Director/writer Dean Kapsalis and Actress Azura Skye took time to participate in a zoom interview for Horrornews.net.
Holly seems to have it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with his career on the way up. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world. The insomnia. The medication for the insomnia. The dreams from the medication for the insomnia. The arrival of her estranged sister and a mouse invading her home don’t help either. Add the weight of a dark secret, and her already delicate balance collapses, sending her spiraling out of control.
With her riveting and acclaimed performance as Holly, Azura Skye effortlessly crafts a portrait of a struggling mother on the edge. Writer/director Dean Kapsalis’s powerfully heart-wrenching feature debut explores a week in the life of a woman on the verge in this haunting meditation on mental illness.
Hi Dean, Okay, Swerve was great. The psychological aspects of the film. The fact that this movie touches on insomnia, mental health and the situation we are all in right now. The isolation. It’s intense. How did this idea manifest for you?
Dean- It started with a drawing of a woman in a supermarket. From there it grew entirely from the character, she called herself Holly and then it all came from there. It came from growing up with a lot of strong women in my family, and friends. Their experiences with mental illness and physical and mental abuse. It left an impression on me. I’ve loved movies since before I was in school. They made a deep impression on me. When I went to university, I had to take a course to complete my degree and I took one. I took Literature one. It made a huge impression on me. The real personal experiences and then filtered through my appreciation and admiration for the heroines of literature.
I loved the psychological aspects of the movie. The cast is amazing, the editing. This entire movie is fascinating.
Dean- Thank you.
Azura, why did you decide to take on the role of Holly and did you have to do anything to prepare to play Holly? There are quite a few intense moments.
Azura- There are a lot of intense moments. I find that those intense moments cannot be prepared for. In just my own experience and the way I work, maybe other people know how to prepare for those but I don’t know how to do that. For me, its just a matter of showing up on that day and being able to be comfortable and feel safe enough to be able to go there. A lot of it was just showing up and being present and ready enough to open yourself up to that and allowing those moments to happen. In terms of preparation for the film, and Dean, I don’t know if you know this but, like I said there wasn’t really much I could do except think about her and live in headspace. I did make a pie because I had never made a pie before in my life, that’s how domestic I am. If I need a pie, I go to the market. But I was like, you know getting into it and there’s going to be a moment when Dean says to me, have you ever even made a pie? And in that moment, I wanted to be able to say, why yes, I have, and be honest about it. So, I did make a pie ahead of time just kind of to put myself through the paces as an exercise. I did not make my own pastry; I just did the pie. And there was a moment onset when Dean was like, have you ever made a pie and I was like, as a matter of fact, yes Mr. Kapsalis I have made a pie.
Dean- Did I ask you that? I remember asking you ever peeled an apple before? And you were really good at it. You asked me, do I want the peels to be singular? Like, in one piece. I said, can you do that? I said, just do it and there was so much apple peeling and cutting.
Azura- It’s funny the things we get nervous about. I wasn’t nervous about those hugely heart wrenching scenes. I was nervous about the apple peeling.
Dean- It’s the little things that were the hardest to capture. It’s not done with natural lighting. You have a lot of people there.
Azura- And to answer the third part of your question, Janel. What made me want to play Holly? I would have to say, I think an actor waits a whole lifetime or a whole career to get a role like this. I don’t know how you say no. It’s the best part, I’ve ever had. It’s a tremendous gift and terrifying but its rare as an actor where I find myself in a scary situation and when I do, it’s usually something very special that comes out of that fear. I felt so exposed.
You have played so many different incredible characters that you’ve played. I think Holly is one of my favorite characters you have portrayed.
Azura- Thank you.
Does it take a toll on you playing a character like Holly?
Azura- You think it would take a toll. I’m very fortunate that as soon as the director says cut, I let go and I’m back to being Azura. I never stay in character in the between time. I always have to come back to being me. Acting is such a personal internal process and everyone works differently. I was actually curious if it would affect me because you just never know. I was able to separate pretty easily and not go to a dark place. I find when you get to do these really tortured kind of roles, there can be a catharsis there. Whatever that stuff is in you that you have, it’s a great opportunity to get it out.
What do both of you want to say to the people who will be watching, The Swerve?
Azura- Not to, I’m going to answer without answering. Personally, when I go into a movie or before I read a book or anything. I find that the best experience I have is when I don’t know anything. I always go into movies and I go, don’t tell me anything about it. I don’t want to know anything about it. I want to have a completely authentic experience. I’d like to leave it up to the viewer to see what kind of experience they have. I suppose I could say, thank you for watching.
Dean- I hope they get something from it. I hope they feel something from the film. We want people to see it because you want to share it with people. Hopefully, it makes an impact. You mentioned the editing, thank you.
Thank you both so much. Thank you Azura, you did an incredible job. Thank you, Dean, this movie was so emotionally beautiful.
Azura- Thank you so much Janel. I appreciate it. Thank you, Dean. Happy handwashing.
Yes, thank you and happy handwashing.
Dean- Thank you