Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview with Jenn Friend

I recently had the opportunity to watch Bobbie and Clyde VS Dracula. To me the one shining thing in that film was Jenn Friend's portrayal of the innocent Annabelle. She agreed to respond to my inane questions so, here they are for you faithful readers.
She even included pictures! How cool is that?

First, what got you into this crazy business?

 I started out as a Theatre major in college, acting in stage plays and
working on tech crews. I only started working in film over the past few
years (unless you count the space movies my sister and I made on home
video as kids). My husband Timothy Friend and I made a short film that was released with a Shock-o-rama feature, and then went on to make our
own feature film, 'Cadaverella'. 'Bonnie & Clyde vs. Dracula' was by
far the biggest project to date, and we always learn new lessons to
apply to the next project.

 I see on your website that there are a number of documentaries. How do
you go from those to something like Bonnie and Clyde VS Dracula?

The documentaries are part of my arrangement with Timothy - I help him
produce a narrative film, and he helps me to film and edit a documentary
film. I worked as a teacher and principal in middle schools for a number
of years, and am now an associate professor in educational leadership at
the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I see documentary film as an
excellent medium for sharing stories from schools with other educators, in
addition to a wider audience.

I noticed a lot of people with the last name Friend in this production.
I assume you are all related?

Yes - Timothy Friend's brother, Russell Friend, played Dracula and I
co-produced and played Annabel, and Alex Friend is our son. He was a
Production Assistant, his band Mr. Fish did the music that you hear on the
trailer and in the ending credits, and he was the 'Moonshine Kid' in BCvD
who recognized Jake and ended up on the ground. He got so many bug bites
on his ankles that day of shooting - poor kiddo.

With Bonnie and Clyde vs Dracula, which I think I will refer to as BCD
from now on, you went with two well known genre actors; Tiffany Shepis
and Trent Haaga, but then Dracula is a first time actor. Why not get
another semi famous genre actor for the three of them to bounce off one another
and add to the clout of the film?

Timothy and I had been longtime fans of Tiffany and Trent, so that casting
worked out like a dream. When it came to the other parts, Timothy often
writes with a particular actor in mind - such as T. Max Graham for Jake,
and a Chicago theatre actor friend, F. Martin Glynn for Henry. Russell was
Dracula - he shaved his head and went on a starvation diet, and gave such
a fine performance.

Tifany Shepis' portrayal of Bonnie was wonderful and demented. Trent is
known for going over the top ion his roles and this was one of those
where that would have worked, yet he comes across pretty subdued. Any reason
for this?

Trent said his acting was something like 90% googly eyes and made me
laugh. He's really an excellent actor, and I think this part was one where
he wasn't asked to go over the top so that subtleties of Clyde's
relationship with Bonnie came across. He loves this woman and would do
anything for her, even though she is a psycho killer.

Your role as Annabel seems to draw attention to itself for every moment
you are on screen. In a film of nothing but evil, your wide eyed
innocent portrayal of Annabel manages to restrain itself from being over the top,
yet makes sure you know she's there. What did you do to prepare for

My inspiration for Annabel was partly Harpo Marx, and also my
three-year-old niece, Emma. They both had that wide eyed innocence, but
there's also some mischief happening all the time. In a film where every
other character is pretty evil, I think Annabel appeals to the audience
and they start hoping she'll find a way out of this story and into a
happier place.

While the CGI blood worked pretty well in the scene when Bonnie
slaughtered the two hillbillys, the bullet shots did not. The scene
where Clyde unloads two clips into that guy at the bar should have been
drenched in blood. Any reason for no squibs or at least a bloody aftermath when
the guy hits the ground?

Man, I feel the same way. We were so very low budget, our amazing
cinematographer, Todd Norris, doubled as our visual effects guy for
post-production and there were things like motion tracking that should
have happened during production that just weren't there for him to work
with. We didn't have the budget for squibs - we wanted to maintain safety
on the set by only hiring someone really qualified and it was out of our
price range. Maybe in the anniversary edition we'll be able to use
advanced technologies to give Horace the bloody aftermath he deserves for
whatever it was he did to Clyde in prison.

Were you worried that by using actual historical characters as the stars
of your film that changing their actual fate, you might cause some
dissent with your viewers? Or, were you approaching it like Tarantino did with
Hitler in Inglorious Basterds?

When Timothy wrote the screenplay, he intentionally begins with the couple
in the car that the audience might think are Bonnie & Clyde. When they get
shot in the farmhouse by the real Bonnie & Clyde, he's signaling the
audience to forget their past exposure to the historical characters and to
go along for the ride.

What's next for you personally as an actor and your production company?

We have a screenplay for a western-horror feature film titled 'Fierce'
that is in pre-production. I am producing and Timothy has written a part
for me to play. Big Atom Productions is currently in production on a
documentary film that focuses on entrepreneurial people with unusual jobs.
We spent yesterday filming magician Keith Leff - he ate fire for us and
shared his magic lair with our crew. All cool things.

I would like to thank Mrs. Friend for answering all the questions I asked and for the pics. Be sure to check out Bonnie and Clyde Vs. Dracula for no other reason than Jennifer Friend as Annabelle.


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