A Swiss Army Knife of creative talents, Mallory O’Meara is screenwriter, film producer at Dark Dunes Productions, podcaster (Reading Glasses), and has recently published her first book – The Lady from the Black Lagoon. This book rediscovers and explores the life of Milicent Patrick, the genius who designed the titular Creature from The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Wanting to learn more about O’Meara and her book, I was able to interview her for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what are some movies you loved? Are there any you still enjoy revisiting?
Mallory O’Meara: I was a big fantasy fan as a kid! The Fellowship of the Ring, Labyrinth, Merlin, movies like that. Elves, dragons, monsters…I wanted all of it. I absolutely still enjoy them and watch them.
Yanes: You are a screenwriter and film producer for Dark Dunes Productions. When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in film production? Was there a specific moment in which this goal crystalized for you?
Mallory O’Meara: My path to the film industry was made up of a lot of moments, but the one that was probably the most important was when I found out about Milicent Patrick as a teenager and realized that women belong making monster movies, too.
Yanes: Dark Dunes Productions prides itself on movies that largely use practical effects. What is it about practical effects that you find so endearing?
Mallory O’Meara: Tangible magic is always exciting! I’m a big production nerd and I first fell in love with the idea of filmmaking watching behind-the-scenes special effects featurettes for movies like The Fellowship of the Ring and An American Werewolf in London. I love knowing how things are made, how the magic is done. Practical effects invite that sort of curiosity for me.
Yanes: Creature from the Black Lagoon came out in 1954. How did this impact your ability to research Milicent Patrick? For instance, did you find that much of her life was well documented or are some parts of her life that nearly impossible to rediscover?
Mallory O’Meara: The time period in which she lived certainly made my research process difficult. Most of her life was not well documented!
Yanes: While doing research for this book, were there any facts you learned that blew you away?
Mallory O’Meara: Finding out just how much Milicent did with her life blew me out of the water. She was like the Forrest Gump of the 40s and 50s. Just designing Creature would have made her worthy of a biography, but designing other iconic monsters, being one of the first female animators at Disney, growing up at Hearst Castle…Milicent was a Renaissance woman.
Yanes: I want to believe that the entertainment industry has gotten better about respecting the professional contributions made by women and other marginalized people. With that said, when reflecting on what you learned while researching and writing The Lady From the Black Lagoon, what more can be done to protect women from discriminatory practices? For instance, are there new policies that should implemented?
Mallory O’Meara: People need to believe women.
Yanes: When people finish reading The Lady From the Black Lagoon, what do you hope they take away from it?
Mallory O’Meara: I want readers to know that not only do women belong behind the camera and the sketchpad, but that we’ve always been there, wanting to do the work.
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Mallory O’Meara: People can watch my new film, Yamasong: March of the Hollows, on VOD right now! It’s a live action fantastical puppetry film featuring the voice talents of Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Fillion, Freida Pinto and many more talented actors!