Angel Katherine Taormina- Interview
"Award-winning director and actress (Best Director Award London- "Best Director First-
Time Feature Film" for "The Saints of the Rue Scribe", "Best New Director"- Kosice
International Film Festival, for "The Saints of the Rue Scribe", and "Best Actress"- Kosice
International Film Festival, for playing the role of Marie Charpentier in "The Saints of the
Rue Scribe") Angel Katherine Taormina is a New York born filmmaker and actress who has
been working in entertainment from the age of seven. She studied with NYFA and with
mentors and professionals from various other Arts schools. She wrote, directed, and starred
in her first film, a children's educational video called "Angel's World", in 2003. Her 2008
psychological drama short film "Guilt" was selected at the San Francisco Short Film Festival.
She was also an extra in the films "The Siege" (1998) and "Spider-Man 2" (2004). Angel
worked in everything from comedy to drama to live production to documentary and pursued
her unique perspectives on life through her storytelling, her directorial style, and her
performance in her works. She won an award for the work she did on a documentary, and
garnered acclaim for assisting groups in both film and in live production; though her first
love was always the narrative story. She poured heart and soul into everything she did until it
became clear that the medium of short film alone could no longer contain her own desires.
After making over ten short films, Angel made the decision to begin the journey into feature
film and to continue to find new ways to express her artistic voice. She became the inventor,
creator, and author of the Stagebooks series and of Cinétage. She is also the author of nine
novels. Knowing that there is always something more to say through short film, she made
the short films "Inspiration" and "Follow the Girl in the Rose-Colored Skirt" in 2015, the
short film "Cycle of Art (M.E. in Pixels) in 2017, and the short film "Everything" in 2020.
She and her production company, Rose Room Productions, are proud to have "The Saints
of the Rue Scribe" as their feature film debut. "Saints" is based on Angel's novel of the same
title, "The Saints of the Rue Scribe- Inspired by a True Story and Events," inspired by the
true story of Joseph and Marie Charpentier. Angel's credits in the film include
Producer/Director/Writer/Editor/Costume Designer and the role of Marie Therese
Bellerose Holmstrom Charpentier. Filmography: Listed here on IMDb Cinétage: The
Stagebooks Series Novels: The Rose Princess- A Medieval Fantasy, The Porcelain Doll,
Oriana, or The Secrets of the Rain, Carving A Life, On the Eve of Maye, The Saints of the
Rue Scribe- Inspired by a True Story and Events, Laurina, The Maiden of Myrdine Manor,
Evelyn's Orchard, Love Me Forever, Clementine and Olivien, The Anniversary Photobooks:
The Love in my Life, My Reality, The Color Within, Without, The Way I See It,
"Collections- A Photobook by Angel Katherine Taormina", and Beauty Everywhere."
(Angel Katherine Taormina Biography from IMDb by Rose Room Productions)
Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker/actor/screenwriter?
I was always very active in the Arts. I never recall a time where one aspect was without the other. I loved sharing my stories and I loved performing. I realized early on that, in order to see the kind of stories that I wanted to see, I would have to write them and I would have to make them. There is a certain ease that comes with being part of a project from start to finish. There is never a question about where you’re going and where it’s going because those things have been covered and worked through in your own mind from day one. It makes you connected with your project and it makes you feel free to explore its possibilities. It’s like a close friend. When you know each other well enough, you become a fearless risk-taker with that friend because you know each other so well and you know that something good is going to come from the risk.
Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker/actor/screenwriter?
James Cameron’s “Titanic” was the first film that consciously made me want to make films, write films, and be in films. I saw him create his own world and take the entire audience world on his journey with him through the medium of film. I knew I wanted to do the same thing with my worlds and my stories. Film allows for endless creative possibilities and the widest range of audience potential on a most expressive form of creativity. I was eight years old. I wanted to create my own worlds, inhabit them, explore their every facet and every character therein, bring them to places heretofore unimaginable, and share them with the world.
Who is your biggest influence?
People who do the impossible and people who are true to themselves. People who carve their own paths- in whatever field they are in. People who know who they are and can love themselves and be happy with the choices they make. It’s all about the journey. I respect the journey. I let myself be inspired by the journey. The late, greats, Barbara Cook and Elaine Stritch. Freddie Mercury. Elton John. Philippe Petit- the man who wire-walked between the Twin Towers back in ’74. Charlie Chaplin. Fred Astaire. The Marx Brothers. Jack Lemmon’s performance in “Days of Wine and Roses”. People who overcome the odds and take control of their life. Sylvester Stallone. Robert Downey Jr. Quentin Tarantino. My parents. The risk- takers. The innovators. The people who don’t take “impossible” for an answer. The people who are willing to get out there and do. Orson Welles. I’m dating myself back to the Grand Era here- perhaps a side-effect of my deep research for “The Saints of the Rue Scribe”- but, Pauline Viardot- she was described as one of the greatest actresses of her time and no one ever knew what crazy boundary she was going to leap over the next time they saw her on the stage. The unknown excited them. “Charlie” Gounod. Alright, back to modern people. Kate Winslet- fearless in every performance. Viggo Mortensen- one of the most transformative actors on the planet. There are so many. People who prove that there is no limit. People who live freely and let that freedom shine forth in their work as they journey to even greater freedom. Again, I love the journey. I suppose that’s the writer in me. And I permit me to inspire myself as well. And I suppose that’s the filmmaker in me. And, taking it all in and putting it all together and letting it all out- I suppose that’s the actress in me.
