WRITES.CAMERA.AX-TION!: DEANNA GOMEZ
By Mo Moshaty February 5, 2024
Deanna is a proud Chicana born and raised in San Bernardino, California. A natural storyteller from a young age, Deanna
channels her passion into her work as an actress, screenwriter,
and director. Thanks to her roots and experiences, Deanna offers
a unique perspective in all that she does. A feminist raised by a
big, exuberant Latino family, Deanna is your go-to for writing powerful, independent female leads. Deanna uses her points of view to create characters that are more than meets the eye, and works in comedy, drama, and horror.
1. Give us the best elevator pitch on your work.
My work is about seeing the stories little Dee would want to see
on the big screen and TV. It's filled with diverse characters and
stories for anyone who's ever felt like the "other" in life. It represents all aspects of me, the good, the bad, and the spooky.
2. Tell us about your first brush with the horror genre.
Like so many horror lovers my first brush with horror was as a kid. I remember covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers watching movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween, and loving every second of it. I was lucky to grow up in a time where I was exposed to classic 80s horror, as well as 90s teen slashers.
3. What about the genre pulls you to work within it?
I love how diverse horror is and the potential of it. Horror can represent and provide commentary on complicated themes in the most interesting ways. We've seen this in everything from Frankenstein to Get Out. There's so much that can be said with horror.
4. On this horror journey have there been bumps or disappointments?
Gatekeepers in the horror community are loud, and they don't always get horror coming from a specific voice like mine or want my notes. These small-minded groups are beginning to die out, but there's no denying they exist and still have an impact on the industry.
""Bang Bang Betty" Written by Deanna Gomez, Directed by Alex T Hwang
5. What was the first horror screenplay you’ve written? Any production, publishing?
The first horror screenplay I wrote was called Gypsy Eye and followed a protagonist with a very spooky special power, however, the first horror screenplay I wrote that was then produced, was Called Ravenous Woods. It was a Wendigo/shapeshifter story, and I loved it. I was proud of the story I created. It's now called Something in the Woods because distributors didn't think the audience would know what ravenous meant. Kind of a bummer, but such is life.
6. What’s your process when beginning a screenplay?
When beginning a screenplay I always start with an outline and a solid synopsis. Screenplays die in act two, so knowing the main beats of my story at least reminds me where I need to end up. It's like a puzzle I get to fill in.
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?
The plot normally comes first for me in world-building. Once I know what I want to happen in the story and why, it all takes off from there. I build out the characters and their little lores, then I get specific with the location to build experiences for my characters that can only happen in that location.
8. Who and/or what are your horror influences?
I am most influenced by the supernatural and the different monsters that exist in different cultures. I grew up hearing stories about El Cucuy and La Llorona, but I was also catholic, so stories about demons and ghosts were also a part of my upbringing. I think my experiences influence me as well. I have a very loud, catastrophizing brain, and creating stories from some of my fears has led to some of my best work... and peace of mind.
"Something in the Woods" Written by Deanna Gomez, Directed by Alex T Hwang
9. Is there a story inside that you have seeds of but can't seem to connect that's dying to get out?
I have this great body horror idea based on what it felt like to be in an emotionally abusive relationship, but I haven't been able to flesh it out all of the way. Again I know what I want to happen, but I don't want the story to be obvious and predictable, so I'm taking my time with it, but it's clawing at me. I think it'll be an empowering story a lot of people can relate to.
10. How do you handle extensive notes or a rejected screenplay?
I have to take a step back from a project for a few days after notes. I pour my heart and soul into my ideas so even though I know notes and rejections are part of the process, I need a moment to breathe before I dive back in. I find taking a step back can also help so I react less emotionally and with more of an open mind. However, although notes and rejections are part of the process I think it's important to remember who they come from. If it's a story you are passionate about, don't give up. And let's be honest, some people give terrible notes. I always think of Stephen King's story of rejection. No one wanted to publish his books at first and now he's one of the kinds of horror.
11. What has been the most difficult part of your screenwriting journey?
Understanding that once you sell a screenplay people can do whatever they want with it. It's no longer yours, so it may not be the story you envisioned once it is produced.
12. What has been the best/most rewarding?
The community I've met in the screenwriting and horror community has been the best. This job can be a lonely one and finding the connections I've found have made this journey so much more fun. I'm so grateful for them.
"Mother" Written and Directed by Deanna Gomez
13. Which horror element or creature from film/lit terrifies you and why?
Clowns, killer dolls, and home invasion. These are three of my biggest fears. There is something so terrifying about taking things meant to be innocent and twisting them into something awful. One day I'll have a family and I will be damned if we ever hire a clown for a party. With home invasion, it's just too real for me. There are so many other horror elements that are just as probable in life, but someone coming into my own space to hurt me, makes me shudder.
14. What project are you looking forward to next?
I'm looking forward to a new horror feature I'm working on called Thots From Hell. It's a feminist horror that's playful and gory and deals with everything from Roe V. Wade being overturned to modern regulation of sex work across the nation. Also, badass female demon ladies eating men.
15. Where can folks find your work?
Folks can hear my work on my horror fiction anthology podcast, A Bad Feeling Horror Podcast. I'm the co-creator, but I'm also one of the writers and directors of the show. My two feature films, Something in the Woods and Bang Bang Betty are available to watch on Tubi, and the sci-fi horror I directed, called Mother, can be seen on Shudder as part of the Nyx Horror 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival. Folks can also follow my socials and check out my website for more content to come later this year.
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