Last October, I had the chance to attend the first annual It Came From Lake Michigan Film Festival, and I have to admit it was a load of fun. But it seemed that the group that seemed to be having the most fun was the group from Autumn Night Studios, Matt Vaessen, Hank Carlson and the actress they both seem to love to torture, A. Elizabeth Collins were having more fun than you should probably have at a film festival. So, after having the chance to chat with Matt and Hank a month or so back, I thought it would be interesting to take a look from the other side of the camera, so I sat down for a chat with Ms. Collins.
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BM – Thanks for taking the time, I appreciate it.
AEC – Thank you.
BM – How did you get started in acting?
AEC – I have been acting since I could speak, which was well, before I could even walk. I used to scare my parents by faking seizures. I’m so not sure that this was the funniest thing I ever did, at least at their expense, but it was convincing enough for them to drag me to the hospital. I didn’t let them know until we got there, so as you could guess I was grounded for quite some time. I used to do impressions or act out TV shows on tape and then play them for my friends. I was more comedic, back then. I acted in plays throughout high school and even narrated a documentary, still used in schools today, on anorexia. Of course, then everybody decided I was anorexic, so it kind of backfired. But it makes for an interesting conversation topic when some chick at a bar says "Oh my God , You’re the girl from that health class video!"
BM – If I may ask, you narrated a doc on anorexia, has that ever been an issue with you personally?
AEC – Yes and no, I am very particular about my weight, but since about 1999, it has remained stable, I was never a serious case and was mostly interested in the project, because, as a woman I hate the pressure put on young girls in mags and the movies to weigh 90 lbs. I think it’s the beginning down a spiral of depression and self esteem issues, especially today with America’s obsessiveness with obesity. Even banning soda and candy from schools.
BM – What particular challenges do you face being an actress based in Wisconsin, as opposed to one of the coasts?
AEC – Hrmmmmm Wisconsin, this is an easy one. Unfortunately, most of the creative people here are too scared to come out of the woodwork, for fear of being taunted by some mullet ridden meat head. People on the coasts seem to have this assumption that every woman here is a Cro-Magnon wildebeest. This is, of course , not the case. Yeah, people might watch football but that does not mean we are all proud of the extent to which some individuals take it. I do like to travel and that whole beer and cheese thing, everyone loves beer and cheese. Well, maybe not everyone. The positive thing about Green Bay, is it is far easier to not get lost in the crowd, the city is growing rapidly and becoming more culturally diverse and more basement artists are starting to surface. So, I say watch out LA, we exist and we have talent! I will be working with individuals from California this summer on a project called " Psycho Holocaust". Thus far, the few I’ve spoken to have actually made pleasant conversation and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to show them what we’ve got.
BM – Can you tell us what Psycho Holocaust is about, and what part you’ll play in it?
AEC – Psycho Holocaust looks like it’s going to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre at a cabin. It’s about a vacation for a group of friends that goes horribly wrong. Unfortunately, I cannot say my role is one to speak of, I am a flashback with a few lines and a dead body, and my character’s name is Donna Springer. But I will be working with a different production company other than Autumn Night, although, they will be there for special effects and everyone has to start somewhere, outside of their comfort zone…
BM – You’ve done some work with Autumn Night Studios, what’s it really like working with Hank and Matt?
AEC – I have known Matt for over a decade, so working with him is kind of like hanging out. It gives me a certain level of comfort and I know he would never put me in harm’s way. Hank is an amazing artist, he has used me as a model for prosthetics a few times. I truly am an ugly Zombie! What I like about everyone we work with is that yeah, sometimes we get argumentative, but it always ends up with a nice dinner or a movie in the end.
BM – The two shorts I’ve seen you in have both been in the horror genre, are you a horror fan?
AEC – I’ve always been a horror fan. Even somewhat obsessed with anything of that nature. I can’t sell my artwork here because it often depicts scenes that should be straight from a horror film. When I was in second grade our teacher asked every kid in the class what kind of movies they liked, all of the "popular girls" were swooning over love stories, the boys’ action. When it was my turn, I said "anything scary, something that could make you puke." Needless to say, I did not get to play jump rope with everyone else that day. I also collect books about hauntings from local to international. I’ve been on quite a few ghost hunts with my camera.
BM – Who are your role models in acting?
AEC – My role models in acting are few and far between. I look for talent, rather than glam. Christopher Walken tops the charts with his intensity and dark sense of humor. I do of course, appreciate Willem Dafoe as he is native to this area and did make it, that takes guts! John Malkovich has always been one of my favorites and of course, Johnny Depp, not because I am a desperate housewife, but for the fact that he’s multifaceted I prefer his lesser-known roles in " Dead Man" and more recently " The Libertine". A few women, Kate Blanchett, Patricia Arquette and Nicole Kidman.
BM – In ‘Bait’, you go from victim to…well…the bait, what attracted you to that part?
AEC – The part was so different and regardless of the "lack of budget", so to speak, I thought its originality had alot of promise, surprisingly it has gotten far more notoriety than expected.
BM – I know that work on a feature length version of Bait is being worked on, are you reprising your role? What can you tell us about it?
AEC – I love the feature length story and hope to take part in writing the finished product. Yes, I am locked into the role, a rep that wanted to take it on with Lionsgate told Hank that he wouldn’t go with anyone else. That idea of course drowned in Hollywood and we will have to wait for a decent budget before it can be completed, we are working on that and it will happen within the next 2 years. As for the part, it gave me the opportunity to play two roles within minutes and allowed me use my famous scream and intense gaze.
BM – You’re helping to write Bait, that’s great. Have you helped write anything else?
AEC – I wrote one of our latest shorts, "Just Add Water", which can be viewed at On The Lot.com, I also wrote the short story behind the up and coming "Humble Pie". I am working on my own very personal script at this time, but it is not yet titled.
BM – Thanks for taking the time, and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
AEC – Thank you.
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A. Elizabeth Collins may be one of the most grounded actresses I’ve ever had the chance to meet. While she enjoys her craft, and she very good at it, there’s no ‘star’ attitude about her at all! We here at Rogue Cinema wish her great success and look forward to seeing her upcoming projects. If you’d like to see her in action you can see the short film, Bait, by heading over to Autumn Night Studio’s My Space Page, I think after you see Bait, you, like me, will be waiting with “baited” breath to see the feature!