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WRITES.CAMERA.AX-TION!: Ana Peres

By Mo Moshaty  April  4, 2024

Ana Peres is a 23-year-old writer from Brazil. She has an associate degree in Creative Writing and two additional certificates, one in Screenwriting and one in Film Production from a local university. Ana recently graduated from UCLA's Professional Program in Writing for Television. She is currently being mentored by screenwriter Ben Johnson, Jr., an opportunity she won after a competitive application process. She has taken screenwriting courses at Vancouver Film School and Sundance Collab. Ana participated in writing workshops with big names in the horror industry, including Jeff Howard (Haunting of Hill House) and the Hayes Brothers (The Conjuring).

Ana's directorial debut, micro short film, Happy New Year, was selected as a Bumper for this year´s Portland Horror Film Festival.

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1.  Give us the best elevator pitch on your work.

I merge trauma-focused storylines with supernatural elements, or even the possibility of it, creating intriguing yet haunting stories about characters who feel real.

2. Tell us about your first brush with the horror genre. 

I have always been drawn to horror, even when I was too little for it. Movies like Corpse Bride and Coraline (the latter I vividly remember watching when it premiered in the movie theater) were all-time favorites of mine when kids my age were scared just by their names and posters.

3. What about the genre pulls you to work within it? 

I love being scared, but it’s more than that. I think the horror genre is freeing in a lot of ways – since you experience deep, dark emotions gaining form (usually a terrifying one) in front of your eyes and must confront them. I love the cathartic feeling you have once you finish a good horror book, movie, or TV show.

4. On this horror journey have there been bumps or disappointments?

Various. Unfortunately, the horror genre is seen as less than other genres. It’s quite disappointing to see contests and award shows with barely, if any, horror nominees. Now, female representation in the genre is changing, but it is still lacking.

5. What was the first horror screenplay you’ve written? Any production, publishing?

The first horror screenplay I wrote was based on one of my first horror short stories I published back when I was in college. It was for a screenwriting class, and I remember trying to put this very internal dread into the page visually and found it difficult but rewarding. Since then, I wrote my first horror feature film last year as well as three
horror pilots.

6. What’s your process when beginning a screenplay?

First, I have an idea. Then, I do what I believe Shonda Rhimes describes as the incubator phase: I think about it for a while. When I can't stop thinking about the idea, I start briefly outlining some story beats. Then, move to characters (my favorite part)
and go back to add them to the original idea and develop the outline. I am a big fan of outlines and recommend anyone to plan your story in detail – it helps when the blank page feels overwhelming.

7. World-building in horror can be as extensive or as contained as we wish. What comes first for you in the idea department, the plot, the character, or the atmosphere?

It depends, but lately, I create situations that develop into me thinking about what type of character would go through them or make them more interesting and what is the right tone/atmosphere.

8. Who and/or what are your horror influences?

I have so many, but I will try to keep this short. Mike Flanagan is one of the biggest influences on my stories. I love his trauma-infused storylines that are heartfelt and still terrifying. Jordan Peele’s social commentary is something I love about his work and try to add it to mine. The Hayes Brothers and their innovative jump scares in The Conjuring franchise. I studied Ari Aster’s screenplays, and I am heavily influenced by his cinematography. Recently, Issa López, creator of True Detective: Night Country, has sparked something in me and given me a few new takes on the genre and how to tell
detective stories.

9. Is there a story inside that you have seeds of but can't seem to connect that's dying to get out?

Yes, it’s a detective thriller with supernatural/cult aspects to the crime. I feel I need to study the noir genre (especially Nordic Noir) more before I can write it the way I visualize it in my head, but it is one I am dying to get out; I am just not ready for it yet.

10. How do you handle extensive notes or a rejected screenplay?

I love notes, even the ones that make you feel like you are pursuing the wrong career. Why? Because notes have made me
a better writer. I had to learn early on, that you don’t have to make a move on every note given to you, but it is in your best interest to consider every note. Meaning, that if you get a note that makes you feel as though the reader has found out that you are an imposter, and have NO BUSINESS writing for a living, step away from that feedback for a few days, a few weeks if that is what it takes for you to look at the feedback with a less emotional eye. Typically, I find that within that feedback there is a nugget that is true to the story you are telling that will make the story better. With that being said, I highly suggest that writers find a support group of people who will give good and honest feedback. You don’t need folks just telling you how good your writing is, you need the folks who tell you when it stinks but they know you can do better.

11. What has been the most difficult part of your screenwriting journey?

Being a writer from Brazil who still lives in Brazil, to get opportunities that I can apply to has been incredibly frustrating. Many prestigious fellowships and other opportunities have one common rule: you must live in the US to apply.

12. What has been the best/most rewarding?

I love it when anyone says they were scared reading what I wrote. People recognizing all the work I put into studying the genre is also incredibly rewarding to hear.

13.  Which horror element or creature from film/lit terrifies you and why?

This is going to sound silly, but the house in Monster House still terrifies me! I believe it’s one of the scariest movies made for kids that scarred me when I was little.

14.  What project are you looking forward to next?

I am currently in the outline stage of my first psychological thriller. It has been a tough one to start; planning is the key for the genre, but it has been a nice challenge I am enjoying very much.

15.  Where can folks find your work?

I have yet to produce anything horror-related that I wrote, but I have some hosted
screenplays on  Coverfly.

Coverfly link: https://writers.coverfly.com/profile/writer-ddf9c50a7-131144

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Mo Moshaty is a horror writer, lecturer and producer. As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life long horror fan, Mo has lectured with Prairie View A&M Film & TV Program as a Keynote, BAFSS Horror Studies Sig  and The University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. Mo has partnered with horror giant, Shudder Channel, to co-produce the 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival 2021 and 2022 with Nyx Horror Collective and her literary work "Love the Sinner" was published with Brigid's Gate Press in July of 2023 and her two volume collection, "Clairviolence: Tales of Tarot and Torment Vol. One and Two" will be published with Spooky House Press in the Spring of 2024

Mo is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of NightTide Magazine

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