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Satu Runa
Tonight's Feature Presentation

HORROR COMEDY IS WHERE IT'S AT!

an interview with satu runa


The Green Room

Svengoolie.  Elvira.  Schlock Theatre.  The hosted horror movie show is a staple of televised Americana, but what if someone put a modern twist on the theme and made a series about a fallen horror show host being courted for a reality documentary?  That’s what Satu Runa and her creative team are hoping to do with Queen Gorya… with a little help from the Kickstarter audience.  In this interview, she talks about the pilot in development, hosted horror, and the invisible barriers put up by race-based casting.


The Interview


Want to see Queen Gorya make it to the screen?

Here's the Kickstarter.

Ziggy Berkeley:  Who is Queen Gorya?

Satu Runa:  Queen Gorya is a character created by Andrew Harrison and originated by [myself].  She tells the tale of a fallen horror hostess who has passed her fame, and is crashing in the downfall of her career.  Though she is still flocked by hardcore, slightly neurotic fans, she is also being spied on by an aspiring cult leader named Dorian, who reads too many Aleister Crowley books.

Ziggy Berkeley: What is it about this character that made you and the rest of the creative team decide that she needed to have a series built around her?  What are you hoping to explore with this story?

Satu Runa:  When writer Andrew Harrison approached me with the script to star in and develop Queen Gorya, I was also working on a similar character of the horror hosting variety.  I have been a horror hostess in the past and also am much too familiar with the horror genre as an actress to pass this opportunity up.  I read the pilot episode script and fell in love with the dark world Andrew created around her.  I immediately agreed to produce this show, and I have been working on it non-stop ever since.  People will be interested in her story because it's unusual, so we will be shedding some light on this world through Queen Gorya's mistakes and foibles.

Ziggy Berkeley:  You’ve already taken some time to introduce her to a select public at conventions.  Is it fair to call that a test run for the character?  What kind of response have you gotten from those interactions?

Satu Runa:  Taking Queen Gorya out in public is a test run for me as an actress.  There is nothing like taking a stroll in public to really see who your character is, and feel how the world perceives them.  Together with fans and strangers, I have let Queen Gorya rise from the pages.  People really like her, and are very curious about her.  I got a great response from Jerry Only (Misfits), who obviously has a thing for horror hosts! (See pictures from 1982 with Vampira herself).

Ziggy Berkeley:  Looking at your Kickstarter (which runs through November 21, 2013), the stated aim at present is to make a television half-hour-long pilot episode, but its eventual destination is left open; could be web, could be streaming service, could be cable, could be network.  I can understand not wanting to pigeonhole the project, but each of those media streams provides its own unique environment with different sets of expectations, different challenges and opportunities for the mechanism of story presentation, different limits, and so on.  With that in mind, which guide set do you look to use as a frame the pilot episode, and why?

Satu Runa:  We see Queen Gorya living at Netflix, or at another comparable online content provider, in television format and quality.  I would not call it a web series because we are producing it for television.  We want it to live online in order to have more creative freedom, and exposure, for that matter.

Ziggy Berkeley:  Do you have different long term story contingencies in the back of your mind based on different potential distribution scenarios?  For example, a “vanilla” version, an “edgier” version, etc.?  Or is that too much putting the monster before the lightning?

Satu Runa:  Nope; her story is her story, with or without influence from networks.

Ziggy Berkeley:  Are there compromises or sacrifices to your vision for Queen Gorya that you definitely won’t make?

Satu Runa:  We aim to create what we have in mind, and have yet to encounter any sort of sacrifice.  (Though there may be a sacrifice of some kind on the show! Joking. Not really.)

Ziggy Berkeley:  Tell us about some of the other people working with you to make Queen Gorya a household name on a million screens.

Satu Runa:  Haley Hudson portrays Jane Riley, the film student wishing to make Queen Gorya her reality show film thesis project.  She is bright and boldly talented.  She is a working actress but not yet a household name.  We hope to bring her into the spotlight through Queen Gorya, as she was born to play this role.  And me, of course. I'm a superstar.  Haha.

Ziggy Berkeley:  Let’ go back to the character herself and what she does.  It’s easy enough to either pop in or tune to a horror flick and let it play.  To your mind, what is it about a host like Gorya or Elvira or Svengoolie that adds to the experience in a way that can make it preferable to watching just a “naked” horror film?

Satu Runa:  Guiding people to think is what a host does. We plant ideas in people's minds and, like Charon ferrying the dead to Hades, horror hosts carry people through the films’ experience.  Also it makes watching movies on TV that much more fun, especially when you have eye candy like Elvira!

