Category: filmmakers

An Interview With Screenwriter Marina Shron

 

 

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Marina Shron is the writer and director of the film, “Fruit of Our Womb”; here is a link to the website:

 

https://www.thefruitofourwomb.com/

 

 

Q: What is, “Fruit of Our Womb” about?

 

A: The story follows Christina is a 13-year-old sexually fluid street girl who has grown up trading sex for love and protection. Her chance meeting with an affluent Manhattan couple turns out to be a stroke of luck when she is welcomed into their world.  But what starts out as a utopian dream soon degenerates into a nightmare of love, deceit, and mutual manipulation.

 

 

Q: What inspired you to make the movie?

 

A: My inspiration for the screenplay was two-fold. On the one hand, I was inspired by the character herself – Christina. She’s the heart of the film. Innocent and manipulative, ethereal and lethal – she’s a child-woman who discovers the world by touch.  She was deprived of childhood, of normal family… But there is something elemental and powerful about her existence that makes her a magnet for others, more privileged than herself.  Her presence reveals the best – and the worst – in those who come in touch with her. Once dropped inside the couple’s world, she will either make it explode — or alter its entire fabric…

 

But if Christina herself is unique – her story is not. While doing research for the film I’ve heard countless stories of women and girls who were exploited, betrayed – and, ultimately, blamed for that very abuse by the adults who were supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, we live in a society that makes this cruel paradox possible.  By making this film, I wanted to dig deeper beneath the surface of the incestuous, in nature, family dynamic and try to understand what makes it so pervasive.

 

 

 

Q: What would you say motivates each of the three main characters in the film?

 

A: Initially, each character has very simple, basic motivation – Christina needs home, Lynn needs a child, Joe needs peace and quite in his family. But like all of us, humans, they tend to misconstrue their needs – and when their true needs surface, they come as a surprise to the characters themselves and to us, the audience. Without giving away the ending, I can just say that Christina leads the couple to the brink of the discovery of what really missing from their lives… I say “the brink” because it scares the hell out of them. And I’m not talking about the couple’s sexual needs or fantasies but something that’s much more sublime… and uncanny.

 

 

 

 

Q: How do you think an American audience will respond to the character of Christina?

 

A: Haha, this remains to be seen!  I’m sure she will be a divisive figure…. She’s not your girl next door. Christina is an outsider, and her existence is marginal, both regarding her social status and her sexuality… But on the other hand,  that’s what  make her a quint-essentially American character… So I hope people will relate to her!

 

 

Q:  If people invest in your film, will they be able to share in any profits?

 

 

A: Absolutely! We will be drafting a profit-participation agreement with each one of our investors once the film is fully financed!

 

 

Q:  Who are some of your film making influences?

 

A: I love Lynne Ramsay films – her early  “Rat Catcher” is one of my biggest inspirations. Catherine’s Breiilat “Fat Girl” is another one…  I’ve always been inspired by films with a uniquely female perspective… but not only by films directed by women. My biggest influence — in the way I approach filmmaking in general –  is the grandfather of surrealism, Luis Bunuel.

 

 

Q:  You teach screenwriting at The New School. What makes your class different from other screenwriting classes?

 

A: I give a lot of creative exercises to my students – and not just the exercises on structure and character development but exercises that help to develop their imagination… that tap into their physical and emotional memory.

 

I also show my students a lot of films of diverse styles and perspectives, from different time periods – and I show them next to each other, without providing a “historical perspective.” I believe the best cinematic works belong to the natural world, and not just the world of culture. I’m sure many academics will disagree with me! But this is how I teach film and screenwriting…

 

Q: What is your most memorable classroom story?

 

A: In one of my introductory filmmaking classes, I showed two short films, almost back to back… One was a very well executed if somewhat cheesy love story. Another was an experimental 1972 short film by Chantal Akerman,  “La Chambre” – a circular shot with a camera panning around the room for 11 minutes. I thought my students hated that film… But at the end of the semester, when they were presenting their final films, I was surprised to discover that one of the students drew his inspiration from both of these very different  films. His film was a love story told by a pan that goes around the room for 10 minutes!  And it was a gem of a film!

