Ahead of its UK premiere at the Soho Horror Film Festival, we caught up with director William Lott to discuss his new short Bottom.
What can you tell us about Bottom?
Without revealing too much, it’s based on a common theme of learning about yourself, your body, what feels right and the terror and anxiety of being vulnerable. It’s about being insatiable. It’s about being perceived in a way that makes you “lesser” or “weaker” and taking that and flipping it on its head.
You are very much a champion of LGBT horror, does it please you how much queer horror is being produced right now?
I think in the past few years we’ve seen an influx of queer horror, especially openly queer characters in horror, and film in general, and I think it’s fantastic! Queer horror and queer characters are two separate things to me in the sense that horror has been (and always will be!) queer, but in terms of unapologetically, OPEN, queer characters – we’re finally getting to see them front and center and not tucked away underneath loads of subtext. I think a lot of the fun of film is interpretation, but when we’re talking about representation, I think there can never be enough and I’m happy we’re seeing more and more openly queer characters in mainstream film and media.
Was Bottom filmed during the pandemic?
“Bottom” was filmed in the summer of 2021. It was an added layer of “Fuck, we need to make sure everyone’s safe and make sure everything’s ran correctly to avoid anyone getting sick”. And on a teeny tiny budget, you’re already counting every single penny – so we all had to do our due diligence and we wore masks and social distanced and did the whole thing. But everyone on board was really enthusiastic and wanted to be there and made complying with CDC regulations super easy.
Tell us about the collaboration with co-writer Billy Lorusso?
I had written a couple of drafts of “Bottom” and I was really dead-set on directing my first budgeted short. So I was looking for a producer and without even really knowing Billy that well, I reached out to him and sent him the script and he just really got what I was going for and was excited about the project. As we brain-stormed funding ideas and what would work with our budget, he ended up workshopping the script with me and fine-tuning and tweaking it and “Bottom” really kind of became our baby and he kind of became my confidant, too, on the project. I turned to him with everything. Now I’m so happy to report he’s not only a great writer and producer, he’s also a good friend of mine (and a fantastic therapist when you’re having an existential crisis).
How does this differ from Ghosted and Whats in the Box?
“Ghosted” was such a fun experience, but it was more of a ‘testing the waters’ scenario. I hadn’t written or directed anything and it was myself and some good friends from acting class who got together to make a short film. I think I wrote the script in like a week and it was “GO” from there. Looking back, I’m proud of what we accomplished, but it doesn’t reflect who I want to be as a filmmaker. It was such a fun experience, though and I’m proud of the project for what it is. As for “Whats In The Box”, I don’t know if people realize I did entirely everything on my own with that one. I filmed it on my Sony a6300 with a tripod and manipulated everything in post. My boyfriend helped me with one scene where I’m walking down the stairs, but everything else was me just playing around, really. I did a series of concept trailers before “Whats In The Box” and I knew I really wanted to produce something, but I had no actual on-set experience or anything so I kind of looked at it as film school. I played around with lighting, editing, visual effects, practical make up – you name it, I tried it! I never really looked at it as a body of “work”, which now, I wish I had because it ended up getting reviewed a couple of times (not so favorably) and picked up in a couple of festivals. But, these things you live and learn. Now I know, whatever the reason, whatever the project, it shouldn’t be “just to learn” because that doesn’t translate. If you’re putting something out there, people will associate it with you as your work and you want it to reflect that as much as possible. “Bottom” I think is closer to a body of work that represents more of what I want to say, what I can do with a little money, and hopefully will be my “Hello, I’m here, I’m queer, I’m trying. This is my first ACTUAL attempt” moment (lol).
Did I hear right you got to also work on American Horror Story recently?
I’m working on “American Horror Stories”, but I’m on the production assistant side. So I have absolutely no creative input what-so-ever. It’s my first bigger set and the experience has been so eye-opening and fun. I’m trying to take it for all it’s worth and sucking all the juice out of the experience I can and meeting some of the coolest people I’ve ever had the chance to get to know. If I really ignore all of the “where I want to be” or “where I want to end up” scenarios, it really is a dream come true moment for me to be experiencing it. It sounds corny, but I really do feel like I’m lucky to be there.
How do you think UK audiences will react to Bottom?
I don’t know how anyone’s going to react! The people I’ve shown it to here in the states have enjoyed it, but I try not to really think about it because I get neurotic and end up convincing myself it’s the worst thing in the world and I need to pack it up and move back to Indiana. But we worked really hard on it, and the entire experience was so great and I hope that translates on screen. I hope audiences from all over will take something away from it. It’s framed within a queer space, but almost anyone can relate to the story from a thematic standpoint. I really want people to walk away from it trying to understand it for what it means underneath its gory and fun shell. I hope people enjoy it. I hope they LOVE it. I hope it becomes everyone’s favourite short film of all time and in 10 years we can make a “requel”.
Bottom screens at the Soho Horror Film Festival: Pride Edition between 24-26 June 2022.