Tell us “Bethany” and how you prepared to play Claire?
Stefanie: The character is traumatized and going through a lot. To prepare I worked a lot with James, the director in coming up with a juicy back-story for her. He had some interesting exercises that he came up with up. You find out in the film, that Claire has attempted suicide. We did this one exercise where I went into the FX studio and they gave me scars to wear. I went around for a week with suicide scars on my arm. I took in what that was like to have people react to that type of trauma. It was eye-opening and a brilliant idea on his part to help me get into character.
What was it like working with James Cullen Bressack?
Stefanie: Collaborative! He had a specific idea of how he wanted the character to come across but he was open to the ideas that I was bringing to the table. How she would react to things, where I thought her emotions were coming from. We shot it as an independent film so we had a tight shooting schedule. It was only fourteen day. Everything was tight and fast.
You only had fourteen days to shoot the film? What was that like?
Stefanie: I think that is credited to James’ preparation. He shot the whole movie in his mind before we actually shot the film on-set. He knew that he needed a close-up here, coverage of this etc. When it came time to role the cameras he was captain of the ship and getting everything that he needed to get within that tight time-frame.
Claire is fragile yet strong, was it difficult getting those scenes done?
Stefanie: I think a lot of the film has so much camera work that helps to convey Claire’s fragile mental state. The transitions that he uses, the close-ups and that was all his ideas prior to shooting.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?
Stefanie: My mom’s sister was an actress. She was on a soap opera. I grew up watching her and my uncle was an Opera singer. I think I was exposed to a theatrical lifestyle pretty early on. As I got older and had the opportunity to explore it, I just really gravitated to getting to explore characters who were experiencing things that I wasn’t in my own life. I think I was a reserved child so being able to express myself or aspects of my personality that perhaps I felt a little scared to explore in my real life, I think acting gave me that opportunity so that’s how I caught the bug I guess.
You are working with a great cast including: Zack Ward, Shannen Doherty, Keith Jardine, Felissa Rose and Leon Russom. Did you guys take away any advice from one another?
Stefanie: Working with all of the actors was such a treat because they are all such professionals and I am still pretty green. Just watching their commitment and professional was really inspiring. I guess as for taking away something from our interaction was being a consummate professional. Watching them always be on top of their game.
What do you want to say to the fans?
Stefanie: For “Bethany,” strap in for a crazy and emotionally retching ride. With my work, I hope they enjoy it and I think I was very lucky that I got to play a character that is extremely complex. I think in the future I hope to continue to get the opportunity to portray people who have a lot going on and they are dealing with a lot. I want to play roles that people can relate to. I think even though this is a horror film, Claire is dealing with problems or issues that are relatable to the general population. Relationships with family, your relationship to the past, motherhood, and our society’s obsession with beauty. I think they are all themes that can resonate with people and specifically with a female audience.
For people who have dealt with suicide and personal tragedies the film does hit home and it makes you think about what Claire and these characters are going through. Did it take a toll on you emotionally?
Stefanie: Yes, yes! It was emotionally exhausting! I saw Zack Ward recently at a screening and he said, Oh my God, you look so rested and so happy. This is so unexpected. I am used to seeing you in a corner kind of lost in your own thoughts. So I think it did have an emotional toll. In the day to day of it, I wasn’t crying in every moment. I think when you are dealing with dark themes and heavy emotional material, it can’t help but affect you.
What is next for you? What other projects are you working on?
Stefanie: There’s another indie that will be coming out later this year, it’s a period piece and it’s called, “Nothing Like the Sun.” It takes place in the 1950’s and again it is a very strong female lead and a great female driven story about a lesbian in the fifties who is trying to find her way in a society that is not accepting of who she is. I also have a Sci-Fi thriller called, “Identity.” I am also going to start shooting a film called, “A Place Apart” which is a female in the lead and the theme of that film is complacency and how we get stuck in the routine of our lives because we fear failure so much. What’s at stake when we don’t go after what we want.
Do you think there will be a sequel to “Bethany?” If there is, will you come back in any form?
Stefanie: Oh my gosh! I hadn’t thought about that! That is such a great question because the ending does sort of lend itself to a sequel now that I think about it. Absolutely, I would come back. That would be a treat and a thrill.
STEFANIE ON IMDB www.imdb.com/name/nm2264356/