At the 2009 B Movie Celebration, actress Jessica Cameron showed up with a mission. She wanted to win a Golden Cob award. Some might not think that was a lofty goal, but Jessica had decided that this independent film award would be a good milestone for her burgeoning carrier. One year, and 14 film roles later, she strides across the stage at the Artcraft Theater to accept the Golden Cob award for Best Rising B Movie Actress for her role in ABSOLUTION. This isn’t surprising to anyone who’s met her. Jessica’s drive and determination are matched only by her friendly and outgoing nature.
Now this vibrant and talented actress has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk with B Movie Man Nic Brown about some of her newest roles, how she got her start in the business, and why Jim Wynorski yelling at her to “do it again and this time don’t suck” was really a good thing!
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Nic – Jessica, how’d you get started as an actress?
Jessica – It’s an ironic story actually. I was hired at a clothing company for my first "real" job after school. At my first year end review I was informed that I spoke too quickly so my boss suggested I take an acting class. I did and I was bitten by the bug. For 2 years I just took classes and had a BLAST. My teacher kept bugging me to go out and audition and I held off since I already was working a lot at my day job. I finally did an audition and haven’t stopped since.
Nic – What’s your favorite part of acting?
Jessica – I like to make people feel. That sounds pretty simple on paper and yet it is very hard to do on film. I want to reach the audience in a very real and intense way. I work very hard to ensure that my performance is as believable as possible. I think the audience deserves that.
Nic – You’re involved in a number of projects right now, can you tell us about some of them?
Jessica – I would love to!
THE PERFECT CHILD – This is going to be my first intense drama. After the government passes a law requiring citizens to be genetically coded, a couple’s dark past comes back to haunt them. With the birth of their son, and the father’s questionable genes, the couple must decide whether to ignore the new law and hope that their love is stronger than genetics, or get coded and allow the government to control their fate and the fate of their son….
PREY TO GOD – This is going to be an epic horror film. In it my character, Monica, gets to kick some major butt! Four teenagers and a tag along little brother embark on a fun-filled camping trip. They are looking forward to a weekend of fun, adventure and, for four of them, a little beer-enhanced romance in the woods. After driving for quite a while, they decide to stop at a diner to stretch their legs and ease their hunger. While there, the waitress confirms the existence of a nearby graveyard, which is the source of several local legends and piques the curiosity of the young campers.
The group sets out in search for this graveyard and the rumored loot buried there. They set up camp and settle in for a night of fun and relaxation. But that night, one of the campers disappears into the wilderness. Soon, the teens become entangled in the local legend, realizing that the potential rewards are attached to terrifying risk from a twisted, backwoods family who want to cleanse the campers’ souls through purification of their flesh.
AS THOUGH DEAD – The end is near and the rapture process has started. During this event the wrath of God will be revealed and the faith of others will be tested. A group of people come together in a church and they must take sides before each of them get taken one by one, but the question is what one person believes is the rapture process could be something else, something terrible. The future of our society is put in the hands of a few, but they must find the faith and courage it takes to save what’s left. My character, Elizabeth, is a street smart dancer that helps the group fight for their lives.
THE JERSEY DEVIL – For over 260 years, people living near New Jersey’s Pine Barrens have been terrorized by a creature straight from the bowels of hell. The Jersey Devil, said to be the offspring of a colonial witch and Satan himself, has the features of a man, a horse and a goat. It has evil red eyes and large, leathery wings which can carry it aloft over its terrorized witnesses. Though the creature has been reported by over 2000 people, there are still those who call it a legend, a fairy tale, or a fake.
Samantha (my character), a young woman going through hard times after being laid off, takes a room at Mrs. Hammerstrom’s boarding house, on the edge of the Pine Barrens. She soon begins to suspect that there is something out there, in the dark, watching her and the other women at the boarding house. Something monstrous. Something evil.
Nic – You’ve got all these different projects coming out and many of them are from the horror genre. How would you feel if you ended up with the label "Scream Queen"?
Jessica – Honestly, I don’t care about labels or what people call me so long as they see the films. 🙂 I am just flattered that people know who I am at all! That being said, some people do consider me a scream queen, and I consider it a compliment. I have a GREAT scream, or so I have been told. 🙂
Nic – Do you enjoy watching horror films?
Jessica – I LOVE them!
They are my favorite films to watch and to act in. I love acting in those projects – they are such a great challenge since you have to work really hard to make it believable to the audience. For me it is a harder challenge to run from a zombie or hide from a killer and make that believable to the audience since I have never experienced anything like that.
