Mona Marshall plays Shelia Broflovski, Kyle’s mother, on Comedy Central’s South
Park. She is currently working on her new web comic The Adventures of
Puss N’ Dick: A Survivor’s Guide to Relationships. With this new web
comic, Mona speaks about life before the American Sexual Revolution.
ATM: The Greek Mythology characters were more expressive with their
sexuality. Some took on more opposite traits of what was expected of their
gender. They seemed more comfortable with their body and sexuality. They were
very close to nature.
MM: We do not live close to nature anymore. I am not trying to suggest
anything is right or wrong. I am trying to say the more we can understand each
other, then the more harmony there is and the better off we are. We are all
experiencing this human condition whether you are living here or in India or
China. This is why art and music are important because you can enjoy art and music.
You do not need to know the language. You do not need to know the background of
this, all you have to do is be present and experience it. Not to say it is
ritually that we know the background because it is. You can experience the
piece of artwork and just enjoy the artwork at this moment. You experience the
music at this moment and just allow your heart and soul to be filled by the
ATM: Gender studies started during the 80s leading into the 90s, so how
did people during your time of the 60 and 70s perceive gender and sexuality?
MM: I was lucky in this. Once the pill happened things changed. When I was a
little girl someone had written “Fuck you” on the wall somewhere. I had no idea
what this was at nine or ten. Kids today know what this word means. I went home
to ask my mother and she said “Oh, honey come here. I want to explain something
to you.” She explained to me the truth about sexual intercourse. I thought back
during these days as an eight or nine-year-old “Oh, my gosh. Who would want to
do this? This was awful.” She said something to me that was extremely wise.
“When two people love one another, it is a beautiful thing to do.” I have
only known two men in my life. I married both, but not at the same time. My
sexuality and expressing it has always been safe. It has always been surrounded
by love. Not to say this is the only way to get this experience. I will say
when you have feelings behind your sexuality it becomes even greater. It is a
wonderful gift we have been given. Sometimes we spend it in a way that is
detrimental to our health. When people use it as manipulation or as a weapon to
gain favor. So much of our actions have to do with our emotions. We are highly
sensitive about how women are talked to by men. My husband is one of those men
if he sees someone who has a great smile either male or female, he will
Today with everyone being a little paranoid about how you talk to people
this could be very taboo. Sexuality is one of the greatest gifts we have. With
this gift I want to use it wisely. I do not want to use it frivolously. I want
it to be a part of something that is meaningful. This was the good part of
these more innocent things. They are both valid. Some of my women friends’ love
screwing around and have a lot of fun. However, there are some who got damaged.
Once again it is what is it that you want. Most women because we are wired
differently, I am talking about straight men and women. Most women want to be
Men are wired differently. They need to “get off” sort of speak. The
greatest combination is when men have sensitivity. This is why it is a great
idea when a girl is drunk and a real guy in my opinion who is a gentleman is
not going to take advantage of this situation. This is just an idea that I have
and this to me is about being civil. Women have a responsibility not to tease
and tease a guy. “Yeah, he wants it.” She manipulates him by saying no. This
will be an episode we will deal with. We are given gifts. It is in our best
interest not to squander them. These gifts could be intellect and friendship.
If your motivation is to be a good friend, then this sometimes means letting
people find their way.
ATM: There is a sense of art when a person uses their sexuality to the
MM: What does this mean? To the fullest to me means it is a relationship of
the mind, body, and spirit. It is connected to deep spirituality. I have been
blessed. These are the words my mother told me. I did not have her for very
long. She was a working mom. She worked from the time she was 13 ½ years old
until the day she died. This was a great gift she gave me. No one knew the
sexual revolution was going to happen a couple of years later. Because of this,
I have not had any sexual hang-ups. When you grow up a heavy child, an obese child,
and have dealt with your weight and body issues your whole life, having the
feeling that this is a safe place being with this man and he loves you is an
incredible gift. I feel like I have been blessed twice.
ATM: How did losing weight influence the ways you connected with love?
MM: In a way, it was the universe protecting me. We all have challenges in
our life. I never used to know this, but pretty people have challenges too. A
lot of very attractive people are never called upon to using anything but their
attractiveness. I found this out from a model a long time ago. She was
approaching 30 and she was gorgeous. She was concerned about her looks. We all
age even if we do not take care of ourselves. It was said that her value was
based on her looks. A lot of times people think very attractive people do not
have any problems and why do they have to know this. The bottom line is the
gifts we must develop.
This means our brains, bodies, our ability to be passionate, and care about
other people. We all have stuff. I have friends that grew up with a lot of
abuse. They have worked through this and have done things despite this. This is
adding a resonation to people that we can be uplifting. “I do not want to say I
was a bad kid, so I missed a lot of opportunities.” Even with the obesity, I
still was a part of the school drama, worked behind the scenes, and in the
choir. Sometimes the things that look like they are negative force us to be
positive. We make the most of what we have. I would not have found what I have
in life if I did not go through some of the trials in life.
ATM: While you were going through the
trials you did not know it would be used in the future. You needed this
knowledge to get through what you had to go through in the future.
MM: Exactly. You do not know this as a kid. I had some good mentors as
teachers. I have been blessed even though my first husband had a lot of
troubles. I think I married my father not realizing this until well into the
marriage. I learned a lot in this marriage. All joking aside, I felt loved in
this relationship. There came a point where I got tired of taking care of
him. It became enabling. He was not willing to change, and I wanted to change.
I had to let go of the marriage. I knew enough about being a good and loving
wife because of this I was in the position to meet the man I am married to now.
You never know fate. The episode that I am using for the pitch has a lot to do
As humankind, this is what it is, honey. It is a big classroom and we are
learning every time if we are willing. Our lives get bigger and have more joy
in them when our hearts open. As long as we are prejudice against things, we do
not know our lives get very small. I am not talking about the ability to travel
in the world. I am talking about the ability to travel the emotional world.
Look around and you see it all the time
ATM: Why did you decide not to take care of your previous husband?
MM: When I said take care, I did not mean anything about cooking. I love to
cook. Two people need to take care of each other. I was not tired of being a
wife, but tired of the fact I was working two jobs struggling and taking care
of stuff at home. He was still after 10 years of marriage trying to find
himself. When I said I thought I married my father, I am pretty sure I married
someone who was undiagnosed with bipolar. It is interesting in our family that
my father was bipolar. My mother was very artistic. I got the artistic gene. My
sister, her children, and her grandchildren got the bipolar gene. Back in my
day and even when I was first married to my husband Dennis, you could never
diagnose someone as bipolar.
They never thought about it. You would just have these terrible depressions
and then become manic. After a while if someone refuses to get help, you have a
decision accepting it is never going to change and you have to move on. He had
found someone else and was living with her in months’ time.
Filmmaker Geo Santini talks about his new indie film Like. This film is about the character Lil Tito he plays who must undergo a moment of seeking validation, losing himself, and rediscovering his path in life. This character is a mirror to the constant problem on how social media influences pop culture for this generation and for the younger generations.
ATM: “Like” has one syllable and four letters, so how has
this word tremendously shaped social media and American pop culture?
GS: We are in a time
where everything is created through likes, especially while being in Hollywood
and in the music business and after seeing everyone chasing likes and clicks.
These ‘likes’ have actually become more of a currency for some people. Many
people wake up and shape their day exactly in the pursuit of how many likes, or
of how many pictures they are going to post and what attention they are going
to get. This movie touches on this from the perspective of what is going on
today in music, social media, and the actual consequences of putting everything
on the line just for attention.
ATM: “Like” is considered a positive word. However, it
seems today in society it creates an innate dislike for someone.
GS: The thing about it
is that we have become addicted to these “likes”. It is a positive word that
has developed into having a very dark undertone. Everything starts out as
positive, but when you seep into the culture and getting more attached to a
phone, an artist becomes more dependent on what is going online instead of the
art itself. It has created an underbelly that is darker… an obsession and an
addiction. It’s bad.
Now we are addicted to
this constant need for attention. What is it doing to our psyche and even to
young women? This movie is a satire that takes all these funny situations that
happen in music and the need for attention. We have fun with it, but the
context is very serious.
The movie is a hybrid
that starts with a comedy but has a serious message at the end. It shows you
that we are in a generation where we can say and do whatever we want online,
but we do not see the consequences. Now we are starting to see younger people
getting in trouble online, especially in Hip-Hop and in music. It used to be:
You leave your certain standards behind because it was a positive thing to get
your career going. Now, you cannot leave your career behind because it starts
online. It is like you constantly have this need for attention.
Some of these kids are
willing to do whatever it takes and keep crossing boundaries. The movie is a
look at one artist who puts everything on the line for attention and what
overcoming this means. How does this word ‘like’ relate to everything? How does
this word relate to fashion, or dating, or Instagram? The validation of a
‘like’ is a kind of merit for this generation and us at the beginning of it are
starting to see the consequences of it. We are getting ready to see how long
all of this will play out and what will happen in the next two decades with technology
and the generations we are raising.
ATM: How does the noun validation move through your series?
GS: It is interesting
to see because when you look at music and study artist going back to Madonna,
Pop, and even in Hip-Hop, you see there was a long time of development. There
used to be a cliché saying stating that that it took five-to-ten years to
become an overnight success. Now this is not even a situation. You have kids
making a song or someone doing something overnight and they can be instantly famous.
This “overnight success” that previously took so long now really doeshappenovernight. Currently, you have a situation where there are artists,
vloggers, or entertainers who have immediate success and have never struggled
for it. They have instant validation. They are constantly addicted to
validation. The minute they do not have it – what happens to them?
