Your movie What They
Say - in a few words, what is it about?
about a girl whom weíve all been at one point or another. Not in the
physical state, obviously, but in the emotional state sheís found
herself in. The film is about this successful, smart, privileged girl who
seemingly has everything going for her, yet for some reason is on this
downward spiral of destruction. Itís extremely surreal, visual, and
dark. At points you might find yourself asking ďWhat is actually
happening or is this all just in this girlís head?Ē You will find
yourself cringe, relate to, and ultimately feel bad for this girl who just
canít seem to overcome her ďinner demonsĒ. In a nutshell thatís
what the film is about Ė inner demons. We all have them, some of us are
just better able to beat them back than others. Some are just more willing
to beat them back at all.
They Say is based on a short story written by you - so what were
your inspirations when writing the story, and how much of yourself have
you put into your story's central character?
I wrote What
They Say at a
turning point of a very dark period of my life Ė so thatís what
inspired it: that dark period and my overcoming it. I have never been a
cutter but felt I could identify with the need to release anger, hatred,
depression, anxiety and, in some cases, overwhelming love through some
external means that wasnít just bashing peopleís brains in. I have
always used writing as that external means but I wrote my character
choosing to use a razor. I felt on some level or another most people could
relate to that need but maybe not the lead characterís choice of action.
The character in a lot of
ways is and isnít me. She is who I could have become if I didnít
choose to fight and overcome the hardships I have encountered in my life.
She is my dark side I never let free. The dark side we all know we have
somewhere within us but ignore it, deny it, or in the end fight it.
the whole project rolling to begin with? And why did you choose to produce
the film yourself?
The idea for the film came
in a very comical way. I was cast as one of the lead characters of Andy
Schatnerís Afraid of Sunrise [Andy
Schatner interview - click
here] Ė one of my first film roles.
During production and filming I encountered such an amazing group of
individuals I just knew I wanted to work with again. I remember one day,
as my MUA was getting me ready for my scenes, I just blurted out ďWe
should make a movie!Ē The response from the production crew was ďOh
yeah?! What about?Ē - and I honestly didnít know the answer. I just knew
I wanted it to happen. So I started racking my brain for ideas. Suddenly
the What They Say short story I had written many years ago popped into my
head. Particularly, one of the most brutal scenes, the living room scene,
and I realized how visually that could make for a fantastic short film. I
started pitching to people right away and soon found myself backed with an
army of talented Chicago actors and filmmakers willing to help me make
My producing it happened on accident really. It
wasnít a purposeful choice I made so much as just the need for me to
make this happen was so overwhelming that I just ended up really doing all
the work that is required of a producer. To me, again for one of my first
roles and producing efforts, it turned out better than I could have ever
imagined. We had virtually no budget, almost everyone working for free,
and no one knew who I was at all in the indie film world. Yet here we have
this pretty well done short film that people seem to really like and
connect with, thatís been nominated for and won multiple awards all over
fests in the US. Itís not the best short film ever - by any means. It
has a great many faults and things that could have been improved upon with
a better budget and more time, but it shines in many ways as well and
thatís solely because the people involved were extremely talented and
You have co-scripted What
They Say with your co-star Kelsey Zukowski [Kelsey
Zukowski interview - click here], right? What can you
tell us about her, and what was your collaboration like?
is amazaballz. That pretty much sums it up. Sheís a talented actress but
even more so an amazing screenwriter. That girl pumps out scripts like
itís nobodyís business. She is easy going and fantastic to work with.
She shared my ultimate vision for the film, which made the whole process go
a lot smoother. If I can recommend having anyone involved with your
project, itís Kelsey. Sheís talented, dedicated, hardworking, and cool
as hell. Canít ask for much more than that.
director Justin R.Romine [Justin
R.Romine interview - click here] - why him, what did he bring to
the project, and how easy/difficult was it to pretty much hand your story
over to someone else?