What were some of the challenges you had to face in making your films?
The biggest challenge was always what ended up inspiring the greatest creative freedoms- having nothing. When you start with absolutely nothing and need to build every moment, every step, from the ground up, you get creative and you learn to do everything and how to get everything done. You learn that you can rely on yourself more than you knew you could and you learn that you will, indeed, surprise yourself every step of the way. You learn that being alone means having a level of creative freedom you never would have otherwise had and you use what is truly you to bring about to everyone the best of the moment, the best of the scene, the best of the edit- everything the best it can possibly be. You learn to treasure time alone with your own heart and mind just as much as you treasure group creative collaboration. You get to see everything from a unique perspective and that helps you in every aspect of what you do- not just for this project in a special way- but for every project in the future, whatever it will entail. You’re ready. You’re successful. You trust yourself. You know what you’re doing and you know they know what they’re doing. And you look forward to every possible detail of collaboration with people who equally, in their own ways and talents, trust themselves as well. Many paths leading to the same place to come together as one and create a beautiful work of art.
Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?
Every genre I have worked in has had its own unique joys and intricacies. That said, I love drama. It’s all encompassing. It has no definition. It can mean anything. Creative opportunities therein are endless. I love to be grabbed by a story and never let go and be taken all the way.
What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?
I don’t think I could pick just one. So many films and types of films for different reasons at different points in my life with different memories attached to each of them. My favorites are all over the map. All the Rocky films. And the two Creed films. I watched them all with my dad from the time I was a baby. Days of Wine and Roses- probably my all-time for acting inspiration. Citizen Kane- probably my all-time for creative inspiration. The Gold Rush- my favorite Charlie Chaplin film. Top Hat- my favorite Fred Astaire film. A Dangerous Method- Keira Knightly is insanely great in that performance. Titanic- probably my all-time for writing and directing inspiration. Going My Way- my favorite Christmas film. Knives Out- hands down, Rian Johnson is an absolute genius- this film came out at just the right time to inspire me in just the right way. I’m very much looking forward to the next Benoit Blanc film. The Walk- I love his story and I think it is the most accurate and honorable use of visual effects I’ve ever seen. Bohemian Rhapsody- he defied the odds; he did the impossible. Rocketman- Elton John is probably the one musician that me and both my parents can agree that we absolutely love- they saw him play Madison Square Garden back in the 70s, and Taron Egerton was amazing. That Thing You Do- guilty pleasure film for me since it came out. Dantes Peak- I don’t know why I love it but, every time it’s on TV, I’ll put it on. I remember seeing it in theatres with my dad when it first came out and we were trying to figure out which effects were digital and which effects were miniatures and builds because it was just done so well. The Siege- because it was the first film I was ever an uncredited extra in and because I love Denzel Washington. Bowfinger- when you’re doing independent films for so many years, you start to wonder when you’re going to have to run across a freeway with cars coming at you from every direction. Dog Day Afternoon- Al Pacino is a walking master class. Saturday Night Fever- my mom used to live near where they filmed that movie, and I love the Bee Gees. Pulp Fiction- pure high-octane creative freedom at its finest. Everything Everything- it’s such a sweet film and I love the scene at the ocean. It has a vitality and fearlessness that really perks me up. Midnight In Paris- it came out two years after I had made a documentary on the Grand Era of Paris and it brought back all the great memories I had of my first time being there. The Artist- an homage to the films that I love made in the form of yet another film that I absolutely love. So inspiring! Oh! And, I know it’s not a film, but I really enjoyed the limited series’ “Hollywood”, “Defending Jacob”, and “Truth Be Told”. I’ll stop now. But there are definitely more.
If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
The thing that I love most in films is extensive, one-shot scenes where the actors just go for it, unleash their freedom, and do something so unexpected that the audience just sits in awe and loves it. I want to work with people who I know I can bring something unexpected out of so that they can surprise audiences and perhaps even surprise themselves. I’ve had to be my own casting director in the past, and it has made me more discerning as a director. I know to push. I know there is always something more to a character that the actor can bring out. That is why the actor is hired. You have them. They have the character. The character has the situation. Go all the way. That’s what we as actors are here for- to be. And that is why we as directors should always be good to our actors and never lead them to be things that are harmful. All should be for the good of the actor and for the film and every decision should leave the film that much better and everyone involved satisfied and proud of their work. To raise spirits and boost morale rather than to deplete souls. It makes for a better film, a more fluid creative process, a stronger foundation of trust, and a safe environment for actors and crew alike, both interiorly and exteriorly. Basically, it comes down to: be nice- and mean it- and everyone will give the best of themselves while feeling the best aboutthemselves. Then everyone wins- cast, crew, audiences, and viability for future projects. There are a lot of great talents out there who I would love to work with. And, for each one, when the right project comes along and they match up to it and everything comes together, I will immensely enjoy working with them all.
