We have talked about this before [click
here], but do bring us up to speed: Your new movie Olalla
- in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your
character (or characters, rather)?
film is based on the story, Olalla, by Robert Louis Stevenson. The film
picks up where the story leaves off, I imagine what eventually happens to
Stevenson's Olalla, and her family. I created a decadent, incestuous,
extended family as well. Imagine
a family of vampires, genetic vampires, who live somewhat longer than most
people, they drink blood to stay alive. It's a disease, if you will, but a
secret one that they have guarded all these years. They have romanticized
their disease; they do not wish to find a cure.
character of Olalla in the past is a woman who cannot escape from her
family, the weight of tradition, the burden of her disease. She
romanticizes martyrs and saints, the trials and horrible things to which
they were subjected. As
her brother tells her, marriage is not an option for someone like her, she
is a monster, and so her only escape from her life is a worse fate, that
daughter, many years later, also named Olalla, is a product of the
continued decadence, and decline of the family. She wants to be normal,
and like her mother, she wants to escape the confines of her disease and
her family, but is trapped in this continued state of despair by her
desire to kill.
What did you draw
upon to bring both characters to life, and did you approach them any
differently? And how much of Amy Hesketh can we find in either Olalla? And
was it clear for you that you'd play both characters from the get-go?
wanted to play the two roles from the time I began thinking about the
characters, and writing the script. Playing both roles, becoming so
involved in the film from both sides, it was emotionally cathartic.
is something of me in Olalla, as there is something of me in all of the
characters in the film. Like in a Jungian-interpreted dream, every
character represents an aspect of my Self.
Olalla is based on a
lesser known (yet widely available) story by Robert Louis Stevenson, you
have taken quite a few liberties with the source material - so what drew
you to Stevenson's story, how did your attention get drawn to the story in
the first place, and what can you tell us about your additions to it?
the time I envisioned the film, I was in my old house in Maine, taking
care of my father, who was very ill. Suffice to say, it was a difficult
experience, and I needed to transform a lot of that pain and complicated
feelings into something else; Art.
found a copy of Olalla in a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson stories
in my attic. I re-read the story and was instantly inspired. Robert Louis Stevenson,
himself, felt that the story was unfinished, undeveloped. I felt the same
way. The themes he introduces in the story are powerful; family, incest,
religion, post-traumatic stress, the pressures of society upon women, just
to name a few. I
followed the lead he introduces in the story, and developed the themes,
intensely elaborating, and extrapolating them; imagining how a family like
that would progress over time.
Olalla being a vampire
movie, just like Dead
But Dreaming before it, is that a genre at all dear to you, and
your personal views on the genre as such?
I was a little girl, vampires have fascinated me. The idea of a being that
feeds upon human beings, looks like us, but is not. Something that does
simply take, and does not give back.-
me, Robert Louis Stevenson's genetic vampires were a different way of seeing vampirism,
more as a disease. But a disease that, within a family, has become more
than an affliction, it has become their very reason to keep going, almost
a religion, with a philosophy of existence, and incorporated rituals.
What can you
tell us to your directorial approach to your story at hand?
always difficult to direct a film, and act in it as well. So, in that
aspect, I had to do a lot of preparation for what I wanted from each
scene, and communicate very well what I wanted with my crew. As
for directing the cast, I had very specific characters in mind for the
family, and had them work together in group rehearsals.
we have talked about this before [click
here], but anything you can add about your cast?
Amy with Luis Almanza
Mila Joya, Jac Avila
Fermin Nunez, Roberto Lopez L.
Rosario and Varinia Huanca
with Luis Almanza for the first time was great, he was a pro, and really
listened to my direction. He was very subtle, and played off of my
character well. We had good chemistry for the film, and had a lot of fun
del Rio was also a newcomer, and contributed not only his acting, but his
incredible musical talents to the soundtrack. The film benefits so much
from this talent, it's astounding. I hadn't entirely decided on what songs
he would sing in the scenes of the film, and he came up with a bunch on
the spot, standing, in costume in the middle of a cobblestone road in the
middle of nowhere. It was amazing.
Joya was absolutely wonderful in the film as Olalla's sister. I was so
impressed with how she developed her character for this film. She became
very involved with her wardrobe, hair, her attitude toward my character.
She's grown so much as an actress, and it really shows in this film.
Jac [Jac Avila interview - click here],
as usual, had an issue with how awful his character is, he joked that
"but he's likeable... really, he's just keeping everyone in
line!" He did such a great job getting into character, he was so
creepy, that he made me feel sick during our scenes together. That speaks
Esther was absolutely captivating as Aunt Aurora. Her cool steely glances
makes one feel like they are in the presence of the matriarch of the
family. She always has great suggestions about her character; I enjoy
working with her.
two uncles, played by Beto and Fermin, rehearsed for hours their gestures.