I have seen YouTubers
that I know and social media people I know personally go through this. They
came in a generation about six or seven years ago. Now the generation that was
watching them has gotten older and don’t know that stuff anymore. Their numbers
are slipping. They do not know how to go on because they had never taken a loss
before. They had never had to grind or struggle because success was instant for
them. Then, what happens when you take a loss from this former instant reward?
You do not even know how to deal with it. This is the scary part. This is the
character study we see in the film to know where this goes. We start out with
comedy. Our movie is a comedy. It’s silly, and over the top, but there is a
real message and context to it.
ATM: As soon as a person gets addicted and obsessed with
the term “like”, do you agree this starts the process of them losing their
sense of self?
GS: Yes. My generation
and my culture are transitioning into this world. I have friends and you see
they are posting how great their lives are. They are putting more attention and
emphasis in living their avatar vs. their real life. Their avatar seems to be a
mess. It is the message we are sending. I know girls, Instagram models and
YouTubers who live or portray this fantasy. People are looking at this and
think everything looks so good. This person’s life looks perfect.
The message that is presented to followers
makes them compare what they see posted with their own lives and think their
own life is not that great in comparison. These people who post are not that
great either. They are not showing you their struggle. Followers will not
see that their rent is due, or that they did not book the job this month, or a
sponsorship for this month, or even that their sponsorship numbers are down.
Everything that they portray reflects a false positivity.
If you do not tell
these kids that there are negative aspects to certain situations and struggles,
that we are all the same, and that there are ups and downs to life, then they
are going to feel less about themselves. While developing this project, I knew
people who said they hated going on Instagram because it upset their day.
Meanwhile they were still logging on and liking the content. Then I asked: “Why
does it upset your day?” The response was that they feel all these other people
are living better lives than they are. This in itself is a social problem that
we are going to have to start dealing with.
ATM: Many people have witnessed the downfall of those who
are in the limelight. This meaning that when they get into an emotional
situation, these situations make them get into drugs, addicted to alcohol, and
sometimes go as far as to commit suicide. So, if the non-entertainment viewers
are receiving this information, why do people still want it? In addition, how
did you work to show this in your character Lil Tito?
GS: It is a simple
story of every musician, but now it is on the Internet. It shows someone who
gets instant gratification and instant success. At the same time, he gets
manipulated, he is not himself and he indulges into an image. The image he
becomes takes over everything. The same beats that created him came to get him
and he could not deal with it. You see these struggles. The moral of the movie
touches on a lot of basics. Everything that shines is not what it seems at
We are in a world where
everything is not as it appears for it to be seen. Sometimes you just be
yourself. It might be cool to read these stories that show that an artist you
liked had a rough day. This way people can relate to these stories. The Lil
Tito character shows flawlessness in making decisions and choosing attention
all the time while putting so much emphasis on the audience’s attention.
There is also a moral
for artists. For them to work on their craft, to forget about just trying to
seek influence, power and attention, or to seek being on the top of the trend.
Work in your craft. The quality of element, of music and entertainment is also
getting lost with a lot of artists. We are in this fast-paced world that just
keeps requesting content. It is saved and heard, but then audiences immediately
ask: Ok. What’s next? This alone is very tiring for an artist. We are not in a
day and age when an artist drops albums every two years. Now, especially in
Hip-Hop, when you drop your album, you need to have another album or people
will lose interest in you.
ATM: Artists are on contract. A lot of their contracts
require a certain about of albums. Some fans are not aware of this. Typically,
when putting out the album people listen to it, then three weeks later the fans
GS: This is exhausting
for an artist. This culture also creates this aspect of an artist who now says
they are going to record every day. They are going to out whatever they record.
This does not have any development. Before, artists used to play a song, work
on it, tweak it, and redo the verses. Now artists are in a situation where they
record in the afternoon and pop it out in the evening. This is what the monster
of the Internet wants. We are feeding it. There are old traditions from the
music industry about the manipulation of an artists and how they make them
change who they are.
The story is about
being yourself and the consequences of losing yourself. It all deals with
the Internet and with the classic issues in our society. Young kids are so
impressionable. We need to understand that image does not mean anything. I
would love to see artists say it is okay to have a tough day, but after it’s
all done, you get up the next day. It is okay to lose your money because
now, as a result, you have learned a lesson: When you get the check, you
Instead, we just see
splurging. “I got this Lamborghini. I got these jewels. I just bought my dog
$150, 000.00 dog collar.” This is not tangible or real. It is tough when you
sell this image.
ATM: Some artists skip steps to live for the fans or live
for what is out there. They do not want to become scared to think no one is
going to like them or that they are not staying up to date. This strips the
authenticity and the substance. All you really are doing is putting out a beat.
GS: This is what we are
talking about. We talked with producers. I have a lot of music guys in the
movie. We are picking up a lot of stuff with DJ’s in New York. We touched base
on it. The movie is very fun, but we do have a serious message that we do
address in it. We are in a day and age where we constantly have to produce. I
always believed on following one’s dreams and passions. Put your content out
there, hustle and grind. Do not lose sight of the content or lose sight of who
you are. We should never lose sight of who we are. We should not be scared to
be ourselves. We should not pretend that if you are from this neighborhood you
will get more shout outs, or you will get more influence and dominance. We have
to shoot the effects of this and the effects of how you get so far.
We are in a culture
where everybody believes that whatever you say is fine. You can say anything on
the Internet and that is fine. We are also starting to see that there are
consequences and that your actions do have consequences. There are a lot of
artist that brag about what they have and all of a sudden, they get their
houses robbed. This is an example of a true consequence, because you have to be
knowledgeable about being in entertainment and having a show to put on. You
also have to be real when you talk to people. To tell them: “This is
sometimes not all of what it seems. We worked really hard to get this and have
had to constantly promote on the Internet to move forward.”
My character Lil Tito
loses himself. An avatar is what he perceived to be his identity. All he did
was work for this avatar and eventually these decisions have consequences and
he have to face them.
ATM: Have you ever lost yourself subconsciously and embodied
a fake persona?
GS: Yes. I came young
to Los Angeles. I had a three-picture-deal with Paradigm by age 26. You do lose
perspective because you get caught up in it. You get sad when you lose
everything. You do not know how to cope with it. You see your friends moving
forward and you feel like a loser. This starts building these insecurities in
you. You start valuing yourself differently. You have to learn that everyone’s
path is different. I learned that, and I am going to take these loses and make
myself stronger. It has made me stronger with everything I have done. It has
taught me new lessons. It has opened my heart to artistically be free and love
the art of what I am doing. What people perceive it, or how much money this
product makes, or how many views it gets is not under my control. My job is to
do the best that I can; to put the message out there and have the fun I want to
have with it. I did lose sight of myself. Sometimes you have to lose yourself
to find yourself. This is what happened for me.
ATM: I just had an epiphany. When a person is infused into
the limelight, embodying this fake persona, do they see this fake persona? Or
do they see their real life when looking at their reflection?
GS: I believe there is
a person that we know that is our complete 100% truth. We hide a piece of
ourselves. There is something about us that we do not want to let out. A lot of
people dealing with entertainment now are more guarded and hiding this thing in
themselves. When they start, people take it out. I am not talking about
everyone, but everyone is different. I am just showing a trend. I know artists
that are very secure in what they are doing. It comes from experience. Some
people are just naturals. We all must deal with identity issues and
insecurities. Look at how many memes are out there. “Love yourself.” There is
truth to this. Instead of just saying this, you need to really analyze what
There is going to be a
point in time when everyone must face this. You will eventually face it as an artist.
You will eventually face it as a human being. The problem is that we are not
teaching this to the culture. We post this picture, take a selfie; we get some
‘likes’, look sexy, then check to see how many ‘likes’ and views we get. The
record labels do not care if the music is soulful. Someone like Jill Scott or
The Roots could not get a record deal today. It would be impossible because we
are looking at the streams and the internet. When looking at streams and clicks
the numbers are what get signed.
You start losing a
little bit of the soul. Decisions are being made on this. It is a catch 22 that
we are dealing with. I think they see themselves and a little bit of what they
morphed into. They are changing their appearances. They are tattooing their face
now. This is cool while you are young, but what happens when you are 40 with
tattoos on your face? You don’t think when you are young. I did not think
either as a teenager. You do not think far ahead into your future like you
might reach 29 or 30. “I am going to put some tattoos on my face. This is the
image. This is cool.”
When we were shooting
this character on Hollywood Boulevard there were so many young kids coming up
to me saying: “I like your look. I feel your look.” It is crazy. I felt like I
dressed up in this character and with so much element. People rocked to it
because it is all image. There are certain artists out there who are more
accepting of who they are. There are more people chasing an idea of an image or
who they want to be.
ATM: Everyone in any entity in entertainment goes through
this stage. This could even be the business side. Some do not come out of it.
If you look very close, then you can almost put a partition to see the ones who
have come out of it versus the ones who have not. You came out of it, but some
do not get this.
GS: I agree with you.
There is so much fun and crazy stuff happening on the Internet. We like to see
the turned up, the wild, and the hilarious. We play on this. We are putting out
a message. I am not saying who you have to be or what you have to be. I am just
showing you what happens in my movie. There is a consequence. There is a
consequence when you lose yourself. You can play this metaphor so many times.
It is not just in your career, it is in your life. It is in how you deal with
your family, loved ones and girlfriend. I know girls that have lost
relationships and friendships because it is so important for them to post.
There is this obsession with constantly getting attention and what this means.
This means more to them than a human relationship.
ATM: What does your interaction with Matthew McConaughey’s
character exhibit about male on male communication?
KF: Lionel and Dill have known each
other for a few years, but there is still a duel every time they communicate.
Matthew’s character is always obsessed with something that is inside of his
head or an obsession with the thing he is after. In terms of the interaction,
it is very off the cuff when they are trying to handle the best price for the
fish. It is a very simplistic way of communicating with each other. He is
trying to extort money from me. I am trying to get the cheapest price from him.