Ziggy Berkeley:  Can you think of a moment – doesn’t have to involve a horror show specifically; it can be anything – where the experience of watching a host really struck a note for you as a viewer?

Satu Runa:  My favorite horror host is Vampira.  The day she passed was a sad day indeed.  Horror hosts don't really exist outside of America (I am Canadian), but I can tell you that Vampira has been a huge influence on me.  She was Finnish, and my father is from Finland, so I have a sense of national pride when I think of her.

Ziggy Berkeley:  What would you consider to be your favorite horror films, both in the “serious” and “cheese” categories?  What do you look for in a good horror flick?

Satu Runa:  Seriously: Aliens, Event Horizon, and any kind of sci-fi horror (particularly in space) always gets me.  Nothing is scarier or more exciting than space.  Cheese:  I love love love Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice.  I always look for phenomenal acting and writing, and those two big blockbusters always do it for me.  Horror comedy is where it's at!

Ziggy Berkeley:  You’ve adopted the moniker “The Final Fangirl.”  What made you decide on that for yourself?  What makes that title scream “you”?

Satu Runa:  A combination of "The Final Girl" and a "Fangirl."  In movies I've acted in, I actually am usually the last to die.  But also I admire the concept of the Final Girl in Alien, Halloween, etc.  It's a strong character and I see myself as her.  As for fangirl, I will always be a fan.  I learned that from an old friend, the singer of Drowning Pool, Dave Williams.  He was such a positive energy and never stopped being a fan.  His death (along with that of Dimebag Darrell) had a profound effect on me.  It taught me to enjoy life and never stop being a fan, no matter how famous or jaded you get.

Ziggy Berkeley:  You’ve had some interesting challenges with regard to casting and race.  People have been discussing the question of race at the Casting Director level for years, but you’ve found an even more fundamental bias.  Tell us about that.

Satu Runa:  When I watch TV I want to see the world I live in, not someone's very limited vision of overused stereotypes.  I'd love for the industry to open its eyes and look around.  Actors who are mixed "racially" often get left out of the casting equation and have to create their own work in order to be noticed.  I am inspired by Vin Diesel who overcame this issue by creating his own film, Multi-Facial, about the tribulations of a mixed-race actor in New York jumping from one race to the next at every audition.  I'd love for networks to overlook race when casting most American roles. 

Ziggy Berkeley:  Do you see any changes afoot on that front?

Satu Runa:  Change will only come from those who are affected by it.  I am working towards change by having diversity in my projects, and casting the best actor for the role. Talent and essence is everything.

Ziggy Berkeley:  By your own account, as your career has been evolving, typecasting in your case isn’t so much about race anymore; it’s based on something else.  What would you say it’s based on now, and how does that feel for you?

Satu Runa:  I had to think about what you meant for a second then it hit me:  I have been typecast in the past few years in strong lesbian roles.  Kind of like Theo in The Haunting (Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character).  This makes me laugh, because sexuality is a mystery for a lot of people.  In life, people often perceive me as a lesbian.  I just happen to be a strong woman who is not afraid of showing my "masculine" side, if that's what you would call it.  I love power, and I'm not afraid to show it.  I hope that I can inspire people through my work to be themselves.

Ziggy Berkeley:  The Genie appears.  Any role already written, any stage, any screen.  Who do you play, and why?

Satu Runa:  Cleopatra, on stage at the Delacorte in Central Park, New York City, with the Public.  Cleo is my dream role (other than Ripley from Aliens).  The most powerful woman in history is something I would love to tackle and add to my bank of characters.  Who you play affects who you are, and I need her right now.

Ziggy Berkeley:  What is next for you, really?  Aside from the at-present boundless possibilities of Queen Gorya, of course.

Satu Runa:  I am writing a sci-fi/drama feature screenplay.  The lead will be a gateway for my career, establishing myself as a strong, intelligent, sage-like being in a genre that I adore. The next script is an erotic thriller.  I hope to produce two feature films in the next 2.5 years through my production company, Final Fangirl Productions.  All of my work will feature strong, unusual, and diverse female characters.

Ziggy Berkeley:  What kind of cheese and recreational beverage would you pair Queen Gorya with, and why?

Satu Runa:  Manchego and absinthe.  Queen Gorya has a wild side in her surreal universe, but she is an acquired taste one must come to love through time.

Ziggy Berkeley:  And what about for Satu Runa?

Satu Runa:  Canadian white cheddar (because it's my favorite!) and a full glass of Chianti.  I've had some amazing experiences in life, and I hope to share my stories with the world.  I'm friendly and fun-loving, but sharp and strong.  Hot-blooded.

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- Interview conducted by Ziggy Berkeley, November, 2013


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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