Today we are very excited to welcome Lily Berlina to the site in order to talk about her starring role in Night of the Slasher; the kinetic Oscar qualified short which caused a storm on Vimeo last month. Read on for our interview…
Thank you Lily for taking some time out for us today, it’s much appreciated!
Thank you for the interview, really is an honour.
Could you start off by telling our readers a little bit about Night of the Slasher and your role within it?
Night of the Slasher, is a short film, that’s actually based on a full feature that Shant Hamassian had written. It’s a perfect slasher film; which includes, suspense, action, sexuality and humour. In the film I play the protagonist Jenelle, who may seem like a damsel in distress at first, or a lamb if you will; however she’s actually the wolf, ready to defend herself and stand up in the face of danger. Jenelle takes the initiative to get revenge and to lure the killer who’d given her the scar on her neck and to get her payback once and for all. That’s actually what I really loved about the character from the very beginning, is how badass she was. Even when I told my friends I was doing a slasher film, they commented how perfect I’d be as a cute, terrified victim, to which I smirked because I knew who’d actually be doing the slashing 😉
The short has done incredibly well since it was first released, did you have any idea it would reach so many people when you first started work on it?
Honestly, I had no idea that it was ever going to reach such success and following. I’m absolutely excited that it has, and I love that we get to share our work with others. Shant, Adam, Scott have worked together before, but it was my first time working with them, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The boys and I have had a group message thread going from the very first day of filming, and once we started getting accepted into festivals Shant would send us updates. I remember when we got a dozen admissions, and then a few dozen, and then we got over 100 admissions in festivals and I thought that was crazy…but we didn’t stop there…now we’ve hit over 160 festivals, including SXSW, have received 40 awards and have been Oscar qualified. Each time Shant would send another update, it seemed unreal. I didn’t even know there were that many, but I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to show our work to so many people, and always feel so humbled by the attention and the compliments that we have received.
To what degree is the film actually shot in one take and how long would you continuously shoot for before being able to relax?
Ah such an excellent question indeed. We set out to make it look like it was all shot in one take, but with Shant’s genius mind and direction we were able to take an approach similar to one in Birdman, and hide some cuts; which allowed us to have some breathing room in filming and editing. It would be interesting so see if people could guess the correct amount of cuts though.
What unique challenges did such a shoot bring for you as a performer?
I think one of the biggest challenges was not speaking, especially for me because I am kind a hyper energizer bunny and I talk a lot. However even during our last rehearsal, I decided not to speak, even when we weren’t filming. I think that was important as Jenelle, to see what I can say to those in the room without speaking. Also on a personal level, it demonstrated how much, as humans, we say when we don’t say anything at all, including physical behaviour, stance, sighs, eye contact and general energy as well.
Another one being more attentive to the technical side. Because we did the “one-take” style, I wanted to pay attention not only to my acting performance, but also to where the camera was and had to end, and to make sure it was all cut correctly, and cohesively. Plus we were a bit under a time crunch losing a few hours in the beginning because we had dropped and broke our camera, which set us back; so we had to be very mindful to follow through with what we had rehearsed and there was really zero room for error.
Are you yourself a horror fan, and if so did that help inform your performance given just how knowing the short is?
I do enjoy watching scary movies, but I don’t know if that really helped me with the performance. What I love about acting, is unlike real life, you actually know the outcome and the final scene, yet each step and quote of dialogue and movement is still performed at its real time, as though you don’t know what’s ahead. For me it always comes down to living in that moment and owning it, therefore performing honestly and truthfully. Capturing the real life moment, and not ‘acting’, and I carry that to any genre: horror, comedy or romance. I think when I watch scary movies its more so for entertainment, granted maybe it all gets stored somewhere in my subconscious and does come through me, I don’t think I would know 100%. Similar to real life, there’s what we know and what we think we know…so who knows! Ha ha
Are there particular genres you are aiming to work in over the next five years, or are you aiming for a wide spread?
I think I would love to do a wide spread. To learn more and capture more and to challenge myself in every way possible, therefore growing every time. Plus I don’t want to get locked in a box of “only”…only comedy, or only dramatic. I think the beauty of acting is the imagination and the playtime that we get; to create anything and everything, and I’d hate to build boundaries and walls for my imagination and creativity. Some roles that I would love to complete in the upcoming years would be something action filled like a female 007 agent, where I ride in on a Ducati, shoot some mobsters, kick some ass in leather pants, and then wink at a hot guy and walk away with a huge explosion behind me as I dive into the ocean onto my next mission. Another one would be a superhero, like a female Thor, that would be everything!
What do you particularly look out for when you first consider a role?
Oh that’s hard. I think there are many things to consider and for different projects different criteria takes priority. For example, sometimes, it’s literally just looks, do I fit what the criteria it’s asking for. Although sometimes if its brunette character it only takes a visit at a salon to change that, or if it is weight/fitness issue than that is also something that’s in my hands. I think after the exterior it starts digging deeper into, do I connect with this character? Is it something I can portray? As well as, certain fear or limits and boundaries that I personally carry. Like if the script calls for me to hang out with a snake all the time, I may try to find every excuse in the book to get away from that project, but if I have to roll around in a room of fluffy puppies, sign me up! I may not even care about the plot, I just want to be in the room full of puppies!
But as I mentioned before, I take all roles into consideration and reason with myself, if it’s something I can take on, or if I don’t think I can, maybe I should and challenge myself. Again I never want to settle, but always keep exploring and growing.
As I understand it, the short was made in order to prove the concept for a feature film, is there a chance that we will see you in that feature…?
Indeed it was. Nothing is 100% right now, but I absolutely would love to continue on as Jenelle. I did recently receive the feature script and it is BEYOND incredible.
And what else do you have in the pipeline which we should keep a look out for?
I’m currently a part of a series called Four Kings which is still filming but is incredible and I’m excited for my fans to see me in a different role. Also a film called American Satan as well as a film called Scales: Mermaids Are Real where I play a mermaid teacher Mrs. Harper. In addition, I’m currently working on a rom-com feature script of my own, that I’m really looking forward to finish and start working on production.