It is much of a case of haggling, this is the way I see it. The relationship
does not really go deep. This is my second time working with Matthew. The first
time working with Matthew was on The Dark Tower. It was a total interaction
with this character. The characters are much more familiar with each other in
this film Serenity.
ATM: What if in this scene there was only silence? No sound at all
and all we saw was nonverbal communication. Now, how does this change the
KF: Looking back on the day our
interaction. Matthew’s character, Baker Dill, seems so distant from the present
throughout the movie. My character, Lionel, is curious about his intentions
with the gossip from the town’s residents, but there is a red herring in the
film about a character trying to track him down. Lionel is trying to
communicate with Dill but there’s constant deflection. There is a very
different way of communicating. One is present and interactive. The other is
not within this realm at this point.
ATM: What is something that would be deemed an obsession to you
but a hobby to an average person?
KF: Films. A lot of people enjoy films,
but I watch to the point of obsession and breaking scenes down. I seem to do
this subconsciously that it’s become second nature. It has always been an
analytical way for me when watching films. While on set I am analyzing and
assessing how other actors approach a role and prepare for a role. For me films
and tv series are my obsession.
ATM: What is the strategic thought that first enters your mind
while in this stage of analyzing films?
KF: Believability. It is different ways
of portraying a character. For me it is believability. If you feel what the
character feels, then for me this is your first point of contact to pass the
test or not. If you do not buy what they are selling, then they have not done
their job. This to me is your number one go to. Do you believe them or not? Do
you feel their pain? Do you feel whatever they are trying to portray of their
character at this point? Everyone has an innate sense of whether someone is
telling the truth or not.
ATM: Do you agree that the set design for how the Escape Room was
made can metaphorically be someone’s mind when they tap out of reality?
KF: For sure. The sets on Escape Room were phenomenal. When
watching these sets in film, you have the added benefit during post production
to wrap up the quality. It is quite amazing what they can do. It warps your
mind into what is or isn’t reality. These sets take you to a different
dimension and really play with your mind – to play on your mind of what is real
and what is not real. It is like a third or second Character. It is multiple
characters in this case, a character in itself. Different sets have different
personalities. The escape goes from one room to the next to see what the clues
are to escape it.
ATM: How can a person having ownership get in the way of things?
KF: In Looming Tower, having ownership can cloud your mind. A lot of it
was the CIA vs. FBI. I think once the agencies claimed ownership on their intel
that’s when it got clouded and ownership became the focus and not the best
interest of the country at the end of the day. Prior to 9/11, they were working
almost as separate entities. A disaster like 9/11 made them wake up. There is
maybe a pride involved and you cannot see this unless something tragic
ATM: How do you handle ownership in your life when you have a huge
KF: It is with a humbled heart.
Ownership covers a lot of things. If you are talking about ownership of one’s
self. If you are talking about ownership in spirituality or the existential
meaning of this. It is just taking ownership of who you are within the context
of the people around you. In today’s society, in the world of selfies and your
status, how many likes you are getting, it makes you lose your ownership of
yourself. Maybe it starts being owned by the world. I would like it to be close
to home and not be out there as much. Ownership within my immediate circle and
just keeping it humble, trying to keep it closer to home and not being out
there as much and let the responsibility have a ripple effect from that.
ATM: Where in your life do you feel you are a warrior?
KF: You have to be a warrior while
living life every day. Especially living in South Africa. It feels like you
have to be a warrior every day. It sounds extreme, but if you are not a warrior
these days you will get swallowed up. If you heard it or not – living in South
Africa, there is a high crime rate. As soon as you step out of the security of
your home, you are in the big bad world of Johannesburg. You must be a warrior
in this sense to be aware of your surroundings. I am not kidding or blowing
this up! If you are in your car, stopped at a light, then, you are constantly
observing to see if it is okay or if there are hijackers out there. Is there
smash and grabs out there, which happen quite often. It is just survival of the
fittest whether you are in a job situation to fight for the right to be at your
job. This turmoil is an everyday life especially in the city.
ATM: What is a misconception of a white South African male today
and what is the reality of a white male’s presence in South Africa?
KF: That they are privileged. South
Africa has gone through such a transition. To me, being honest, it is kind of a
regression than progression. Trump and just his way of dealing with situations,
his abrasive nature of dealing with people. It is just regressing. I come back
to be a warrior. If you are not a warrior out there, then you are going to get
left behind. There are a lot of misconceptions of white males in South Africa.
There is a big turnaround in terms of the job situation. You are less likely to
get a job as a white male in South Africa. This is the truth and the reality in
South Africa as a white male.
ATM: White males are not of the dominant like in America?
KF: Yes, for the most part. If you
are a white male looking for a job in South Africa, then you are probably way
down on the list. With the whole history of Apartheid, they have been trying to
introduce a new way of dealing with the post-Apartheid situation. The
privileges that white males had before are no longer. It is trying to get to
the state of equality. Black people or Indian people or Asians have been given
these opportunities more today.
ATM: South Africa’s way of fixing the racist behavior was to
marginalize the white male.
KF: It is about the BEE, the Black
Economic Empowerment. You are trying to give preference to the previously
disadvantage. Before the white male had an advantage. It has very much been
reversed and a part of South Africa. I am waiting to see when the playing field
is leveled, and it is the best person for the job and not your skin color. The
balance has to be tipped the other way around. We have spent over 20 years now,
since the democratic South Africa, now we can level the playing field. Make it
the best qualified person for the job.
ATM: They are giving black people and other marginalized races a
chance. They have become the dominant. Whereas, before the white male was the
ATM: Has this truly and honestly made a white male understand how
black people were once horribly and systematically treated? Because of this
societal switch do white males get it now that they are living it and reserve
psychology has been done?
KF: I think it does give them some
kind of perspective. It is almost a role reversal. I am a Chinese male in South
Africa, and we did not have this privilege back in the day. We had to ask for
permission to buy houses or to be someone’s neighbor. It may put them in the
shoes of what happened before. It is quite a real thing when before you saw a
black beggar but now there are white beggars. This is the reality of South
Africa. You can put yourself in their shoes as to how it was before but only to
ATM: Some might not know this in America.
KF: It has been in the news in South
Africa. I am not sure what outside of Africa how the rest of world sees what is
going on here. What do you guys think? To see what is happening in your own
country, I wonder what people from outside of my country see what you see. Do
they still have the stereotype of looking at South Africa? Whatever this
stereotype might be.
ATM: From my perspective, I mostly see information and news about
politics and about the government overall. Some know there are some white
people in South Africa. There is not a little of talk or the media does not
really show your side of what has just been said. Some people think of various
ages that Africa has a high rate of starving children. It is not judging the
person for thinking this way, but it is to question what the media is putting
out to make people think like this.
KF: People are surprised when they
come to South Africa. What they thought of South Africa compared to what they
experience is a total mind shift for them. They are pleasantly surprised. We do
not have tigers and elephants in our backyards.
ATM: Also, some people still think Africa is all poverty.
KF: As much as the rich get richer,
there is a big part of society where there is a shortage of jobs. A lot
of people on the ground are not happy with what they were promised from this
government. They feel progression is very slow. There is a lot of frustration
in this. It is a difficult one to balance out.
ATM: What information from the media do you receive about America
when in South Africa? What do they tell you about America?
KF: There is so much fake news these
days. I try to keep up more with world news and not local news. From the
reliable news outlets, from what I have seen that it is interesting is the
impact America has on the rest of the world economically. It is quite a scary
situation. You just have to wait and see what Trump’s move is. What he says.
What he tweets. This almost has a knock-on effect on the world’s economy, which
is quite scary. I am quite sure that perhaps he realizes the power he has in
his hands. A lot of people are afraid of this. I see a very segregated America.
What you are seeing on T.V today almost reflects what you saw on T.V during the
60s and 70s. If you had a split scene to put these two images together, then
has America really progressed? I do not know. This is my perspective on America
at this point. The world is in a scary place.
your character were to look in the mirror, then what do you believe she would
do not think Penelope looks in the mirror with much ease. She probably does not
really look into her own soul. If you know what I mean. This would be hard for
her to ask the question of “Who am I? Who am I becoming?” This is quite
difficult for her to ask a hard question. It is easier for Penelope to plot and
move forward. Also, to distract herself with plans of how she is going to get
back on top.
How would you express Riverdale’s civilization such as social life, social
norms, and how they operate?
NB: I do not think there are any social norms. I think Riverdale is an extremely twisted place. I feel like teenagers are the off springs who are the normal ones. The parents are all completely out of their minds. Who knows? Maybe this does reflect a lot of how young people see adults. We have all got to a place where things are quite confused, and no one really knows what is good or what is bad anymore. There is a lot of crime in Riverdale. You can get away with an enormous amount of criminal activity without getting caught. The story has a sort of reality where anything can happen. You can get away with poisoning, drug dealing, and murder. In season one, the kids all starting out innocent has rapidly changed. I feel like if you are watching scenes now in Season 3, you feel bad for the kids. You see how things get really complicated easily. If we are not careful, then these children will become twisted like their parents quickly. It is quite a complicated civilization and community in Riverdale if you put it all together.
What is your character really searching for? Is it power? Is it a sense of
trying to internally belong to herself? What is it?
Penelope runs the Maple club. It is a club of domination. It is less about sex,
and it is more about control. I am going to speak as Penelope here. I tie it
into the fact that I have had this awful childhood where I was adopted as a
small kid. I was groomed into the Blossom family essentially to marry my
adopted brother. This is very already twisted. You can understand as Penelope I
have a weird understanding of life and family. Over the
last few seasons, she has suffered a lot. Always fighting with her daughter and
the relationships with Nana, Rose, the mother in law are abusive.
