Wendy Keeling Uncovers Shades of Scarlet, Career, and Horror

DecayMag.com Wendy Keeling
Wendy Keeling

Wendy Keeling is an actor, artist, writer, director, and producer based out of Nashville, TN. She has worked extensively in the horror genre, and her horror short, Shades of Scarlet, has recently hit the festival circuit. We’ve had the opportunity to interview Wendy about Shades of Scarlet as well as what’s next for her in horror.

Interview by Samantha Kolesnik

DecayMag: There is a fun bit of subversion to Shades of Scarlet. I don’t want to give anything away, but can you talk about that a bit?

Wendy Keeling: The story definitely has a little twist to it. Bob, one of the lead characters went to prison for rape and disfigurement but has been released on a technicality.

He is used to controlling situations but is confronted by Scarlet, a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to ask for it. The meeting creates a palatable tension to the story.

The story definitely has a little twist to it…

DecayMag: Your film, The Unconventional Gourmet, had a lot of success and was screened widely. Would you say there is any connection between the styles and content of The Unconventional Gourmet and Shades of Scarlet?

Wendy Keeling: Shades of Scarlet has some similar notes to The Unconventional Gourmet, but it has its own sense of darkness. It is less of a fairytale-styled story and takes place in what seems to be the “real world.” Even though there are some humorous moments, the reality of sexual predators being among us takes on a serious storyline.

Both films have characters with a quirkiness that brings a laugh but I think Shades of Scarlet addresses a more serious issue.

DecayMag.com Wendy Keeling Shades of Scarlet
Shades of Scarlet Still

DecayMag: What do you think fans of The Unconventional Gourmet will appreciate about your new film, Shades of Scarlet?

Wendy Keeling: Well I certainly hope that they like it! So far the general comments have been very good from our viewers. I don’t want to get locked into telling the same story over and over so it is my hope that my viewers will allow me to spread my wings a bit on each project and still enjoy the outcome.

There is never any guarantee with your films that you will carry an audience from project to project.

DecayMag: You’ve co-starred with actor Wynn Reichert in both The Unconventional Gourmet and in Shades of Scarlet. How did you two get to know each other and what was it like to work with him in two different productions in very different roles?

Wendy Keeling: Wynn and I have known each other for many years. We have been cast together several times and are pretty comfortable together on camera. Wynn is also an amazing writer. He tossed me the script for Shades of Scarlet to direct and produce a few years ago but for some reason, it was not a good fit for me. He did some rewrites and sent me the script again last year and I just could not resist! It was a great opportunity to direct a good story and play a character with range.

Wynn is one of my favorites to work with on either side of the camera. Sometimes you get to work with someone in a true collaboration with no fear of judgement. He and I are able to play freely with improvisation on set and bring real depth to our characters by working together. The different roles we have played together just seem to come together due to our comfort level with each other.

It is a big deal to me as an actor and a director to work with people I communicate with easily.

DecayMag: You’ve directed both comedy and horror. Is there a genre that you enjoy directing more? What do you like about making horror films?

Wendy Keeling: Honestly I love combining the two genres! The movie Get Out is the perfect example for me of the comedy/ horror combination. Toss in a little politically incorrect dialogue and I am sold! I think straight out horror is great.

…there is something about a horror comedy that scares you but gives you a little break every once and awhile and that turns me on.

DecayMag.com Wendy Keeling Shades of Scarlet
Shades of Scarlet Still

DecayMag: Without revealing too much, what can you tell us about your new horror short film, Clown College, which is in pre-production?

Wendy Keeling: Clown College is a drama/dark comedy about a young woman dealing with the death of an overbearing father. We have an amazing cast lined up for this film! We are just seeking some final funding to get started shooting this fall.

Honestly, I think it is one of my favorite scripts to write to date. It is very light on dialogue. Much of the story is told non-verbally and in the production design. I am incredibly happy with the casting on this one!The cast for this film really pulls it off!

People don’t necessarily realize that it takes a very talented actor to pull off an emotional or comedic role without words. 

DecayMag: Where can horror fans see your current work and follow you for updates about future films?

Wendy Keeling: We have several film festivals this month with Shades of Scarlet and The Unconventional Gourmet. We hope to raise funding to shoot Clown College this fall. After that, there are 3 feature film scripts in the pipeline we are ready to shoot. We hope to shoot the first one, another horror, comedy in the fall of 2018. It will be the first feature I will direct. I am very excited to take on a larger project! Unfortunately, that is all I can tell you for now.

Shades of Scarlet has upcoming screenings at:

• GenreBlast Film Festival, Toronto Independent Film Festival

• Rendezvous Film Festival

• Knoxville Film Festival.

Follow Shades of Scarlet and Wendy Keeling on Facebook for upcoming screening news.

DecayMag.com Wendy Keeling Shades of Scarlet
Shades of Scarlet Still
Cover photography by Photo by Al Sachs

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