 

Q:  What mistakes do you see new screenwriters making?

 

A: One of the biggest mistakes new screenwriters make is relying too much on dialogue…over-explaining what the character feel and think.  Another mistake is trying to make a point or send a message that’s too obvious or clichéd.  Some say: “cliché is a cliché because it’s true”… something like that. I hate this expression.

I think real truth is always rooted in a paradox.

 

 

Q:  If you could remake any movie in history, what movie would you remake and why?

 

A: Kubrick “Lolita”… In a way, that’s what I’m doing with “The Fruit of Our Womb” –  remaking Lolita it’s from the girl’s perspective.  And because it’s a female point of view, Christina has to be a stronger, darker, more complex character than Nabokov/Kubrick’s heroine… She’s not at all a victim. I think of her as a perverse messenger of change.

 

 

Eliza’s interviews are done by email; all answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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An Interview With Actress Caroline DeGraeve

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(Originally posted to ActLand.)

 

 

Caroline DeGraeve is an actress who appears in Josh Mitchell’s new film Hard Visit; here is a link to her website:

 

Q: What made you interested in working in film?

 

A: Last summer I was cast as the lead role of Beth Clark, for a western indie film called Cataract Gold (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnxviqZhW_Q).

I had no prior experience as an actor but the director, Paul Kiener, insisted I was natural. Upon my first day of filming, I felt I was meant to be in film. I was simultaneously at ease and excited. I knew I wanted to work in film immediately.

 

Q: What is Hard Visit about?

 

A: Hard Visit is about a struggling actor, Ben, who goes to his bookie brother, Smoothy, for help. Ben gets thrown into the shady world of gambling, deception and hidden agendas. When a conniving woman gets between the two brothers, the stakes run higher than ever.

 

Q: What role do you play in the film?

 

A: I play Piper Kissinger, a woman after Smoothy’s attentions in

the hot tub.

 

Q: How did you prepare for the role?

 

A: I put myself in the shoes of someone who seduces a man for personal gain.

 

Q: What is your strangest audition story?

 

A: When I was approached for the lead in Cataract Gold, I wasn’t even aware of auditions taking place. I was at a Starbuck’s waiting for my drink. I had just finished a hike in 100 degree weather. I must’ve looked a fright! I remember being frustrated that my phone wasn’t connecting to Wi-Fi fast enough and was probably scowling. In my periphery, I noticed someone staring at me and I was not in the mood for shenanigans, so I looked up, gave my best glare, and continued being preoccupied with my phone. The man staring turned out to be Paul Kiener, who proceeded to tell me he was casting for his western and that he loved my look. I wasn’t swayed to participate because I had no clue who he was and it just seemed odd to approach a stranger in line for coffee to audition for a lead role in a feature film. I did, however, take his card. After a few hours of searching online for any telltale signs of smut films under his name or any other shady work, and not finding anything, I gave him a call. I met him an hour later and read a few pages of the script for him. Next, he asked if I could ride a horse without falling off. I answered “yes”. Next thing I knew, I was in a movie. It was all very surreal, but I loved every moment of the experience and I knew I wanted more.

 

Q: How does your work as a bartender influence your pursuit of acting?

 

A: I act every day of my life. Bartending or serving is like putting on a show. You greet the guests differently based on what you read about their expression or behavior. In the hospitality industry, it’s important to learn how to talk to all sorts of people. You can’t be afraid to engage in conversation or draw their attention in some way. As a bartender, the bar is your ship, so to speak, and you are the captain. You have to read your crew, anticipate their needs, and know if someone is getting unruly or causing disharmony. Moreover, you should know how to approach each situation based on how you read each individual, or if any personal dynamics amongst your guests exist. If your assessment of any given scenario is correct, you will be able to slide right into any character you need to get the result you want. My personal thoughts or feelings are on the backburner while I work. It’s all an act.

 

Q:  Have you ever been offered a gig while you were tending bar?

 

A: Nothing of consequence ever came of several conversations. It’s a common occurrence for people to show interest in film or suggest working together on something.

 

Q:  What do you like about living in the desert?