Penelope has had enough of all this. She is trying to figure out who is she. At
the same time, she is getting revenge. She is finding her own power and being a
madame. She is a dominatrix and a madame of a bordello that is specialized in
domination. This is all about her getting her power back. She was in love with
serial killers and understands them. It all makes sense when you try and
understand someone who has been controlled and separate their whole life.
Penelope is one a path to expressing herself and finding her own power.
What labels would be attached to her if she lived in our reality?
is a feminist, but a dark feminist. I would not say feminist hate men the way
Penelope does. She has her own personal cost to bare. I would call her
dominatrix. This would be a label I put on her. I would call her a murderer. I
would call her a victim because of being abandoned as a child, sent to an
orphanage, adopted by a very strange family that was out of control. I would
label her a bad parent for sure. I would also label her as hopeful. Hopeful is
a little bit too sweet. She is in search of redemption. She is a bit of a
martyr. She sees herself as a bit of a Jon of Arc or someone who is along these
lines. Is she prepared to die for other women to reclaim their power? Maybe.
What seems to be some of your character’s coping mechanisms?
coping mechanism on a superficial level is style. She has had a distinct style
and dresses with incredible class with an old fashion vintage aesthetic. No
matter what happened to her even when losing her house and family, her dignity,
her inheritance, she always found a way to look good. She covers herself. She
protects herself with this mask of class, style with what she looks like on the
outside. She does not conform to any norms. I have a kind of the 20s or 30s
aesthetic. Her other coping mechanism is that she is closed and mysterious with
what she reveals. There is a quiet to her personality. She will only reveal
what is actually going on in her mind when she directly pressed for information
by someone. She probably only tells Betty because she is her niece. Penelope
has a secret desire to aim for the family because she has lost everyone.
mechanisms are an outer shell for control and a very serene posture and vibe
that does not reveal to me. In the end, her coping mechanism is that she has
this skill. She has a quiet power in how she gets through to people in her
path. This is her ability to poison. She has some secret abilities, and this is
how she copes. Planning and plotting are a part of her coping mechanism. In her
core, she is playing a chase game here. She has a very clear plan. She is
picking off the pieces in her past. So, she can control and win her game. Maybe
she is like a chess piece and maybe the queen on the chessboard.
How would an audience from South Africa view your character and her
This is an interesting question. Very interesting. While a household name in
South Africa, I was on a show where I played a journalist. She was
always on a mission to out the baddies and hunt down the truth. Now, I am kind
of the opposite. Now, I am the baddie. Betty is the blonde who is in
my case. My fans in South Africa view me so well. This is a real switch around.
To be honest, they have been very complimentary of my acting skills. They say
“This is incredible to see your range. You seem to be able to play anything.
You are so evil on screen now, but so loving in real life.” I go “Well this is
acting life. This is a part of the craft.” You take a character and you put it
on. You try this skin on. It was fantastic playing the romantic show in South
Africa. It is now fun being a terrible villain. They are very proud. I get a
lot of “I am proud of you and how far you have come and stuck with it.” There
are not a lot of South Africans that have survived the whole international
transition. I am very blessed to have done this and have brought my fans with
ATM: How would a New Zealand male viewer
perceive your role?
lot of what I did was a comedy when moving to New Zealand. This was fun. I just
did Happy Together with Damian Wayans Jr. I do love this side. For them to see
me play in an award-winning Australian movie production than playing this
actress. They would go “Yes, this probably makes sense.” I do not know if you
can see it, but there is a bit of comedy in Penelope. She is so complete in
this and twisted. It is to the point where I say horrific things to the
character Shellie that you can almost burst out laughing. It is like I cannot
believe that this is happening right now. A New Zealand audience would be
smirking at Penelope going “There she goes again. She is completely mad.” If
you saw it from a male perceptive, then they would be a little terrified. She
is a male hater on the show. I was also a dominating woman on the comedies in
New Zealand. I played the hard-drinking, brash girlfriend in Isidingo.
ATM: What connection do you try to draw
while working the Palm Oil Organization?
you get to know me as Nathalie Boltt and not Penelope the actress, then you
will see I have always been a very passionate conservationist and a wildlife
activist. The only connection there is the red hair with the orangutan.
The orangutan is the key species that are being critical in endangered. I reached
out and said, “Can we make it a red hair connection?” This would really raise
awareness going “Hey, Riverdale this is Riverdale, but also hey guys have you
realized what is going on with the other side of the planet.” A lot of people
do not know how their choices of what they buy in North American stores affect
third world countries, especially in Indonesia. The oil mayfar. This is
where some cosmetics and in cleaning products come from. I am a person who
entertains with my madness, social media captions, humor.
go “How about this?” People go “What?” I go “Yeah, this is what happens. You
have a choice every single day in what you do and what you buy. We can all team
up together and make a difference. I have really interesting fans that if they
follow me they do not just get some superficial posting of pictures on set or
this outfit or that. The rest of the time I am encouraged to think, to speak,
express themselves, and make smart choices. I also think the people who follow
Riverdale are the young people who will use their inherent through our
inheritance in the world and change it for better.
at a time where you see so many smart young people speaking out about gun
violence at school, how some politicians do not represent them, or how the
environment is in absolute crisis and nothing is being done. I like to be one
of those people who goes “Come on let’s say something and make a difference?”
If I can help you make a difference, then I will help you run with it and start
making a difference. This is my role in a way. This is my other role in a way
in life. To use my profile for good. To get back to your original question. I
hope that my fans in Indonesia can see this. Even though they are far away, I
want them to know that I see them, I hear them, and care about them. There is
quite a difference between Penelope and Nathalie Boltt.
NB: What can you admit about the reality of
endangered species in Indonesia and how this can transform a person’s emotions?
is very real and scary in what is happening down there. We are losing tropical
rain forest at the rate of a football field every three seconds. If you can picture
what this means. Everyone needs to think about is the rapid break and forests
as the lines of the earth. They are being cut out. It is simple to understand
that when you lose these lines you die. No matter where the forests of the
earth that are being cut down will not have the forest in our area and we die.
Going down here and seeing how devasting the Palm Oil industry has been and how
quickly we are losing our forests. We need to do something need and change
policies. We need to boycott Palm Oil. It became real when I went down there.
It is not sad little cute pictures of baby orangutans or other animal species
being taken to orphanages. It is not cute. It is just devastating.
places that were full of life and they have been replaced by this monoculture
that has nothing living in it. It is at a rate that is far that we will
eventually lose our rainforest within three years. I am trying to wake people
up to this is being real and not made up. I am helping Palm Oil investigation
and an engineer to develop an app where you can just scan your product to see
if Palm Oil is in it. We are also looking to develop a sustainable Palm Oil
plantation. This does not exist yet. At some point cutting your own indigenous
forest will stop. This is what you can learn and find from being in the forest.
We are not there yet. I am trying to help this, happen.
ATM: How can the understanding of climate change help a person
understand this issue related to the Palm Oil?
NB: I think everyone understands
climate change at this point. You do not have to know the major details. You
just have to understand that we have thrown ourselves out of balance as people.
Our planet is getting warmer and our weather is changing. Any day you watch the
news to see fires, wild storms, and the completely unusual changes in
temperature from extreme cold in places where it did not use to have this
happen. The danger is people feel overwhelmed and they do not know what to do
about it. They think: “I am one person.” You have a teenager at school going “I
feel like I have no control over my life because my parents make these choices.
So, what do I do?”
A lot of people have told me that
watching my post on Palm Oil has inspired them to do their school project on
it. They have done presentations and their school has taken on the project,
without having known about the issue before. But now know what is going on, so
one person has made a difference. This is good because everyone feels involved.
Also, the positive side to social
media is that anyone can build their following if they are passionate enough
and talk about what they are passionate about. This could be deforestation,
climate change, saving species, or getting plastic out of the ocean. We have a
voice now through social media. This can be very empowering. You can find your
tribe of people who feel the same way. There is so much you can do in terms of
connecting with people who can support your cause, finding friends with the
same values and voicing your worries. I didn’t have that as a kid, so the
Internet is a blessing if you use it right.
ATM: When you were younger why did you not know how to help
NB: Because this was before the
internet. In South Africa, where I grew up, we had very little access to real
information during the Apartheid years. We did not have T.V until late. This
was controlled by the government. So, our information about our society, was
told to us in the newspapers. We did not know how black people were being
treated. I was living in this strange bubble. And when the government changed
and Nelson Mandela came out of prison, I realized I had been living a complete
lie. I watch what is going on in America now and go “Wow, it is going backward.
In terms of integration and compassion and acceptance of all ethnicities and
belief systems, we are going backward.” After what I experienced in South
Africa, where a society woke up and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
that allowed victims and perpetrators to speak and apologize and heal, I feel
saddened and extremely frustrated witnessing the enabling of separation that is
going on in the US. But I am very hopeful it will change. I know it will.
Because we can speak up through social media. Unlike in South Africa in the
80s, where these outlets didn’t yet exist. The only people who I could
speak to as a kid were my school friends and teachers. I could ask my parents
how I could help. My mom always made me aware of people in need. At university,
my friends, whose parents had been involved int he anti-anti-apartheid
struggle, made me aware of what had really been going on in our country. They
taught me to question everything, to think for myself, to be proud of standing
up for a cause.
With regards to my passion for conservation,
my mother helped me speak out about my passion for the environment. She helped
me. She has a huge heart and has spent her life connected to animals. Our home
was a zoo of saved animals! So of course, that has influenced me. The
connection to another species and our natural world is deeply therapeutic.
ATM: Going back to growing up in apartheid South Africa, If the
newspapers showed something went wrong, then you believed it no matter what.
You did not have anyone coming out saying their opinion whether it was fake or
NB: You just ate it all up.
