Your upcoming movie Eyes Upon Waking - in a few words, what
is it going to be about?
a passion project, told from my heart, about the disease of suicide and
how it is misunderstood by society. This film uncovers the darkness in the
minds of those who suffer from their emotions, yet shows how light can be
found with the right kind of help. Those who are lost to us cannot be
returned - I want to bring awareness of what they went through to those
they've left behind. It is for any person with a friend or family member
who has taken their own life, and is left asking why.
Eyes Upon Waking visits
some pretty dark places, especially in the beginning. Now I don't want to
get too personal, but is any of this based on your own life/experience?
And how much research did you put into writing your movie? And what
inspired you to write the film to begin with?
Upon Waking is inspired by a true story about one womanís
struggle to come to terms with her own existence. This film has garnered a
great deal of interest from a wide range of people - not only those who
identify with the main characterís search for understanding within
herself, but others who have lost people close to them and want to
understand why. The story is told with a surprising amount of humor, which
keeps it entertaining while giving the audience a break from the drama.
The target audience includes artistic-minded individuals as well as
straightforward-thinking, everyday people who donít know what itís
like to suffer their emotions. The appeal of the story is that it exposes
psychological issues still mostly hidden throughout society - yet everyone
in the world either knows someone whoís experienced these things, or
felt this way themselves. When simply being alive is a life-or-death
struggle, people are drawn to that conflict, and want to know what will
happen with these characters.
you tell us about your writing partner Andy Golub, and what was your
collaboration like? And how did you two meet up in the first place?
started writing this story as a short to help showcase my acting ability,
but when I showed it to others the majority said that I basically wrote
their words and they could relate so I decided to make this a feature. I
realized around the time Marie Osmond's son took his life that society was
ready to hear this true side. So instead of making this a piece that would
showcase me I decided it should be a piece to help speak for others.
and I met when he was casting some films back in 2007 and we instantly
connected. He has a way with taking words and bringing them to magic. This
being my first collaboration was both wonderful and a pain in the ass,
mainly because I wanted the story to be as true as possible, and Andy and I
did argue about certain scenes, but in the end we came up with a wonderful
compromise. Andy helped to strengthen the characters and take some scenes
to the next level. He is a brilliant writer and I bring him on as many
projects that have come my way to produce as I can.
far as I know, Eyes Upon Waking's script alone has already turned
quite a few heads at festivals and readings. Would you care to
Eyes Upon Waking has been
entered into different readings, one being the Table Read my Screen Play
through Sundance, and we have been a finalist. Even though we
did not win the end all, just by placing in the top percent meant that
people are open to this kind of film. We had a professional reading a
month ago and I was afraid only 5 people would show up. We had 50 people
in total attendance. One of the attendees was a representative from
distribution and we are in talks now.
You have chosen to play the lead character of
Eyes Upon Waking yourself, right? Why, and what do you draw upon to
bring the character to life?
this story is based on my life I was not planning on playing the role, but
then after auditioning several actresses I realized that no one could
really bring in the truth like I can. My challenge right now is to bring
in that sadness that I went through because it has been 12 years since my
last two attempts and I am so much stronger now. So now I am approaching
it as an actor and not making it personal.
Anything you can tell us
about the rest of your cast yet, and why these people?
I have been so fortunate to get attached so many stellar actors that have
been in the industry for some time. Edie McClurg (Ferris Bueller's Day
Off) filmed with us
in April and once we achieve full funding I have the following lined up:
Tom Hodges (Revenge of the Nerds, Michael), Jeremy Jordan (Never Been
Kissed, 90's pop star The Right Kind of Love), Becky Thyre (Weeds,
Parks and Recreation, Flintstones), Zoey Diaz (Katy Perry's music
video Wide Awake, NCIS) and much more. With full funding we're hoping
to get attached Kathy Bates and Luis Guzman.
You are co-directing Eyes Upon Waking with Bennie Woodell [Bennie
Woodell interview - click here] - why did you decide
to pick up directorial duties for the movie, and what makes Bennie your
ideal partner of choice?
