Jessica Cameron Interview
I was lucky enough to sit down with the hardest working person in Hollywood. Jessica Cameron is one of the nicest, most sincere people I’ve ever interviewed. She is currently raising money for three movies she’s making simultaneously. Along with some awesome incentives, you can bring production to your hometown simply by donating a little money here. I use the word “donating” here loosely, because like I said, this campaign has some awesome incentives. At very least, click the link and check out the details of the movies.
Jasen Mortensen: How did you fund your movie and how do you feel about using programs like Kickstarter?
Jessica Cameron: We did have an initial investor which wasn’t hard to find and also used IndieGoGo for the production funds. I’m a fan of proper film makers who are going to finish the film in a timely manner, i.e. a year or less, doing crowd funding. I’m really appalled by the amount of people who do crowd funding and then never make a movie or never even attempt to make a movie and then take the money from the fans. I think we need to stand up and be more vocal when we see this happening. I know there’s one wanna be film maker who was on his fourteenth campaign in five years having never made a movie. I think thats immoral and should be illegal. So I think it’s good so long as the audience and the fans know before they donate money to do some research. Make sure the person has a proven track record of doing what they say they’re going to do because it doesn’t matter if they have the best of intentions if they’re not capable of doing it or they decide not to do it.
JM: Your movie Truth or Dare deals with a lot of salacious topics. It starts off talking about truths and some very personal subjects. Was it hard to portray such things as incest, rape, and statutory rape? Or are these things you’re trying to take taboos away from?
JC: You know, I think it just sort of depends on the world that you create, because they are taboo in my world, they’re taboo in your world but they weren’t necessarily taboo for the characters. We just wanted to let the characters live their lives as they would normally. Just because it’s not common in my life doesn’t mean it’s not common in somebody else’s life so I really just tried to keep it truthful and real to the characters that we were creating.
JM: At the screening you said you shot the movie in nine over eleven days. How long was the writing process? It seemed like it was a pretty detailed involved script. Did it take a long time to hash out the story?
JC: It did. We worked on the script for over a year before that. There were multiple drafts that we kept on writing and tweaking right up until shooting. And then as most film makers can attest, the movie you shoot is not necessarily the movie you wind up with in the editing room and you kind of rework it to make it the best story possible. We really tried to make sure the project was tight before going to camera because you don’t want to spend money shooting something you’re not going to need.
JM: Going into this you said you were a little hesitant about directing. Overall were you happy to bring your vision to your story? Was it worth the trouble?
JC: Yes it was definitely worth the trouble, especially for this movie since it was so near and dear to my heart. It wasn’t necessarily so much that I was hesitant as much as I just didn’t think I was the best person for the job at that time. And since then, even though what I lack in directing skill, I feel very strongly that I make up for in general film knowledge. You know, I fully understand the minimum professional standards that all independent films, regardless of budget, need to have so I tried to keep a focus on that. And it was very nice to drive that and kind of stick to a very respectable time frame. We knew that we wanted to do a film festival which meant I had to push forward and come up with a film in six months which is very atypical for an independent production. But because I knew what I wanted I was able to make it happen.
JM: What projects are you working on now?
JC: Right now we’re drafting out Truth or Dare 2 so we’ll see how that goes, I’m pretty excited. We have a wonderful untitled London haunted story that we’re hopefully going to shoot out over the next six months. Utero is currently in post production so look out for that. It’s a story about a young agoraphobic woman who believes her baby is a spider monster. We have The Mexico Project and Inheritance in early stages of development so fingers crossed those will go forward too. And then I just signed on to star with Bill Mosley in a film called Sisters. [Jessica is also going to be in Save Yourself, The Exiled, Mania, and Kill the PA]
JM: Talking about the salaciousness of Truth or Dare and your new project that deals with agoraphobia, it seems that you have a lot of psychology in your work. Is that something you’re drawn to?
JC: I’m just drawn to really complex characters and things I haven’t seen before so it doesn’t even cross my brain as far as the little details of it. I just try to do the best quality of work that I have access to and really make them as rich as possible. As a horror fan, what I really want to see is more complicated stories and complicated characters and situations, even if they’re relatable, that are far different than anything I’ve ever experienced. That’s what I’m really drawn to and I’m blessed to be at a point in my career where I’m getting offered the best quality scripts I ever have been.
JM: There are a lot of great death scenes in your movie. Which one is your favorite?
JC: Oh this is so hard! It’s such a toss up. I would have to say—and I don’t want to give away too much because you have to watch the movie- and you know it’s a horror movie so obviously people are going to die, but Devanny Pinn has a pretty epic death scene, and it’s actually the death scene that I originally wanted for my character, because it was so original. I’ve done a lot of foreign films and I’ve died so many unoriginal ways. I’ve been shot in the head and stabbed several times, so anytime I get to see anything new I’m really drawn to it and this was one of those situations where I’ve never seen anything like this, I would love the challenge of doing this.
JM: Did you have any troubles directing a crew while acting with them?
JC: I didn’t really have trouble with the crew. Where the trouble lay was in the timing. There wasn’t as much time to stand up out of the scene, check the gate, see how the last playback was as I would have liked because we had such a tight sheet schedule so I kind of had to be in the moment, pay attention to the other actors while I was doing my own acting and then trust a lot of other people. So I had to trust that my DP was getting everything into focus a lot of the time since I didn’t have time to triple check it. I had to trust that we were following the shot list that I had very carefully constructed. I had to trust that the production designer had done their job so it just involved a lot of trust.
JM: What are the biggest inspirations you draw from in your own art and your work?
JC: Honestly, it’s everything from waking up in the morning and walking out my front door and seeing this beautiful flower, to the Soska sisters and everything they do to maintain their iconic status as the best female horror directors currently and how they maintain their professionalism while balancing their passion and their connection to fans and their content. I take inspiration from that amazing TV show I saw right down to that painting I got to visit. My cats in the morning. You know everything inspires me in some way, shape or form and I’m blessed that I’m able to realize that.
JM: Have you found as a woman in Hollywood that It’s hard to get your movie made? I hear a lot of talk about horror being very much a boys club and we don’t see a lot of female directors or females being in charge of making these kinds of movies. Did you find it to be hard and do you think it’s going to be that way forever?
JC: Well, here’s the thing. I don’t think it’s horror specifically. I would say that movie making is a boys club regardless of the genre. They’re all boys clubs whether we like it or not. Making the movie being a woman didn’t impact me at all. Now, where it has changed a little bit, as soon as you get a level of success people think its ok to bully a woman or pick on a woman or that I’m just going to take it and its largely gender based. The issues I’ve suffered from having a successful film and a successful festival run I don’t see the male contemporaries going through. I don’t see them getting the same backlash I have from being a success. So making a movie as a woman is really fine and lovely. Everyone was great and then suddenly everyone started to take notice and that caused a lot of jealousy and this anti-Jessica campaign. Which is fine, because fuck them!
Keep your eye out for Jessica. She’s going to be a super star soon.