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 can‚Äôt 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 ‚Ä¶ without getting scathed? And IS it always imaginary? Some horror films are based on reality. The supernatural has yet to be proven ‚Ä¶ or disproven. Ahh. That‚Äôs what keeps us all at the edge of our seats ‚Ä¶ and keeps the thrills coming ‚Ä¶ and keeps us watching these films‚Ä¶.
Have you always loved scary movies?:
Unlike many horror fans who started watching scary movies as kids, I didn‚Äôt 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 ‚ÄúRevenge‚ÄĚ ‚Äď ‚ÄúGod Dog Caninus!‚ÄĚ – and some other cheesy horror films. I remember we watched ‚ÄúCreep Show‚ÄĚ and loved the ‚ÄúWe have a hole for you!‚ÄĚ scene with Ted Danson. Ahh, those were the days of discovery. But unlike many fans, I can‚Äôt remember my first scary movie, although, I remember being frighten by ‚ÄúLogan‚Äôs Run.‚ÄĚ See, my family really didn‚Äôt watch too many scary films before my early teens. (But they watched them later! Trust me! ‚ÄúHell Raiser‚ÄĚ was a staple later on!). But, prior to horror movies, I recall other things that ‚Äúfreaked me out.‚ÄĚ My mother was, and still is, very religious and I remember watching a scene from ‚ÄúJesus Christ Superstar‚ÄĚ 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, ‚ÄúSee my eyes, I can hardly see‚Ä¶. See my skin, I‚Äôm a mass of blood‚Ä¶. Will you touch, will you mend me, CHRIST!‚ÄĚ If you haven‚Äôt seen it, type the movie and ‚Äúlepers‚ÄĚ in youtube. You can see how it could terrify a young child. Interesting how I recently incorporated my fear of religion into my movie, ‚ÄúUnder the Raven‚Äôs Wing.‚ÄĚ I can understand how it inspired me now‚Ä¶.
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 I‚Äôm playing in the boys‚Äô ball field. At film festivals, I find I‚Äôm either the only female filmmaker present or one of the very few ‚Äď especially at horror genre film fests. I feel that it‚Äôs a stretch for some people to put me in the category of filmmaker while they want to label me as ‚Äúactress.‚ÄĚ Once a person views me IN FRONT of the camera, it‚Äôs 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 ‚Ä¶ they find me attractive‚Ä¶. 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, ‚ÄúUnder the Raven‚Äôs Wing,‚ÄĚ 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 boys‚Äô playground and doors are now opening. Will they ever open wider for women in Hollywood? I‚Äôm not sure. But in the indie world, women are given more chances. Why? CAUSE THEY DO IT THEMSELVES! It‚Äôs really the nature of independent. For BOTH genders ‚Ä¶.
I have some good news though. I always thought I‚Äôd be making and directing my own films ‚Äď that I‚Äôd never be asked to direct someone else‚Äôs movie. Well, that pessimistic thought recently faded as I have been asked to direct a gothic vampire film ‚Äď a remake of sorts of the 1932 ‚ÄúVampyr‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Ä¶ creating. I loved the entire process ‚Ä¶ 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 many‚Ä¶.
Q What has been your favorite project and why?
‚ÄúUnder the Raven‚Äôs Wing‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Ä¶ and enjoyed the process thoroughly. But the work is never ending. I‚Äôm still working on it. I‚Äôm trying to get the DVD created along with the commentary, behind the scenes, and other bonus material. It takes time.
But there‚Äôs something to say about just picking up a camera and running with it. My college avant-garde film, ‚ÄúIllusion of Reality,‚ÄĚ was shot on Super 8 so it was lightweight and I felt I could literally ‚Äúrun with it.‚ÄĚ ‚Ä¶ 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 ‚ÄúBlair Witchy‚ÄĚ/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. ‚Ä¶ the rest is history ‚Ä¶ or on the DVD ‚Ä¶ coming soon to a website near you. Stay tuned! ‚Ä¶ 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 ‚ÄúUnder the Raven‚Äôs Wing.‚ÄĚ Prepping prepping prepping. Shooting would take a few hours, very long, tiring, and cold hours ‚Ä¶ 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 ‚Ä¶ almost didn‚Äôt, but in the end, everything worked out.
As for the buzz, Wow! It‚Äôs been a whirlwind! I‚Äôm very proud, honored, and excited ‚Ä¶ but will this eventually pay for the film? Or pay for the next film? I have yet to find out. I think distributors‚Äô criteria are a little off. They want something to be scary ‚Ä¶ and I can‚Äôt tell you how many times people ask me if there is nudity in the film. The ‚Äúbuzz‚ÄĚ and viewers‚Äô comments and input need to dictate a distributor‚Äôs choices. Not the gore/scare and nudity factor.
As for ‚Äúdeals,‚ÄĚ I‚Äôm 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 ‚Äútranscending the soul?!‚ÄĚ
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 ‚Äď 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. ‚Ä¶ 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.com¬†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)