I’m a horror fan like many of you and I was thrilled to get a chance to talk to some amazing ladies involved with the upcoming horror film The Fiancé. I’ve worked with lead actress Carrie Keagan and producer Staci Layne Wilson for years on the press junket circuit and these ladies rock! I also got to talk to makeup artist Michelle Sforzo about doing the film. Check out what they had to say below!
CARRIE KEAGAN – LEAD ACTRESS
Legion of Leia: You’ve been on so many sides of the industry (including press junkets where you warned me about a certain actor being a bit stoned before I interviewed him). How does this compare to what you’ve done so far?
Carrie Keagan: Everything I’ve ever done has been so much fun and a journey unto itself but no amount of celebrity interviewing could have prepared me for the blood bath that I entered into with The Fiancé, and I couldn’t be happier! This past year I have been lucky enough to have been involved in 4 films, Fetish Factory, BadPuss, Dinner (short film) and The Fiancé and I am very much enjoying being on movie sets and seeing how it all works. I’m learning a lot and I am preparing to produce my own short film later this year.
Legion of Leia: What has the shoot been like for you? Can you give us a look at your character?
Carrie Keagan: The shoot has been incredibly fun! I play Sara, the girlfriend of Michael. I drive out to a cabin in the woods to meet my man for a romantic weekend where, unbeknownst to me, he is going to propose. When I arrive at the cabin I get attacked by a Bigfoot. From that moment on the sweet and beautiful Sara transforms into a rabid, crazed, beast who’s only intent on ripping apart anyone that comes near her. Which at first was confusing to me, because it’s called The Fiancé, and not like “PMS”.
Legion of Leia: Let’s talk about screaming. How’s your voice?
Carrie Keagan: I have been a wanna-be scream queen my whole life. I have idolized Jamie Lee Curtis, Sissy Spacek (obviousy) Jennifer Tilly and Elvira since I was little. Funny thing about this role in The Fiancé is that, since I am the aggressor I don’t really have a scene where I scream. Not unlike the women I look up to. That being said, I am ready when the next role requires it! Until then I’m happy to work on my groaning, scratching, moaning and biting. Which, after seeing the scenes, is not as hot as it sounds.
Legion of Leia: Horror seems to be changing as a genre with more women involved in production and smarter heroines. Can you talk about this?
Carrie Keagan: While it certainly feels like there’s more of a spotlight on women with the Soska twins (American Mary) and Jennifer Kent (Babadook), there has been a great history of women in horror both on camera and behind like Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark), Mary Lambert (Pet Cemetery) and Mary Harron (American Psycho) to name a few. I definitely think women bring a new perspective to the genre and there should always be more in the game!
STACI LAYNE WILSON – PRODUCER
Legion of Leia: How did you get involved in the project?
Staci Layne Wilson: I’ve known the writer/director, Mark Allen Michaels, for a couple of years now. He took a break but I know he’s been wanting to get back into filmmaking — his 2004 feature Mind Rage, starring Charles Hallahan, Tippi Hedren and Max Gail, is great! – and so he decided to just do it. Within a matter of a few months he wrote the script, got the financing, and with the help of another female producer, Kate Rees Davies, the three of us assembled a kick-ass cast and crew, got locations, and were off to the races. I don’t believe in waiting for everything to be just right before making a film – instead, make it happen and everything will be just right.
Legion of Leia: Give us a peek at what it’s been like shooting this.
Staci Layne Wilson: A peek…? Would you like to see my parka, thermal socks, boots, and gloves? I think we’ll all have permafrost memories of making The Fiancé – it was the coldest and wettest December in Southern California in years! And we had mostly night-shoots in the mountains and canyons, of course. Brilliant. I told Mark the sequel has to be on the beach in the Caribbean! I can see it now: Sand Sasquatch: The Revenge. I kid, of course. My true takeaway from helping to make this film is the talent and cohesion of the crew and the amazing abilities of our cast. Carrie is such a natural in everything she does, and she is a trooper. The poor dear had to wear a short, sleeveless sundress in the cold night, plastered with blood and mud made even colder by the wind, to act and not shiver, plus do fight scenes (though she did have a killer stunt double for some of the more intense bits), and not one complaint. If I could work with Carrie on all my movies, I’d be set for life. And the guys weren’t too shabby, either. I could go on and on, but I do have to give kudos to Douglas Tait, our sasquatch. I’ve known him for years, and always wanted to do a project with him, so that was a little dream ticked off the to-do list.
Legion of Leia: What is it about the horror genre that you love so much?