Tell us something most people don't know about you:
My favorite color is cerulean blue. Not just any shade of blue. It has to be cerulean. Also, my original accent- the one I grew up with- wasn’t a standard New York accent. I’d learned different words from different people with different accents. So my original accent when I spoke as a little kid was a cross of Manhattan/Brooklyn/Long Island/Pennsylvania/Boston/London/Paris/Sicily/and this random Germany/Sweden lilt that came on every once in a while. If I don’t entirely focus on what I’m saying, I am liable to sometimes confuse people with my accent, even to this day. I have to often remind myself to just pick one at a time. And I have to remind myself that Spell Check will always “correct” me when I type “colour”.
The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career:
My mom and dad. They never use the word “impossible”. They love me unconditionally. And they are proud of me. To me, that’s everything. To know, not just that I am me, but also to have that foundation of the fact that they love me. I am who I am and I love myself. But I am not alone. I must say, to be loved by those who you truly love- it is a truly great thing.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker/actor/screenwriter?
Nothing is impossible. If you need something done- do it. Not even the sky is the limit. Create what doesn’t exist. Be honest in your work. Be true to yourself. When you’re right and you know it- do it. And, whenever you have a question, ask the story- it will tell you what it is.
Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
When the inspiration comes, go with it. I’ve always been a self-motivator, both by nature and by necessity, in everything in my life. Starting is fun, quitting is not an option, and keeping on going is what we do every day of our lives. Love it. Go with it. I found, with “Saints”, that the most interesting thing I had to do with my cast and crew was to find a groove, a pace, a rhythm, a fearlessness, and a forward-thrusting trust in such a brief amount of time. But again, the answer is in the story itself. You’ve brought it to them. You’re all in the middle of this world which has dictated to you how it wants to behave. Now, inhabit it. And let the magic happen.
What keeps you motivated?
I love what I do. Always have. Always will. My stories are mine and are always with me. They are a part of me. I love them. And I will always do right by them.
How has your style evolved?
More. I’m a very deductive-reasoning thinker. I see the result and I work its way back to its conception. As I make more and more films, I find new and bigger ways to tell and to share my stories with the world. I’m eccentric. I know it. I embrace it. I’m always looking for a way to build on what has been done or expected and take it to places never dreamed possible. In film, there is always the opportunity for more. Seize it. Never let it go. And enjoy the ride. Let what’s inside of you surprise you. It’s limitless.
On set, the most important thing is:
Safety, which brings freedom, which brings risk-taking, which brings trust, which brings the magic, which is the essence of film.
The project(s) you’re most proud of:
This film, “The Saints of the Rue Scribe”- because it is my first feature film. All of my novels- including “The Saints of the Rue Scribe”. Cinétage and “Stagebooks”. And the fact that I was able to incorporate Cinétage and the “Stagebooks” into “Saints”. I am definitely going to do a Cinétage “homage to the Charpentiers” of the “Stagebooks”.
The most challenging project you worked on. And why?
This film. “Saints”. Because of the sheer scope and size of its 130+ people and infinite number of parts. It was the biggest to date. To be there for everything, every one, and every moment. Everything starts and ends with you, there is no second wave and no plan B, and by the time you’ve earned every moment of the film, you’ve finished making the film. And it’s yours. I loved it! It was truly wonderful. I’m looking forward to my next one.
What are your short term and long term career goals?
Short term- my next film project. Long term- more film projects. Always sharing my stories with the world in new, creative, and unexpected ways.
Your next projects?
I want to do the Cinétage “Homage”. I want to work with as many wonderful and creative people as possible. As for my next project, I am doing an adaptation of my 2019 novel “The Anniversary.” I’ve written the screenplay and look forward to going into pre-production and getting the perfect casting. With “Everything”, the short film I made this year while editing “Saints”, I did everything and worked in the smallest possible environment. With “The Anniversary”, I am looking forward with equal joy to a fully collaborative experience in the largest possible environment. I am also looking forward to working with top-notch actors to create characters and push limits and create surprises and moments that no one would have ever expected. Every time, I go all the way. Each way is different. Each way is a joy and a thrill of an adventure. “The Anniversary”, according to the novel and the screenplay, offers the potential for a powerhouse, first-rate, gets-under-your-skin-and-you’ll-never-forget-how- great-it-was, performance for the two lead characters and a supporting character. I want to make it right. I want to make it unforgettable. I want to make my cast shine like they deserve to shine. For the actors to disappear to the point where all that is left is the characters and the film has the freedom to fly. I want us all to go all the way.
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