had directed Afraid of Sunrise, and thatís how I met him. He seems
extremely chill and talented. What
They Say didnít really require much
from a director Ė since myself, the DP Nicole Klemens, and the
Editor/CGI artist Radek Michalik had initially come up with the entire
story, general camera angles and shots desired for the scenes as well as
test shooting to make sure it would even work, and a rough shot list
before we even signed Justin on as a director. Really Justinís role in
this film was to oversee the process as a whole and make sure things were
being done in the best possible manner. At the end of the day 4 of our
crew members are also talented directors besides Justin. Every single one
of them offered ideas and suggestions that ultimately improved upon the
film's outcome as a whole. This film did not have a single director doing
the things standard directors do on most film productions but instead
was a collaborative effort of like-minded talent filmmakers helping it all
As far as I know, you were also
responsible for casting What
They Say - so what can you tell us about your main cast?
love them. Each and every one of them. Beyond production we have all
stayed in touch and in some cases became very close. I would suggest and
recommend basically every actor or actress I hired for What
They Say to
other filmmakers. If it were logical to work with the same people over and
over I would do so with the cast/crew of What
They Say every time. Of
course that isnít a logical choice, as you have to expand your network
and get your name out there, but every chance I get I do in fact mention
their names as potentials in other films. You have to promote people you
an actress, what did you base your performance in What
They Say on, what did you draw upon to bring it to life?
My performance and
inspiration was entirely based on my past hardships. That dark place I
found myself in for a very long time. People who know me are always
shocked by my retelling of the life I found myself living for a great many
years. I wouldnít say, by any means, that I had an easy upbringing; far
from it actually, and of course I know a great many people who had it much
worse than I. My past is what has made me into me. I am lucky I was able
to find the path I did and choose to draw strength from what Iíve been
through instead of envy, pity, or just pure anger at the world. The latter
would have been the easier road to take, trust me, but a hella lot less
productive or satisfying in the end. I want to look back on my life
someday and say ďHey I made it. I beat it. I tried my best. I made
things happen for myselfĒ. At the end of each day thatís all I really
want to be able to say Ė that I tried my best, went after my dreams, and
was damn happy doing it.
PS: I wanted to also note
that itís much easier, in my opinion, to play a character you have
written and was really inspired on emotions youíve had in the past. I
feel like a lot of people mention my Ďperformanceí in this film, when
really, it was just me reliving and reviving my past experiences. I
donít know if that makes me a skilled actress or just emotionally
unstable. Probably a good bit of both. One would not exist without the
PPS: Although I make myself sound like I sit in
dark rooms and contemplate suicide on a daily basis, Iím actually an
extremely happy, bubbly, person who laughs consistently and finds fun in
turning otherís innocent comments into sexual innuendo. So yea. Just
wanted to mention that bit as well. XD
far as I know, What They
Say has so far only played a few festivals, right? What can you
tell us about critical and audience reception so far?
I guess a few. Weíve screened at 10 or so
fests so far and have a few other fests still pending to let us know if we
are accepted or not. Weíve screened at some noteworthy festivals
including Fright Night Film Fest 2012 Ė which is one of the biggest
genre fests in the US as well as the all women in film fest Stiletto in
Boston. We have been nominated for and won multiple awards across the
board at nearly every fest weíve screened at. Fan response was
definitely well received and Iíve just now really started sending it out
there to get critical opinions. So Iíll let you know on that bit at a
go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into acting to
begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
canít really remember ever wanting to do anything else. I have loved
movies and filmmaking since I was a child. I must admit my dream was to
always play a hero like Rogue from X-Men or Sonya Blade in
Iím more of a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and psychological thriller films
than anything else. I had some extremely mild acting training in middle
school and really started to go full swing into it in high school when my
drama course teacher casted me as the lead in a number of plays. After
high school I put acting on hiatus and moved to Chicago where I went to
college for computer science. (Yes Iím a huge nerd if you havenít
figured it out yet. Iím ok with that!) I loved my courses but just
always felt like something was missing. After 2 years in college and when
the recession went in full swing I took a break from college and started
acting courses in the city. I soon found myself in my true calling. Since
then I have been actively pursuing it. I still have a day job and all that
jazz but every other waking moment is dedicated to acting. I just
wouldnít be happy any other way.
to breaking into the movie world, you did quite a bit of theatre, right?
