By Peggy Thompson – Project Consultant
Nikki Saltz is a screenwriter and script consultant based in Toronto. She is the founder of the script consulting agency, House of Stories, and is an alumnus of the prestigious Writers’ Lab at the Canadian Film Centre. Nikki has worked in Script Development for Darius Films, Amaze Film + Television, Whizbang Films, and New York’s Goldcrest Films, as well as with countless producers and writers. When she’s not story editing, Nikki produces horror films written and directed by women with her company, Ikki Pictures. Their film “The Tease” played at the Calgary Horror Con and the Chicago Horror Film Fest last year, and the company has just completed post on a new film. Nikki was the creator of the digital series, Slutty Book Club, produced by Smokebomb Entertainment. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine Magazine, on the CBC and in the Toronto Star.
This year Nikki is consulting with From Our Dark Side winners Melanie Jones and Mariel Scammell on their respective projects: Switchback and The Lot.
You love horror – why is it an important genre for women?
Horror is undersold as a genre for feminists. It’s a genre where filmmakers often feel like outsiders, and as a result, they tend to be less afraid to be critical, and more willing to tell stories that are critical of society and the status quo. The genre lends itself to disruption, which I love. When you add feminism into that already delicious mix, the results are very exciting to me.
Do you have any favourite horror tropes?
It’s less of a trope and more of a sub-genre, but I’m particularly interested in rape-revenge films. It’s obviously very dark subject matter, but I’m fascinated by how these narratives are depicted in horror, especially because most of the time, they’re written by men and exploited for thrills and scares and titillation. I always have my eye on women who are taking control of narratives that reflect our own experiences… but I’m also a sucker for classics like I Spit On Your Grave, Ms. 45, and The Last House on the Left (which still holds its own as one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen!).
Why are you involved as a story consultant with From Our Dark Side?
I think it’s extremely sad that there’s still this perception that horror is a boy’s genre, and sadder still that we even have to have female horror filmmakers instead of just horror filmmakers who happen to be women. When we make films at Ikki Pictures (my production company), we crew at least 75% female, and it always makes me laugh to see the men on our crews turning away and being grossed out by our gore effects, whereas the women don’t even blink an eye at blood and guts. Another reason I’m involved is because every year, I wait to see what films get programmed at Midnight Madness (at TIFF) and every year, I’m sorely disappointed to find maybe one woman director in the program. I’ve asked the festival why this is, and their response was that there simply aren’t lots of women submitting horror films. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but if it is, I want to be involved in anything that will change that.
Who are some women working in horror who inspire you?
I’m really inspired by Jovanka Vuckovic, who just put out the female horror anthology XX. Beyond being a talented filmmaker, she’s extremely generous and supportive of other women filmmakers, too. The Soska Twins are another favourite(s) of mine. Then there’s Marina De Van (In My Skin) and Claire Denis (Trouble Every Day). I’m also really pumped to see what Julia Ducournau, who made Raw, does next.
And anything else you’d like to add.
Just that I’m so glad From Our Dark Side exists, and I can’t wait to see the films that come out of this incubator!