Angel Katherine Taormina Talks Top Five Favorite Behind the Scenes Moments from the Making of “The Saints of the Rue Scribe” (SPOILERS AHEAD)
1. The Moment of the First Private Screening on the Big Screen:
Elation. I always say that we made this film “on a shoestring and a prayer but without the shoestring”. We had nothing. Everything came from nothing. Everything you see that got done in the film, we did it ourselves. There was no second wave. There was barely even a first wave. It was me, a handful of crew members, the cast members of the day, whatever sets and dressings we had- with every imaginable time restraint at any given moment- and the work of the day to transform this story into a feature film. And it was amazing, inspiring, and adrenaline-inducing at every moment. I loved it. There was no team waiting in the wings. There was no hand-off. No certainty of a next step- or even if the current step would turn out alright. It was a giant gamble from beginning to end. We created the first step. Then finished it. Then created the second step. Then finished it. And so on. It was the ultimate indie experience- even more-so than I originally anticipated. It would be like a wire-walker who completes a perfect walk but, only after finishing, realizes there was never a safety net. You gasp for a brief moment, but then you allow yourself to be proud of yourself. You enjoyed it. Honestly and sincerely enjoyed it. Loved the finished product. And wouldn’t have it any other way. Because it is your own unique experience that will forever belong solely to you. You created something that, before this moment, did not exist. And now it does. Here it is. You succeeded beyond your wildest dreams! And to see it- the feeling is exhilarating. Amazing. I was in Heaven. I knew what I did and I felt I was right where I belonged. I loved every moment of “The Saints of the Rue Scribe”. And I am so grateful, and so proud of my cast and crew from start to finish. We did it! And it makes me look forward with a very positive and excited outlook to the next casts and crews I will work with. It’s never been work for me- even in the craziest moments- it’s always been fun. So “let’s have fun”, I say. New fun every time. And new experiences that will last a lifetime and build on that foundation of sheer joy.
2. The Moment Where We Shot Two Emotionally-Opposite Scenes One Right After the Other:
We shot the scene where Renaud tries to kill Marie. We got it in one take. One shot. The locations are near my house. I go home. I shower. I literally spit dirt and pebble rocks out of my mouth. I change into the next dress. I go out to the next location. We shoot the next scene. It’s not even half an hour later from the time we shot the “Renaud tries to kill Marie” scene, and now we’re filming the next scene. Again, one shot. One take. Two complete extremes. But so much fun to do back-to-back. Interestingly, we used the natural light of the outdoors for everything and it did some amazing things right at key moments. The attempted murder, the scene with the birds, Marie coming back to life, and, especially the scene where Joseph goes over to Marie after the whole “Enough. Release.”, thing and you see that the light is going in and out on Marie as if to say she’s in conversation with Heaven- that all really happened. That was all natural, real, light. And real storms. I love real. Being free to use the gifts given to you in the moment. Being free to not be afraid. Being free to be creative. And, yes, that was real mud, really me doing all my own stunts, and really me laying in a pile of horse manure for half an hour while we got that shot. Again, I love real. My mom knows- she smelled it all over our clothes when she offered to do our laundry that night so we could use the dress again the following day. She said that, even though Grayson’s and Danny’s outfits were torn to shreds, that it was definitely my costume that smelled the worst at the end of the day. Somehow, I take that as a badge of honor. I used to ride horses as a kid. I even got to ride in this film. I actually don’t mind the smell of horse manure. Actually, I like it. It brings back good memories. Grayson and Danny did their own stunts, too. Everyone did. It was as real as it could be. It pushed the limits of what could be done in the realm of a film, and yet it was that very pushing that enhanced its ability to be, and its impact as, a film. Everything ended up exactly as it was intended to be. I love that in film. You start with a precisely calculated structure. Then you feel like you’re on the craziest rollercoaster ride and being flipped and thrown and looped at every moment at G-Force speeds. But you remain calm and centered- of course, while enjoying the ride. Because- at the end of the ride- at the end of the day- at the end of the filming, you look back at that original precisely calculated structure and know that, and see how, it was, indeed, perfectly executed. The precise growth it had to take- properly- from one animal to the next- to its completion as what it is today. When I speak of animals, of course, I mean that a novel is one animal, then a screenplay, then a film in pre-production, then a film when the actors are bringing the roles to life, then in editing, and then in its finality. Each step brings out something new and exciting. Each one a different animal. Each one making it fresh and alive. It grows. Until it becomes what it was born to be. And then you trace it back and see what a beautiful life it has. It is a whole being. An entity unto itself. It’s that “wow” moment. It’s like looking at your child with pride and joy and saying “My baby’s all grown up and she is beautiful. I wouldn’t have done things any other way and I am filled with joy.”. It’s miraculous.
