Here’s a treat!
When I last spoke to Canadian born actress Jessica Cameron, she was about to start work on a horror movie called Mr Hush.
Since then, there’s been a fair bit of buzz about this movie, and Jessica kindly agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to subject herself to another of my interviews. If you read my GoreMate piece with Jessica in GoreZone back in the day - then this is kind of a sequel to that article - except it’s a Terminator 2: Judgement Day kind of sequel - i.e. better than the original.
For those of you who are about to meet Jessica for the first time - you’re in for a treat. She’s not only talented and determined, but a geninely funny and down to Earth person with some cautionary tales for aspiring actresses in this exclusive candid and frank interview.
Can you give me some background on yourself? Childhood, where were you born, when you figured you wanted to become an actor/performer.
I was born in Owen Sound, Ontario Canada. It’s a very small town.
As a child I considered acting but brushed it off because I did not like my teeth. All the child actors that I knew had that in common - a wonderful smile. I did not know at that time that this was something that could be fixed.
I always loved doing things that were creative since they were far more challenging then those things that were related to math or sciences.
Throughout high school I dabbled in art, photography and fashion design which is what I chose to study in university.
I actually had no interest in theatre since the theatre kids at my high school did not impress me and I did not appreciate their plays.
It was not until I got "out into the real world" after graduating from Ryerson University with a degree in fashion design that I realised I needed something more.
I took an acting class and was "bitten with the bug", as they say. I have not stopped taking classes since : )
How are you achieving your dream?
By working my ass off : )
When you start out you have to do most everything by yourself - even though I have 4 agents I still book a lot of work independently. But on top of that you have to be your own manager, stylist, publicist, etc.. Its like having 4 full time jobs some days!
I am also perpetually taking classes/workshops/etc. to get better at my craft. I think it is important to grow within your career field and stay at the top of your game. I think this is why I continue to book work, and why people I have worked with hire me repeatedly.
You're very successful in the horror genre, was this a conscious career decision? If so, why choose horror over any other genre?
It was not a conscious decision, but I love the horror genre so needless to say I am thrilled with how it has worked out.
I started acting in the mid west, and in that market horror films are popular to film since you can do one on a lower budget and still have an audience.
I have always loved horror films, so if I would have been able to select a genre to focus on it would have been horror any way.
As an actress they are a beautiful challenge to work on. The effort involved in making the impossible seem believable is challenging and I love it.
For me (every actor is different) it is more difficult to convincingly be chased by zombies (since I have never seen that in real life) then it is to show a break up (since we have all either seen, or been a part of one).
What can you tell me about Mr Hush?
I had heard about Mr.Hush through friends and posted a note on their Facebook wall. The director, David Madison, contacted me and I submitted a video. Isn't social media wonderful : )
I was filming the final week of a 3 week shoot, so I spoke with the actor who played my husband via phone and e-mail to become comfortable with him so that when we got to set our friendship would come through on screen.
I play Julie, who is the wife of the main character. She is a very loving, happy house wife, which is far different then myself in real life.
Its her relationship with her husband that forces the script forward, and leads to my husbands character arch.
How was the shoot? Any behind the scenes anecdotes you can share?
On set stories… lets see...
There is a scene involving a knife, and although it was properly dulled to be a "prop knife" during filming it scraped against a birthmark I have the wrong way and I started to bleed (not very much, just a little). But any time real blood is spilt on set people panic, and this time was no exception. David's wife and everyone was so concerned, it was very sweet : )
I was totally fine, but felt bad that shooting had to delay till I was cleaned up!
Mr.Hush will be available for sale this summer.
The Sleeper: One of the best up and coming directors from the mid west is Justin Russel. I am honestly not sure if he contacted me or vice versa, we had mutually heard of each other and had been aware of each others work when he started pre-pro for his film. I was travelling while he was holding auditions so I submitted a taped audition, and was booked off that.
This was one of my favourite film experiences since the cast crew were all so talented and nice. It was a great example of many people just coming together to make a movie.
