Deborah Twiss Deborah Twiss has a brand new haunting project coming out call A CRY FROM WITHIN (SEBASTIAN) it features Deborah Twiss, Cathy Moriarty, Eric Roberts, James McCaffrey and more.
Janel: Please tell us a little about yourself and how your project came to fruition?
I’m an actress and a filmmaker. I have been making films since I came to NYC at 17 years old to study acting at NYU. Very rapidly I realized that I would never be satisfied with being an actor who “waited for the phone to ring”….so I dove into making films. The first script I ever had “produced” was in 3rd grade. I also starred in it. It’s a trend. Create my own great roles.
My first film was made in 1996. I was 25. A GUN FOR JENNIFER. It is a cult classic throughout the world. Other films followed. Other acting roles followed too. Then I got married in 2002 and had 2 amazing kids within the following 2 years. We were living in my husband’s parents’ brownstone in Cobble Hill Brooklyn when my daughter was 1 1/2 and my son was 3 and we were the targets of a haunting. A child’s spirit had somehow attached to us, particularly my little girl, and would actually hit her, slap her, push her. She would freak out. My brother stayed with us over a summer with his dog, who was a really wonderful, sweet, smart canine. One night the dog, Kiowa, lunged and bit my baby girl in the face! We went to the ER, got stitches, etc. When we got home my 3 year old son came to me and told me “The bad boy made Kiowa bite Sydney (his sister)”
Nothing happened for a few weeks after that. Then one night we were all sitting eating dinner, my daughter on my lap, my son across from us in his high chair. Sydney started laughing and said, “Matty, stop…” she kept kicking her feet. I showed her Matty was in his chair and didn’t touch her. She laughed again and said “Matty STOP!!”…momma, Matty tickle me…” I told her he couldn’t and she looked under the table to prove he had. Whatever she saw was NOT Matty. The utterly horrific reaction she had was beyond anything I’d experienced. She went INTO my shirt, tucked into a ball and was hyperventilating, paralyzed. I pulled her out and couldn’t unravel her little contracted body. Her eyes were squeezed shut and her fists were clenched. I handed her to my husband and told him to take her and my son and get OUT of the house. That I would deal with it myself.
They left. I stood there, in the middle of the parlor floor and said, “I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU WANT BUT TALK TO ME, ME, LEAVE MY BABY GIRL ALONE!!!” At that moment it was like a hood went over my head and eyes and I “saw”….it was horrific and sad and devastating. After showing me his story, he made me promise I would tell others about him.
Several times I began to write the script. But then I would stop, feeling it was too sensationalistic, like a tabloid story and cheap. But then the hauntings would increase. One particular night, I stayed up late writing. I looked over what I’d written and had that feeling that it was exploitive. I shut the computer, vowing it wasn’t meant to be used as a “film job”. Within SECONDS of being in bed I heard someone small jump to the floor from the front of the room (it was a long 30 foot room) and footsteps come ALL the way to where I lay, my side of the bed, and stand there. I heard the breathing. I opened my eyes and FELT someone there but couldn’t see. It was so weird. I said, in my head, “Ok. If it is you, I promise I will tell your story Sebastien” And I finished the script within two weeks.
Janel: A Cry From Within-Sebastian does not appear to be the average horror film, please tell us what makes it different from the current horror movies out?
Deborah: I didn’t go for the “scare”, I went for the story. The characters. Reality can be far more horrific sometimes than any horror film. There is much natural horror in this.
Janel: You have done television work and film work, which one do you feel more comfortable working on?
Deborah: TV is so fast and furious and film can be too but there’s that extra breath. Just one extra breath when working in film. I enjoy the immediacy of TV and of course the cash but film is my deepest, truest love. I just love movies. Everything about them. Being in them, watching them, and going to the movie theater, all of it. LOVE FILM. Big budget, indie, even no budget….if the director knows what he/she is doing
Janel: Your film is heading to Cannes? Are you excited and what do you expect from the film?
Deborah: We went to Cannes to show our work in progress for potential disturbs and give our Producer’s Sales Rep a chance to begin rolling out the film. 5. Could you tell us who some of your inspirations are and why?
I am inspired by so many things and people. I’m inspired by love and life and truth and justice and my amazing kids that are a gift straight from God and the Universe….I’m inspired by my desire to save the world, one child at a time, one sad soul at a time, one homeless animal at a time. I’m inspired by LOVE and hope. I’m inspired to get the message out to all humanity, especially women, that there are no limits on any level to what we can achieve as humans. I’m a true believer in this fact and have been a long time: WE are all spiritual beings utilizing a MEAT SUIT that allows us to interact in this game called REALITY. We need to remember we are all connected and we are all spiritual beings at our core. My job as a writer, actress and director is to communicate that in everything I do and in my own little way spread the message of LOVE and LIFE. Even when there are “villains” or negative characters, they are simply beings out of touch with LOVE and spirituality. Oh…let me add, I am not religious but utterly dedicated to spirituality and truth.