 

A: Contrary to what many people think, I love the heat! Also, it’s a very relaxed lifestyle that has enough activity to involve yourself with, if you so choose. Also, there is a lot of talent in the desert. I filmed my short film, Real Smile (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6043410/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) in the desert and had a lot of help from businesses and other artists in completing it.

 

Q: With which character that you have played do you have the least in common?

 

A: The role of Dolly in Gina Carey’s The One Year Pact (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7079604/) is very different from me. Dolly is a very vulnerable, dependent woman. In the scene, Dolly is embarrassed and in tears at something that happens and locks herself away to hide. I’m not a crybaby, nor would I lend much importance a situation that blemished a flawless reputation for propriety. I’m not interested in being seen as perfect. I believe our flaws give us the human connection we crave.

 

Q: Do you think aspiring artist are more susceptible to con men such as bookies and hustlers?

 

A: Yes. Aspiring to amount to anything in the entertainment world demands a lot of work and effort for almost no return. It takes guts and tenacity to keep at it. There will be pitfalls and disappointments but, in the end, it’s about how much you want it. Being confident, being a hard worker, and developing a marketing strategy are tools that will inch you along despite setbacks.

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer/Producer Robert A. Trezza

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Robert A. Trezza is the writer and producer of the film The Purging Hour; here is a link to the films website:

http://www.thepurginghour.com/

 

Q: What made you interested in film making?

 

A: To me there was always something quite fascinating that someone with a camera could impact people’s lives. Kinda like how Hitchcock kept people from showering for years or how Spielberg killed many summer vacations for those who once loved the beach.

 

Q: What attracted you to this story?

 

A: It was simple. Emmanuel Sandoval (the director) mentioned to me the idea of doing a horror film based on a home video he saw. After thinking back for a bit I remembered, just how eerie watching those old home movies could be and I thought it would be interesting to capture those moments of a family and all the chaos that happens with their move.

 

Q:  Why do you think people are so interested in paranormal stories?

 

A: Probably because in the back of their minds it could happen. Giant Lizards and Werewolves, although really cool and interesting, feel a lot more fictional. All of us have walked the earth and lost a loved one and their presence always still feels existent. So, I guess in the back of our minds, ghosts can and may really exist.

 

 

Q: How do you tell a real horror story from a fake horror story?

 

A: I guess going back to the last question it is what feels real. Any story or film that reads or plays out like a newspaper article can be quite frightening. Films that tend to play more on the psyche and provide less gore always felt real to me.

 

 

Q: Who are some of your film making influences and how can we see that influence in your work?

 

A: Probably as most horror fans, John Carpenter and Sean Cunningham. To this day I still love their less is more style. The first Friday the 13th kept us waiting until the end to actually show who was behind the mayhem. With Halloween, the use of POV to show the action was strong, especially in the opening scene.

 

 

Q: What is the most realistic horror film you have ever seen?

 

A: I would have to say Cannibal Holocaust. To this day there are a lot of people who still think it was a snuff film.

 

 

Q: Do you think there are any friendly spirits out there?

 

A: I’d like to think my Grandmother is still hovering around out there.

 

 

Q:  What kind of day job do you have and what is the worst thing about it?

 

A:  I work in property management in NY. The worst part about it is that it limits my time to do creative projects, but in the same vein, financially it allows me to do them…go figure.

 

Q:  What have you done to publicize your movie?

 

A:  We partnered with Dread Central and the flagship Ruthless Studios and a lot of the small horror sites have given us some love too. We built a decent social media following too- for an uber low budget film.

 

 

Q:  What is the scariest thing you have ever done?

 

A:  Procreate : )

 

 Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview With Producers Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman

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Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman are producing partners at Campbell-Grobman Films. Together they produced many horror films and the Netflix documentary, Winter on Fire; Here is a link to the company’s Facebook page:

 

https://www.facebook.com/campbellgrobmanfilms/

 

 

 
Q: How did you make the transition from acting to production?

Cc: I was very lucky to have Lati as a friend before we started working together. So I was subconsciously learning without knowing it . .. it was a natural progression. It felt right.

Q:  What attracted you to horror films?

