Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interview: Kimberly Amato

In honor of Under The Raven's Wing being released to DVD, I decided to go ahead and post the interview that I started with Kimberly Amato. Kimberly plays the lead role in the film, that of the character Raven. After I did my review for their film, I didn't have a poster for it. Kimberly emailed me a picture of the poster that I could use for the review, since Susan wasn't feeling too good at the time. After I finished my interview with Susan, I was throwing the idea around of doing an interview with Kimberly as well. I said something to Susan about it, and she thought I should go for it. Since I had Kimberly's email address, I did just that. That will teach you to email someone Kimberly!

One thing I learned about Kimberly during the interview, is how great of a person she is. I balk at doing interviews, I guess because I'm not someone that does this type of thing for a living. When I decided to start doing interviews, it was a big step for me. So far everyone has been super nice about the interviews. Granted I knew Terry before his interview, so that helped a lot right there. I have to give special thanks to Kimberly, and Susan, though. They didn't know me at all, but over the weeks, months, and even years since the interviews, they have become more than just someone I know over the net to me. In between questions and answers, we would get to talking about different things. It was a real pleasure getting to know them both, and I hope we are able to keep in touch.

Sadly, I never completed this interview. Between college, swimming, and whatever else that would come up, it would take weeks, if not months, between questions sometimes. It is completely my fault, and I apologize to everyone for that. The interview was almost done actually, so if Kimberly is interested still, maybe I can throw in a couple more questions to finish it properly. As it is, I think it is still a good interview. If we should finish it up, I will let you all know when I update this post. Until that time, enjoy what is here. I will stop running at the fingers, and give you Kimberly Amato.


Heather Santrous: Hi Kimberly. I wish to thank you for doing this interview with me. I have read about you on your site, and in another interview you did. I also know you a bit from talking with Susan Adriensen. For those that read my blog but don't know you, would you mind telling us about yourself?

Kimberly Amato: Thank you for giving me the opportunity, Heather. As for your reading public, I am an actress, writer and producer. Currently, you can catch Under the Raven's Wing which is hitting various film festivals across the country. I portray the lead "Raven" in Susan Adriensen's project.

HS: Speaking of Under The Raven's Wing, as I understand it you needed to audition for the role of Raven. How did you hear about the film?

KA: There's a funny little note about the original casting. I have been saying for some time that I saw saw the casting listed on nycastings.com and decided to submit my old headshot. Yes, I sent in my old headshot, but it was Susan who actually found me on NYCastings.com. I actually found the original email asking me to submit. Funny right? Anyway, I couldn't attend the first round of auditions in New Jersey, but I was given an audition time on a Wednesday in NYC. It was the hottest day of the summer and the air felt so thick. I was not dressed for the audition at all. I was totally dressed down, my hair was up in a ponytail and I had no make-up on. I swear it would have melted off my face if I tried. In the end, I just sucked it up and went. I think it worked out for the best.

HS: I agree with you. Your performance was wonderful and one of the things I really enjoyed about Under The Raven's Wing. I think I remember reading another interview that you did and you stated that this was your first acting job. Am I remembering that correctly, and why did you decide to try out for the part of Raven?

KA: Oh gosh no, you might have confused me with another cast member. I've been performing in various projects for awhile now. As far as my decision to submit for Under the Raven's Wing, it looked like a very interesting job. I mean the casting notice mentioned a psychotic, dark character who can also be very loving. I always like playing the darker characters with more than one dimension to them. I didn't think too much beyond that in case I was never called in to audition.

HS: I'm sorry, I thought I did read that. I know I would like to see other movies that you have been in. Could you tell us the what other projects you have worked in?

KA: Not to worry, I know how difficult it is to stay on top of all the actors in our film. As far as other films you could see, I have clips up on my website and some on youtube.com. There are two shorts that I wrote, starred in and produced with Lights Point Cinema, that should be hitting film festivals this fall. There is also a television pilot that should be hitting festivals as well called Something Blue. Other than that, there are a bunch of short films I starred in, but none of them are available to the public at this time.

HS: I will be sure to check out everything. You have me interested, since I really enjoyed your performance in Under The Raven's Wing. In my interview with Susan, she talked about your audition. I would like to hear your side of it. How did you think it went? Did you think going in that you would get the part?

