We discuss their collaboration on the upcoming film, Death Sentences and what they have planned next.
Hello Remiara and Joe. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. First question is for Joe. DEATH SENTENCES looks like a pretty intense supernatural thriller. What kind of emotional response do you hope to trigger in audiences?
Joe Leone: First and foremost, I’d love for people to feel empathy. For both Arabella, the struggling writer, and Vivian, the ghost trapped between worlds. I feel that both their circumstances are at least tangentially relatable, as we’ve all been in seemingly impossible spots at times. We’re hoping that the frightening parts evoke some fear in the audience too, of course - as we really tried to stay true to the genre.
Next question is for Remiara. So you play Arabella, the protagonist of the film, she's a writer coping with a lot of trauma and loss. What kind of challenges did you face when trying to get into the psyche of Arabella?
Remiara Eve: Yes, I got blessed to play the lovely Arabella, but, I wouldn’t say I have challenges getting into any character. I don’t feel like I am acting when I play a role, I literally become them. I find it hard to separate myself from the character though, I think a piece of everyone I've played always sticks with me. I take from experience, I think in order to really become someone you need to have a connection to their experience. I knew there were going to be scenes where I'd have to really bring the traumas I've been through to the surface, and it’s more -- for me anyways -- a chance to heal through the experience. For this role, I held nothing back. The reason I got into acting was so that other people who are going through something similar to my character will feel less alone. They don't have to be a writer, they can be anyone, at anyplace in life where they feel stuck.
Next question for Joe. In going over your filmography, I noticed that death is a prominent theme in your work. What is it about death that sparks your sense of wonder?
Joe Leone: Haha, yeah that’s definitely a motif. I love life, don’t get me wrong, but for me, questions about the afterlife are really compelling. No matter what happens, we all know that mortality is something we’ll have to face. I love the idea that there is something else waiting for us. I try to explore what that could potentially look like (visually and emotionally), and tackle it in different manifestations in each project.
Question for Remiara. Is there a certain personality trait or backstory that draws you toward wanting to play a character? What kind of role would you love to play in the future?
Remiara Eve: Yes! I wouldn’t say I never want to play a cookie cutter role. I think softer characters bring joy to a lot of people. However, for me, I prefer to play the raw, gritty, deep characters. I love horror, and I’ve always been drawn to the dark. I have a weird fascination with the occult. I’d really like to play a role that has been through the gutter, perhaps something along the lines of mental and physical abuse. I say this because I feel it’s important to know the harsh reality.
Interview by Nick R. Murphy
I want to be the actor that someone can say, "Hey, I saw you go through this and it saved my life." I’ve had TV shows and movies save MY life. So, I think it’s only fair to return the favor. Even if it’s for one second, someone out there feels less alone by watching me, than my life goal is met.
Question for both of you. Did you learn any valuable lessons during production? For example, did something go wrong on set? And did you figure out how to avoid such a mishap on future projects?
Joe Leone: Every single shoot, I’m learning things (and numerous things always go wrong). I get schooled a lot on the technical side, for sure (that’s why it’s always great to work with people smarter than you!), but also in dealing with actors, and getting the best work from them. This shoot was as barebones as possible (as we filmed in the middle of the pandemic), but things ran rather smoothly. Except, of course, that Remi thought the place was actually haunted (*note: she thinks that about everywhere we shoot).
Remiara Eve: Okay, so this question makes me laugh. Every set has setbacks. I've been on huge productions and as little as only a cameraman, and I would say nothing ever goes smoothly. As a performer, you need to be ready for things to go wrong, and be ready to jump back in when they fix it. I find myself to be super understanding in those situations, and I don't mind at all. In fact, I thrive in chaos.
Question for Joe on the subject of filmmaking. Now that movies are easier to produce with digital cameras, smartphones, and all that, has that made your creative process more fluid, or is it more of a struggle to come up with content because there's so much more of it out there?
Joe Leone: If it weren’t for the technology available, there would be no Parched Productions. I love the fact that more films get made every year, as I constantly devour oodles of them. Some of the best ones I’ve seen recently have been super low budget. We also try to rely on creative, inventive ways to tell the story, and the digital age has only bolstered that.
Question for Remiara: How much of yourself do you invest in a character? I know when you're playing a character, you're not really you, but it does require a personal touch to bring the character to life on screen. What's your personal touch?
Remiara Eve: I do a lot of research. If the character I'm playing has a job I've never done, then I try to indulge myself in things that person would like. For example, if the character is really deep and intense, I’ll read a lot of dark poetry. I am definitely a survivor of a lot of pretty rough stuff, so for me, that’s my personal touch. Remembering those feelings and emotions that I went through and bringing them back to life. I try to give every character a small gesture or weird tick that they do and subtlety will place them in scenes I feel go, honestly though, I never really think too much about it. It usually comes natural.
Joe, what films and filmmakers are your greatest inspiration? How did that lead you to your ultimate decision to make movies?
Joe Leone: As many screenwriters probably proclaim, my favorite writer is Charlie Kaufman. “Being John Malkovich” is my fav film, as it explores the intellectual and surreal with clever and caustic humor. I try to emulate that style in my writing whenever possible. I naturally love horror movies too - and you can never go wrong with the source material of Stephen King. I was reared on all his books and movies. As far as actual filmmaking, I’m always biting the aesthetics and techniques of Hitchcock and Lynch, and more recently, Eggers and Peele. I truly love bringing my own scripts to life…and death.
Final question is for both of you. Now that Death Sentences is slated for VOD and the experience is mostly behind you, what's next? Anything either of you are working on that we can look out for?
Joe Leone: Yes! Our collaboration continues with Great Your Demons, which is slated to shoot in June. This is a story about a comatose girl (that Remi plays) who must confront her personal demons in order to wake up. Kind of a metaphor for the last year. The script is a lockdown baby, birthed from a steady consumption of quarantine takeout, Tori Amos songs, Shirley Jackson stories, Fauci briefings, and some spiritual lessons derived from my friend’s online yoga class (Abhaya).
Remiara Eve: Joe and I love working together. I almost feel like i’m Uma Thurman and Joe is Quentin Tarantino! Joe is a genius no matter where my career takes me, he took a chance on me and continues to take chances on me. So no matter where I end up, I will always make room, and accept any character Joe asks me to play. I trust his judgment, I adore his talent, and I honestly wouldn’t mind working with only him for the rest of my career, I believe he’s the next big thing. You’ll be hearing of him a lot! Actually we’re working on a script right now, I'm playing the lead, and this character is INTENSE. But I won’t give anything away, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Thanks again for speaking with us over at Support Indie Flix. I wish you two bright futures on the road ahead.
DEATH SENTENCES is now available from Midnight Releasing.
Attention bloggers, horror magazines, and freelance writers, for follow up interviews with the cast and crew, be sure to contact Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment at: SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com
ABOUT MIDNIGHT RELEASING
Founded in 2009 by Darrin Ramage, Midnight Releasing is a premiere home entertainment distributor of quality independent genre films released only in the North America Region. With a following of thousands on social media outlets, Midnight Releasing continues to draw attention with each release.
ABOUT SAMERA ENTERTAINMENT
Sharry Flaherty CEO and Founder of Samera Entertainment is a seasoned and well known film producer and Acquisitions Executive for Midnight Releasing. Samera consults with filmmakers on their projects that are either in development, pre-production or post-production. Filmmakers are welcome to submit their horror and thriller titles to:
SameraEntertainment@Gmail.com or AcortAcquistions@Gmail.com