Cc: I love exciting, thrilling films. They are fun to make . And if you do them right there is only an upside.

LG: Christa attracted me to horror films. i was never a fan and still am not.
Q: How did you two meet?

 

LG: we met throughout the years in Hollywood but never became friends until we were both in Miami. it was around New Years more than 15 year ago. i was stranded trying to get a visa to enter st. Bart’s and she was sick of the group she was vacationing with. so in my Israeli way, i offered to an almost stranger to stay with me in my hotel. It was a beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Q:  What is the function of an executive producer as opposed to all the other kinds of producers?

Cc: Honestly nowadays it’s all about the deal you make an not really about the work. There are many films we have done that when we are making the deal they say only ep credits allowed. But you take it anyway because you want the movie to happen. So it’s all about the deal you make sadly

LG: An executive producer is usually the person who brings in the money to a project. at least in the independent world. but many times we would bring a lot of the elements if not all the elements and still get an executive producer credit. it all depends on the movie. basically any producer credit if its an ep or actual producer are people who the movie could not have been brought to screen without them. sometimes it would be the person who holds the rights who has negotiating power. there is on manager in town that doesn’t let his actor be in a movie if he (the manager) not get an ep credit. not sure what i think of it.

Q: What is Winter On Fire about?

 

LG: Its about the conflict in the Ukraine. about people taking the streets to protest and being beat up and shot at with live bullets.

Q:  What made you interested in Ukraine?

 

LG: although i was born in Russia, i was not interested in the Ukraine conflict until i met the director Evgeny Afineevsky who shed a light at whats been happening there in the past few years. i never like to get into politic of a country i didn’t grow up in but the fact that people can not demonstrate can be very scary. So to me that was the main issue, the violence of the police against its own people.

Q: How did you get funding for the project?

 

LG: the director had the initial funding and we sold it to Netflix who brought it to the finish line. the majority amount of money in documentaries are on post and p&a.

Q: How do you think a Trump Presidency will effect Ukraine?

 

Lg: looks like Trump is taking a more of a separatist approach so im not sure this will help the Ukrainians. but they can’t expect America to help them, America cant be the cop of the whole world. they need to do it themselves.

Q: Do you think the US press has covered Ukraine fairly?

 

LG: they barley covered the story so NO.

Q: What is your weirdest on set story?

Cc: I have many. I remember my first acting job was a glorified extra on the wild Wild West . I worked 3 months in a corset. The best experience is to actually be on set so you can see how a film is done. The first AD was so mean an screamed at me all the time in front of everyone calling me names . I was on the verge of crying. It was humiliating. Then one day he saw the director come up to me and realized I was friends with him and the studio head who gave me the job. His face turned white. I thought wow this is hollywood…  that guy is probably out of work now .. and that’s the mystery of life ….

LG: I was working on my first movie as a set dresser. at one point the director pulled me off my gear and gave me a part of a bank teller. i ended up being in the promotion trailer in the festivals.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

 

An Interview with Filmmaker and Belly Dancer Amira Lyn

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Amira Lyn is an actress, filmmaker and belly dancer who produced the film Bad Illusions; here is a link to her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amira-Lyn/204950903002228?ref=hl

Q:  What made you interested in filmmaking?

A: I’ve always loved movies and how they were made so when my good friend and fellow actor Bob Moyer asked me to be the back up for one of the actresses on the short film Another Drop Of Blood, I agreed despite never really having any aspirations to act. The actress didn’t show so I got to play the non-speaking role of a vampire that gets beheaded. I had the best time of my life despite it being extremely hot and at one point due to the fake blood made of caro syrup I was covered in flies that got stuck in it. I enjoyed seeing the process involved in making the film and after that day I was hooked.

I acted in a few projects and wrote some stuff. Then one day I had the story for what became my first directing stint on the feature film Wet Kiss. Turned out I loved directing more than acting. Since then I began my production company BellyUp Productions and between my projects and other peoples projects I’ve begun to get involved in all aspects from creating a press kit to editing. I love everything about it.

 

Q:  What is Bad Illusions about?