Janel: Could you tell us a little about your next project?
Deborah: It’s a dark, sexy, dangerous film noir set in the Hampton, CONFIDENCE GAME….inspired by a major con that got pulled on me during the production of A CRY FROM WITHIN.
Janel: Who are some of your favorite writers and directors?
Deborah: Wow. Couple. Robert Altman, fist. I love ENSEMBLE casts. I enjoy many characters interweaving between each other’s’ lives. It’s so much like reality.
Then I ADORE Terry Gilliam. Because he is awesome and edgy and fearless when it comes to pushing the boundaries. Plus his films always LOOK so cool. Like a dream or hyper reality.
And another one who I just think is incredible, a real actors’ director: John Cassavetes. Wow. I worked on THE OTHER WOMAN and Nick Cassavetes directed it. I felt guilty because I couldn’t think about who HE was, I just thought about the fact that he had in him the DNA of John Cassavetes AND Gena Rowlands….WOWOWOW!!! lol John Cassavetes just had such a fantastic way of allowing actors to play and be and just sink into a whole other reality. I get the sense from watching his films that he guided the production but mostly just played pretend with his fellow actors and enjoyed the process. I love that.
Janel: The film includes an all-star cast, could you tell us what it was like working with Cathy Moriarty, Eric Roberts, James McCaffrey and more?
Deborah: It’s really incredible. Donna McKenna is my casting director and really nailed this. She said I would love those three and I certainly DID and DO! I’m slated to work with all of them again in CONFIDENCE GAME. I just did a one act play THE BASKETWEAVER by Blair Baron Larson, for the Samuel French One Act Competition, with James McCaffrey. He played my husband. It was wonderful. All three of these amazing actors were more fun and cool than I’d ever hoped and are a permanent fixture in my life now….and I am SO thrilled and grateful all the time.
A producer friend and I have been joking lately about how the actors and crew who work a LOT are so much cooler than the newbies who think everyone needs to fall in front of them and worship them. It’s pretty silly. But it also is a testament to the fact that Divas do not last. These three actors, Cathy, Eric, James, are so unbelievably cool and it’s obvious why they have the “name” recognition that they do.
Janel: The film has a deep psychological fear. The type of fear that scares you a little more than your average haunting film or paranormal film? Where did the fear originate from?
Deborah: Life. I have witnessed some things in my life and gone through certain experiences that are far more horrific than any monster or killer or anything like that. I really am intrigued by psychological terror because that is what gets me most. Roller coasters, scary guys? That’s for thrills….scary old ladies (I do mean SCARY, not all OLDER ladies), mean parents, child abuse, neglect, addiction….THAT IS HORROR.
Janel: Have you ever had a personal experience such as the one in the film that you are able to share with us?
Deborah: See above…lol….oh yes. Plus, I come from a bunch of cool Polish women who were psychic and saw spirits and TALKED to them all the time, so the “other side” isn’t weird or something that needs to be proven to me. So I do tend to have experiences since I’m utterly open to that segment of reality that so many people are sadly trained away from. My kids have been taught, by me, as I was taught, and so they too have an awareness regarding this stuff.
Janel: Could you tell us how you chose the house in the film and if there is a real story behind it?
Deborah: My casting director Donna McKenna lives in Long Island and knew of a cool up and coming locations scout/realtor (GREAT COMBO!!) Tina Fries. We had a planned scout to see 5 houses. Tina is friends with a psychic who would join us, Janet Russell, and help us out if any of the homes would be “opposed” to us shooting a ghost film in their space.
The first place we went BLEW ME AWAY. It was as if I’d stayed in the house a year and THEN wrote the script, right down to the flame boiler in the basement. Seriously. Shocking. Amazing. Plus the owner was the sweetest woman in the world. It was just a fit. The psychic said a young girl was in the house (spirit) but would let us be as long as we didn’t go into the one room in the upstairs. We agreed. I didn’t even care to look at any other houses. It was perfect.
During our shoot the kids were playing and ran upstairs into the VERY room they’d been warned not to go into. Sure enough the little girl attached to my daughter. I’ll find the picture of her for you. It’s undeniable. The psychic had to come and coax the child to leave my daughter alone. We had a pretty scary experience in the minivan when the little girl was sitting on that thing between the two front seats, and my daughter could see her (I could feel her) and she would not stop trying to get Sydney’s attention.
Make sure to check out Deborah’s Facebook page for details: