Below is "An Interview with Angel Katherine Taormina about the Challenges of Film-making, Narrative Forms and the Film The Saints of the Rue Scribe"
By Claire Stewart from Fullshot Cine Mag
Please tell us about yourself. When did you start making films? Where did you learn to make films?
My name is Angel Katherine Taormina. I was born in New York, New York. My dad had a video camera when I was a little kid and I remember incessantly saying “Daddy, put me on TV” because he would always make home videos of the family and then play them on our big TV screen. I liked seeing myself. Then, at about four years old, one day, I just said to him, “Daddy, give me the camera.” The camera and I have been friends since day one. It was second nature to me. Actually, first nature. An extension of myself. As familiar to me as breathing. Naturally, I started writing little scripts and staging the details of what I wanted to see myself do on my parents’ TV screen. I was writing, directing, filming, editing, and acting. And I was barely five. I helmed my first official project when I was 13. It was an educational video. I made every kind of project I could. I had mostly on-the-job training, as well as private study and a summer intensive program with NYFA. I’ve always been a self-motivator and a throw-me-into-the-deep-end-and- I’ll-thrive kind of learner. Not exactly traditional, but well-versed in experiences. I had some crazy obstacles to overcome on-the-spot. I thrived. I loved it. I worked in stage, documentary, short film, a TV pilot- anything I could get my hands on. But I was always writing stories and expanding my ideas and I wanted bigger and bigger things as I started to carve a path for myself based upon my own likes and own stories and the things that I would want to do and to see on film and participate in. For quite some time, I tried to gear everything I did to try to impress someone or other. That worked out horribly. There was not one complete result and not one bit of creativity, or even joy, in it. Then, with the aid of my parents- and several others- I re-learned how to love myself and I started gearing my work back to my ideas that had originally inspired me back in the beginning. I had known what I’d wanted, but I’d hidden it for fear of being “different”. Then, I realized that there is never a good reason to hide your true self. I came to respect myself and the gifts that I had. And I chose to do exactly what I’d always wanted to do in the first place. So often, in my youth, I’d hear people say “that’s never been done before”. When I wised up, I realized that that was precisely the point- of course it’s never been done before. There has never been an Angel Katherine Taormina before. I started looking at my creativity as an opportunity to bring something new and unique into every project I worked on- me. There are some projects in which I did literally everything. Others were wonderful collaborative experiences. But everything, from that enlightenment on, all came from my heart, and I knew I would never shortchange myself again by ever letting it come from a place of falsehood again. Only truth. Never lie- your audience will know. And I was free. With that freedom, I dove into “The Saints of the Rue Scribe”. And I felt like I was flying. I was going the right way, and I would continue that way. Ever forward. Ever more. I felt at home- that I was exactly where I belonged. My heart and my work became one.
Where did the idea for The Saints of the Rue Scribe come from? How long did you work on it and how long did it take to decide on the final draft of the screenplay?
“The Saints of the Rue Scribe” is based on my 2012 novel of the same title. It was a story
that I loved as a novel and that played well as a novel, but that I knew would take on a whole new, fantastic life on the screen. I fell in love with Joseph and Marie Charpentier and wanted to put them and their story- and all the characters- on film. A story often suggests its medium. In this case, the novel actually suggested the film for me. I wrote the screenplay in 2013 and added character-specific sequences in 2018 after we finally nailed down the cast. We filmed between late 2018 and early 2020. We did some editing and tweaking during all of this. The final shot, one of the storm shots, was completed on February 14th 2020. I spent quite a lot of time getting drenched by rainstorms for this film. After all was said and done, we got to screen the finished film at a private event in early October and we knew that our seven-year journey had borne forth a beautiful “baby” that was now ready to be shared with the world. We were such proud “parents”.
Tell us about the shooting. How many days did it take, and what were the challenges you faced during the production?
Do you know Philippe Petit- the wire-walker who walked 110 stories high between the Twin Towers back in 1974? That was the shooting process for this film- walking a wire high in the sky with the winds blowing, everything working against you at all times, and no safety net. But, in analogy to Philippe Petit, it is precisely those conditions that made us thrive and that made it such an eloquent and seamless shoot. The challenges were never what we thought they were going to be. And overcoming each one was like a dance. At high speed. We had a straight 21 days for the majority of principle photography involving the bulk of the cast members- with Sundays off for the cast while we would set up the insanity for the following week. There were, of course, moments of calm throughout the filming, but those 21 days were a rocket ship on a rollercoaster. I loved it. It was so much fun. We were coordinating extras, wrangling costumes, building sets, re- ordering scene schedules, working with the actors, rehearsing, changing locations, doing all our own stunts, perfecting the cinematography, inventing new things that sound recording in a film can do, and figuring out how to bring out the best in everyone. I re- wrote the entire climax sequence at one in the morning the night before we filmed it because I had seen that it would come across stronger and stick the landing if it was in a different location visually. From a crew standpoint, I ended up being right. I hope my audiences agree. It follows to completion the arc of the film as the audience has followed it and it brings you right to where you need to be. That night, my poor mother painstakingly cleaned all the mud and rain and horse manure out of my dress so that we could use it in a shot the following day. Mom, I love you. Thank you for putting up with that day when you had a barn of 90 costumes in your living room. Of all the costumes- the Renaud costume was ripped to shreds and the white Joseph costume was irreparably black- my mother commented, quite frequently, that my costume- the Marie costume- smelled the worst. It was a badge of honor. I enjoyed laying face down in horse manure for half an hour while we got that amazing shot. You can tell by the feel of it how something is going to come out. And that day, as well as the other days, but that day in particular because it was such a long and exposed sequence where anything could have gone wrong and yet it didn’t and it felt so good- we knew that it was right.
What kind of difficulties did you face when using the Chroma key technique?
What did this technique bring to the production?
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Brandon, Austin, Johnny, and my dad for physically creating the green world that I described to them. When talented artists get together on a project, there is nothing they can’t do. Thank you to my post-production teams. I gave you the green worlds. I gave you my worlds. And you assembled the movie’s world. You came into my world and you saw my vision. And now it’s all up there on the screen. Thank you. Effects technologies have truly become game-changers in recent years. Now, the impossible is not just possible- it’s easily accessible. And it just keeps growing and growing. Putting together that with the human talents of actors and creating a film- possibilities are endless and I am looking forward to doing more new and exciting things in future projects as well.
Recreating a 19th century atmosphere has probably been an expensive and challenging process, especially when designing the decorations, clothes and the characters' make-up. Would you recommend recreating historical periods to the emerging filmmakers?
Only if you find the exact, correct, unique circumstances necessary to be fulfilled for the project. We relied heavily on everyone’s ability to “use what we had”. Some days, I felt like I was in one of those early Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films- that whole “let’s put on a show” craftiness, creativity, and innovative-mindedness of “hey, why don’t you jump over that fence?”, or “I know! We can use the living room!”, or “hey- I think we can film that in the backyard!”, or “here’s a potted plant- let’s use it as a visual plot point!”, and my favorite, “let’s take this stool and a few boxes and turn it into the stage of the Paris Opera!”