Especially as a kid, you trust people. You think this is true. You just go with
it and it is only much later you go “Oh, wow. That was nonsense. We believed a
lie.” This has made me who I am today. I have great compassion for all
communities and cultures. I have a great understanding of how you can be one
thing and then turn out and become something different as long as someone just
explains to you what is going on. I always encourage people on my social media
to not get angry, shout, and lecturer people about anything. This does not
start the conversation, but it ends the conversation. It ends up like where we
are at in America, where certain groups of people are allowed hate whatever is
not them. They are encouraged to fear ‘the other.’ This never solves anything.
Fear can lead to violence and violence never solves anything. Never.
ATM: Although we are in the early parts of the 21st century, there are some
American people who still believe there are no white people living in South
Africa. This is totally not true. I would not blame them. I would blame what
society puts out about how Africa is portrayed. How would you explain the
social behavior growing up in South African as a white woman?
NB: This is a huge question, but it
is a good one. Growing up as a white person, male or female, it was crazy. I
finished high school during the last year before Nelson Mandela came out of
prison and the system changed. I went to a white-only school. We did not learn
about any history in South African that had to do with the Apartheid. We had a
very one-sided curriculum. The following year everything changed. I went to a
university that was very progressive and openminded. The people that I met
there helped me to really wake up.
It was a beautiful time when Nelson
Mandela was released from prison – the people fighting for him and for change –
we had so much hope. Talking about the time of the rainbow nation. Nelson
Mandela developed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which went on to be
used throughout the world. This was all happening while I was at university. I
felt so privileged and a blessing to see this happening.
The Truth and Reconciliation
commission was essentially: let’s talk about it and let’s not fight about it.
The perpetrators and victims were brought together in a court. They were
invited to express their pain. As the perpetrator of a crime, if you told the
truth, you were given amnesty. A very progressive concept. The healing that
comes out of it this is so much more rich and helpful than being judged and
incarcerated. For both victim and perpetrator. Because you can look each other
in the eye, express your grief and see how flawed we are as human beings.
People need healing. They need to say “I am so sorry. I did this because I was
instructed to do so by the government.” Or give the reason and motivation for
their crime and their deep regret. The people on the other side are given
the chance to express their trauma and say, “I need you to know how much you
have hurt my family with the violence that was brought upon us.” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
trailed around South Africa for three years listening to the pain caused by the
Apartheid government. It was broadcast live on TV. Witnessing it completely changed me and healed
many thousands of people and a large part of the psyche of a very damaged South
Africa. It was revolutionary and the reason SA did not break into a civil war.
How does this apply to my career as
an actor? Well, I have witnessed so much. I have seen people change completely.
So, I am very aware that it is possible to be any character you choose as long
as you believe and give that person a back story. Why are they like this? What
happened in their life to make them like this? Actors are very accepting of
people’s any traits. We are the ones that are fearless of ‘the other’. We
are always putting on each other’s skin and trying on someone’s character.
We always need a recipe to create
something new and life-changing. I was on this show, Isisdingo (The Need) and
the movie, District 9. Isidingo, is one of the longest-running daily dramas in
South Africa. It showed the first interracial kiss or relationship. This was
huge. It was so cool to be a part of this. You portray something and people see
it is possible. This creates change. In District 9, it was this brilliant
commentary on the ‘aliens’, the victors to Earth, that were treated so badly,
and it was shot in these refugee camps. So, this was a very smart commentary
on, not only what had happened politically in South Africa, but also on how
refugees are treated globally. It was a privilege to be part of these stories –
there is nothing better than to know you are a part of the change of a terrible
system that turned into a better system. This is my experience.
Even in New Zealand, I learned
about the anti-anti-apartheid movement – information I hadn’t heard while
living in SA because the censorship of the news. When I lived in NZ, I learned
about how the 1981 Springbok tour was boycotted in New Zealand. Many people
believed, quite rightly, that the South African rugby team would not be allowed
to tour, as people of colour were not allowed to join the national team.
It was fascinating to see how New
Zealand influenced the change of power in South Africa. And the whole debacle
was played on the radio in South Africa and Nelson Mandela got to hear about
the rugby boycott in New Zealand from his cell on Robben Island.
ATM: There are some things society
feeds people that are not true. They so long have wanted to keep us divided.
You grow up thinking this race is better or this gender is that way. A lot of
what is taught in education today and from the beginning of time is not true.
When you go to the source, you realize the lies that society embeds in your
head through tests, quizzes, and etc.
NB: Exactly. We have a lot of work
to do to open minds and undo the damage of racism and bigotry. For
example, the terrible attack on Jussie Smollett. There have been some posts
from the Riverdale cast on how we really stand by him. Riverdale is very gender
balanced and LGBTQA proud, so I am very happy to be part of that. This also
goes for our sister show Sabrina. It is something to be proud of that we do not
stand by any of the hate that is going on in the world. We want to be a part of
the people who speak out about these things. All of us stand for something
positive on the show.
ATM: How was your race and gender
in New Zealand assessed once moving there?
NB: Contemporary NZ is
predominantly European. So, going from that background, there was nothing
unusual about me, when I moved there. Maori is the indigenous culture there,
along with an interesting mix of Pacific Island culture, Indian, Asian and so
on. I was hoping to be speaking influent in Maori within the ten
years living here, but sadly, even though there is now a lot of Te Reo/ Maori
taught in the school curriculum now, I didn’t pick it up in my day to day.
It did not happen. It was when I moved around a bit and got involved with
some of the T.V shows where I got to mix more, culturally. New Zealand has some
historical issues in terms of race relations, but not the same scale as South
Africa. I really enjoy being around the Maori friends I made, and getting to
learn more about their culture, which is fascinating and proud and very musical
and artistic. I was once told I have ‘mana’ after I performed in a series about
the part the Maori soldiers played in the Gallipoli war. ‘Mana’ means grace and
dignity. I was so moved by this. The Maori culture is based on mana. So, this
was very meaningful to me.
Thank you for your interesting
questions. Not a lot of people have gone there with me. I am always open to
discussing my background, and cultures.
ATM: You annotated
readings while an English major in college.
MM: Yes. I was greatly
influenced by Existentialism. I was one of those naïve midwestern kids. I grew
up without the benefit of a mother from the time I was 14, which is when she
died. I felt different which is the artist kind of thing. I never got along
with my older sister. My dad died when I was 21. I was alienated from the
family. My sister and father dealt with bipolar issues, but no one back then
knew what this was. I went to college thinking here was Enlightenment,
especially studying literature. I was extremely disappointed. As most 18 years old’s
who are serious, I felt very helpless. I have always been into history and
liked reading about the French Resistance.
This was the heart of
Existentialism in a way. Here you had a group of people fighting against an
overwhelming obnoxious force trying to take their lives and their country.
These people never gave up. At this time, I read a book by Albert Camus called
the Plague. All the truth has been written, how to deal with each other, how to
be caring. Yet we continue to make these horrific mistakes. As a very young and
naïve person, I felt helpless. I read the Plague and in it, he talks about once
you are aware of the absurdity of the world you have four choices. The first
one is to commit suicide.
Some of us do this
directly with drugs or alcohol. The second is to extrapolate yourself from the
absurdity. You become a hermit, isolate, and begin to live off the
grid. The third is to click off your awareness and become a part of the
absurdity. The fourth is to find meaning in what you do, being responsible for
yourself, and in doing so you make changes the world. This idea appealed to me
and this was my salvation. I still thought I was going to be an English
professor at this time. I realized how political it was and I stopped lying to
myself about wanting to be an entertainer. A part of this decision I owe to my
first husband. I said, “I should go out for a play this year.” He said, “Why
don’t you get up off your ass and do it?” So, I thank him for this and my last
name. I am a very creative and reflective person. I’ve loved performing from
the time I was small. They said I could hum before I could talk, and I believed
I wrote and made up
songs as a kid. I was a heavy set, wore glasses and never felt a part of
anything except when I would sing, dance and write. Fast forward to coming out
to LA wanting to be a serious actress. This was kind of a joke. I should have
gone to New York. I was teaching at a private professional school for young
actors. One of my 5th graders was taking a voiceover workshop with
the late Daws Butler (voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Cap’n Crunch. His
mom kept nagging me to take his class. said “You should do this. You would be
really good at it.” I did not know what voiceover was. I took her advice,
walked into Daws Butler’s workshop, and was blown away! I thought “I
can be anything doing this. I am not limited by age, sex, or ethnicity.” Woah
this is heaven for an actor.
ATM: When you annotate you go through the piece of work to highlight what is important. This is usually done with a highlighter or pen. Do you agree that your show South Park highlighting the hypocrisy in America is like annotating a piece of literature?
MM: South Park says,
“If you are not walking the way you talk, then you are a part of hypocrisy.” We
can all be hypocrites partly because of ignorance and partly because we can be
a stubborn jackass. Stop pointing the finger at someone else.” Annotation for
me, I’m referring to an annotated edition of a Sherlock Holmes book I read many
years ago. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan. (There is a Robin William story that
goes with this) is: let’s say you’re reading a line and you are not sure what
it really means in context. An annotation gives you an historical and event
time frame: this came at this time and this is when such and such happened. It
is a reference to so and so. If you read a lot of early literature, especially
the Romantics, the Greeks, Homer, etc., they used mythology so much. You might
annotate which myth or character they are referencing and then get a better
idea of how it relates to the reading. I guess you could say South Park
annotates current events and society. Things happening today which will become
ATM: It analyzes the
world and society. The controversial things that happen.
MM: What they really do
is point out hypocrisy, which we need. If we are going to be sitting there
talking about how awful we are, then we better be looking at our part in it. We
are only looking at it, instead of trying to make this better. We are a part of
the problem and not the solution. In Adventures with Puss and Dick, I am trying
to point out the problem and look at the possibilities of solutions. “If we
cannot see someone else’s point of view, then we are missing the chance to
relate and communicate.”