Justin impressed me with his skills as a director, and then in post production. The entire film was shot, edited, sounds mixed, scored, etc. within 3 months.
I wish more people in the indy world would follow his example!
The Sleeper is now available for sale.
I was interested to see you appeared in Camel Spiders alongside another person I've interviewed - Jon Mack. What can you tell me about the filming of that movie?
This was a fun set - as I am sure all Jim Wynorski sets are : )
This film was shot in two different segments, one segment in LA, one in Indiana. I shot this one while I was still located in the mid west, so sadly I did not get to meet nor work with your pal Jon Mack directly.
Jim is certainly one of the kings of the B movie world, and he definitely knows what he wants one set. He has a very sharp way with words, so I was lucky to be on his good side : ) There is no sugar coating anything with him, if he does not like something everyone on set will know.
It was a great challenge to be a part of a film that was so CGI heavy, on set we had to be scared of and running from these spiders that to this day I have yet to see what they look like.
This film will be playing on Starz this summer and have a Blu-ray and DVD release :
What are the high points of your career to date?
The highest point so far, for me, is just being able to be a full time actress : )
Its always very challenging to make that leap - particularly when you have a full time, well paid job like I had.
It was two years on Feb 2 of this year since I left my last day job and I have not looked back since ; )
Every month that I pay my bills doing what I love is an accomplishment in and of itself.
I have also worked with some amazing people including (but not limited too) John Jackson, Ben Bays, Devanny Pinn, Brandon Slagle, Jessica Sonneborn, Monique Dupree, Jim O'rear, Andrew Divoff, Joy Love, and many more.
Any film project you've taken and regretted?
Ha ha, yes there is.
Its a film called Girl Scout Cookies. It was my worst experience on set for so many reasons and to this day they owe myself and everyone else on set the money we were guaranteed in our contracts. We lost our crew after 3 days since they were being treated so poorly (we all were) and they were not paid. We (actors/crew) spent hours and hours sitting in the hotel lobby unable to get a hold of the producer or director even though they told us when to be there. No one on set knew what we were shooting when, what wardrobe to bring, etc.. They even wanted two of the actresses to jump off a 40 foot cliff into water, which is just insane! (warning to all actors - real stunts should be done by real stunt people!)
Another actress and I were even threatened by the director, needless to say we are not involved with this film any more. They even sank a man's boat, promised to fix it and to this day are dodging his calls.
These guys were just so full of BS, did not have the skill, experience or the money they had claimed. I normally check references extensively - this time I did not do so as fully as I should have. They contacted me when my mom was dying in the hospital so I was distracted. Lesson learned.
It is my very strong personal belief that we need to speak up when these types of experiences happen. In the case of the above film, this not the first time the director had done this. However, no one had commented on it publicly so we did not know about it till we got to set and then people started to contact us with warnings…
So this is my warning to other actors and crew - avoid those involved with this project : )
I don't believe that you should publicise every time that you don't get along with those you work with since the reality is that there are always so many personalities on set you can not possibly like everyone. However when your safety and/or health are put at risk, or if you are threatened in any way and contracts not fulfilled then you should not be afraid to stand up and speak out!
Big picture is that of the 70+ projects that I have been a part of, this one was by far the worst. So not bad overall, but still an experience that I hope never to repeat!
Any you've passed on and regretted?
I have been very lucky to this point - there is not one project that I have turned down that I have regretted. I pick my projects based on so many factors - character, story, those involved, etc..
If I turn down a project its always with good reason.
There are a few projects that I noticed red flags early on so I turned them down that I am ecstatic that I did not waste my time getting involved with : ) Red flags in these cases were inconsistencies with what the producer, directors were saying to me and releasing to the public, script and budget discrepancies, etc.. In the world of independent films often you have to dodge the shady people who some days seem to out number the legit ones.
Who would you like to work with?