KA: I'm glad you enjoyed the film and my performance. It is very gratifying to hear that your work is appreciated. My audition, it was very different from anything else I have experienced. As I mentioned earlier, I was not dressed to impress. I walked in, sat down and was asked if I was reading for "Angel." I was so nervous and mentioned I was there for the character of "Raven." After a brief discussion, I read the sides with Brian Jude portraying the male character. Somehow we got into a conversation about my acting choices. We spoke about the character breakdown I made days before the audition. I followed a psychological breakdown I used during my studies for my masters degree. It was a relaxed discussion about points of view, background of the script and characters. It honestly felt like I was spending time with Susie my friend from high school having a normal conversation. When I left, I honestly didn't think I had the part. I felt due to the relaxed nature of the audition/interview, that meant that I was not going to get the role. Obviously, I was very wrong.

HS: It is nice to be wrong sometimes isn't it? You mentioned a masters degree. Would you care to elaborate on that?

KA: Oh yes, sometimes being wrong is wonderful. As for my degree, I received a masters degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

HS: Okay, I have to ask. How did you go from Forensic Psychology to acting? Does one fit into the other and thus makes it easier?

KA: Surprisingly enough, I found the jump to be rather easy. I had always wanted to continue acting in some fashion regardless of my paying job. When I got my degree, I decided to start using everything I learned during my years of schooling to develop the characters better. When I auditioned for Raven, I actually made a profile for her based on a psychological evaluation. It was something I use when auditioning, in order to get an understanding for a character based on what little the casting directors give you. Sometimes, like in the case of Raven, I was pretty close to who she was as a person. Other times I have been way off. It doesn't make acting any easier, but it prepares me for whatever tests an casting director might throw at me during an audition.

HS: After watching the film, I was really impressed with your acting. It was one of my favorite things about the film. It makes me wonder though, since you did such a great job of being Raven, was it hard to become her when it came time to do so?

KA: Yes and no. I had a music play list on my mp3 player with various songs from Evanescence, Linkin Park and a bunch of others Susan and I had chosen. They helped get me begin to get into Raven. That coupled by the make-up was enough. That being said, sometimes it was more difficult to become her. During shooting days or the most intense sequences, I isolated myself. I would sit alone to the side of production, and go through everything Raven had gone through in her life, to get to where she was at that moment. That coupled with the music brought me to the emotional state I needed to be in.

HS: I know that Susan created all of the characters, including Raven. What did you try and bring to the role that wasn't already on paper?

KA: Susan gave me such a wonderful foundation for developing Raven. This answer might sound cliche, but I just brought her to life the best way I knew how. I wrote up a psychological profile for her and created a huge back story with names, situations etc. Susan allowed me to voice my opinions on wardrobe, and other things that would help make the character more real. Beyond that, I tried to showcase her torment trapped inside her soul. Susan gave me such leeway with the performance aspect that I fell into the character and just became her.

HS: I'm sure people that have watched the film has told you what a great job you did at becoming Raven. Was there a scene, or scenes, that proved hard for you to get through?

KA: The most difficult scene was in the kitchen, when Raven was discussing her past. It really required me delving deep into my darkest emotions and holding them there, for as many takes as necessary. The entire section ranges from joy to tears to pure anger. Although it comes off well on screen, due to excellent direction, editing and performance - it was something I took home with me at the end of the day.

HS: I don't want to compare you to other actors, but I have noticed that Heath Ledger said much the same as you. That after filming The Dark Knight, it was something that he took home with him. Given both of your performances, I'm wondering if it is the mark of a great actor.

KA: The Dark Knight, what an amazing film. There was so much I learned from watching Heath Ledger's performance. I'm not sure if all actors go through the same thing. I will admit I had issues letting go of some things during shooting. Specifically, the kitchen scene. Raven talks about being molested and abandoned. At the end of the day, I felt so lost. It was hard to let those emotions go. I went home, sat in a chair and stared at nothing. The shifts of her emotions were so great, I needed to dig deep to get to that point. There is always some part of that scene that I will always carry with me.

HS: On the flip side of my last question, what are your favorite memories about the film?

