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WiHM: An Interview with Becca Hirani

Today we have with us Becca Hirani, star of countless indie horror features, including Dead Celluloid's Indie Film of the Year, 2017: Unhinged.

You’ve concentrated on working largely within the horror genre – do you feel that within the industry, horror is more easily accessible? Or is it more of a personal preference?

I think a lot of indie filmmakers have opted to do horror in recent years as there is a huge market for the genre and a big fan base - generally these types of films can be made on at tighter budget with scope to still get released globally. I love horror personally, as it’s fun to be involved with and always challenging, so my career decisions have partly been down to that, but also due to the large scale of horror genre films being made these days by indie filmmakers.

What’s it like seeing yourself perish on screen?

Haha! It’s entertaining actually. I’ve been lucky to have a few stellar death scenes where I’ve really been able push myself. so it’s exciting to watch it all come together in the final version of the movie. I remember during the House on Elm Lake almost passing out and vomiting when the bucket of blood is poured on my head - my co star got me in a ferocious headlock that nearly choked me for real and the substance in the blood mixture had the foulest smell. It was a one take moment so we had to continue until cut was called! Andrew and I started coughing and spluttering for our lives once the camera stopped rolling haha - happy memories!

We loved your performance in Unhinged, a remake of a 1982 video nasty of the same name. Did you research how the roles were performed in the original before taking on ‘Gina’ – or did you prefer to make the role an unhampered you? 

Thank you so much for the kind words! I had watched the original before we filmed but I tried to make the character more current, hip and contemporary. I think Gina, and the others, are a bit more bad ass, independent and in control of themselves and the situation in the remake, than in comparison to the characters in the original - I like to try and give the female characters in horror a strong voice and it’s more what audiences like to see nowadays.

Having worked on several features that are female led with a predominantly female cast, do you find the dynamic on set is different than that of one with a large male cast?

I am pleased to say I’ve generally always worked in an environment where the cast and crew are 50/50 with genders - which is amazing! For me personally, I find the dynamic on set is different when working with a larger team to a smaller team, rather than it being a gender thing. Smaller teams tend to have more camaraderie than a larger scale production, that can at times be less personal.

What difficulties have you found breaking into an industry that even today is very patriarchal in its leadership?

Even though I’ve seen great changes in recent years: with the increasing amount of female crew members on set and the amount of female lead roles available - there is still a long way to go. Implementing change will always take time but we really need to be looking at the leaders of our industry to make radical change too - the industry is still very controlled and manipulated but talking about it has already been beneficial. I remember only two years ago, all the female roles I was seeing on casting websites were prostitutes, strippers and girlfriends to the leading man. It blows my mind to look back on that now with the steps that have already been made, but I would like to see more gritty female roles available. Regardless of this, I think it’s tough for any actor/actress to get into regular work - now more than ever. Everyone has a hard time and has their own stories to tell about the industry. There are still issues with race, ethnicity and class too that I hope will progress in time.

Having seen all of your back catalogue of horror, and seeing that you are creating a legacy of films with those coming out in the genre, what advice would you give aspiring actors looking to work in horror?

If you’re wanting to work in horror, I would say be prepared for anything. You will find it mentally and physically testing - not only is it almost always high energy, with intense emotional content, you will be doing long hours that are regularly night shoots, getting covered in SFX makeup, engaging in physical choreography, handling blunted weapons. You should come with the mindset of being up for anything and giving it your best at all times. Remember, the crew are out there in the cold in the early hours of the morning too and will also be tired. Try to be the positive energy that makes it work and people will want to work with you again. You’ll also have the best experience yourself and be proud of the results.

Do you have a desire to work behind the camera?

Yes, I’d love to work behind the camera. Art Department really interests me - especially creating weird and wonderful props. I would also like to be more involved with Location Scouting. Editing would also be a great department to work in, if I could build up the skill set and train for it.

Going forward, what’s next?

I have just shot a movie over summer titled CLINKER where I got to play my most challenging role yet. The movie is set in a prison and has some strange twists and turns. I have a few pencilled projects for later in the year too, but these are for other genre styles - so that will be a nice and refreshing change! I have a few releases still due on movies already completed so it will be great to see them out there in due course.

Thank you for talking with us, Becca!

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