queen of the Ring.”

NIGHTCAP subverts traditional horror tropes and flips them on their head by placing LGBT characters in the lead roles and presenting them from a position of power. NIGHTCAP celebrates feminine and masculine presenting characters. It challenges the viewer to re-examine what is being presented as a threat and who really controls the narrative. With NIGHTCAP doing so well at Horror and LGBT festivals, what’s next for you and your team?

NIGHTCAP was always meant as a proof of concept to tell a larger story. We caught the attention from PJS and Pixels and are working on two new shorts that accompany NIGHTCAP. One of the new films is called HAPPY HOUR and shows how the two characters meet earlier the same night. The second new film, MORNING MULE, follows the two characters on the morning after.

It’s been interesting to develop and there’s talk about creating a comic book to accompany a feature film incorporating both characters. The possibilities for further film development and marketing are exciting.

I’m also currently looking for investors for my Paranormal Thriller feature film “The Ghost of Stow Lake”. The film follows a newly engaged lesbian couple as they go to San Francisco for the weekend. After learning the local legend surrounding the Ghost of Stow Lake one of them accidentally awakens the vengeful spirit and is plagued by terrifying visions and messages from the beyond.

Can the couple’s engagement survive their ghostly weekend or will The Ghost of Stow Lake put an end to their dreams of wedded bliss?

We recently shot a few pages of the script and have test footage to show interested investors. Haviland Stillwell, a brilliant Broadway performer and film and television actress plays the lead in the film and I’m very excited to work with her. She brings a strength and a vulnerability that the role demands and it’s just a bonus that she is an Out working actress that cares about our community. Stephanie Castillo, another charming talent brings a grounded and relatable character to life if in the form of Haviland’s partner in the film.

Their chemistry is just palpable. I think the film has an opportunity to capture the attention of LGBT audiences that have been craving for LGBT empowerment in genre films. I want to see more queer characters in mainstream genre content and I’m committed to always working with a diverse cast and crew..

If that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, in between producing and writing and directing my own films I also have a Horror Film Festival called Blood & Popcorn that I run and host yearly. The 2nd Annual Blood & Popcorn will be held May 8th at the historic Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. The festival showcases various horror sub genres by local filmmakers as well as international work with a diverse twist. I will also be on a producer panel at The BraveMaker Film Festival in May.