I am totally out of my comfort zone and throwing myself into the script and character to make sure that the audience believes my performance.
However, it is easier for me to act in other genres, since I can use my real life experiences to assist my performance. I have experienced friendships, break ups, working that boring day job so portraying characters who are dealing with those type of "real life" issues comes more naturally to me. I am so lucky to have yet to ever see a zombie, vampire or witch in real life. 🙂
Nic – Horror films are sometimes criticized for their portrayal of women. As an actress what are your thoughts about this?
Jessica – I think it is unfair to go after one genre in particular. There are films in every genre that portray females, and males for that matter, in a less then flattering light. If someone has an issue about a certain character then they have the right to not see another film with the same director, producer, writer or cast member. But don’t hold it against every one in that genre – it’s not fair. Yes some people sadly follow the stereotypes, but there are plenty who revolt against them too.
I have had the opportunity to portray some very strong women in various horror films –
RESURRECTION, TRUTH OR DARE 4, and POTPOURRI to name a few. I also have a very strong female lead coming up in the film I mentioned earlier, PREY TO GOD. Did I mention that I get to kick some serious butt in that film? J
Nic – Jessica, you’ve done a lot of work in front of the camera. Do you want to step behind the scenes and try your hand at writing or directing your own feature?
Jessica – Writing is sadly something that has never come easily for me. I would love to get into the producing side of things, and have been offered a few jobs too. At this time I really want to focus on acting. However, if the right project comes along for me to produce I would definitely consider it. I would love to direct…one day. I would want to get even more experience in front of the camera first though.
Nic – Who inspires you and why?
Jessica – My mom and dad. My mom is such a strong, intelligent and loving woman. My dad is intense, brilliant, funny man. They are the two hardest working people I have ever met and inspire me every day. I get my work ethic from them, and my determination. They taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to, and they have always believed in me in everything that I do. I am so lucky to have them in my life.
Nic – We talked about what you like, but what’s the hardest part of making a movie for you?
Jessica – For me the hardest part is the pre-production stage and scheduling everything.
When I commit to a project, I get very eager and excited so waiting for everything to come together can be very difficult for me. Particularly at the independent film stage – there can be scheduling delays and other aspects that may delay a project. Trying to stay upbeat and on top of it all can be challenging.
Nic – Most of the movies you’ve been in have been made outside of Hollywood. How do you think the industry is changing as more and more productions are coming from independent filmmakers?
Jessica – I love doing independent films since you have a louder voice in them and since you can go outside the "studio safety box". As technology becomes more and more available and more reasonably priced, more independent films are going to get made.
On independent films there tends to be a more central "vision", since the money is less and investors are fewer. Independent films are less concerned about crossing imaginary lines or offending people, which can be great training for an actress since you can really dig deep into the character. I am excited to see more independent productions getting into mainstream audiences; I think audiences are getting tired of remakes and searching for new stuff.
Nic – Can you tell us about your best experience on a movie set?
Jessica – I am so blessed to have had many to choose from. One that stands out is shooting CAMEL SPIDERS which was directed by Jim Wynorski. Jim is a legend in the industry and is very well known, so I was anxious to work with him. He is very direct and says what ever is on his mind. There are catch phrases that he is known for such as "I hated it", "Do it again and this time don’t suck" and at first you as an actor are taken back by these comments, but then you really have to stretch yourself to impress him your next take. He brought out my best, and I really appreciate him for that. I know that I learned a lot that day and look forward to working with him again, sooner rather then later.
Nic – What about your worst one?
Jessica – Well I would rather not say the name of this particular project (after all that would be promoting the catastrophe). But I did work on a project that was very poorly organized, and everyone was treated very poorly by the producer. This producer even yelled at some of the people on set, and was yelling at them about things that were the producer’s mistakes. Often on indie film sets you have to deal with less then perfect situations, but there is no reason to treat anyone with such cruelty. On top of that, locations were not locked down, there was no shooting schedule, crew were brought on under false pretenses, there was no communications about locations or schedules…so no one knew where to go or when. It was a train wreck. Luckily it was a very small and short shoot. But there is something to be learned on every set, so on this one I learned what not to do!
Nic – What does Jessica Cameron like to do for fun?
Jessica – FILM!
But when I am not on set I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I am one of those people that it doesn’t so much matter where you are or what you are doing so long as you are with people you adore. I can have fun doing anything so long as the company is awesome. That said, I do love dancing and being active – everything from running, hiking, playing tennis, etc. and of course I love going to the movies!
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