Hello Amy and welcome to UK Horror Scene. Before we begin I would just like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us, thanks!
Q1) First of all, why don’t you introduce yourself to those of us who don’t already know you and tell us how you became an actress, director, writer and film producer?
I’m Amy Hesketh. I became all of these things because they fulfill me. I did that by following my process. That sounds strange.
Q2) Which horror actor or actress inspires you the most?
Barbara Steele, Soledad Miranda, I also very much like Julian Sands and Christopher Lee.
Q3) You are an American actress now living and working in Bolivia. What do you love most about Bolivia and what do you miss most about the USA?
I still spend a good amount of time in the USA, so it’s not that big of an issue for me. But I miss my family, the countryside where I grew up, and pretty much all of my favorite bands are in the USA and Europe. The only band I’ve managed to see here in La Paz is Rhapsody of Fire. Which was an awesome show.
Bolivia is a magical place, full of chaos and beauty. I love how people interact with space here, randomly, naturally. You’ll see a bunch of people come into the city from the countryside and just sit down in the street and eat lunch, picnic style. I find something magical about this place every day.
Q4) You are known for your controversial film, ‘Sirwiñakuy‘ I believe it was criticized by Bolivian critics for promoting domestic violence in your film. Well done for covering subjects like this. How did you deal with this at the time and do you feel the Bolivian critics have a different view of you now?
There were a few critics who didn’t understand the concept I was trying to put across in that film. It’s essentially an awkward, uncomfortable BDSM romance between two people; a couple pushing their boundaries together.
I think there are quite a few people in the world who still don’t understand what sadomasochism is, or at the very least, don’t recognize it when it’s not wrapped in the conventional trappings of leather and fuzzy handcuffs.
It was my first film, so the vehement criticism here was a bit shocking for me. But then the movie played for 5 months in the Cinemateca due to popular demand. So, while critics hated it, the audience loved it.
The critics here still hate me. I’m ok with that.
Q5) You joined Pachamama Films back in 2005 to work as an actress on a documentary for National Geographic Outbreak Investigation: Curse of the Black Typhus, in Bolivia. You then saw Jac Avila’s ‘Martyr‘ in a festival and decided to stay and work with Jac. The two of you have done many films together, which film is your favourite as an actress and director and do you have the perfect working relationship with Jac, learning from each other in the art of film making?
Jac and I have two different styles, as the critic Charles Lonberger of The Beverly Hills Outlook put it, Jac is more conceptual and Baroque in his films, while I’m more personal and Gothic in mine.
Jac and I work very well together. Big personalities, especially ones that have different perspectives and outlooks, clash occasionally, but most of the time we have an ongoing dialogue that is creatively beneficial to both of us. We learn from each other, definitely.
My favorite film so far, as a director, is ‘Barbazul‘ (Bluebeard), I had a great deal of fun with the actors, and the locations. Bringing my script to life during production was so amazing, and twisted. It felt so wonderful for so many people to trust me in bringing such insanity to the screen.
My favorite as an actress is ‘Dead But Dreaming‘. I like my performance in that film, my character arc. It was another film in which I had to go down the rabbit hole, emotionally, in order to play the role, but I’m very pleased with the results.
Q6) I believe ‘Dead But Dreaming‘ is the first vampire film ever made in Bolivia. How proud are you of this remarkable achievement and do you think it will open new doors for other film makers in Latin America especially Bolivia?
I’m extremely proud of ‘Dead But Dreaming‘. I really gave 500% as an actress, producer, and all of the other hats I wore for that film. The results are stunning.
Other filmmakers here have told us that the films we make, genre films, are opening more doors for Bolivian filmmakers. For quite some time we were the only ones making genre films here in Bolivia. Many filmmakers were afraid to make a film like that here. There are many who still think that they have to make the greatest “Bolivian” film ever made, and on celluloid, or not make a film at all. And thus there are relatively few films produced here.
We broke that bubble, started producing more and different kinds of films, horror, personal films, etc. I hope to see others make more productions like that here.
I don’t. Seriously. I haven’t taken a day off in months. One of the pluses of owning your own business is that you are doing what you love. A minus is that you feel the need to work all the time for fear that everything, the entire world will collapse. Because it will collapse, I’m sure of it. Kidding! Not really.
The lack of relaxation doesn’t bother me much of the time, because I’m doing what I love. I realize how fantastic that is, every day.
Q8) What would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?
A classic horror flick needs a monster (either traditional monster, or psycho killer, or entity/force), attractive ladies, and a great location(s). A good horror flick would also have a great script.
For me, a truly scary horror film only needs to have as its central argument the fear of the unknown. I personally prefer to never see the monster in that type of film. ‘The Innkeepers’ is a good example of this.
Q9) Your films contain nudity and scenes of torture, which are almost like European art-house films. I salute you and Jac Avila for bringing this across on screen in a very realistic way, covering topics like the Spanish Inquisition. How difficult are these scenes to film as an actress and director and why do you think nudity and torture works so well in your films unlike many other horror flicks?
Thanks! Our films have a lot in common with the European art-house/exploitation films of yesteryear. Both Jac and I are inspired by them. We tend to go father than those classics… because we’re cool like that. I think those scenes work well in our films, because they’re complex, always part of the story and context, and also about character development. It’s never about just doing difficult scenes for shock value, or for their own sake. Horrible events happen in life, and throughout history, we use those for inspiration, and the context surrounding them.
Scenes with nudity and torture are always difficult to shoot for both parties.
As an actress, I have to suffer physical and emotional discomfort for days on end. In some ways it’s exciting to transform oneself for a role like the ones I’ve performed. There are also moments when I think, “What the hell am I doing?”, and have to work through that to get through the scene. Like being wrapped in a plastic burrito in ‘Barbazul‘. When the plastic was covering my face and I felt like maybe there wasn’t enough oxygen in there with me, I had a moment of sheer panic. But the things I, and all of the other actors, undergo in our films are worth it, because these films, in part because of those scenes, will endure.
As a director, I’m always worried about the actresses/actors, how they feel, how much they can actually take. I can gauge this a bit better than some, because of my experience as an actress, but everyone has their own limits. The secret really comes down to an unshakeable trust between everyone on the set.
Q10) Finally, are you currently working on any new horror movies or any other projects which you can tell us about?
We just pre-released ‘Dead But Dreaming‘ to DVD and VOD. And October 9th-13th I’ll be going to the Pollygrind Film Festival with ‘Barbazul‘, which should be tons of fun.
We’re in production on my fourth film as a director, ‘Olalla‘, based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, about an incestuous family of (genetic) vampires. And we just launched a campaign on Indiegogo to help raise funds for a really awesome, shocking sequence in the film! Everyone should go check that out and be a part of the movie!
Thank you, Amy. It’s been a true pleasure interviewing you. Would you like to add any links so your fans and horror fans can follow you?
All the best for the future, good luck with your Indiegogo campaign and keeping doing what you do best.
Thank you very much for the interview, Dean!
Olalla Indiegogo Campaign: http://indiegogo.com/projects/olalla
The Movies: http://vermeerworks.com
Amy’s Facebook: http://facebook.com/amyhesketh
Amy’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/Amy_Hesketh
Amy’s Blog: http://amyhesketh.com
More cool info: http://pachamamafilms.com
Image courtesy: Miguel Inti Canedo