I realized that while I was interviewing directors, they were all asking
me if I thought about directing my story. I do have a certain vision that
I keep expressing to them, so the more I thought about it, the more it
made sense for me to direct. I'm also playing the lead and
I have never directed before so I realized to make sure the film is not
compromised, I needed to bring on a co-director. Bennie and I both watch
about 30 - 50 new films a month and share similar views
on the type of projects we want to bring to the audience. A few years
back, Bennie introduced me to Wong Kar-wai films and I have had the
wonderful opportunity to work with him up close on Je T'aime, Au Revoir.
I was really impressed on how he prepped his shoot and how much
thought he put into the vision. I need to know that when I am not on set
preparing for acting, that he will have my back. Also Bennie is able
to bring in a certain style I felt Eyes Upon Waking
Upon Waking demands a very specific location for the majority of the
plot. So what can you tell us about your projected location and location
scouting and the like?
true story takes place in Tucson so I wanted to do the filming there for
reality. We recently filmed the 1st 5 pages on a sound stage in Los
Angeles, CA and Tucson, AZ to help raise funding. We were so fortunate to have
the community in Tucson pulling for us. The
following have all donated to this project: Richard
Hernandez of Crane Medical Transportation, Brittney
Wilson of Rural/Metro Tucson Ambulance, Lisa, Gibby, Angle of Casa
Molina, Pati & Luke of Lukeís and Mike Cummings of Rosatiís
You are currently running a fundraiser
for Eyes Upon Waking, right? So what can you tell us about your
Basically I put all my savings into the filming we did in April and I am
still short on funds to get it finished and move forward. We still need
the VFX to be added and bring in our entertainment lawyer so we can move
forward on offers and finalizing contracts for investors to help get the
feature into production. The Booster Campaign helps give an incentive by
having people purchase a T-shirt for $20 with the name of the film and
website. The T-shirt will also be some extra publicity to help get new
visitors to the website and bring out the awareness of how many people
are really suffering from depression.
Eyes Upon Waking was
in pre-production in April. So how far along is it before it goes into
full production ... and any idea yet when it might be
released onto the general public?
If all goes
well and we can achieve full funding we will be in full production by the
end of 2014. There is a great tax incentive Section 181 which gives all
investors 100% tax break. I was able to achieve this
and grandfather it in for my financiers on the feature by
financing part of the film through my savings and help from friends and
family. So if all goes well, Eyes Upon Waking will be released to the
general public in 2015.
Only very recently, you have produced the
short The Stray, right? You just have to talk about that one for a
on the set of The Stray
Stray is a great story about a little girl who saves a stray, who in
return saves her.
showcases Zoey Diaz (Katy Perry's Wide Awake video) and
Kilcher Kung Foo Panda. I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a great
team of producers and the amazing director Ryo Rex [Ryo
Rex interview - click here]. Ryo
also put me in this film to play Sasha's mom. Ryo also edited what
we had shot so far.
What got you into producing to begin
I realized if I was going to get Eyes Upon Waking
made, then I needed to not just sit back and hope someone would want to
take on this project for me. I figured I'd start learning about producing
and the opportunity came for me to produce my first feature film High
on the Hog. I only had a budget of 30k to start out with and was able
to bring in Sid Haig, Joe Estevez and Robert Z'Dar.
though, you entered the filmworld as an actress. So how did you get into
acting, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
been acting since a young age, and like most starting out on stage and in
commercials. Once I discovered film I was hooked. I attended the Chicago
Academy for the Arts (CAA) and had some formal training but most of my
ability comes from watching films. I would say I watch about 20 new films
you still remember your first time in front of a camera, and what was that
professional experience with film was in Sixteen Candles. I was only an
extra but boy was I hooked! Prior to that I mostly did stage, commercials
and industrials. But there was something magical about being on a true
film set, I felt that this is where I belonged.
