The Insomniac was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to the lovely, talented and very busy Susan Adriensen who acts, writes and directs. She also is one of our horror vamps, so you can see how lovely she is for yourself.
Thank you so much for joining us Susan.
You are welcome Mr. Insomniac and I must say you are more handsome than I have ever dreamed* (Susan never said this but I am sure she would have given the chance or a lot of alcohol)
What drew you to the horror/supernatural genre?
I canāt really say for sure. Do any of us who are interested in the supernatural and horror genres really know why we enjoy it? Is it because these movies send chills up our spines? Is it because they create imaginary scenarios in our minds and dreams, leaving an imprint of excitement and mystery? Is it because we love to cross into the realm from reality to imaginary ā¦ without getting scathed? And IS it always imaginary? Some horror films are based on reality. The supernatural has yet to be proven ā¦ or disproven. Ahh. Thatās what keeps us all at the edge of our seats ā¦ and keeps the thrills coming ā¦ and keeps us watching these filmsā¦.
Have you always loved scary movies?:
Unlike many horror fans who started watching scary movies as kids, I didnāt watch scary movies until I was about 13 years old. My friend and I would always rent horror flicks at the video store. I recall watching āRevengeā ā āGod Dog Caninus!ā – and some other cheesy horror films. I remember we watched āCreep Showā and loved the āWe have a hole for you!ā scene with Ted Danson. Ahh, those were the days of discovery. But unlike many fans, I canāt remember my first scary movie, although, I remember being frighten by āLoganās Run.ā See, my family really didnāt watch too many scary films before my early teens. (But they watched them later! Trust me! āHell Raiserā was a staple later on!). But, prior to horror movies, I recall other things that āfreaked me out.ā My mother was, and still is, very religious and I remember watching a scene from āJesus Christ Superstarā that she probably never thought would stir such continuing images of fear into my young head. It kept me up at night and had me obsessed for days. The scene was when Jesus approached the leper colony in the jagged rocks and caves. The lepers sang, āSee my eyes, I can hardly seeā¦. See my skin, Iām a mass of bloodā¦. Will you touch, will you mend me, CHRIST!ā If you havenāt seen it, type the movie and ālepersā in youtube. You can see how it could terrify a young child. Interesting how I recently incorporated my fear of religion into my movie, āUnder the Ravenās Wing.ā I can understand how it inspired me nowā¦.
Q What’s your experience being an actress/director/writer in a male dominated field?
It has its good points and its bad points. I DO, in fact, feel like Iām playing in the boysā ball field. At film festivals, I find Iām either the only female filmmaker present or one of the very few ā especially at horror genre film fests. I feel that itās a stretch for some people to put me in the category of filmmaker while they want to label me as āactress.ā Once a person views me IN FRONT of the camera, itās hard from them to imagine me BEHIND the camera. I wonder if male actors/filmmakers get the same views from people about their transitions from in-front-of-camera to behind-the-camera?
One benefit is that some important people may give me the time of day because ā¦ they find me attractiveā¦. I just hope they see my talent as well and take it seriously.
The bottom line is that only 5% of directors are women in Hollywood. Despicable! Creating my own movie, āUnder the Ravenās Wing,ā gave me the opportunity to direct. I would never be given that chance at a large studio. Shame on Hollywood!
But in the indie world, I have been able to prove myself in the boysā playground and doors are now opening. Will they ever open wider for women in Hollywood? Iām not sure. But in the indie world, women are given more chances. Why? CAUSE THEY DO IT THEMSELVES! Itās really the nature of independent. For BOTH genders ā¦.
I have some good news though. I always thought Iād be making and directing my own films ā that Iād never be asked to direct someone elseās movie. Well, that pessimistic thought recently faded as I have been asked to direct a gothic vampire film ā a remake of sorts of the 1932 āVampyrā movie.
Q Have you always wanted to direct? or is it a natural growth from your acting?
Actually, I always wanted to act. However, I performed so sporadically through my life that there was never a chance to discover the tasks taken by a director. I think, during my college Broadcasting production classes at Montclair State University, I developed a love for ā¦ creating. I loved the entire process ā¦ all the way down to the editing. But right now, I choose directing over anything else. It allows you to work with others to create an exciting story to share with manyā¦.
Q What has been your favorite project and why?
āUnder the Ravenās Wingā has been my favorite project as it is something I am very proud of. I put so much of myself into it and worked with so many talented people ā¦ and enjoyed the process thoroughly. But the work is never ending. Iām still working on it. Iām trying to get the DVD created along with the commentary, behind the scenes, and other bonus material. It takes time.
But thereās something to say about just picking up a camera and running with it. My college avant-garde film, āIllusion of Reality,ā was shot on Super 8 so it was lightweight and I felt I could literally ārun with it.ā ā¦ and I really did. The literal cutting of the film was the most difficult, but the entire process was awesome and freeing!
Q How did you come up with the idea for “Under the Raven’s Wing”?
A friend from college and I wanted to create a āBlair Witchyā/faux documentary about three Goth girls who commit a murder and share the experience to the camera. I wrote an extensive character background and shot list, but the project never panned out. Years later, I dusted the idea off and added much more from personal experience and interests and wrote a feature length script. ā¦ the rest is history ā¦ or on the DVD ā¦ coming soon to a website near you. Stay tuned! ā¦ and check www.undertheravenswing.com to be on the waiting list.
Q What has it been like filming the movie? And what do you think about the buzz it has been causing on the internet? Any deals coming?
As you can imagine, filming the movie was tiring. We shot on weekends from September 31 to the day after Thanksgiving. Not bad. We even had a weekend off. But my entire life was āUnder the Ravenās Wing.ā Prepping prepping prepping. Shooting would take a few hours, very long, tiring, and cold hours ā¦ and then it was over. It was fun though. We had a lot of laughs. Some fist clenching moments, but we got through and I got what I wanted ā¦ almost didnāt, but in the end, everything worked out.
As for the buzz, Wow! Itās been a whirlwind! Iām very proud, honored, and excited ā¦ but will this eventually pay for the film? Or pay for the next film? I have yet to find out. I think distributorsā criteria are a little off. They want something to be scary ā¦ and I canāt tell you how many times people ask me if there is nudity in the film. The ābuzzā and viewersā comments and input need to dictate a distributorās choices. Not the gore/scare and nudity factor.
As for ādeals,ā Iām working on one. Very close to signing. Someone is actually SMART enough to take the chance on a female written/directed and driven film about three women who commit a murder for the sake of ātranscending the soul?!ā
Q You clearly have a lot of different talents what other interests have you besides making films?
Besides my occasional acting gigs, my husband and I own two precious parrots ā a green wing macaw and an African Grey. They are our children. We love them dearly. I have also recently taken up belly dancing. It was originally for my back, as I have herniated discs from being hit by a car when I was 13, but it has transpired to a deep passion for the dance and movement. I enjoy Gothique, Fusion, and East Coast Tribal styles of belly dance. ā¦ and my back bends are pretty good considering the herniated discs!
Susan can be seen in such movies as “Prison of the Psychotic Damned”, “Pink Eye”, and “The Blood Shed“. Her film ‘Under The Raven’s Wing” (reviewed elsewhere on the site) should be making it to a DVD outlet sometime next year or you can go on www.undertheravenswing.comĀ to be put on the waiting list. We will be seeing a lot more acting, writing and directing from Susan in the future.
Interview: Susan Adriensen (Blood Shed, Pink Eye)