The Arrow interviews Stephanie Dees
After watching the solid indie flick "The Collingswood Story", I found myself to be quite impressed with unknown actress (by me, anyway) Stephanie Dees' all-around solid performance. With that in mind as a motivator, I took out my bow and arrow and proceeded to hunt her down for an interview. Here's what the lady had to say.
1- What’s your favorite horror movie?
My favorite horror movie is
"Army of Darkness". It's campy and scary which is a hard combination to
pull off! Another favorite is "The Changeling", but I don't
know if that's actually classified as horror, even though it scares
me to death every time I watch it. George C. Scott is so believable
and underplayed, he makes the movie work so well. You'd never tell
by looking at my resume, but I'm not the biggest horror fan, I
couldn't even finish "The Exorcist", I was so terrified. Not
that I don't love a good scare, I'm just a wimp. Don't even get me
started on how traumatized I was in "Fire in the Sky"...and I
know, that's not even a horror movie!
2- Did you always want to be an actress or did you fall into it by fluke?
I've been a performer since the age of three. I participated in the International Children's Choir Festival in Hong Kong. When I was six I decided to audition for a production of Annie at the Triad Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah (my hometown) and booked my first professional acting job as the role of Molly. After that, there was no going back.
3- What was it about the Collingswood screenplay that made you want to do it?
I think I took the role in Collingswood because it was offered to me!! I would love to say that I read the script and thought it was a complex role and wanted to play the contrast the character of Rebecca, but actually, I didn't read the entire script before we started. It was all by design; Mike didn't want me to play the ending during the beginning, so none of the cast knew how it ended until very late in the production. I've never done anything like that before or since, so I'm really glad I got to be a part of it. I really liked the premise of the film, the idea of webcams sneaking peeks into the lives of these people, sometimes they are aware of them, sometimes they aren't. I love the relationship between Rebecca and John, I thought it was interesting and complicated without the black-and-white classifications and emotions that exist solely on TV and in movies.
4- Congratulations on your Collingswood performance, you made it all happen for me. Taking into account that you and co-star Johnny Burton didn’t really act together for your many “webcam” exchanges within the film, did you find it difficult to act alone? How did you, as an actress, tackle that hurdle?
Thank you!! The task of acting by myself was a bit of a challenge. It took a lot of imagination and instinct to create realistic moments in each scene. I had to really know each scene, and be totally committed to my choices, my reactions, my responses. However, we had a lot of rehearsal together as a cast, so we were pretty confident in the arc of each scene, which helped a lot. Mike was a huge help as well, not only reading lines, but helping guide me with the pacing and build of each scene. It was a huge challenge that I'm glad to hear we overcame!
5- Were you plagued with any bad dreams during the Collingswood shoot or find yourself "scared for real" at any point?
I don't remember any nightmares in particular,
but I know I had them. It was an intense shoot. I remember getting
really scared during the attic scene. We were shooting at night
which was really spooky and I remember being so jumpy...any little
noise or movement that caught my eye sent chills down my spine!! I
remember laughing with Mike about being creeped out, because it was
either make fun of myself or start screaming!!
6- Looking up your filmography, it says that you were in both "Halloween 4" and "The Gift". Care to elaborate on both roles?
Halloween 4 was one of my first "real" films, I was about 9 years old. I played a bratty little girl who makes fun of her classmate (in the film, Michael Myers' niece) for not having a costume and chases her down the hallway chanting "Boogeyman, Boogeyman, Jaime's uncle's the Boogeyman!" Classic. The Gift in my filmography is actually an independent film that has never been completed, though it was filmed before the other (Hillary Swank) The Gift was. It was not a horror film in any way, so probably pointless to discuss here.
I did just complete a film called Bloodhead, directed by Christopher Coppola. It is, in the words of the director, an anti-racism monster movie. It will be a lot of fun, and pretty scary too! I play a spoiled trailer-trash vixen who's very unhappy with her "station" in life and tries her hardest to get her sugar daddy to take her away from their lovely trailer in the middle of nowhere. Wow, that's a mouthful! It was a great film to be a part of, it was shot on HD, it stars Lynda Carter, Shirley Jones, Bernie Kopell, Frank Gorshin, among others. It's in post-production right now but you can see a trailer online at www.Bloodhead.com.
7- Do you have any other ambitions in the film world beyond acting? Like screenwriting, directing, what not?
Right now I'm focusing on acting because it's
my first love. I do itch to direct, like every young Hollywood
actor, but I think
I need more life experience first. Likewise for screenwriting. I'm
astounded at what the really talented directors and
screenwriters (and songwriters and cinematographers and art
directors and production designers etc, etc...) can do,
and I feel like if I made an attempt to do any one of those things
it would be like fumbling in the dark for a light switch while those others have
on night vision goggles. I really enjoy being impressed right now,
and learning from all those who do it. Someday I'll have something
really important to say and won't be able to stop myself, but for
now I'm kind of stewing in my own juices for a while. What's up with
the metaphors??? Somebody stop me.
8- Do you find acting on the stage more satisfying than acting in front of the camera?
I love acting on stage. I absolutely
love it. And I love acting in front of the camera. I absolutely love
it. I grew up doing both, learning both methods and appreciating
both formats. They offer such different end products and
gratification, and they stretch different muscles and make you focus
on different things. I love the organic process of theater, finding
choices and working them out and finding new moments every night,
etc etc. But I also love the importance of committing to a choice in
film, finding what works and making it work so you have a
through-line in the film, and the technicality and precision and
subtlety required in film. I don't think one is any more or less
satisfying than the other.
9- What does Stephanie Dees do to unwind when she’s not working?
When I'm not working, I spend time with my husband and two cats at home. We cook a lot. We're vegans so we make most of our meals at home. I read a lot. I've been an avid reader my whole life and nothing beats the feeling of a brand 10- What’s next on your plate acting-wise? When will we see you next?
Acting-wise, I'm doing a lot of theater. I'm doing mostly over-the-top comedy which is GREAT for me to do, because its not what I'm the most comfortable doing. I acted in a short film earlier this year called To Grandma with Love which has been accepted into some film festivals. Stay tuned for the Bloodhead release which might be as early as summer '03. And, of course, The Collingswood Story is available for purchase at www.collingswoodstory.com, and is being looked at by distributors because of the reviews its received.
Thanks for the chat Stephanie, looking forward and hoping to see more of your potent acting chops in future cinematic projects.