. I always say that I basically “lived” in 1881 Paris for the years that I was working on the film- meaning that I immersed myself in every detail that I researched. So it was coming naturally to me by the time we were actually filming it. Even Paris itself- I’d been there a few times. I knew what it looked and felt like. And I often tried to imagine myself on those exact streets, but in 1881. I pictured the characters, the stories, and everything in my mind. And I took those feelings home with me, ready to translate them into visuals and sounds on the screen. I was 1000% there in the moment. Doing a thing like this, you have to be. There is no phoning it in. No lies. Only truth. When we were preparing to film, I created as much of a Grand Era environment around me as possible. I knew how my hair would have to look. I knew how to live in my costumes so that they were just clothes and nothing cumbersome. I was very comfortable tight-lacing, like I did for that one scene where I actually hit my record low of an 18in waistline healthily. At one point in the film, I am 94lbs. The speech patterns and the little bits of accents and lilts were extremely familiar to my very way of being. I changed my workout routine so that my shape would be as close to Marie’s as possible- both with and without her tuberculosis. And I had basically become Marie. I actually only wore makeup in one sequence- the ball sequence, where Marie is supposed to be wearing makeup. Everything else- that’s my face. No makeup. I loved Marie so much that I chose to give her my face. So I did. My hair- thank you to Dan and Jim for the bleaching and dying and processing and sealing and everything else- that was also my hair. Never a wig. I gave Marie my hair. 2 hours in the chair every Sunday afternoon during principle photography
to make sure my natural color of dark dirty blonde never showed through. I went beyond patience- by the end of it all, I was actually used to it. It felt normal to me. I loved it. It was an honor- a crazy and eccentric honor- but a complete, undeniable honor. And the performance scenes are all me- live- which saved us a lot of time in production. I designed my own costumes that Nadia made according to the exact specifications of my body, and that saved us a lot of time in production as well. I collect Victorian things. A lot of the props and shoes and undergarments came from my own closet. And then, there is the internet- you can find just about anything online. Our wardrobe and hair and makeup people for the rest of the cast really hit the mark. The cast, themselves, were also familiar with the era and were well-versed in hair, makeup, and costume ideas. When they got into the chair or to a fitting, they knew what they were going to do and were even able to contribute ideas that ended up being part of their characters’ appearances in the film itself. There was a prevalent DIY mentality on set. The exterior locations were amazing finds. Many of them were maybe five or ten minutes from my house. “See what is. Then look beyond. And see what can be.” I must have said that about 100 times during pre-production, production, and post-production. I looked in the right places and found, to my joyous surprise, that my Florida was a dead-ringer for 1881 Paris! And Grayson was the one who recommended the perfect beach spot for that perfect sunrise shot at the end of the film. That’s real. That’s actually a real place during a real sunrise, and it really looked like that. It was a perfect morning. It was actually near where Grayson worked as a lifeguard so, when I asked what the most beautiful beach spot was for sunrise, he knew exactly where to lead us. We had gotten up at 3 in the morning to make it there in time for a 5 minute window of perfect apex of sunrise and hope for the best. We got the shot of us walking and then Christina got the shot of us holding hands and looking out towards the sunrise as the glow of the sunrise settled right on our clasped hands. It was perfect. The whole thing was a dream come true. You go with the flow and you let yourself surprise yourself. It’s always a good surprise. But none of this could have been achieved were it not for the House. The indoor locations were filmed at a real, period-accurate, fully-furnished, French Grand Era-style house that is usually used as a museum, wedding venue, and bed-and-breakfast in Orlando, Florida. I thank Angie at The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne for full use of that amazing House. Without that House, there would be no film. It looks real- because it is real. Because of this house, 95% of the Grand Era was already there waiting for us, and we just stepped into it and filmed. It was ready for action. By the way- the Swedish meatballs that Marie chows down on in the dining room scene were cooked by my mom. My dad and I ate all the leftovers for lunch that day before going to help set up for the next shot. My dad is 6’4 and very strong. For one scene, he lifted a piano and moved it- by himself- when I needed it moved into place for a shot. Mom and Dad, thank you. I love you.
One of the innovative aspects of your films is found in the constant change between narrating a story and singing. How important was it for you to focus on keeping the rhythm of the narrative balanced?
