“So Vam” Director Alice Maio Mackay on Drag and Queer Cinema

Dread Central spoke with “So Vam” director Alice Maio Mackay about why we need horror, drag, and more.

With his film debut So vam, 17-year-old trans filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay creates a decidedly queer world. Drag shows are important sets. One of its main characters is a trans woman. Also, most of the characters are vampires, and what’s stranger than a vampire? Mackay showed the world that making queer horror isn’t that hard. It can be done. In fact, it’s being welcomed with open arms by a community that rarely sees itself so explicitly in the genre.

So vam follows Kurt, an outcast in a conservative town who dreams of moving to town to become a famous drag queen. When he is kidnapped by an old predatory vampire and killed, he is rescued just in time to be resurrected by a gang of wayward vampires who feed on zealots and aggressors. As a vampire, he finally experiences empowerment and belonging. But his killer is still there, creating new minions with their own rotten hatred and threatening everything he loves. Until Kurt faces the monster, he will never be truly free, but this time he doesn’t have to face it alone.

For the film’s release, we spoke with Mackay about his first experience directing a feature film, the importance of flirting, and more.

Dread Central: Where the Story Comes From So vam comes from?

Alice Maio Mackay: The Story of So vam came from a climax of things. The main one being that for my first feature film, I really wanted to include all the things that I myself would like to see in a film: vampires, drags, trans leads, and all of that with a camp sensibility.

DC: When did you first realize you wanted to be a filmmaker?

AMM: I first realized that I wanted to be a filmmaker after I started imagining the short stories I wrote more like films than narrative prose. From there I made stop motion animations, then short films with friends, and eventually and slowly progressed to producing what I consider to be my first real short film, A Tale of the Laundry Game which premiered at MonsterFest 2019.

DC: What was it like directing your first feature film?

AMM: Overall, directing my first feature film was an amazing but definitely super stressful process! I’m so lucky and grateful to have had such an amazing cast and crew to work with. Especially shooting over 7 days in the heat of summer, as well as navigating through a pandemic. Fortunately, it generally went well!

DC: What advice would you give to budding young queer filmmakers?

AMM: I think the best advice I could give to other young queer filmmakers would be to make art that means something to them and not apologize for it. Not everyone will get gay movies, and gay movies aren’t meant for every audience member (white male cishet) either. So keep that in mind. Only take the opinions of those who truly understand the work and keep doing things.

DC: Why do queer stories sound like So vam so important to both queer audiences and the horror genre as a whole?

AMM: I think queer stories like So vam are important to both queer audiences and the horror genre, because seeing yourself reflected in a film can be truly powerful and meaningful. This is especially the case in the horror genre, where gender-nonconforming or queer-coded characters haven’t always had the best representation.

DC: What drives you to flirt?

AMM: I think what appeals to me is that it’s a powerful and historically significant art form, but it’s also something that’s very fun, incredibly creative and entertaining.

DC: Why do you think drag and horror go so well together?

AMM: I think drag and horror go so well together because both can be campy and fun, but also at the same time can be meaningful and political, and a powerful channel to get a message across to the audience.

DC: Favorite drag artists we need to follow?

AMM: Mm, it’s difficult. Obviously, Xai from the movie is amazing, as is BenDeLaCreme and Etcetera Etcetera. But Peaches Christ, HoSo Terra Toma, Sigourney Beaver, Kornbread, Landon Cider, Dahli, Willow Pill and Symone are all some of my favorites. So much

DC: What was the first horror movie you saw? What was the first film to scare you?

AMM: I think that apart from the scooby-doo and Addams Family movies, (which I was raised on) the first horror movies I ever saw were buffy and Scream. And Scream definitely terrified me!

DC: If you could program your perfect double function with So vamwhat movie would you pair it with?

AMM: Ooh, I think my perfect double feature would be So Vam with Janell Shirtcliff Habit or Zoe Lister Jones The craft heritage. Both are underrated masterpieces in my opinion.

So vam is available now on digital and VOD.

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