A: Joan’s life is shattered when her drug-addicted brother tom dies in her arms. With the help of her loving husband Caleb and her best friend Lacey she struggles to pull the pieces of her life back together again. But the more she tries to make the pieces fit the more she begins to wonder….what is really reality and what is all a bad illusion

Q:  What role do you play?

A: I wear a number of hats for this project.Luc Bernier is an actor and wonderful friend. We had been dying for the chance to work together. Luc contacted me and asked me to read a script and if I liked it would I be interested in directing and producing it as well. He had come up with the story and the script was by Joe Sherlock. I liked the script and thought it would be a fun project to do. Luc asked me to play the part of Joan. He wanted to do the role of Tom and asked that a couple roles be filled by certain actors if possible and then I could cast the rest. I am lucky that Luc trusts my abilities and is giving me free reign creatively .

Q: What kind of day job do you have?

A:  a few days a week I work as a Barber Manager and through BellyUp Productions with my friend Lee Simms we offer hair and make-up services on site for weddings, film and modeling shoots, themed events, you name it we do it. I do the Hair and Lee does glamour, day-to-day or spfx make-up and effects.

Q:  If you had a student who was hopeless at belly dancing would you tell them?

A: I don’t think any one is really hopeless. That being said…..I prefer to do private lessons so I can focus on their individual needs. Sometimes I’m helping a dancer hone their skills and preparing them for dancing professionally (ettique costuming etc). When I get some one wanting to learn belly dancing I ask them their goals for learning. Some just want to do it for fun and exercise. Others are looking to be the occasional amateur dancer and others want to dance professionally. Probably the most difficult thing for new dancers to overcome is learning to trust their bodies and not feel self conscious about them. They have to learn its okay to have hips and thighs. Belly dancing helps women to embrace their womanly curves if the let it. Sometimes they can’t over come that and so they are unable to progress.

Q:  What do you like about the horror genre?

A:  horror has many sides to it. Slow brooding atmospheric, slasher, supernatural, Kaiju, torture(not my cup of tea), Dark comedy/horror. sci-fi blends great with horror. There are so many ways you can go with it. More than I could name here. Its also more forgiving than other genres. Its fun to make, fun to act in. Sometimes its just fun to be scared.

Q:  Who are some of your filmmaking influences?

A:  Edgar Allen Poe has influenced me a lot. He has influenced my writing in so many ways. Dario Argento , Mario Bava, Roger Corman to name a few. I am inspired by the old European horror movies. There are so many talented film makers out there and they all have a style unique and they make me want to try harder and better myself.

Q: What famous film role could you have nailed?

A:  I don’t know that my acting skills are good enough to have nailed any famous roles but if I could sing I would have loved doing Nicole Kidman’s role in Moulin Rouge. I adore that film.

Q:  What do you like about the film industry?

A:  I get bored easily and film-making is anything but. Its not the thing to get involved with if your just looking to make money because most of us don’t make much. We do it because we love it. I also like getting to know and work with so many talented people.

Q:  What would you change about it?

A: The egos!. To be in the entertainment business you have to be a bit of a ham and you must also have a very thick skin because no matter what you do there will be some one trying to tear you and your work apart. I’ve seen so many actors and film makers tear one another down, trashing one another and back-biting, snubbing one another over perceived offenses. Worst of all instead of trying to privately solve their issues they carry out these fights or negative campaigns in a public forum and they try to drag other into the fight. I wish people would learn to be nicer to others and not allow their egos to get in the way. It would be nice to see more film makers and such put their egos to the side. If they did more time could be spent learning and helping one another and making movies.

One other thing I’d like to see change in the industry….this is mostly Hollywood but stop with the remakes already. The seldom are any good and there are a lot of talented people out there with original ideas and they are being passed over.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Filmmaker Maude Michaud

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Maude Michaud is the director of the feature film DYS-; here is a link to her website:

http://www.quirkfilms.ca

 

Q:  What made you interested in film making?

A: I’ve always been a huge cinephile, thanks to my grandma who would watch all the great American classics whenever she would babysit me. As a kid, I was also an avid reader and I started taking drama classes when I was 9. One day, when reading a magazine about cinema, I realized that filmmaking would be a way for me to merge my passion for film, theatre and storytelling, so I started experimenting with my dad’s camcorder and read everything I could get my hands on that was about the filmmaking process.