I envisioned them as twins, like the Fall of the House of Usher, in
which the brother and sister share a soul. Based on the script, they came
up with an arsenal of gestures, and practiced them all with timing with
their dialogues. They heavily choreographed their performance.
Antoine was great as Bruno. He took lessons in how to move, gesture, talk,
from his two gay uncles. When they saw the film, they were delighted with
his performance. He also had great ideas about his wardrobe, which helped
him get into character, like wearing ladies nylon knee-highs with his
loafers, instead of men's socks.
two girls, Varinia (young Olalla) and Rosario (young Ofelia) Huanca were a
real find. A stroke of luck, fate, whatever you want to call it. We had
intended to cast the two girls before we went to the location in Potosi
(the hacienda in the 1880s scenes), but had absolutely no luck. Then, the
first day of shooting, their father, Jaime, brought them to the set to see
if one of them could work. We took a break from a scene, and I walked over
to meet them. I was astounded by how much they resembled Mila and I.
Rosario's gestures, even her voice, were so naturally like Mila. And
Valeria, she naturally had the same gestures as my character. Working with
them was such a wonderful experience, they were both so patient, and good
about getting into their costumes, I have no doubt that if they choose to
continue on the path of acting, they'll go far.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shot the contemporary scenes in a house here in La Paz, which belongs to
two of my very good friends, Miguel Angel and Rodrigo. They were so
welcoming and wonderful to allow us to shoot there. It's an amazing
location, I often like to have a location that's so beautiful and full of
history that it becomes a character in the film. This house was perfect,
and it was a joy to shoot in a relaxed atmosphere, to be able to take a
time out and sit at a real table in a dining room and have a cup of tea.
second location was in Cayara, Potosi, in a Hotel/Museum there. It's an
amazing location, very green, a tiny village. The owner, Arturo, was
welcoming and accommodating. We brought this huge wooden cross with us to
set up for the final burning scene. Not only did he put it up where
exactly I wanted it, in the open space in front of the chapel, but made a
cement and stone base for it as well. It was so great to be able to shoot
round the clock, and then relax in a room in the hacienda itself, knowing
that everything was happening on schedule. A lot of that was due to Jac's [Jac
Avila interview - click here]
stellar production on the film, of course.
rather unsavory anecdote, however, happened the first day of shooting. I
insisted that I wanted a donkey for the first scene, when the Priest and
Robert are walking to the hacienda. An animal always improves a scene, in
my opinion. I pushed, and pushed, and finally Jac found me my donkey.
Everything was fine until the donkey decided that it had had enough, and
wanted to have lunch, and took off down the road. Unfortunately, I was
holding its tether at the time, which got wound around my hand, and so the
donkey dragged me after it down the gravel road, causing some significant
bodily injury to yours truly. I now cannot look at a donkey without having
shivers of angst.
few words about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?
been wonderful here as well as in the USA and Europe. We've received great
criticism from many areas. People
who have seen the film in the theater here have contacted me personally
to congratulate me on the film, my direction, the cinematography, the
are some excerpts from three critiques of the film:
a freeform adaptation, brought to the present day, that uses collective
memory as a device and finds in its situations a fertile ground on which
to generate an environment of tension required by the staging. Considering
this is Hesketh’s fourth film, a maturity in the work is clear, as well
as attention to her craft."
Sánchez for the newspaper Cambio
has been a huge explosion in recent years of great female horror film
directors who are transgressing boundaries with gory, exciting,
thought-provoking blood baths. Amy Hesketh, an American
writer-director-producer-actress working out of La Paz, Bolivia is a name
that should be on everybody’s lips when they talk about female horror
Weichsel for morehorror.com
would have become a favorite film of mine even without
the Vampires. And I know my female Vampires... Olalla is a Vampire like no
other, and Olalla is a Vampire film like no other."
Dean Andersson (Horror Writer)
future projects you'd like to share?
next big project, which I'll be directing, is an adaptation
of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Think Day for Night meets
8 1/2 meets Stardust Memories, but super sexy as
that, we're shooting an adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine,
directed by Jac Avila [Jac Avila interview - click here], which I'll be starring in as Justine, and
anticipate that it will be (again) a difficult role for me, as well as
having some very (VERY) arduous scenes for my character. At
this point in my experience as an actress, I know it's something I can
as always, I'm writing a new script that is a contemporary Gothic Horror
tale, which involves a lot of power-play relationships.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
for DVDs and downloads: http://vermeerworks.com
and downloads on Amazon.com:
on Vimeo on Demand: http://vimeo.com/ondemand/olalla
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OlallaTheMovie
for the interview!