Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another Fine Review of Sirwiñakuy! (And some notes on cameras, and creativity)

The DVD front cover
Yesterday, a positive review was published of my first film, Sirwiñakuy, in The Beverly Hills Outlook (link here).

Here's an excerpt below:

"What is most significant about this remarkable film from 2010 is how completely director Amy Hesketh absorbs and makes cinematic conventions her own, breaking them at will, such as her insertion of sped up footage though back streets to bridge scenes, as opposed to standard editing practices. Though her approach is an exercise in masterful storytelling, she boldly turns to documentary techniques when her fiction leads to an open Andean market, where whips are sold as common merchandise. Despite her employment of cinematic narrative traditions, her approach is also symbolic, with the Andes, whose culture she drew upon for her basic premise, hovering over the landscape in the background, and in red high heels that represent Woman’s sexual nature."

I love going back, now that I'm directing my fourth feature film, Olalla, and looking at what I accomplished in the beginning. It's been an amazing outpouring of creativity since then. I've had the luxury of writing scripts, and see them made into films, things of beauty. I'm very proud of the work I've done so far.

Often, a director can be forced to make certain choices in the cinematography, and the way a story is told, based on the camera that is used. This can be especially true with low-budget independent cinema. When Sirwiñakuy was in the planning stages, Jac and I discussed cameras. He had a professional Canon camera that had a great sensor on it, but only shot in SD. I really wanted to shoot Sirwiñakuy in HD. And the only HD cameras our company owned at the time were two Canon prosumers. But, they had CCD sensors and a great look. I convinced Jac that the film could be made with them. We had shot test footage with them, and it gave the film the voyeuristic, hazy look I was going for.

What those cameras also did for the film was make it easier to experiment with shots, especially in the taxi, and in the market in El Alto. When you can take a camera off of a tripod and do handheld without the necessity of a huge crew, you can achieve different shots. You don't call attention to yourself, your crew, it's more on the fly, and you'll be surprised with what you get.

I've been thinking about a new camera, something that can be taken off the tripod, held in the hand and go out into the street, the jungle, anywhere, and how that will change the way a story is told. It's time to loosen up a little.

You can find this film on VermeerWorks.com and Amazon.com



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013: The End of an Era (Catharsis, be my valentine)

So, you're wondering about the title? What I mean is the end of an era of emotional pain and suffering. In real life, not on screen. No worries.

Between 2010 and 2013 I had a lot of suck1 happening in my life. Those three years were like a crash-course in hard knocks. What my mother calls, "An abrupt loss of innocence". I experienced a personal loss. I ended a long relationship. And my dad got sick, and suddenly I was entirely responsible for him.2. In February of this year, my father died. Now I'm learning to live with my 50% chance of not going out like a zombie far before my time. Thanks, genetics. Hooray to living on the edge! Every day is a gift! Yay!

But there's good news: people heal, and they actually have a bottomless pit of innocence, and strength, left if they know how to look for it, deep inside. Artists need their innocence, believe me. It's there, I looked for it and found it. Pure magic.

Between those years a lot of great things also happened, namely that my output as a filmmaker has been exponential, or at least it feels that way. The production company, in which I'm a partner, is going strong and we're making new movies all the time. I'm actually able to make the films I want to, with little compromise. Seriously? Yes. This is the most awesome thing ever, short of actually having lots of money to produce those films.

He meows like a tiny dinosaur. I'm not kidding.
This year Dead But Dreaming had its theatrical run and pre-release, I had a great interview published in Fangoria Magazine, lots of interviews in other magazines and blogs, traveled from coast to coast, went to the PollyGrind Film Festival3 with Barbazul, met some great people, had good times with old friends, a fantastic time with a new friend, helped out my mom with lots of manual labor, shot about 2/3 of my fourth film as director, Olalla, ran a pretty successful IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for the other 1/3 of Olalla, and now have a distribution deal in the works for all of the films. And last, but not least, I found a very cute kitten in my garden, named Mitsou, after the Balthus drawings. When I only focus on the positive, it was a complete and utter blast.