ATM: We all should see everyone’s point of view. Some of your characters change into each other’s bodies. They changed gender positions, which allowed them to see various systemic differences. We need this because sometimes if someone taps into reversal psychology or when something is done from a different perspective, then they see it differently.
MM: Absolutely. It does
not necessarily mean you have to agree. If you understand a point of view, then
you can begin to make a compromise. If you look around at the people on social
media, then you see they can be very vitriolic. Most people are not interested
in making a connection; we are more interested in getting across our point of
view. This is not communication, this is soapboxing. Looking back at my years
on South Park I realize that the show has been quite an influence in how I
think. Going back to the story about finding comfort in Existentialism – the
thing is our lives have meaning on a daily basis.
How we treat each other
every day has meaning and repercussion of great consequence, and we may never know
exactly how. It’s like throwing a pebble into the water: you see those ripples
and the go on and on spreading outward. That one action reaches out in so many
ways. Every time we treat someone poorly, this reflects on society as a whole.
Every time we treat someone with kindness, or we are caring, this reflect on
society too, and it makes a difference. They both have impact on the world
I have been thinking about this and how our actions impact others, because that has so much to do with my animation project. The episode we’re using in the pitch is the last episode on the web comic: Stop! Enough!! Time’s Up!!! It’s timely given what’s come down in the last couple of years. About two weeks before we were ready to record voices, I was working on the script. I suddenly realized that I needed to create a real antagonist. Then, like a bolt of lightning it hit me.
Inside every one of us,
there is that fearful and nasty voice that gets to us sometimes when we are the
most vulnerable and susceptible to listen and then there’s a real danger of
doing what it wants! This is how the character Dreck (which means “shit” in
Yiddish) was born. It is an amorphous character that comes out of whomever is
in conflict and in a hoarse whisper tries to bring out our worst “Oh, go ahead
you know you want to do this; it’ll make you feel so good! They deserve this
because they’re in your way and you’re so much better!” This is a voice of fear
and dread that we all have with in us.
ATM: This character
sounds like the starting effects of depression.
MM: That’s exactly what Dreck can turn into despair and depression. If you listen only to that voice, then you are drawing only on your input. This tends to make our worlds smaller and smaller and it sets up a barrier to anything that is different. Dreck brings out the egotist and the bully. It wants us to believe we are the end all and be all. It tells us we are a king as we transform into a tyrant. This is our fear and insecurity at its worst. Playing this character was so intriguing. Acting as a villain was fun! Being a villain. . . not so much.
The voice of VenMar, is
Dreck’s counterpoint and as such gives us a better reality check and acts as
the voice of enlightening inspiration. While we all have access to the Dreck
that is inside us, we also have access to that energy that gives us inspiration
(VenMar). The challenge is that we sometimes have to ask for direction, shut up
for two minutes, listen, for the guidance and then take action, even when fear
tries to stand in our way.
Having Dreck as the antagonist, allows my main characters Puss and Dick, in their various characterizations and situations, to make mistakes when they are influenced by Dreck, but it’s Dreck who we love to hate. It was a good device, definitely an inspiration. I was smart enough to ask for guidance and wise enough to listen and take action when it came.
ATM: Because you are a certain gender you do not have to move through society with what is told to you about this gender. The social norms for genders are created at birth. You do not have to live by them.
MM: We all have male
and female aspects. I have a marriage counselor on board. I want to make sure
our storyline includes transgender and same sex couples, and that our stories
are well informed about various types of relationships. Because the
relationships will be inclusive to any and all types, the story lines are
endless. We were talking about the project with two of our friends who are
lesbians, gal pals, but not a couple. and they came up with a good story line.
Two women living together having their period at the same time; the perfect
setting for hilarious havoc.
One of these women had
read something in a magazine about a male who had breast cancer. After they had
been treating him with estrogen, he found himself becoming more sensitive. His
body awareness and reactions were suddenly much more dominated by his female
aspect than his male. Before his treatments it was “Eh, I gained a few pounds.”
After his treatment, he gets paranoid about weight gain and is hyper-aware of
Because there are all
kinds of interesting stories out there, expanding the scope of the project was
a good idea. There are so many possibilities and more people can relate. This
expansion came partly from a conversation I had with someone who is
transgender. Looking at all kinds of relationships and how they impact all
of us open our minds and hearts. The
time is right.
ATM: It is time to see
projects like this in our society. They are a mirror of how society is and give
a new kind of way of thinking.
MM: Exactly. It is time
we start being inclusive, instead of exclusive. What is normal? Normal is
whatever you are.
ATM: It is subjective.
MM: Absolutely. The
more society can understand this the more harmony we will have. There is no
normal. Hopefully there is acceptance and love.
That requires better communication, which is also the goal of my
project. The more we can understand each other, the better we all can live
ATM: We live in a
society where you can always tell someone something, but until you experience
it or see the reversal of it, this is when you get it or understand it. We get
this new frame way of thinking.
MM. The conversation I
had with the person who is transgender really made a difference in how I think.
I’m grateful I was open-minded enough to listen (Dreck and VenMar-VenMar won
and so did I) I had sent this person an audition for the voice of VenMar. After
reading the audition lines, they basically said that they hoped I would not take
this the wrong way, that some of the dialogue was insulting. They were
referring two one of VenMar’s lines where he is talking about the differences
and inherent conflicts between men and women: “Men are from Mars and women are
from Venus. Women have a vagina and men have a penis.” They said, “I am
transgender, and this is offensive to me.” At first, I thought, “What?” This is
actually from a song I wrote. At first, I felt defensive and then I thought If
I add the word “Most” – “Most women have a vagina and most men have a penis”.
This one little word opens a whole world of possibilities. I thanked them their
input and hope to use them as a consultant once the show is on the air.
ATM: What are some
traits that can be perceived or stereotyped as masculine tendencies?
MM: The qualities of
aggression and competition seem to be more male. Women tend to be kinder and
gentler. That doesn’t mean woman can be strong and men cannot be kind.
But women tend to nurture more; we have the bodies that produce babies within
them. Doesn’t mean men cannot bond with
and be loving to their children. If you want to get ahead in this world,
then you also need to have that kind of strength that men seen to have
naturally. My husband is a great example of having both strength and
tenderness. He is definitely a guy, a straight guy. He also has a gentleness
about him that is seen as a female aspect. He genuinely likes women. I do not
mean just because he finds them physically attractive. He likes and respects
them. He likes that women are not afraid to talk about things. I fell in love
with him because partly because he was still friends with the two women he was
in relationships with before me. There is a difference between liking women in
a sexual way and liking them because you respect them and what they have to
say. He doesn’t objectify them. This was one of the things I found attractive
about him. A lot of men do not allow themselves to entertain that feminine
aspect because to them it does not feel masculine enough, or they’re just
afraid if it.
I think this is why a
lot of straight guys get homophobic. Just because a guy is gay does not mean
you have to fear him vice versa with women. Women are a little bit more open.
We can display affection much more readily to other women than a guy can to a
guy. This is not to say guys need to become more feminine. Allowing that
gentle side to come out means your confident enough to be comfortable with all
ATM: What if we mixed
the two? The softer and the aggressive side.
MM: It’s all about
balance. Knowing when to be strong and when to be gentle; life-long lessons in
living. Part of it is not fearing and acknowledging both aspects. From the time
I was a little girl, I hated dresses. I like wearing pants because they are
more comfortable for me. There are a lot of guys out there that find much more
freedom walking around in a robe. I mean look at men from the middle east. Does
this make them any less manly? No, this is what makes them more
comfortable. I think each of us needs to spend more time finding balance within
ourselves rather than trying to dictate what others should or should not do. I
was and still am a bit of a tomboy. As a
kid my favorite toy was a dump truck. I
loved filling it up with dirt and dumping it out like I was building something.
ATM: Were you?
MM: Yes, a career creating little boy voices, like Izzy on Digimon. Seriously, I just remembered being fascinated by making the truck move. It held my attention much more than playing with dolls. As an artist, I find the form of women beautiful. Men, too. But there’s something about the earthiness of women that is intriguing. Most of my erotic drawings are about this balance of male and female and take the form of women within the penis. This concept of male and female enriching one another is the seed of creation that became the idea of Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick-A Survivor’s Guide To Relationships.
I do narrations for ABC
Mouse. There was a book we read a couple of sessions ago called Bear Bunny. It
is a book about being okay with whoever you are on the inside even if you look
different on the outside. It sounds a lot like being okay with being
transgender, gay or just like doing things that people don’t expect, just
because you look a certain way. It is so delightfully written. I bought the
book. I read to kids at Descanso Gardens and this wonderful dinette called Base
Camp every month. This has now become one of the books I read.
ATM: What is the
artistic nature that flows through your erotic art?
MM: Something happened to me in 1991. I went to Cabo San Lucas and saw the solar eclipse. This was quite moving, but a couple of days afterward we went out on the rocks where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. I had a moment. It is hard to explain. It was a though I could feel the struggles of humanity. It was an epiphany, truly awesome and it left me inspired. We human beings are struggling, trying to live a spiritual or meaningful life in a world that is very material. All people, throughout history have had to struggle to survive and it is that determination to be and become that makes the human experience so beautifully joyful and tragic. It is a celebration of the spirit.
When I got home, I
started doing a series of drawings called Women Emerging. I have them riding on
dragons, in dragons and coming out of flowers, and rocks. This led me to
drawing the erotica I mentioned. It embodied the idea of yin yang was
based also on my relationship with my husband.
A relationship based in love, friendship, mutual respect and sexual
attraction. Once again, there’s this idea of balance and acceptance in
relationships and how struggle can lead to resolution.