3. The Moment I Was Crowned “Queen”:
I love it because it sounds like the most pretentious thing in the world, but it’s actually just something borne of innocent fun on the set. My safe word for my cast and crew on the set was “pineapple”. If something is going wrong, I am- or whoever is in the middle of the wrong is- supposed to call “pineapple”. Because that word isn’t used in the film so everyone realizes that something is wrong. That’s why I chose it as our safe word. The idea is to be able to just keep rolling and never actually have to say “pineapple”. “Pineapple” was called a couple of times, but thankfully only as false alarms. It was quite amusing. Naturally, the idea of not saying “pineapple” made the cast and crew associate me with pineapples. You know that Annette Funicello song “Pineapple Princess”? That became me. But it evolved to “Pineapple Queen” as my nickname to differentiate me from the song. It stuck. Joel, on his last day of filming, brought a pineapple to the set- my “crown”- and gave it to me as a gift. It tasted delicious and ended up being my coronation as “Pineapple Queen”, or “the Queen” for short. It probably also, coincidentally or not, had to do with the fact that, on the day of my “coronation”, we were shooting the scene where Marie plays “Mozart’s Queen”, or “Queenie”, as she is also known. And, therefore, by the good humor of my cast and crew for the sake of my art, I am “The Queen”. I think there is a picture somewhere of me with the pineapple on my head. At least, I know for a fact that there is a picture of me with the pineapple. What a delicious crown! It was a fun shoot that day. It all was. My cast and crew really knew how to have a good time. I love a good time. The whole process was just one giant, happy, memory. And I think I feel that way because of my perpetual ocean analogies. You either let the waves beat you down, or you go body surfing. The way that the joy comes
naturally to me- that’s the body surfing. It honestly is all joy. That may not be the case for every filmmaker- or it might be, I don’t know- but I’m just saying that’s how I feel. I love a good ride. And now we just extend the nickname to everything. I love it.
4. The Moment I Locked Away My Emotional Baggage, Surrendered, and Fully Became Marie in That Particular Moment Where Marie Enjoys Performing as Herself for Her Intimate Group of Friends:
Put me in front of or behind a camera? I’m fine. Put me, in a character, in an intimate scene in front of a few people behind a camera? I’m fine. Put me, in a character, in an intimate scene in front of a theatre and stage full of people? I’m fine. Ask me to perform as myself? I clam up and mentally hide under a rock in a fetal position. Or, at least, I used to. But Marie thrives when asked to perform as herself for her friends. So, in order to be able to do that, I had to make sure I was gone entirely and that I was entirely Marie so that I, as Marie, could thrive in and enjoy the moment, because that is what Marie does. It’s not what Angel does. But it’s what Marie does. So, since it’s my job to become Marie, I became Marie, and I did it. And, through her enjoying of herself, I overcame my own fear and became inspired and now I enjoy myself, as myself, intimately as myself in front of intimate friends, too. And it was new. In the moment. Because it wasn’t me as Olympia. Or me as Marie as Olympia. It was me as Marie modifying Olympia for her friends for the moment so that she and them could have a good time with her as a real person and as a friend in a personal moment of entertainment at a party- real, stripped, natural, and raw as ever. The thrill- and the love- of the moment. And Marie really thrives. And I learned from that. And, aside, that scene became an expression of the culmination-to-climax of the film- the all-encompassing moment of who Marie is as a person. This amazing person. All her. All totally human. Real. It was an “Aah!” moment that, when I released myself to it, became a “yay” moment. And that free moment ended up tying the whole film together. I love it. I learned a lot from Marie. I am a better- and a freer- person, because of her. I see myself now in a different way than I did in the past. Now, I love myself because I see, accept, and love myself for who and what I am as a human being. And that is such a “Marie” thing. So, it was perfect in every way. “Different” is good. “Different” is freedom and creativity. Newness. Uniqueness. Something true. Something personal. A gift. Next time someone calls you “weird”, replace “weird” with “gifted” and see what happens. You come to understand the essence of you. Playing Marie taught me how to love myself.
5. The Moment We Touched the Sunrise:
When we were filming the shot that is the last scene in the film, we were actually on the beach, filming at sunrise. We had gotten up at 3am and left at 4am to get there for the exact 5-minute window of the apex of the sunrise. We made it. We did it. We got it. That’s not recolored. That’s real. That’s how perfect and beautiful it was. Grayson suggested it. He’s actually- besides being an actor- also a model, pilot, lifeguard, and EMT. He lifeguarded nearby where we were filming that morning. He suggested the ocean spot for its clarity and beauty. And we got the shot. He was actually the last person we cast. Imagine that- casting Joseph literally two weeks before principle photography was to commence! Everything about him was magic. And Danny, too. Most of my cast, in fact, were theatre people as well as film people. The whole thing. You know, I didn’t even meet my crew members until the days they showed up on set to film. It could have been crazy. Instead, it was fun. If directing a film is like navigating a ship, then I couldn’t have been in a better position, because “Saints” was a ship I knew inside and out. Commanding her was second nature because it was already in me. The more something comes from you, the more pours out from you into the project and, in turn, the project is that much better for your familiarity in your relationship. Creativity. Being always active. Being with and in something from start to finish. Knowing everything about it. Trusting it. That’s how I like to do my work and select my projects- from the heart of the storm- so that I can give them everything- and that is how I inform the way in which I conduct my work- from within to without and from the biggest detail to the smallest detail with the full view always in mind. I have to understand it entirely. No questions. No doubts. No fears. And it all has to come from the heart. Truth. Something that will enhance everyone involved and never hurt anyone involved. It has to be something of which I know and can relate to the structure of so well that when I dive into it, it makes me free. And, thus, I as filmmaker can leave room to let my crew and cast feel and be free, too. Thus, the beauty, on all levels, of collaboration in this beautiful Art. I truly love this position “Saints” has given me. I truly love who I am and what I do. And I am looking forward to a bright and beautiful future filled with artistic possibilities that are truly limitless. I love to explore. And the journey has just begun. It’s a blessing to be able to do what you love and love what you do. By the way, that “Bohemian Rhapsody” story is 100% true. We were so thrilled that everything had gone perfectly that day at the beach, and we were so deliriously exhausted with joy, that we were doing “Wayne’s World”-style car karaoke to Queen on the way home and I did have my head sticking out the car window on the nearly- empty highway, practically scream-singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was our victory lap. One of many. We’d gotten the shot that would be the grand finale of our film. And it was beautiful. Doing what you love always brings a reason for joy. Like Marie says, “It’s perfect.”.