Pearry Teo and Chad Michael Ward top this list. I recently got to read the script for one of Pearry's upcoming films, Bedlam Stories, and it blew me away! These guys think outside the box in the most beautifully twisted ways and I would love to work with them!
Declan O'brien directed one of my favourite films from last year, Wrong Turn 4. It was such a wonderful horror film that had a relaxed sense of humour and did not take itself too seriously. As a fan of his work I would love to see what he does first hand.
Tammi Sutton is one of the brightest and strongest female film directors I have ever met, and I would love to work with her too!
I am itching to do a film in my home country - Canada. I recently had the privilege to read a script by a very talented script writer named H. Scott Hughes (story by H. Scott Hughes and Jerry A. Robbins and Stephen McKinnon). The lead female character in this is simply spectacular and goes on the most amazing adventure (side note - I am always really impressed when male writers pull off the very challenging feat of writing an exceptional, in depth, emotional female character). I would love to be a part of this project and work with them.
Bob Kurtzman is another incredibly talented director that I hope to work with. His film The Wishmaster is what started my teen age horror obsession! And he works with the greatest team of people out of his Ohio based studio, Precinct 13.
Kevin Kasha who works with Anchor Bay is one of the nicest people I have ever met, so I would love to get more involved with him and his projects too.
And the list could go on and on….
Who are your influences?
My parents are definitely strong influences in how I live my life and peruse my passion. They taught me how to work hard, and never give up. Sadly they both passed away recently, but I will never forget them or the work ethic that they instilled in me. And now I have the best guardian angels I could ever hope for.
A major career influence of mine is Jamie Lee Curtis. I respect her career path tremendously. She has done so much,despite the various labels people tried to place on her. In the wonderful world of film, there is a tendency for people to try to put you in a box that they see you in - so anyone who jumps out of the box I have tremendous respect for!
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Acting in bigger and better projects : )
I have always had the mentality that when I start to get bored then its time to make a change. Ideally I would like to be able to say I worked with everyone on the above list of who I want to work with.
Perhaps by that time I will be "settled down" as they say…but probably not ; )
I am so blessed that every day I wake up and I am excited for what the day will hold, the e-mails I will get, the scripts I get sent to read, the offers that I am blessed to be negotiating, etc.. SO what I hope most is that in five years I am as excited if not more every day.
Any other projects you've got upcoming?
I am currently shooting a film called "American Girls" directed by Eric Pereira and also starring Devanny Pinn, Tawny Amber Young, Brandon Slagle, Carlos Ramirez, Jessica Sonneborn and more.
Its based on true events and is a "dark, nihilistic tale about the abduction, rape and murder of two high school girls and the fallout that nearly decimates a small mid-western town." In this film I play the bitchy high school senior who thinks that the world revolves around her.
"Where Were You When The Lights Went Out In Rio " is a great ghost story, that connects an urban legend to modern day story telling and takes the audience on a ride as they see the horrifying events that occurred and then the after math with the trial regarding those events. Its going to be shot in Rio this summer, since I have always wanted to travel to Brazil I could not be more excited to shoot on location : )
"Shadow" is a modern update on the classic horror films we all loved back in the 80's, except with a girl (moi) in the lead role. The character arch is dark and gritty and I have already been warned by director Dave Reda that most days on set for me will involve me being soaking wet and filthy - which I can not wait to do!
Intrusive Behaviour is going to be my first film of 2013. Heres the synopsis:
After 10 year old Heidi is committed to an institution for behavioural problems, Her family moves on with their lives. When they are told Heidi has committed suicide they feel they can finally break free of the guilt of abandoning their child 15 years earlier. But all is not what it seems as the family is stalked by an intruder who has a debt to settle.
Its going to be directed by the talented Brian Troxell and filmed in Florida.
If you've got a website yet, let me know and I'll add it!
Of course I have a website : ) www.jessicacameron.com
Jessica can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
All imagery was supplied by Jessica and used with her kind permission
Copyright © 2010 - 2012 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.