I have a credit in the film for my Cinétage work for the pieces of Cinétage that I modified and used in the performance scenes in “Saints”- a real marriage of past and present, with some future-looking suggestions going on even within the film itself. But the concept of
Cinétage, as it is used in “Saints”, doesn’t end with the performance scenes. Rather, it informs the entirety of how I chose to make the film itself. The stage part of “Cinétage” is where cinema and stage marry, and Cinétage is their baby. In “Saints”, I did the same thing, but with the other side of “Cinétage”- with the cinema part of Cinétage- which is where stage and cinema marry- to the same result. Two as one. I have always been just as much a daughter of the stage as I have been a daughter of the cinema. I never saw the two as anything but two sides of one whole. That was why I invented Cinétage- to accomplish what I had always seen as possible and felt as being natural to me. It is one and the same- a style, a way of doing things. And it makes me feel creatively free. I was able to do what I felt was right for my story in any given scene. “Saints” has its traditional shots, but it also has a lot of classic and non-traditional theatre shots, extensive shots in one take, scenes that are done in only one shot, steadycam, drone, handheld, freehand, documentary- style, walking, and running. The camera is free so that the actors are free to let the magic happen in their artistry. It is structured so as to flow seamlessly without “structure” getting in the way of itself. And so that the audience can take the ride with the proper flow. You feel like you’re watching a documentary of something actually taking place one minute, and the next minute you’re in the second row of a Grand Opera House, and the next minute you’re running through a field, and the next minute you’re in a classic movie, and the next minute something completely wild blows your mind. It’s the journey that counts because it’s the journey that makes it to its conclusion. And “Cinétage” permits the journey to run its course with every imaginable experience to the satisfying ride-ending that is the conclusion of the film- and of the emotional arc not just of the characters, but also the emotional arc of the audience. It’s a complete experience. And, just like after a rollercoaster ride, you catch your breath, jump up, and say “Whoo- hoo! Let’s do it again!”. I’m a G-Force junkie, so I will always go for the thrill. Stage plus cinema, cinema plus stage, equals Cinétage. And Cinétage is the complete creative experience of the Arts. Thanks to Cinétage and what I’ve learned from it, I was able to make “Saints”. What started as my choices and influences, set my cast and crew free artistically. They thanked me at the end of the shoot for the “freedom and trust” that I gave them. And I am eternally grateful that Cinétage made me able to do so. My view on filmmaking is this- do it, and do it all the way.
How influenced were you by filmmakers such as Luchino Visconti who was famous for making historical romantic drama? Were you influenced by the 19th century paintings when recreating that era?
I think I take “living in the present moment” to an extreme in all of the choices that I make- especially in my projects. I saw my world and I was there. Every film tells you what it is, and you let it lead you to its heart. As a filmmaker, there are things I have vowed to always do. I put the actor first. Because I know that, at the end of the day, the actor is who the audience is seeing, and you have to trust that they are in character, being the character, and making choices in the character, and that this will shine through in ways you might not have anticipated, but it will be right for the scene. So rehearse, keep everyone fully informed, set it up, and release it to the film. I let what I do as writer be taken over by what I do as director for that same reason. Even though all three are me, they are still three separate times, separate mindsets, and separate tasks. The “Saints” cast
calls me an “actor’s director” because I give everyone all the written and spoken information they need, discuss the scenes, work out the scenes, answer any questions, but then step back and let it be. If even I feel strongest when I’m free to fly, how much more my colleagues. So I give that freedom to them. Freedom to the characters to be who they are and live- and then it’s better for the film because the moment is truth.
As far as the stylization of the film, picture the concept that any event in time could occur at any time within time. We are not bound by time because we never think about time. Picture all time occurring all at once. And where are you? You’re here. But you don’t define yourself by time. You don’t wake up and say “I’m in the year 2020, so I’m going to do and say this”. No. You just live. Whatever it is. And that’s your truth. It’s the same with “Saints”. They are living their lives and it is as though a documentarian took a camera to 1881 and filmed in their present moment- but with 2020 technology, and no one minded- various vignettes of a part of their life where they happened to display heroic virtue and courage- and kindness, and love, and strength, and aiding of others, etcetera. The past is not past. It is present. It is happening. It is here. We can see it. That is the gift of film- that people can see things as such. And, here, with “Saints”, they can. Here’s their movie. Here’s their story. Here’s their reality. Ta-da! I shoot a reality so audiences can enjoy a reality. Now. Right now. Always present. Always true. Always now.
When I’m creating something, the writer begins, then the director takes over, then the acting commences. When it gets to that point, I always remember that the writer gives way to the director who gives way to the actor. At the point of filming, everything must be geared to serve the needs- mental, physical, and emotional- of the actor and of the actor in their character so that a world can be created wherein they can safely give their best performance and just “be”, and not be judged, and be sincere without being stopped or “pulled out” from the moment- it’s a world of mutual trust, a world unique to the creation and creativity of the artist, which must flow forth and be respected at all times- and be able to exist in the moment without rush or worry, do what they do in its purest form without any distractions from themselves or from without- the only voice is the voice of their character and their character/s is/are the only one/s who exists. And then they are given space to be and do and experience as the character, but are also given the space to, when they finish, come safely back out into their own selves and mindsets and feelings and emotions, etc.
It is primarily important to help the character live every moment of their journey truly while also helping the actor to remain a whole person without feeling like they are getting stuck or hurt or losing themselves. Kindness is key. And mental, physical, and emotional health. These are human beings with a treasure of a gift. It is to be treasured and not toyed with. It is to be handled with love and care so that, in the end, the film is the best it can be, everyone on the project can be happy, and each individual person is the best and healthiest they can be. “Productivity” is a byproduct of love and care for oneself. Nurture people in an environment of love and care for themselves and for one another so that they can be happy and be their best selves. And then, out from that, comes everyone’s collective best giving of their treasure- out of love- because it is their gift that naturally flows forth from their well-being. Nurture what is truth. Nurture what is there. And truly love your fellow human beings. Joy begetting joy. And love cannot help but bear the fruit of more love. As a filmmaker, my creed is to listen- to listen to the truth.
Everyone has something they do best. It’s my job to bring out the best in everyone I work with. Find that perfection of the moment. When I cast, I don’t care what they’ve done or haven’t done, or how they are perceived by the public. I just want to know if they are the character. Are they the “whoever”? And then go from there. The idea is to bring out the best of that actor in that character and to let them shine. Push them to their best. Push them in a good and helpful and positive way. There are no limits. Help them fly. Fling them out of the nest and then jump right beside them and then fly to the truth of the character and be and do something beyond your wildest dreams and better than you ever knew could be. Help them to be fearless, safe, and free. Let them shine.
The idea is to protect and help each part. The writer protects the director by giving a solidly foundationed story for to be directed. The actor, whose job and natural inclination it is to do whatever needs to be done, is protected by the director who will never exploit the actor or the arc of the character or twist things wrongfully and harmfully or leave the actor lost and on their own or ask something of them that is hurtful and harmful and non- beneficial to them and thus hurtful and harmful and non-beneficial to the project as well. The primary aim is for the good of the human being. The writer makes the director feel secure. The director makes the actor feel secure. And the actor makes it all come together at the moment of truth- the project’s “point of vision”. But only when all parts are sincerely helping each other. It must truly be a “safe space” in which to create and explore. That’s why I never ask my actors to do something I wouldn’t do, or haven’t already done in the process of the project. I often say that “I’ve died and come back to life so many times that I do it in my sleep.” You don’t take advantage of a treasure. You respect it and take care of it and make it be the best it can be. You let it be. You let it shine. It is invaluable. There needs to be total trust in a collaboration in order for it to be of any value to anyone.
The most important thing I want to hear from an actor is “I have an idea”. I love collaboration. I desire it. I prefer it. Come to me with your ideas about the character- tell me what you see. If you see the character, it means you care about the character, which leads to an even better realization of their truth, which leads to a better film. So, talk to me. I’m listening. Let’s collaborate. Let’s do this together and make something truly great. Be excited- I’m excited, too. Excitement is a good thing. Never tire of your passion. It is who you are. Explore it, grow with it, and find some amazing new aspect of it everyday that makes you just go “wow” and makes you remember and be thankful for what you love and what you do in this beautiful Art.
I love people. Maybe to a fault. Maybe not. But I love people. And I want to see everyone be their very best selves. It brings me joy to see them brought joy. It’s a beautiful world when everyone is happy. And that is the truth that Art reflects. Thus let us always be our best.
The acting in your film is visibly theatrical, and the mise-en-scène (where one experiences stillness) hints that you were trying to approach this film as a film-play. Do you think this theatrical approach to non-contemporary narratives works better than the regular cinematic approach?
There is nothing I love more than being able to do extensive, one-shot takes where I and my players can just let ourselves go in complete freedom, release ourselves to our
characters, and let the magic happen. “Saints” has a lot of one-take shots as well. That’s fun, too. I did that with “Everything” as well. I like to do it wherever it feels right to do it. The resulting child of the marriage of stage and film has always been the basis of everything I do. To me, it’s all different aspects of Cinétage, and that’s just how it comes out of me. I don’t think compartmentalization of Arts is in my vocabulary. From the first moments of my life, I was exposed to everything all at once. I didn’t know that some things were called “old” and some things were called “new.” I had no concept of the time that things were released. To me, they were just “there” and they were good because I thought they were good and I liked them. So, to me, all art- and all art forms- were at once. This made for an eclectic and all-inclusive upbringing without my even realizing it. Now, of course, looking back, I am highly appreciative of the unique way that different works of Arts became a part of my world. It’s fun to live without the limits of time. I try to retain the wisdom of childhood in all things that I do in my own work. When I was a little kid, I thought that Gounod, Beethoven, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and New Kids on the Block were all doing their art forms at the same time. The concept of time would have probably threatened to limit my exposure and my joy of the intake of every kind of Art Form into my life. Instead, I’d watch, let’s say, all the Rocky movies- up to 5 at that time- then something like Scent of a Woman, then The Gold Rush, or Top Hat, or Going My Way and, to me, I just enjoyed them all as “Oh, cool. This is the stuff this person made and it is the way they made it. I like it.” It certainly teaches you how to trust your instincts. I was about eight or nine years old before I realized that Fred Astaire was dead and that Massenet would not be composing any new shows. But it meant nothing to me and didn’t change what I felt about their Art forms because I had already formed my loves for them and would always have those loves for them. I love what I do.
What are you looking for in cinema? In other words, what are you concerned about when making films? Do you thinking that The Saints of Rue Scribe has helped you take the next step in your career more firmly?
What I am concerned about in making films boils down to one word- truth. I am always seeking the truth of the moment for the benefit of the project, the audience, and everyone involved.
And, yes. “The Saints of the Rue Scribe” was a blessing. I got to do in it everything that I wanted to do in it. I got to have a “baby” that I could confidently show to the world and proudly say “This is me and this is them and this is what I do. Enjoying yourself? Wait ‘til you see what’s next. For ‘Saints’, you have seen everything, and I am filled with joy- but- to paraphrase Al Jolson- ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't seen nothin' yet!’.” My next project will be an adaption of my 2019 novel, “The Anniversary”. “Saints” gave me the confidence to fly and I am never coming down. Always more stories. Always new and innovative ways to share them with the world.
It seems that you have paid great attention to harmony in the use of colors (colors of furniture, walls and clothes). How are these coloring patterns related to the themes present in the film? or are they related to the aesthetical aspects of the film?
For the majority of things, it was a question of the aesthetic of realism- what is real to this world and what can be added or created to be real in this world. Theme was important as well. Marie is colorful and flamboyant. Lucia is warm and inviting. William is death. Renaud takes the rollercoaster ride of the villain who used to be a victim who you still hope can turn around in the end. Joseph is the soldier. Cyrus is clouded by his own vision. Robert is a seemingly bottomless well of gray matter. Flowers, set and prop details, indoors and outdoors, big and small, sweeping locations for epic romance and epic drama- all things that can take you away but yet also enthrall you in the reality they are all rooted in. The world is a colorful and beautiful place. And the world is real and all around us. It’s like finding the best in life- and the worst in life- and showing it to people and saying “here are their stories”. I found it. The camera filmed it. With proper characterization- and a few fantastical details in certain places to add to the realism- everything fell into place. Truth. Trust. Reality.
The cinematography seems to be minimalistic, to shift the audience's focus on the story rather than anything else. How important is 'storytelling' in cinema for you?
They are one and the same. My films are my stories every bit as much as my stories are my stories. Completely different “animals” of the same thing. But both are stories. Both are mine. And both have a deep love and passion behind them.
Aside from producing and directing the film, you have also played in the film. It's an ambitious move. What challenges did you face when directing the film and playing in it at the same time?