Staci Layne Wilson: I love the multi-faceted nature of it. People who do not understand horror, or who say “I hate horror movies!” don’t seem to realize it’s not simply slashers. Horror is not just Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers. Horror is also Rosemary, Carrie, and Catherine Tramell. Horror can also be very funny. For example, I cannot wait until my first feature (also starring Carrie Keagan), Fetish Factory, is released. I call it a live-action Scooby Doo zombie cartoon with T&A. What’s not to love? The Fiancé is supernatural horror, but there is this whole other crime-noir subplot that is sure to surprise and enthrall the audience as it switches back between that and the Bigfoot mayhem in the forest. There’s really no other genre aside from horror that can mesh so many different elements and still retain its core.
Legion of Leia: We met doing press junkets (the one for Teeth, to be exact). How have you managed to transition to production?
Staci Layne Wilson: Wow, you have a great memory, Jenna. How could I forget we bonded over a silly, sick flick about vaginal dentitis? I guess that explains a few things about us… But to answer your question, I never really actively set out to change careers and I never planned on using entertainment reporting as stepping stone into filmmaking. I’ve always been a jack of all trades, master of some. I do what I love — and that is writing, creating, facilitating, and whatever else it takes to avoid the dreaded “day job” doldrums. While I am a very independent person who shudders at the very notion of working for someone other than myself, I am also an enthusiastic collaborator and so I think that’s what makes me (hopefully) a good producer and director. I am still doing my junketeer and movie review things – I write for Dread Central, Fangoria, and At Home in Hollywood to name a few – but I’m also directing my second feature for Blanc-Beihn Productions next month, and I’m working on a novel. So, I haven’t really transitioned from one thing into another; I’m just working it, baby!
MICHELLE SFARZO – SFX MAKEUP
Legion of Leia: We know you worked with Staci and Carrie before on the zombie film Fetish Factory, but what was it specifically about this project that attracted you?
Michelle Sfarzo: Well the first thing that attracted me was being able to work with Staci and Carrie on another horror film, but I always jump at the chance to create a full character and I was excited to see what we could come up with for this script, especially since this was going to be my first Sasquatch makeup job.
Legion of Leia: You do both beauty and monster makeup… do you have a preference? What you like best, about each?
Michelle Sfarzo: They both have their own challenges, I don’t prefer one over the other but instead see myself as a character artist. Even in beauty we are creating a character/illusion to our audience, whether it’s enhancing beauty or creating a monster from words on paper. What I like about beauty is that I get the opportunity to enhance my clients natural beauty and educate them on what works and what looks best on them. If I’m doing beauty on a client for a film, well, then we are basing the makeup on what the character would wear. Even if the client doesn’t agree we sometimes have to remind them that the makeup is not best for them, but best for their character. SPFX / Creature makeup is a whole other monster …literally! I am working with the director constantly, checking in to help him bring the script to life. This can be both challenging and rewarding, If you pull it off you’ll be the hero and that feeling alone is worth the struggle.
Legion of Leia: So, we know this was your first Sasquatch… what was the trick for pulling it off so well?
Michelle Sfarzo: This was definitely my first Sasquatch makeup. As soon as I heard I went straight to my friend Vincent Guastini for advice. He has an amazing FX shop and they helped me out with the suit and silicone prosthetic. Doug (Tait) was also amazing to do make-up on and he definitely was a big part making this character come to life. We had some issues with the nose, but we pulled it off. Sometimes that happens when you’re on the fly and no time for test makeups.
Legion of Leia: It’s really not common at all to see female makeup artists in horror… or is this changing? And what is it about the genre you love, as an artist?
Michelle Sfarzo: Males have certainly dominated special make-up effects in the film world, and yes this is changing and fast! The main thing is having the female artist work both lab and following the prosthetics to application on set, this is what we are trying to change. Women are becoming more interested in the full process of SPFX and not just painting/ application. Horror films are extremely challenging, low budget horror can be 10 times more challenging! I do it because it’s hard, it’s stressful, it’s fast paced, and scenes are changing on the daily, things that you aren’t 100% prepared for. When the film is done and you look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you still have a heart-beat, when you’re the hero because you made the directors characters come to life….. That’s when you say, “I love my job.”. Horror is unlike any other genre, It’s bloody, it’s muddy, and it makes you feel more accomplished than any other.
Legion of Leia: Do you have mentor, or… who are some of your heroes in the movie makeup world?
Michelle Sfarzo: The mentors I have are my fellow artistry friends, I go to them with anything. If one doesn’t have an answer then I call the next one and keep going till we have all bounced up enough ideas to get the job done. I’d say I call Vincent Guastini and Wayne Anderson the most! And I sometimes wonder if they get sick of me calling! I have many heroes in the makeup world and it started with the artists that did evil dead, Howard Berger, Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero. Then of course Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Ve Neill, Rob Bottin, Tom Savini, Stan Winston, Pat McGrath, Gucci Westman, and any female FX artist that’s trying to top the boys! I am always learning and every set that I’m on I am learning more and more about makeup artistry, styles and formulas are constantly changing. This department is endless with education and this is why I do it.
The Fiancé will be released later this year!