Look at all the pretty awards!
On Saturday the 21st, I threw a party for much of the cast and crew of Olalla. We celebrated the Solstice (at least I did, having been raised by a pagan goddess (my mother)), and we found out at 6PM PST that we won a huge amount of lovely awards from The Beverly Hills Outlook!

Among them, I won Best Director (Gold) for Le Marquis de la Croix, Best Actress (Gold) for Dead But Dreaming, and Barbazul won Best Film (Gold). I really could not be more pleased! You can see all of them at this link right here.

It was wonderful to share that with the people who make everything happen, who believe in what we do, and put their hearts and souls into their work with us. I love them dearly.

I'm very excited to start 2014 with even more projects. We'll be shooting the 1880s sequence for Olalla, including the big scene, it looks like Jac Avila has an adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine in the works, Erix Antoine has a great script we'll be shooting (I finally get to kick ass in an action movie!), there's a good chance I might be heading into the jungle to shoot something (huge insects! pretty birds!), I have a script for a horror film, and I'm making a horror short in collaboration with some PollyGrinders.

This year is ending well.

This is fantastic!



1 For my non-English-speaking readers (who may be using Google Translate) "suck" = bad (mal)


 
Nonsensical ledge, be gone!
I will take out my wrath upon thee.
2
100 painful pages of the ups and downs of that story could be put right here. It would read like a horror soap opera.

The past few days I've been really angry, and didn't know why. I gave it some thought, and realized that this time last year was the last time I saw my father alive. I think he recognized me, he smiled a lot. I felt guilty for not doing more. I still feel guilty, even though everyone tells me I did a great job with him. Someday, I wish to feel at peace about that.

I cried, I smashed a ledge off of a wall that didn't need to be there. I feel better now. And have about 5 inches more space in that room. 



Barbazul in Las Vegas, baby!

3 I just realized that I'm a silly person for not writing about the PollyGrind Film Fest before now?! Chad Clinton Freeman has organized pure AWESOME there in LV! I went for the entire 5 days, watched tons of films, had my picture taken with Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (Dyanne Thorne), was completely dazzled by the weirdness of Las Vegas (my 2nd visit), and most importantly, connected with a bunch of very cool people. It's what a film festival should be, well-organized, well-curated, lots of fun. I got to Q&A after the screening of Barbazul for a whopping 25 minutes, probably to the utter consternation of the kind director, Chad, who had another film scheduled after mine. I loved every minute of PollyGrind... except for that wicked hangover I had one day out of the five. But, I cured it by watching more films.

That's yours truly with Dyanne Thorne and Howard Maurer of "Ilsa" fame. Pretty sweet.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Olalla: The IndieGoGo Campaign

Just a few days ago, we began shooting the contemporary scenes for Olalla, my fourth feature film as director. I also am the protagonist in this film. Cool beans! You can read more about the shooting of the film on the Olalla Facebook Page.

So, last week we launched the IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for the scenes set in the late 1800's. In particular a huge blow-out AWESOME scene in which Olalla is dragged out of her home by a mob of angry villagers, chained to a cross, whipped, and burned at the stake. Intense, I know. And that scene involves a ton of extras in period costume, a great location, and a lot of production. So, we're trying to raise funds to make it the most awesome, intense scene ever!

We've kept the cost low for the contemporary scenes by working with a small crew, sourcing a great location from a friend, and cutting corners where we could. Even as such, those scenes still look big-budget! Because we're that good. See for yourself in this production still, below. Awesome, right?!

Notice the nice lighting here. And this is raw, without post-production.