What can you tell us about your stage work, and how does acting on stage
compare to acting in front of a movie camera?
have been in a number of plays. I enjoyed it. I love theatre. Itís
thrilling and completely different from film. You do not get a second
chance and I like that. Makes you live more in the moment and really
brings things into perspective. Theatre makes you appreciate the relaxed
atmosphere of film much more I think. There are a great many actors only
able to do one or the other: Film or Theatre. The reason for this is that
it really is two very different acting approaches and a lot of people find
themselves just naturally better at one or the other. Theatre requires you
to go big or just go home. You are always working with the audience in
mind. Really trying to draw and connect with them and work them into the
play itself as though they are on stage with you. Itís extremely
challenging. Film is definitely different but equally as challenging for
the exact opposite reasons. You are playing to a camera and pretending
itís your audience. You are trying to draw through this digital medium
the same emotion and inspiration actors do in plays but in a much much
more subtle way. Itís easy to overdo it in film. Itís easy to underdo
it in theatre. Itís even easier to just fail at both horribly if you
take yourself too seriously or find yourself too much in your own head.
Acting, in the end, is really about knowing who you are to a minute detail
and letting go of that. Itís about truly understanding others without
judgment. Itís about wearing your emotions on your sleeve always. Acting
on stage or film can be the scariest more liberating and exciting
experience youíll ever have. I highly recommend it.
still remember your first time in front of a movie camera, and what was
that experience like?
This is actually a comical one because my first time in front of a camera
was for a music video. I had a cameo in that consisted of me dressed in
some creepy mardi gras themed costume and makeup, licking my lips
seductively, in a restaurant without heat that was being renovated in the
middle of winter Ė so we had space heaters but it was literally 7
degrees outside. So COLD. Funny enough though even with those awful
conditions it was a blast. I knew immediately I was meant to do this. I
was so excited that when I left I leap over a curve in a kind of
celebratory lunge... which ended with me landing on black ice, slipping,
and fracturing my tail bone. Fun! Iím a darn walking disaster.
If you don't mind, I'd like to
rather randomly pick a few movies from your filmography and have you say a
few words about them and your respective characters ...
Ariel in The Little Mermaid but was never
credited. By played I mean pretend, in my living room, when I was 6, and
didnít yet know the implications of only wearing seashells over your
breasts and otherwise being buck naked. Just thought Iíd mention it! XD
Cool Kids Wear Pink?
just not talk about this. XD Honestly, it was a TV-pilot that was never
even remotely completed. I donít even know what to say about it or what
even happened to it. Doubt it even hit the editing floor.
Epitaph: Bread and Salt?
Iím a slutty, druggy,
mage! No seriously. Thatís my character. The film should be finished by
the year 2045 if Nat keeps on the current theme of adding more and more to
it [Nathyn Masters interview
- click here]!
Iím a slutty vampire! By
slutty I just mean that I canít stop drinking human blood when Iím
supposed to. Andy Schatner, one word: Awesome. That is all.
Scary Story Slumber Party?
a slutty.. no IĎm kidding. XD I was actually in the segment Event
Invitation by Myke Wilson. While filming this I learned the valuable
lesson that one should never start a real chainsaw in a closed environment
Ė like the living room of a house for example. The fumes are god awful!
That and Travis Legge [Travis
Legge interview - click here] has a fetish for cutting females open (not in real
life - I hope - just in movies) among other things. ;)
of the Degenerate Brain-Eating Mutant Fog Insects?
Seriously. One of the first comedies I did and Iím VERY proud of how it
turned out. My character is OUTRAGEOUS. I mean sheís a nut. A damn nut!
It was really fun playing a completely different character from anything I
had done thus far who was balls to the wall. Patrick Love, Michael Schmid,
Will Cummings, they were all just awesome to work with. Hopefully more
comedies and fun characters are to come!
Iím a slutty cheating
wife. See a pattern here? I donít just play slutty characters fyi. You
just happened to ask about a lot of the films I happen to have roles like
that in. Shame on you naughty one!
get nekkid. I hope no one ever sees it! Not really... but really. IíM NOT
SLUTTY! YAY! How does that happen with oneís first nude scene Ė not
being slutty? I have no clue but it did.
Any other films of yours you'd like to talk
about, any future projects?
Oh tons. Tons and tons!
Iím working with Andy
Schatner again as producer and one of the leads for an upcoming feature
length romantic drama. Itís a three piece story of different points in
relationships that are all intertwined and related through the characters.
