by Nadzeya Huselnikava/
Director of the horror short Sylvie, and talented emerging filmmaker from Columbia, Valerie K. Ratner shares her vision of horror storytelling.
GFM: How did your journey as a filmmaker begin?
Valerie: I was born to a Jewish family in Bogota, Colombia. I grew up very lonely; therefore, at the age of 10, instead of playing with other children, I preferred to stay at home imagining different worlds and writing about them. As I grew older, it was quite difficult for me to adapt to any schools; I attended five different ones and I quit all of them. After attending photography lessons, my appreciation for visual arts arose, and that’s when I decided to transform my writing into visual content. I studied screenwriting and directing for actors at the Black Maria Cinema School in Bogota, where my passion led me to pursue a degree in filmmaking and cinematography in New York City. While in New York, I wrote, produced and directed my first film, Sylvie” which received distribution and had a good festival run.
My purpose as a filmmaker is to turn the worlds of my imagination into a reality. My major influences are Stanley Kubrick for his refined visual style, Salvador Dali and David Lynch for their surrealism, and James Cameron for pioneering the development of film technology.
GFM: What do you look for in a good horror film, and what was your thinking behind the creation of Sylvie?
Valerie: A good horror film is one where the creators don’t force the story to frighten the audience. When horrifying the audience becomes their objective, the opposite happens. It becomes predictable and obvious. I feel that a good horror film makes audiences create a psychological battle within their minds by introducing them to the unknown, the most frightening place for humankind. When I began writing Sylvie, it was never my objective to create a horror film. I never think of a specific genre when I write. I started to reflect on all the unreachable possibilities that are beyond us, and the idea of building a character that literally sees in a different way blossomed into a story about a dark little girl who learns the beautiful things inside a horrific world.
GFM: What are you working on right now
Valerie: At the moment, my teammates and I developing an environmental short film for the sake of our planet. It’s visually stunning with hyper realistic images. We are developing new marketing and advertising strategies to make a true difference in the way we reach our audience. I finished writing two feature screenplays that will soon be in development. This includes the feature version Sylvie.
About Valerie Khoudari
Valerie Khoudari is a Colombian-born filmmaker trained in Filmmaking and Cinematography at the New York Film Academy. While in New York, she wrote, produced and directed her first short film, “Sylvie” which was invited to participate in several festivals around the world including the Dead by Dawn International Film Festival, and won an Award of Merit from the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood. Valerie has worked in the production department in some of the most prestigious production companies in Colombia, as well as collaborating with Enrique Pedraza in many projects in Los Angeles. Valerie is in the process of earning another degree in Screenwriting as she continues to actively develop and produce film and television projects.