Most of my erotic art
is of this nature. I will send you some photos of it. Shortly after this, I began
drawing these wire dancers with a drafting pen called a rapidograph. The
drawings started as squiggles and then became people and then became wire
dancers. I was inspired while listening to some Latin music at a concert. Then
I got hold of some actual wire and started rendering the dancers as wire
sculptures. The essence of their movement represents the celebration of life.
They can be either female or male and they are meant to be moved, by both
artist and patron. If you go to my website into my store, then you can see I
have done them as earrings and pendants.
I have also made them
larger and as fairies, angels and as all kinds of animals and sold them.
Some people have bought them to put in their gardens. I love thinking about the progression from
the initial inspiring event to how they grew from drawings to sculptures and
the essences of them being a celebration of life. This is also the
feeling I have about the relationship my husband and I have, where you work
through the struggles and you each grow, both as individuals and as a couple.
The original title for The Adventures of Puss and Dick-Survivor’s Guide to
Relationship was Sal-Mo.
ATM: Sex is like a work of art. Your emotions are like a splash of paint that goes on a canvas. The two contenders are immersed in their art and if deep enough gets in the formation of origami. The deeper the splash the higher your chances are of making collages, portraits, and murals. Their expression is what makes them make different pieces of origami. So, everyone takes the form of Picasso, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Frida Kahlo, and others. But the art does not have to always make it to the canvas, not everyone wants to be a painter. Sometimes people want to draw stick figures and not portraits or collages.
MM: Both sex and art have room for all. They both have universal appeal. That’s so important. I was going to name my characters Sal and Mona. But those names did not have a universal meaning. Then, once again, the light of inspiration clicked on and I realized the name Dick is both a nickname for Richard and a can be a nickname for a penis. Puss can be a term of endearment for a female and is also the nickname for a vagina. So, Puss and Dick became the names of my leading characters; they represent, in a playful way, every male and female. With slight changes they can represent all ages, ethnicities and even time frames. I based her on Betty Boop. You know the cartoon character from the 30s. They had to be attractive, appealing to everyone. Everyone had either a penis or a vagina, whether you’re gay, straight, or transgender. If you have both . . . well, that would make a very interesting episode.
Lucas stars in the recent film In Like
Flynn. The film shows you the high lengths a man named Errol Flynn that
went on to explore what life has to offer. Lucas talks about her character’s connection, family and more.
can you assess about Errol’s perspective of adventure?
Imagine someone putting all his coins in one basket to buy a boat and go to a
journey to somewhere he has never been before. I am not sure. What is an
adventure? It is all so relative to each person. He went on these big random
escapades. In the film, we follow him through the earlier years of his
life. I did not know this myself that before he became an actor Errol
Flynn had gone on all these adventures. This is what made him the charismatic
man he was and is.
is an adventure for you?
question. Maybe it’s easier for me to consider what an adventurer is. An
adventurer is not afraid of taking risks, someone who wants to get closer to the juice
of life, be passionate about their life and doing things that are not
safe or easy but makes them feel alive. – What about you? What do you think is
adventure is not necessarily dangerous, but it is that internal moment when you
take a risk and you are able to overcome this risk and feel happy.
this makes sense.
you think your character Rose had a chance to dabble into adventure like the
was such a different time then. These days, women can do this more easily, they
are liberated. They can make choices that feel freeing for them. I don’t think
women were able to do this in the same way as men were during Errol Flynn’s
time. Maybe they were dabbling in adventure as you say, but they’d certainly
have to face a backlash. Rose was attracted to someone who was an extreme
daredevil. She was incredibly brave to go on her own adventure looking for him,
traveling from coast to coast. She shared this with him in the scenes. You
know, maybe when we fall in love, we become an adventurer in a more internal
sense. We go out on a limb. We are going to places where we have
not been before. We make these irrational decisions, but they feel right. They
are bold decisions, but they are from a place of love, passion, and wanting to
live on the edge. Maybe in this way – more internally – she was very
ATM: So, women are
more of an adventure internally and with their emotions. They are adventurous
with love and it shows with the words they say. Also, in the charismatic or
passionate words women say to their male lover or lover. This is typically in a
literary sense taking a risk also. You are saying words that are based on your
emotions, but you do not know how the male or the other person is going to
Exactly, this is the point. When we are in love, we become like an “adventurer
of the heart.”
become like little kids again.
This is why we all love this experience and why an adventurous spirit is
attractive to us and a beautiful thing. It’s attractive to see it in people and
when I feel this in myself. It’s about completely living on the edge of life,
feeling closer to why we are all here and being really alive. In this way, this energy inspires me and
connects us to the love of kids. They are playful, young, and have not been
hurt by life.
Sometimes when people fail or mess up at something when life hurts them it
closes the internal need for an adventure. They do not try anymore and just
become more content in life. The adventurous streak is gone. This could be with
a heartbreak or a relationship.
is why resilience is important whether we get our heart broken or
have a car accident. We get hurt physically and emotionally. This is life. The
real question is how do we still say yes to life and open our hearts again and
soften rather than become over-protecting and guarded? It is important to
repair, nourish and nurture yourself after you have been hurt. It is important
to know to get this feeling back -the childlike, joyful, and adventurous
spirit. Otherwise, we become hardened and close down our hearts. You then do
not care for yourself or other people as much because you are afraid of being
hurt. It is good to learn about being hurt and come back from this.
has been a time you have sought an adventure or lived on the edge of life?
feel this happens when doing a movie. Most actors have a huge amount of self-doubt.
I have talked to Christian Bale, John Hurt, Ben Mendelsohn and have learned
mainly that actors all go through the same internal struggle, “What am I doing
here? I cannot do this…” and it can happen right before shooting. It feels like
this, “Yes, this is my job and I like doing it, but it is also scary” right
beforehand. – It is also a risk. What is everyone going to think about it? This
is an unknown territory. I take it day by day. So, for me living on the edge
has been mostly related to work.
the authenticity seen in Errol Flynn during the times of pre-Hollywood?
does not mean that when working in Hollywood you become fake. A lot of people
do care what other people think of them. It is a human trait to want to be
liked and look for validation, but wanting to get a positive response from
people, I think, can also be unhealthy. We can become quite inauthentic and
very concerned about what people think. This is why I think Errol Flynn was
attractive. He was living his own truth.
is the difference between the customs and social norms in America and
have heard people describe Australia as being comparable to America during the
40s, 50s, 60s. In that sense, they really appreciate Australia because it felt
like the 40s in America when everyone came to start their own dream. It is kind
of related to openness to life. Australia is not as important on the world
scene as America and political issues and baggage that weigh down society are
less impacting. Maybe there is a little bit more freedom here.
and what did your young adult self-view as life in Australia?
family moved around a lot which affected me considerably. We lived in different
parts of Australia which are all very beautiful in their own way: in the south
(Melbourne), the north (Kakadu National Park) and on the north-east coast
(Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef). My mother grew up in Switzerland
and we spent some time there as well. I went to school in Switzerland when I
was 7 and again at 15. I felt a new familiarity with nature in Australia when I
returned. In noticing the difference in the landscapes between the two
countries, the beautiful land, the forests and the rainforests, and I
discovered the coral reefs. It was such a colorful, very aesthetic and
beautiful underworld treasure! Nature had and has a big influence on me.
Michael Quinlan recently played in The Upside and played on Hulu’s Looming Tower. Both projects were
opposites of each other but share a lot of insight on how we move through this
world. A lack of trust could impact a nation. Whereas, taking a chance on a
person can start a lifetime friendship.
ATM: If you did not walk upright,
then how would this change your perspective of life?
MQ: If we walked on our hands and
did handstands all over the place?
MQ: I could not really look up per
se because I would be down. My view of life would be from the ground. As we see
in some movies, this is the viewpoint from a cat or dog. Their viewpoint is
from their height. You get a sense of what life is like from their eyes. It
would be limited. We could not really take in the scope of things. It would be
ATM: When two people come together
from different forms of life, how can this broaden their horizon?
MQ: It was unintended for Philip to
hire Del. He did it to piss everyone off in the beginning. He wanted to rattle
the cards a little bit. Del was not prepared for this job nor did he want to do
all the work. As the story unfolded, they really did see other sides of life
through the other eyes that they never would have this opportunity come along.
It is a true story and these guys are still friends. If he did not take this
crazy chance, they would have never developed this relationship and known one
another. Obviously, they saw completely different sides of life through each
other’s eyes. This was a positive thing in the end for both.
ATM: How was trust seen in the
series Looming Tower?
MQ: This was interesting. Again,
this story was based on real characters. Jeff Daniels plays a real guy in the
80s and 90s who was in the FBI. He was ringing the bell and calling attention
to this group called Al-Qaeda. No one kind of gave him the time of day. It
turns out he was correct. Before 9/11, these guys, the agencies did not trust
each other at all, which were the FBI, CIA, and NSA. They kept priority
information to themselves and they did not share it. This was really the
problem with 9/11. The left hand never knew what the right hand was doing.
They lost a lot of valuable time
and information that could have been put to good use. This guy O’Brien, the
character Jeff Daniels play was instrumental in bringing it to light. He
ironically was killed in 9/11. It was his first day to work as head of security
for the World Trade Center. It turned out he was right. After 9/11, the
agencies really did come around to see they had to share information to move
the security of the country forward.
ATM: What was the mentality of the
people in this profession during the 80s and 90s?
MQ: They were just after their own
slice of life. They did not want to share information about the information
they had gotten. It was like “I did the work to get the information. It is
mine. I am not sharing it.” They all had the same mentality. In the end, they
realize it was detrimental to all of them combined. They learned to react and
move forward in a different way after we saw what happened when they did not
ATM: I would assume when you look
at the script you visualize how it will get visually portrayed.