The script is hard to explain but just freaking awesome. It tells a unique
and interesting story and you grow to love the characters subtly but by
the end you suddenly realize itís in a very powerful way. You CARE what
happens to each of them. You want to know more. Stay tuned for updates on
this one! Iím super excited!
Iím currently working
with David A. Holcombe on his upcoming Italian giallo style horror
feature Yellow as a producer with a small cameo role in the film.
Again Iím extremely excited about this script. Itís unique, not
overdone, and has all the surreal and stylized elements I love in
horror/thrillers. Again Ė stay tuned for more updates on this!
I was recently cast in one
of the lead roles of Paul Brooks upcoming The Graveyard Menace, which
begins principle photography this August. This is a horror comedy! Those
are always a good time.
Iím filming with the
AMAZABALLZ Cory Udler on his upcoming short film Ed Gein: DDS in late
August. Iím super stoked to work with Cory. Heís an amazing filmmaker
and person to boot. Good times are sure to be had making this film!
Iím working again with
Travis Legge [Travis Legge
interview - click here] in his upcoming rom-com Dry Spell. I have a super fun
outrageous role that Iím really looking forward to filming. Working with
Travis is always a honor and good time as well.
There are more. A great
many more! But these are the Ďnext upí ones Iím filming I thought I
should mention. I have projects lined up all the way through almost mid
2013 at this point!
One can't help but notice
that quite a few of your movies are of the horror variety - a genre at all
dear to you, and why (not)?
must admit before I started doing horror films I wouldnít call myself a
fan. I never scared easily as a child or adult... not at all. Since I found
that most horror films didnít scare, gross me out, or anything in the
slightest, I was always left sorely disappointed. Once I found myself
thrown into this horror film genre as an actress though I began to slowly
and surely grow more devoted to the films, community, and the hard work
that goes behind making these films. Itís tough. Horror fans are not the
easiest to please but they are the most loyal by far.
How would you describe
yourself as an actress, and what can you tell us some acting techniques
you tend to apply?
really donít know what to say about myself as an actress... except that I
try not to Ďactí. I try to Ďbeí. I pull emotions from my past, how
I feel about the script or the current situation around me, connect with
the other humans Iím working with on as many levels as possible, and
just try not to be in my own head too much. I find that to be the hardest
part. In order to act well you have to let go of yourself. In order to let
go of yourself you have to really know who you are... both who you are to
yourself and to others. This sounds easy - itís not. Itís very hard. A
lot of us will go through our whole lives without truly ever understanding
who we really are... or even caring to find out. I have to look at myself
in the mirror every day and admit who I am. Admit my strengths, my faults,
and accept it through and through.
Actresses (or indeed actors) who
Norton. Sir Ian McKellen. Helen Mirren. Natalie Portman. Those are a few.
Your favourite movies?
someone asks me this I go deer in the headlights. Itís like I forget
every damn movie Iíve ever seen. Idk. I liked Cabin in the Woods a lot.
Avengers. Crazy, Stupid, Love. Fight Club. 28
Days Later. American History X. Boondock Saints. Serenity.
Bill. Do you see the eclectic
tastes here? My favorite genre is probably sci-fi and fantasy and mixes of
the two. My ultimate role would be Rogue in an X-Men-movie, a Lucy
assassin from the Kill
Bill-movies, or Alicia Blades from one of my
favorite books, The Passage by Justin Cronin.
and of course, films you really deplore?
man. Not going there. Not because Iím scared to but more so because I
really havenít given it any true thought. When I hate a movie, I try
hard to forget it ever even existed in the first place. Iím sure there
are a great many on this list.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Well, thereís my personal
- which Iím revamping to be a lot more user
friendly and interesting. Best place to keep up with what Iím doing
Filming Round Midtown official site: www.filmingroundmidtown.com
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I mentioned the link above,
but I host a twice monthly show called Filming Round Midtown with
Deann and Taryn Baker [Deann Baker
interview - click here]. We cover all things Indie film from news,
screenings, events, fests, and more. especially in the Midwest. Weíre
always looking for submissions and people to help promote and get their
projects out to indie fans everywhere! You can find out more by following
the links above or submitting to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
for the interview!