We really want to make the huge cross/whipping/burning-at-the-stake scene the best ever to be seen on the big screen, so please consider helping us do that by taking a look at the campaign! We have tons of perks for your contribution, like a pre-sale of the Download/DVD (at a discount), autographed photos, the book (by Robert Louis Stevenson) signed by Amy Hesketh (me), t-shirts, copies of the script signed by Amy Hesketh (me) and other cast members, an Associate Producer credit, an opportunity to have Amy Hesketh (me) shoot an interview just for you (answering your questions), the chance to be an extra in the big "burning at the stake" scene, an Executive Producer credit, and much more! It's all really good stuff. Seriously, there's something for everyone, for every budget.

So far we've reached over 10% of our goal. You can help us reach 100%!!!

Here's a link to the campaign right here!


And here's the pitch video below, telling you more about what we're trying to do. 
It's also funny, so I urge you to watch it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Premiere of Dead But Dreaming

I'm late? It's because I spent 45 minutes applying this red lipstick.
Last night's premiere of Dead But Dreaming (Muerta Pero Soñando) in the Multicine movie complex in La Paz, Bolivia was a complete success! Lots of people loved the film and I received many big hugs and congratulations afterward for my acting, and production work/costumes/etc, in the film.

Before the premiere. With some sexy stockings.
Many people told me that they were astounded by the movie, and completely taken with the new, fresh, original vampire myth that Jac has created, the production values, and the acting in the film.

Strangely enough I don't usually have an opinion of my own acting in many films. I figure I did my best, it's cool, I'm fine with it, satisfied with what's there. Sometimes surprised that I managed to pull it off, in the case of Maleficarum.

It's different with Dead But Dreaming. I'm extremely proud of my acting, I found my performance convincing, moving even. That's interesting to me.

I'm very proud of the work that everyone put into the film, my fellow actors, crew, and especially Miguel Inti Canedo, our cinematographer. The images are so beautiful to be overwhelming, almost unreal.

I put together a little video showing the crowds before the premiere, and the party afterward for your viewing enjoyment!


Monday, July 8, 2013

An Inspired Review of Barbazul!

(Veronica) "portrays death throes with disturbingly believable authenticity"
Yesterday a very positive and insightful review was published in The Beverly Hills Outlook by editor Charles Lonberger. To say the least, it was well received by yours truly. The reviews says many complimentary things about the film and the acting of Veronica Paintoux, Mila, Joya, Jac Avila. Well, everyone in the cast. And this is what it says about me:


"The most interesting role, an otherwise minor part, of Jane, is assumed by director Hesketh, slyly referencing an inside joke by assigning the role to herself. It is a self-portrait of the Artist as masochist, handcuffed and whipped. In this role, as a fictional author of S&M novels, Hesketh wants to be hit “harder,” and ends up buried beneath, and thereby literally lower, than dirt. The assignment of this role to herself is transparent. Her interpretation of this very dark role is as girlish as it is disarmingly and deceptively casual. Most importantly, it voices the central dialectic of Hesketh's creative self: as filmmaker, she is very much in control, yet the fiction she imagines, as in a dream, celebrates control being forcibly taken from her, here in the form of her own death, which she eroticizes, due to the manner in which it is realized.

Extremely dark, ultimately introverted and intelligent entertainment, Barbazul is distributed by Vermeerworks."


Me, celebrating my loss of control.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fantastic Review of Le Marquis de la Croix in the Beverly Hills Outlook!

Mila Joya and Jac Avila in Le Marquis de la Croix
"(Le Marquis de la Croix)... is a master class in film direction, courtesy of Hesketh herself.". Nice! Right?

You can read the full review by clicking right here!

I'm very pleased with this review, it really could not be better. A big thank you to Charles Lonberger for this. Quite frankly, he understands my films 100%.

Haven't gotten your copy of the movie yet? You can find the DVD Here, or the Download Here!

A fabulous review of Barbazul will be coming out in the same publication very soon, I can't wait to share the link!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Official Theatrical Trailer of Dead But Dreaming!

The 25th of July Dead But Dreaming (Muerta Pero Soñando) hits Bolivian movie theaters! Below is the fantastic trailer of Jac Avila's latest masterpiece, featuring yours truly and many other talented actors, such as Veronica Paintoux, Mila Joya, Jac Avila, Jorge Ortiz, Claudia Moscoso, Rhobess Pierre, Beto Lopez, Eric Calancha, and many more!