You have been in both independent and
major studio pictures - so how do respective filmsets compare? And which
do you find more challenging, more fun, more whatever?
on major studio films is great because there are a whole lot more people
working, and getting paid a fair amount is great, but I have to admit that
I love working on independent films because I feel more connected to the audience
through the type of roles I get to play. They both have their own
challenges so it's hard to say which is more fun. I think it comes down to
the cast and crew I am working with. The best is being on set with
filmmakers that want to be there not for the pay check but for the love of
past films of yours you specifically want to talk about?
When Skies are Blue
Skies are Blue was a real opener for me. I guess it was the first time I
really had a director challenge and push me. I am proud of my performance
and my dad was able to watch this film at Sundance 2012.
future projects past Eyes Upon Waking you want to share?
I just finished playing the lead in a feature
called The Other Side of the Door and am attached as
the lead actor in a thriller called Sin Verite. Basically it's Fight Club meets The Game. The writer
Tommy "Lomai" Sigmon [Tommy
"Lomai" Sigmon interview - click here] wrote this feature with me in mind and it is a very tight, unique script
that brings on another challenge as an actor. I'm also producing a
feature called 3rd & Goal about the first female football player to
make it in the NFL and producing a love story called Je T'aime, Au
Revoir, directed by Bennie Woodell [Bennie
Woodell interview - click here].
have also done quite a bit of theatre over the years. So how does
performing on stage compare to acting in front of a camera, and which do
you prefer, actually?
glad I got my start in theatre, to me my love is film all the way. I love
the process of rehearsing and discovering my character while working on
stage, but once the show is up I'm good for one weekend performance and
then I get bored. With film you still prepare but things change daily
while on set and it really keeps you on your toes.
How would you describe yourself as
an actress, and what are some of your techniques to bring a character to
I have grown into a character actor. I love
taking on new challenges and being able to show that I can be cast
against type. Basically life experiences is where I draw from. I don't
really have a technique. I
want to communicate the range of emotions that make up life, and express
them as playing the notes on a keyboard of feelings. We expose our
vulnerability as human beings on a daily basis; the actor's
job is to interpret those vulnerabilities in every style of performance.
Actresses (or indeed actors), filmmakers,
producers, writers who inspire you?
This changes daily because there are so many
filmmakers out there and with technology I am able to view films I may
not have been able to years ago. I have so much respect for the filmmakers that surprise me. I love just picking a film I know nothing about
and being completely surprised when it turns out really unique
(Butter is a great example of this). If a filmmaker or
actor impresses me I will research the crap out of them and become a
true follower. This happened with Jessica Chastain in Jolene. I
saw this film 2 years ago before anyone has even heard of her and said
"this girl is going places." I thought the same thing with Amy Adams in June Bug.
I love that both of these actresses continue to challenge themselves and
we don't see them in the same role over and over again. Same goes for
Actresses I aspire to be like
are: Vera Farmiga, Frances McDormand, Juliette
Lewis, Jennifer Jason Lee and Melissa Leo.
they change daily, here are a few I have off the top of my head: Newfound
Girl, Spork, Butter, Red White & Blue, Lawless, Red State,
Country Strong, Jolene, Shakespeare in Love, It's Complicated, Fargo, Something's Gotta
Give, Five Easy Pieces, Whip it, Thumbsucker, Almost
Famous, Wrist Cutters and Orphan.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
film that does not have a solid script or does not put their money into
the production value. People, when it comes to cost don't skimp on sound.
This area gets overlooked a lot. I've seen some films with bad actors, but
because the story was so well written, it really did not bother me as much
and I actually enjoyed it, but only a few.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Daily several people reach out to me
sharing their stories about depression and suicide. They all
stressed that this film will help give them a voice. I'm also trying to
get a PSA campaign going to help bring out the awareness. If you want to
share your story of depression and put yourself on tape, please reach
out to me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a link to what we have so far and are looking for:
Also if you're interested investing and
helping us get Eyes Upon Waking completed, please reach out to me or you
can make a donation on our site through Paypal:
We are also starting a campaign to help raise additional funds to get us
to the next level through this site:
can purchase one of our lovely T-shirts for only $20. All the money goes
into the making of Eyes Upon Waking.
for the interview!