Q:  What is DYS- about?

A: Eva, a former model, is fighting off a severe depression after she suffered a miscarriage while her husband Sam, a photographer, is unsuccessfully trying to mend their marriage. A sudden viral pandemic forces the estranged couple to quarantine themselves in their condo, which widens the divide between them.  When James, Sam’s best friend, comes to visit and displays symptoms of the infection, the tension escalates for Eva and Sam as they both start dealing with their fear of the viral threat in very different ways. Sam descends into paranoia and madness, while Eva confronts the dark demons of her past.  It doesn’t take long before they both realize that, despite the chaos outside their apartment, the biggest threat resides inside their apartment and within themselves.

Q:  What inspired you to write it?

A: When I decided to write my first feature film, I was aware that I would have to work within certain budgetary limitations, so I chose to write a story with minimal locations and no more than 2 or 3 main characters. I just had to find the right story that would fit these criteria! At some point, I was talking to a friend about the oversaturation of everything zombie-themed and of how fed up I was about this specific subgenre of horror. As a joke, I said: “I should make a zombie film without any zombie!” The idea stuck with me and three weeks later, I had a first draft.

Q:  How did you go about getting it into the festival circuit?

A: I’ve had my short films play on the festival circuit since I was 16, so I have built a pretty extensive list of festivals over the years. I usually sit down and plan the festival strategy – where do I want the film to premiere, which festival do I need to reserve a premiere status for, what are the submission deadlines, what’s my budget, etc. – and then send it out to those festivals. Usually, once it starts playing, other festivals and events start asking for screeners because they heard of the film, so it just snowballs from there!

Q:  What have you done to publicize your film?

A: Once again, since most of my short films have been reviewed by different websites and publications, I have an ever-growing list of potential reviewers. As soon as the project was ready, I reached out to them to tell them about the film. Then, I researched new websites and reviewers, got the word out by using social media, and printed flyers to promote festival screenings. Just like it happens for festivals, once the film starts playing and generates some buzz, things snowball quickly and promotion gets easier.

Q:  What kind of training have you had?

A: I have 12 years of theatre training, which definitely helped me understand directing and scriptwriting. Because I started making films when I was still a teenager, I taught myself many of the technical aspects of filmmaking through trial and error. Then I went to film school and got my undergraduate degree in Communication and Film Production. I also have a minor and Project Management (which helps with production) and a master’s degree in Media Studies.

Q:  Who are some of your filmmaking influences?

A: I grew up watching the films of Alfred Hitchcock, so he’s still my biggest inspiration to this day. Later on, I discovered the work of David Lynch and David Cronenberg, which helped define the type of films I was interested in making.

Q:  How do horror films directed by women tend to differ from those directed by men?

A: It depends; some films have strong feminist messages while, for other films, you could never guess they were directed by women. I don’t like making generalizations, but that being said, I did notice body horror seems to be a recurring theme in films made by women. I also noticed many of these films tend to be more psychologically brutal (as opposed to physically brutal) and have a more serious approach to the genre (as opposed to horror with a comedic twist). The horror genre is a wonderful medium to tell women’s stories and I feel that the way women filmmakers appropriate certain elements of the genre only helps it evolve and develop its potential for creative storytelling.

Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

A: My day job is to coordinate special events and projects for an organization that produces audio-visual content. Even if I don’t directly work in production, I’m still fortunate to work ‘in the business’ and in a creative workplace. Most of my colleagues, like me, live a double life and are musicians, visual artists, writers, etc… which makes for really stimulating lunch time conversations!  Being surrounded by so many driven artistic people keeps the creative juices flowing and keeps me motivated to work on my own projects when I get home.

Q:  What would be more horrifying getting a horrible disease or having to live in isolation with your ex?

A: I’m lucky that I still get along with most of my exes and none of those relationships ended horribly. So, I definitely think getting a horrible disease would be way more horrifying than having to live in isolation with an ex. I’m a total wuss when it comes to being sick!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)