Use the toggles below to watch it in HD, it's worth it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dead But Dreaming: Official poster designed by moi, plus a release date

Fantastic poster, yes?!
Yes, as some of you may know, I don't just sit around eating bonbons and drinking champagne. (I wish).

Instead, I'm hard at work editing the "making of" Dead But Dreaming, doing the graphic design and various and sundry other very important tasks to do with the impending rlease. It would be nice to have at least one clone of myself.

Big news, Dead But Dreaming, the first vampire film ever made in Bolivia (!!!), will hit theaters here down South July 25th. I'm very excited, as I always am. It'll be great to see it on the big screen!

Don't forget to go to the Facebook Page for Dead But Dreaming and give it a like. And check out all of the great photos from the making of the movie!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

My dad, Dennis, looking very handsome.
This is the first year that I haven't been able to wish my dad a happy father's day, since his passing this February.

He was an exceptional person, and I miss him a lot.

He was a very supportive person in my life, always quirky, always thinking outside of the box. There are always things that we could be angry at our parents for, but at the end of the day, I would prefer to remember what I take away from the experience of being parented by such a an offbeat man. Many good memories, and lots of knowledge.

My father had an avid appreciation for nature and one of my favorite things to do with him was to go birding out on the land in back of the house. He would point out to me the different types of trees, we would be very quite in order to see animals, and look up the birds in his Audubon book. We found an Elm tree once, deep in the woods, untouched by Dutch Elm disease (this is actually something special as there aren't many Elms left in New England).

Another time we found a tiny fawn nestled in a field. We had to grab the dog, Dinah, and carefully back away in case we contaminated its scent. My father explained that fawns don't have their own scent, as a method of protection from predators. I'll never forget the way its sleepy eyes innocently blinked up at us. Magical.

I still enjoy taking walks with my mom, also an amateur naturalist, in her woods. I hope to for years to come.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Superfan!

Adrian Brown, from California, sent me this picture. I'm soooo pleased!!!

"MALEFICARUM in Indian Country, Southern California. Thanks for a 'killer' film, Amy!"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interview on Monsterdiggare & News

A great Swedish horror site did an interview with yours truly, you can read it right here! I talk about the films, horror movies, my favorite music, lots of great info there!

And in other news, after 7 days of bronchitis, I finally finished the artwork for Dead But Dreaming, so have a look-see at the new official poster! No sparkly vampires for us. The theatrical release date for Bolivia is set for July 25th, hooray!


Monday, June 3, 2013

News, porn actors' genitals, unethical journalism, etc.

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted here. Horrible, horrible, me. I've been crazy busy lately, what with the remaining scene of Dead But Dreaming, the pre-production of Olalla, and more interviews coming my way. Hey, it takes time to think up those scintillating answers!

Below all of my text is a little tidbit of the Fangoria interview, with yours truly. Even if this issue has flown off the newsstands in your area, you'll still be able to get a copy of #323 on Fangoria's website! I love the tag lines, "The Passion of Amy Hesketh", and "An American filmmaker pushes bloody boundaries in Bolivia". Seriously love this (as well as the alliteration)!

I read an article today (click here for the link) about how Lars von Trier is super-imposing the genitalia of porn actors over his own actors for the sex scenes in his new movie, Nymphomaniac.

Is this cowardly, and done just for shock value, as my friend @alanbnogueira tweeted? Or was this a compromise made in order to have the scenes he wanted, with the cast he wanted? With names like Charlotte Gainsbourg involved, it begs the question.

This was rather prevalent to me since, last week, the Bolivian TV station ATB interviewed us about the "type of films we make". We asked what the show was about, they waffled around a bit and said something about "erotism in film". We did the interview, talked a bit about the erotic scenes in our movies, how we feel about that, how others feel about that, etc. Basically, I told them that we make art, artists/actors use their entire bodies as their "medium". Therefore, nudity is not the subject, nor the object, but the vehicle for expression. I was stating the obvious.

