Miss Psychorama 1986 is a satirical horror movie shot in the style of a live TV special, written and directed by Jenny Plante.
Jenny Plante is a filmmaker and artist from New Hampshire. She has a BA from Keene State College and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art both in film/video production.
1. How did you develop the film concept?
I am kind of obsessed with tracking shots so the first thing that came to me was a camera following a woman. The original concept for Miss Psychorama was a woman walking home alone at night being followed by a TV host trying to tell her she has won a prize. The woman, feeling she is under threat, kills the host but new TV hosts keep popping up until she manages to get home where the final host is waiting to tell her she has become Miss Psychorama 1986. This idea eventually morphed into horror directors forcing a woman into auditioning for a part she does not want. I liked the idea of the actress having the upper hand.
2. Your work deals a lot with referencing other films. With Miss Psychorama 1986 there is this tongue in cheek reference to late night commercials and 70’s 80’s slasher films. Can you tell us about the importance of film/pop culture in your work?
Film history and pop culture drive all of my work. My favorite part of the filmmaking process is the research- probably because I have the most control over this aspect- and there is always a film, an event, or a moment in time that I can refer to for guidance or to satirize. I most admire filmmakers with an encyclopedic knowledge of film history. They know where they came from and this knowledge generates a great amount of energy that can go into their work.
I also love mashing together references that don't necessarily go together. For MP1986 I looked at the work of many great horror directors but also sequences from COPS and football game instant replay. For the commercials I'd watch hours of 1980's ads for perfume and phone sex hotlines.
3. How was the production of the film? Can you describe the process of casting and securing crew? I know you dealt with a complete DIY production process. We would love to hear about the highs and lows of making a film in a DIY format.
The production of the film was a process! Everything was done piecemeal because I did not have the budget or the free time to get everything done at once. Over the course of three years I would do some casting, get some costumes, find a location and shoot a commercial. The main part of the film was shot in one day with one day of rehearsal with an all female crew. It was important for me to create the opposite sort of set to what would have been done in the 70's and 80's horror films I was referencing. I managed to do quite a bit of casting from a local drag show. Shema, who plays Miss Psychorama, I found on Facebook accidentally.
My sister helped me with nearly every aspect of production: costume, set design, props and she acted as my assistant director. There were many days and weeks when I wanted to give up on the project because it was taking so long but she never let me quit. I am very grateful for that. The last hurdle I faced was the pandemic hit right when I was about to finish filming the director montages. I waited a few months and then rewrote nearly all of them to be filmed outside safely. I know that a film will never happen the way I want it to happen so I am always prepared for a plan B, C, D and so on.
4. Two of your films Miss Psychorama 1986 and All of Them Bitches, deal with male directors treatment towards women actors. Is there a connection between the two films? Do you see the two films as part of a series?
I actually have three films with that theme. The third film is called "Tippi At Squam Lake." I definitely think that it is an obsession of mine. You often hear of how directors treat their actors and crew poorly on set all in aid of getting exactly what they want. I really don't believe things need to be done in that way. People don't need to feel violated all for the sake of art. Because of my interest in this I have made a sort of accidental series. I think all of my work could be viewed in succession and have a very clear throughline. I also think that when you examine how these directors treated women you find there was a strong level of obsession. My obsession comes from understanding theirs.
5. Are you working on any projects now? What are you working on?
I am working on several ideas right now. I took a few months to mentally unwind from MP1986 but am ready to jump back into research. Three of the projects will examine white supremacy in culture. I have largely ignored this subject in my work and realized I really can't and shouldn't any more. I don't want to make films about white women protagonists any more. There's plenty of that to go around. I'm also beginning work on a feature length script which will be a satire of the 1978 film "The Shout." It isn't like anything I've ever done so I am excited to see how it turns out.
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