By Christine Caprilozzi
Women in Horror Month Spotlight: Tristan Risk
Horror News Network: In the last few years, you have built up quite an indie resume including your Fangoria Chainsaw Award nominated role in American Mary. Tell us a bit about that film and what it has meant to you and your career?
Tristan Risk: I was nominated for the Fangoria Golden Chainsaw award for my supporting role in American Mary, it was actually Lilly Taylor who won for her work in James Wan’s The Conjuring, which I really enjoy watching. The floor plan of my house is the same as the one in the film, so I have quite the soft spot for it, as I’m sure that you can imagine. Besides, it was fun bringing that to the attention of my neighbor, who is not a horror enthusiast, and may have caused her to tread lightly.
I can honestly say that American Mary changed my life. It was not only my first major role, but really my first role at all. It was an incredible gamble that Jen and Sylvia Soska took on casting me, since there is a slew of other actresses who are far more established than me. So the real kudos goes to them for taking a chance on me. It was a wonderful experience being on their set, and now as well as having probably what will be the role I’ll be best known for the rest of my life, I have my two best friend that came from it. I’d definitely not have the life or career path I have now as a result of it. I literally owe everything I do cinematically to them both and American Mary for that ballsy move.
Horror News Network: Besides Jen and Sylvia Soska, you have also worked with other up and coming female Directors like Jill Sixx and Jessica Cameron. Do you find that there is a sisterhood amongst women in the indie film world? (This of course would go against the grain of the “catty women” stereotype.)
Tristan Risk: I think generally, on the whole, that there is a very supportive vibe to the female film making industry within horror. Like any industry, there will be a few exceptions to the rule, but given that for a female filmmaker, there are the same number of challenges that face any male filmmaker, with the added undercurrent of sexism in that industry. The collective consensus is a supportive one, since if we don’t support one another, who will. I see a lot of clannish where the women will stick up for one another in our own version of boy’s club mentality, which is nice. Better to have your sister’s back than to put a knife in it.
Cattiness exists in any industry, and no matter where it rears it’s ugly head, it comes from the same place: insecurity, jealousy, etc. But the women (and men, because let’s be honest, some men behave like bitches too) who do may not be suited for the business and might pursue other interests. I think acknowledging when anyone behaves that way because of those insecurities, the best bet is to realize that their beef isn’t with you; it’s an internal conflict, and you can only wish them the best and hope they have the power to heal themselves so they can find their true voice.
Horror News Network: You have appeared in many films over the last few years, with both male and female directors. Do you see any difference in the way they approach female characters?
Tristan Risk: Every director is different. I think it has less to do with what’s between their legs as it does between their ears. I also think it comes down to the interpersonal connection you have with the individual as well. There are some directors, both female and male who I’d burn at the stake for and others who I’d likely not work with again because I don’t have that fierce connection with. A good director is an empathetic creature, and a good actor is receptive to that. I appreciate that you won’t get that on every set, but when you do, it’s one of the most inspiring things ever, and you can’t wait to get to set ever day and bring your A- game… not because you wouldn’t anyways, but because you are truly excited to collaborate with your people, which is how the best art gets made.
Horror News Network: What current projects are you most excited about?
Tristan Risk: I’m spoiled right now – I’ve a buffet of things that I’m stoked about at the moment. From a film perspective, 2016 holds a lot of releases and filming. Save Yourself (Ryan M Andrews), Frankenstein Created Bikers (James Bickert), Madre De Dios (Gigi Saul Guerrero), Innsmouth (Izzy Lee), Harvest Lake (Scott Schirmer), Fetish Factory (Staci Layne Wilson) are all either being released of hitting the dusty festival circuit in 2016, which floors me. Heading to camera is Elias Ganster’s ‘Ayla’ and Andy Stewart’s ‘Redacted’. There are a few other irons in the fire, but I’m not sure if they are quite at the right temperature just yet to reveal them, but I’m looking to direct a short film based on one of my short stories, as well.
From a live performance point of view, I’m excited to be doing a number of tours and shows with my circus collective, The Caravan Of Creeps, which include two world record holders, former Cirque Du Soliel alumni and international touring performers. I’ve enjoyed training in my aerial arts and have decided that flaunting the laws of gravity suits me well. I’m hoping to publish a collection of essays with my pin ups accompanying them.
Horror News Network: Over the last decade of covering horror, I have seen a huge surge in the amount of women in the horror genre. Who were some of the women you watched that influenced your to work and draw to the genre?
Tristan Risk: I think women have always been in horror from Mary Shelley to Mary Harron. I do think we’ve been more vocal as a collective in recent years about getting the same recognition as our male counterparts though. It’s a positive thing to see since I think women have an extremely acute sense of horror that most people don’t consider.
I grew up on Sigourney Weaver, first in Ghostbusters (I’m a child of the 80’s, ummkay?) but it led me to Alien, Jamie Lee Curtis, and later Linnea Quigley and my Spirit Animal, Brinke Stevens. The latter as for me growing up, I identified with her as both an actress and a marine biologist. All these ladies and more came out swinging. They adopted no submissive postures and either portrayed tough chicks or else lifted two fingers to convention and the perceived “ghettoization” of the horror genre. I hope we remember to hail these women, since they made it possible for women of my generation to have the platform we do.
Horror News Network: What scares Little Miss Risk?
Tristan Risk: The Republican party, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump and the Canadian Conservatives.
Horror News Network: Thanks Tristan!