So, later that night Jac and I sat down to watch the show, and lo and behold, the feature was about pornography. Due to the shoddy journalism involved many viewers were left with the impression that we were making pornographic films. This would not bother me if we were actually making porn.

What bothered me is the fear the TV people apparently had at coming out and telling us about the content of the show. That was cowardly and unethical. They attempted to clear it up the following night with a statement basically saying that "(the filmmakers) in last night's feature contacted us to say that they don't make pornography". Whatever.

Was this just shoddy journalism, or are people here really that intimidated and unable to understand the movies we make? I'm not talking about all people, there are many educated, intelligent people in this country.

The only intelligent speakers on the show were three women who were very good at defining what pornography is and isn't. Citing Georges Bataille, and the Marquis de Sade, among others, as examples of eroticism, not pornography. Better.

This does bring up that age-old question, though: How far will (or should) an actor go in the name of art? Personally, the only reason I would be opposed to an actual pornographic scene in one of my movies is what most people fear with any casual sexual contact with someone else, disease. I do not demonize sexual acts. Sex is part of who we are as human beings, and quite often the motivating factor for many of the zany things we do in life.

Other than my neurotic fear of disease, I don't see why it's such a big deal. I enjoy portraying, whether as an actor or director, realism in my films.

According to TV and some movies, one would think that men never touch women's breasts, and that women never take their bras off during sex.

So including real sex acts in a film about one woman's sexual journey, is completely justifiable. What would have happened if some of Lars von Triers actors had said, "Sure, ok, let's do it!". Would the world have ended? No. Would some closed-minded people have thereafter demonized these actors? Perhaps, but we also would have gotten over a huge (pardon the pun) hump in filmmaking. And I don't know why Lars would be worried, because many people already think he's crazy. There's a certain freedom in that.

When I saw Catherine Breillat's Romance, which has real sexual penetration, I was intrigued. But not scandalized. Was it important for the film, or did the director do that just because she could? I certainly don't remember the film for the sex, but, instead, the acting and character arc of the lead protagonist.

Perhaps this has something to due with how I view the medium of film. Cinema, to me, is a medium for making conceptual art. It is a translation of the story, and of the self.

I think we have a long way to go before real sex in film is no longer shocking and can be seen a simply part of the storytelling.



Friday, April 26, 2013

Fangoria Magazine

I'm super happy and excited to tell you that there's an interview with yours truly in the current issue of Fangoria Magazine, #323!

Fangoria was my favorite magazine when I was a kid, I had a stack of them at my dad's house, because my mother thought they were a "bad influence". Thank goodness for dads with different "rules", or lack thereof.

FIY, I'm in the "Latin Horror".



Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Interview, and Review of Le Marquis de la Croix

What was in that tea?
I am so pleased to see today that an interview with yours truly about Le Marquis de la Croix has been published on Obscure DVD and Video Blog!

But that's not all, there's a fantastic review of Le Marquis de la Croix there as well, in which I'm again called the "female Jess Franco", and Jac Avila is compared to the late Klaus Kinski!



Mila Joya and Jac Avila in Le Marquis de la Croix

Monday, April 8, 2013

My First Video Blog Post: Location Scouting for Dead But Dreaming

Cliffs outside of La Paz
I had a great time yesterday location scouting for the remaining scene for Dead But Dreaming. The fresh air was wonderful.

Over the past few months, Jac was editing Dead But Dreaming, made his first cut, and decided that something was missing. Yesterday we made the first step in filling in that fantastic puzzle piece.

The scene will be somewhat elaborate, it's the story of how Mila Joya's character, a slave who is falsely accused of theft, whipped and crucified for the enjoyment of her mistress's guests, becomes a vampire.

The location we found is about an hour outside of La Paz, in a beautiful valley. You can watch the video below, right here: