Interview with Filmmaker Amber Rose McNeill (NORMAL PORN FOR NORMAL PEOPLE)

NORMAL PORN FOR NORMAL PEOPLE played to rave reviews at the August 2020 HORROR Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Amber Rose McNeill: I had this urge to really dig into the way that we consume violence within our cultures (Australian culture because I’m an Australian filmmaker, and North American culture because I’m based out of Wisconsin). Appropriated media gave me this amazing way in which to juxtapose violence against consumerism and sexuality in this really impactful and provocative way.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It was quite a quick process in comparison to much of my other work. I think it was around 3 weeks in total, maybe a little less. I had the title “Normal Porn for Normal People” basically on a loop in my head for around a week before the overall commentary I wanted to express started to emerge. The bulk of the film was created in one 20hr editing session. After that it was just a matter of fine tuning the timing of the cuts.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Carnal Consumerism!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Working with appropriated media is a challenge in itself. It’s a dangerous balancing act of rebellion because you’re repurposing existing media into a transformative new piece of art. It’s a very punk rock way of making films, which is part of its appeal but also comes with a lot of anxieties.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was elated that my film was so well received and that the commentary I was making had the desired effect. I am a firm believer in provoking thought and questioning the societal status quo via the use of cinema; it’s something I aim to do with even my more absurdist work. It was a very reaffirming moment for me as a filmmaker to be able to absorb the feedback of an audience’s perception of my piece.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I had the title in my head repeating on this loop. The title, “Normal Porn for Normal People,” comes from a short story about the depraved depths of the dark web. That started me thinking about the way that violent imagery has become a type of pseudo pornography. I wanted to comment on the way that we salivate over violence in this sexualised way, and yet we demonise sexuality as this scapegoat to violent acts. Consumerism in general has a lot to answer for, and this film was my way of giving a provocative tongue-in-cheek poke at that establishment.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably “Heathers” dir. Michael Lehmann. I was obsessed with it as a child and only continued to grow my appreciation as an adult. I must have seen it hundreds of times by now. It’s a cult classic for a reason.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s a user-friendly platform. It’s easy to edit or update submissions. Overall it just really takes the hassle out of applying to multiple festivals.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

“WHITE” by The Left Rights. The cultural satire is on point and very relevant in the context of 2020. The film clip is also super cool.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Quite a lot actually… I’m in the middle of writing a short film that’s a mashup of genres; horror, romance, feminist film, buddy movie. I’ve been working with 16mm film, making some more “artsy” pieces. And I’ve just started another appropriated media piece that comments on the way that women are viewed/treated within society. Sort of a feminist re-telling of rom coms and normative romance. That will probably be part of a series of short films that include “Normal Porn for Normal People”.

normal_porn_for_normal_people_movie_poster

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