KA: Principle photography being complete! I'm just kidding. There are so many moments that I would take with me, but one moment stands out more than others. Susie wanted Raven to be sitting in a trance in the bathtub. Sounds easy right? Not a chance. I laughed every time the camera came in. I couldn't contain myself. It felt so absurd flexing every muscle in my neck and rolling my eyes back. I would try to focus on anything to stop myself from laughing - I failed. In the end, I had to bite the inside of my cheeks very hard to get a few good takes. I have to admit I still laugh hysterically when I see the scene on film. Susie has amazing patience!

HS: As you know, I interviewed Susan as well. I got to know her while talking to her, much like I have with you. I was wondering, what it was like working with Susan?

KA: Susan is simply amazing. She's a talented and versatile filmmaker, who always listens to her cast and crew. She was very open to my interpretation of Raven and her actions. Even if those ideas were not exactly as she had written the character on paper, she respected me enough to listen. In fact, during shooting if any actor brought up an interesting idea, she would record a take to see how it worked. Sometimes it looked good, other times not so much, but she allowed us to express our gut instincts. Her direction was simply stellar, and I am a better filmmaker after working with her.

HS: I admit that I was nervous before I started to interview Susan, but she always came across very friendly. Glad to know she is like that while working as well. You earned the title of Producer. How did that come about?

KA: Yeah, Susie is a trip to work with. As for the producer credit, I actually did a lot of work during the film regarding press, designing the website and a bunch of other things. I had actually produced a lot of my own projects, so it was second nature to me. I just appreciated Susie allowing me to get more involved with the project.

HS: I know some actors don't like to watch themselves on screen. Are you like that as well? What is it like to see yourself on screen?

KA: To be truly honest, watching myself on screen is torturous for me. No matter how good the performance is, or if everything is exactly as the director wanted - it's very difficult to watch. I am my worst critic, so I start to question myself on screen. Like, "Why did I roll my eyes there?" or "Why did I deliver that line like that?" It's especially uncomfortable when there are other people watching the film with me. I'm always very concerned about other people's view on my performance. If I could avoid seeing myself, I would. However, in this industry you have to do it eventually, so I do my best to deal with it by accepting that my job is done and I can't change it.

HS: It is easy to second guess yourself. I do it often too, with my writing and swimming. You talked about some other films earlier that you are in, what have those roles been like?

KA:I have been blessed to have been cast in a variety of roles ranging from a British exchange student with a horrible job in Weekend Rental, to the sexy lesbian bartender in the TV pilot Something Blue. Each one has been very rewarding and challenging in it's own right. Hopefully, these same challenging roles continue to come my way.

HS: A "sexy lesbian bartender" you say? That sounds like an interesting role. Any word on the pilot yet?

KA: Yeah, see what happens when friends see a screening of your work? You are dubbed with a title, and never live it down. I know the pilot was covered in Curve Magazine, and the most up to date information on the pilot is available on the website: http://circlesoffireproductions.com/.

1 comment:

Jed Cooper said...

Howdy Miss Heather. My hat goes off to both of you incredibe ladies - Miss Kim and the amazing flippered femme fetale for giving us this interview. If you had not said it was not finished, I certainly could not have told from reading it either maam.

I for one applaud you for taking this step for your blog, and also express my appreciation to all the folks willing to expose themselves to you Miss Heather. It adds another element to your blog, and gives a personal glimpse into some of the folks who help to give us our favorite movie genre films. That to me is a really nice addition maam.

I want to thank you too sweet lady, for letting us know this movie is now available for purchase on dvd. I have already added it to my last order, and am simply waiting for it and the others to show up now (grinning).

I look forward to adding more intelligent comments to that review after watching the movie. Well, ok, as intelligent as my comments can be anyway, hehehe. Afterall, you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse in reality. Or put perhaps more appropriately, as one of my idols, Insp. Callahan was fond of saying "a man's got to know his limitations" (grinning). I try to keep mine in sight while posting comments.

But for me it does add a nice element to the movie as well. I can watch it, then think back on some of the comments the person made about their experiences while in production. For example, I will be watching to see if I can see Miss Kim biting the inside of her cheek now in the bathtub scene. I will also be awaiting her kitchen scene with interest too.

Another great interview Miss Heather. Thanks for sharing it with your fans. I know you have a full week and need to get ready to head off to the convention as well. But I am hoping you will be able to post another movie review or two also, before you start your travels. Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of us are just never satisfied are we sweet lady (grinning, tips my hat).