With every actor, I like to take the time to learn what directing approach works best for them so that we can create an environment of freedom, fearlessness, and trust, and do the best work possible. For me, being an actress as well as a filmmaker and writer, I find things easier when I am directing something that I am also acting in. It helps me to keep my connection not just with the actors but also with the story, and with the present moment. As for me, personally, there is a singularity as to how I direct myself. Because I know how I am and I know that I thrive under pressure and I know that I love to push myself and I know that I like to give everything and more to my characters and I know what I am capable of, I will pull the necessary perfection out of myself every time without wondering if I can take it. I know I can take it. Always have. Always will. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Always give everything. Save it for what? There is never a good reason to “save” anything. Just give it all, always, and be happy with yourself. And have fun. It’s a play. A screen play. Never lose sight of that. You’ve done the necessary groundwork or else you wouldn’t be here. So just go out there and play.
Is it easy to compete with other feature films when you have made a unique film such as The Saints of the Rue Scribe? Was it difficult to find distributors?
I think that, whether a person chooses to compete or not, that every film is unique in its
own way. Every film has its own trajectory, its own style, its own wants, its own appeals, and its own truth. With “Saints”, I have a story and I want to share that story with the world. Film festivals around the world have taken notice, and we do have three wins as of the writing of this interview but, at the end of the day, a film is an individual and unique experience that we all happen to experience collectively yet entirely differently. At the heart of it, it’s something happening on a screen and someone’s heart responding to it in its own unique way. We want to reach as many hearts-in-seats with as many personal- yet-collective unique experiences as possible. The personal journey of “Saints” is that we are currently looking for worldwide distribution for “Saints.”
What was the general reaction of those who saw the film?
They like it. I could go into the mechanics and psychology of why they might like it, but the person in the seat is usually not aware of those things. They just know that they like it and that is what matters to them. Personally, I love it. It was something I learned in life- it’s okay to love yourself and what you do and be proud of it. So I am. I’ve never done “normal.” It’s not in me. I don’t think it’s really in any of us. But what you see up on that screen- it’s me. The one word I heard a lot of was “satisfying”, spoken with much delight.
Tell us about your potential project(s) for the future. What direction will you be moving toward for your future project(s)? Which genre are you planning to explore in the future?
More. I am definitely planning a “Cinétage Showbooks/Stagebooks Homage to Joseph and Marie Charpentier”. But my next film is an adaptation of my 2019 novel, “The Anniversary”, for which I have written the screenplay and am extremely excited to think about the tour-de-force possibilities for the characters of Jace Hudson, Valentina Vey, and Martina Jameson. “The Anniversary” is the story of Jace Hudson and Valentina Vey- two people who see nothing in themselves and everything in each other and who would have committed suicide years ago were it not for their love for one another- and for the fact that they both found someone just as bad-off as they are. They understand each other due to a very deep form of “survivor’s guilt”. By occupation, they are the biggest stars and power couple in Hollywood. Personally, they are trainwrecks- collateral damage of a certain world event twenty years earlier that had devastating effects on many people. Currently working for the biggest director in the world- Martina Jameson- they are forced to reconnect with reality so that they don’t lose what made their talent special in the first place. In her effort to help them, Martina unknowingly (though it is ultimately for the better) puts them in a position that makes the past rear its ugly head- right as the twentieth anniversary of the tragedy approaches and right in the place where it happened. For them, letting themselves feel again is to realize not just that they are part of a bigger whole but also that what is being given uniquely to them could be an opportunity to help- and an opportunity for healing. The Jace character and the Valentina character carry the film; according to the screenplay I’ve adapted. They have to create a strong and believable team. The actress in me, the director in me, and the writer in me, all look forward to this film with myriad flashes of ideas and opportunities. You never know what
magic can happen, so always keep your eyes opened. Expect it. Anticipate it. Breathe it in and out. Relish in it always. It’s a part of you. Love it. I want a Jace who can take the rollercoaster of the character and take it all the way. All in. All out. Better than you ever knew you could be. I want that perfect collaboration. I want to take this film all the way. I want people to feel so deeply in the scenes that all they want to do is look away but find themselves unable to look away precisely because they feel the need to more closely examine something that makes them so deeply feel. I want us all to- well- fly- so that we can take audiences around the world with us on our journey. That is what I love about the feeling of the journey of filmmaking- it is transcendent.