MQ: Yes, when you look at the
script you visualize what you think is important. Sometimes when you get to the
set it goes along these lines or it changes completely. You have to talk to the
director and see what is and how things are set up physically. You really do
not know until you get there. As an actor, all you can do is be prepared with
your lines and prepared to be swift on the fly if you have to. The only thing
you can do is to show up prepared, know your lines, and not get in anyone’s
ATM: How does your film festival
bring a film purpose for exhibition, exploration, and a creative nature?
This is a great question. I would love to answer this question. What is cool
about our film festival are the creators happen to be filmmakers themselves. I
am a filmmaker and as is co-founder Tomik Mansoori. Theo Dumont has been
in the festival game for 15 years with his film festival Hollyshorts and
Alexandra Chando, our festival manager, is also a great actress. She has
starred on her own television series for several years and she is now
directing. I would like to think about this as a film festival by filmmakers
for filmmakers. All of us understand the plight of making a film, being in a
film, and how much a festival can pivot your movie for the better.
We have all been in the business for
years and gone through the festival circuits. I have been competing in
festivals for the last decade. I wanted to cherry-pick a few things I learned
from those festivals and apply them to MammothFF to make it different but
ATM: All films start in the film
festival phase. This is whether it picks up distribution and goes to the Oscars
or just remain an indie film. They all start here. It is more like an NFL draft
pick. The distributors are the recruiters. There is a misconception to
some people in the nonentertainment that think a film just magically appears at
the theatres, on the television, and streaming platforms.
TB: This is a great way to look at
it. This is another thing we like to think about too. The first world premiere
that we ever showcased at this film festival starred Sophie Turner, of Game of
Thrones. This was an indie film and for this to be our first thing out of the
shoot, the bar was immediately raised very high and set a tone for what we set
out to accomplish. If you get accepted into this film festival, you also have a
chance for distribution, that’s something we’ll continue to build on. The idea
of, you can be bought and sold at the Mammoth Film Festival. This is our
purpose. A poor analogy if you will -If you are here, it’s like being an
athlete well on their way to being chosen into the NFL draft. You are going to
play for the Dallas Cowboys or the Kansas City Chiefs, ha.
ATM: What characteristics do you
feel this film festival give off that is like its animalistic title?
TB: This is such a lovely question
and a fun one to answer. I am a Texan at heart, and I was born in Texas. I live
in LA now. There is a saying in Texas “Everything is bigger in Texas.” With a
name like ours, everything is bigger in Mammoth. Our huge world premieres with
huge talent and mega movie stars like Zac Efron, Jennifer Morrison, Xzibit,
Josh Duhamel, and Lamourne Morris. All of these stars walk the streets of
Mammoth Lakes, California during the festival. They’re eating where you’re
eating and skiing where you’re skiing. We go big with events. We have an 80s Ski
Lodge party that is going to be an absolute blast. We have a celebrity charity
bowling tournament. We have an exhibition hall called MammothCON, which is
going to grow into its own convention. All of this was established in our first
year. We were called the biggest first-year festival ever organized. If that’s
is not mammoth, I don’t know what is, (laughs).
ATM: How do the definitions of
togetherness and mentorship infuse themselves into the festival’s mission
TB: This is a great question too. It
takes some film festivals years and years to develop interactive film
discussions. The togetherness of the people who speak on our panels offers a
huge amount of mentorship. The interaction we can have with people who sign up
for our panels, they get direct access to talk to these producers of who’s
representation precedes them.
ATM: How does working in the
business side of the film and performance side bounce off each other?
TB: I started off just doing acting
and filmmaking. Now, I am doing 1 or 2 projects as an actor a year. 1 or 2
projects as a filmmaker a year. To go in having the business side, you really
appreciate each other’s job. Building a festival is like doing ten movies at
the same time. There are so many moving parts.
ATM: How does the area’s weather
climate impact the ways a person might perceive the festival?
TB: Well, we have been compared to
Sundance in only our 2nd year due to the landscape of Mammoth
Lakes, California. It is a beautiful ski resort town and a wonderful place to
house a film festival. They are calling it “California’s Underground Sundance”
already. It is kind of unfair for us because Sundance has been going on for
almost 30 years. We are only a 2nd-year film festival. My goal is by 2022
to be in the top 25 film festivals in the world. With the number of movies, we
are able to world premiere and screen with the caliber of our talent. We are
well on our way. The snow and the landscape here are what makes our film
festival special. Thank you, Town of Mammoth Lakes.
ATM: I would also assume Texas has
taught you some things. There are life traits. How do your Texas roots spread
throughout your job in carrying out of the responsibilities?
TB: I had a great mentor Suzanne
Weinert. She is also the president of the Austin Film Society. She is a great
Texan producer. She really took me under her wing. Me being from Texas, I spend
a lot of time doing movies in Austin, Texas. I got to compete in SXSW a couple
of times. The comradery that the Austin film circuit has, trained me to carry
on with that comradery we built with Mammoth Film Festival.
ATM: Every state as a slogan they
go by. For example Virginia is the state for Lovers. Texas is the state for
Friendship. How has friendships and partnerships helped you?
TB: They are everything. Tomik
Mansoori is not only one my best friends but also my business partner in
this whole thing. He and I have gone through hell and high water every day as the
co-founders of this film festival. We have people with us like Theo Dumont,
Alexandra Chando, Nicole Castro and Dylan Efron. If we were not close friends,
then I do not think we could bear the difficulties there are to put this
ATM: How does going through the
process if it being hell and high water metaphorically do you all make the
waters become calm like the Mammoth Lakes in California? How do you make it
ease and stay calm?
TB: All of us throw the pattern away
and throw our egos away. There is no handbook on how to make a successful
festival. We do not know really what our festival is going to be until
submissions come in. We have made sure we never lose control of the boat on the
open water. We take it one day at a time. We have really ambitious goals for
this festival. We depend on each other and take a lot of deep breaths. There’s’
only 5 of us. We know that at the end of the day what we are doing and the
organization we formed is doing great things for some many people. But we’re
happy to be creating what I’ve heard called, “secret star studded, underground
film festival that only the who’s who know about.” (laughs).
does a human being going into the unknown make them more comfortable with life?
This is a great question. I like this and have never been asked this before. In
the beginning, I tried to place our character Overgård in a place he was
comfortable and where he had a routine. There was no energy to try to deviate
from the routine. Any deviations could spell out his death. I did this a long
as I could in the film and tried to set up this pattern in the beeping of the
watch so that it becomes this rhythm of his life. We strip away his humanity.
He does not get this back until there is a different human presence there.
Until there is this chance, he is going to be saved. His emotions are what
returns to him.
What is your perspective on the main character figuratively becoming his own
There is so much of this film that relies on his internal conflict inside of
his own head. You see him wonder sometimes out loud. “Should I take the
three-day path or the five-day path? The five-day path is somewhat closer.
Should I do this, or should I do that?” There is not anyone to bounce anything
off of. In fact, in an earlier version of the screenplay we did. We made him
have his own internal dialogue where he was talking to himself out loud a little
more, so you could kind of understand what is going through his head. This is
not the version of the script we ended up because Mads does so much with just a
look. To me, it is a little bit more interesting trying to figure out what he
is thinking through his actions.
you believe this wondering stem from his internal or external side? Which do
you think makes this decision?
many of his decisions are predicated on expending the minimal amount of effort.
Especially since every step is treacherous in this setting. How does he get
from A to B? He does not have anyone to bounce this off or any way to exposit
out loud. It’s interesting to me to have the audience try to figure out
what is happening.
When a film has the two genres of drama and thriller intertwined with each
other, how does this manipulate how the viewer sees the film narrative?
is interesting because I do not see it as a thriller label. I see it as an
escalation of difficulty for him; more of a survival drama. I suppose it is riding the line, but far closer to
the dramatic side of things.
ATM: What does the beginning scenes exhibit about the ways a human would move through life or what they would need to move through life?
There is a moment early on where he is looking at a picture, he found on her.
He sees that she is a mother and has a little child. I think he understands
that hers is not going to be the only life he is going to impact. I can imagine
a scenario where he waits for a rescue crew, they don’t come, and she dies. If
he were to then be saved, no one would blame him. Everyone would say that it’s
okay that he stayed in his plane… but I don’t think he could live with
himself after this. He thought two or three steps ahead and thought, “I have to
do this not only for her sake but also for my own.”
What is true in a person that makes it through a survival experience?
will to live is our most basic instinct. This is the driving force behind
everything that we do, not only humans but everything that fights to stay
alive. Everything that is alive wants to survive. This is why I wanted to tell
this story – because it is so easy to understand this instinct.
the 18th day out of 19 days of shooting, what new epiphanies and findings
did you have about the film narrative or the main character?
came up with a back story for him. I came up with one, and my co-writer came up
with another. Mads came up with a completely different backstory. We did not
use any of them. We never wanted this to come through in the film. We tried to
impart as little characterization on him and to only judge what he does in the
moment. As opposed to what got him there, or where he came from. It does not
matter if he is a pilot, a co-pilot, a researcher, or if he was knocked out in
San Diego and woke up in the Arctic. He is still somebody who is going above
and beyond for someone he does not know. He is inherently a good person. This
is what makes us care about him. Our character cares for someone he barely
knows – and hopefully that’s how we feel about him, too. The audience doesn’t
know much about his backstory, but hopefully they’re invested in his struggle.
the writer and director, describe the internal feeling of falling in love with
storytelling and depicting it?
this particular story, I think this film is not, or at least not only, a
parable of man against nature. It is about the endurance of altruism even under
extreme circumstances. When we first start watching this film, our immediate
fascination leaves us trying to determine what we would do if we were in the
same situation as our protagonist. After that, I hope Overgård inspires us to
carry a bit of his courage out of the theater with us.