This Friday, Brainstorm Media is set to release one of my favorite festival films of last year - Amelia Moses’ Bloodthirsty. Not only does it feature an incredible performance from Lauren Beatty as a singer/songwriter struggling to write her next record (all while dealing with some lycanthropic tendencies), but it also has an incredible soundtrack to boot, created by Lowell.
Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with Beatty about her involvement with the project as well as collaborating with Moses twice now (they also worked together on Bleed with Me, which was making the festival rounds last year as well). Beatty also discussed immersing herself in her role for Bloodthirsty, how advantageous the special makeup effects were for her while playing a werewolf, and more.
Look for Bloodthirsty in theaters and on digital platforms this weekend.
So I know, from speaking with Amelia last year, you two have worked together on two projects now. How did that collaboration between the two of you come together and how has it been like for you through these two very different films?
Lauren Beatty: Yeah, so I've been blessed in just meeting Amelia. I met her about five years ago now. I had moved to Montreal briefly, and we were both working together on the crew of a mutual friend's short film. I knew that Amelia was also a filmmaker and she approached me afterwards and said, "Hey, I want to shoot a teaser for this feature film idea that I have, that I'm trying to get funding for. Do you want to help me out?" And I was like, "Of course."
I had a bunch of free time and I was dying to do something. So I helped her out and actually, Lee [Marshall], who is the lead of Bleed with Me, the other film that we did, was there that night, too. We had so much fun and it was very clear to me already that Amelia just has such strong visions of what she wants to create, and that was really inspiring to me to just see how passionate she was. So I did that and we kept in touch, but I didn't really think much of it. And then, about two years later, she reached out to me and just said, "Hey, remember that teaser we shot? I got the funding to do the feature - do you want to be part of that?" I was over the moon that this was actually happening and that she saw me in this role. So that's how we started working together.
I did that film with her, which was Bleed with Me, and that also came out last year and was doing the festival run where it overlapped the festival run for Bloodthirsty as well, so that was pretty fun. I just remember the organizers of the fests being like, "How did this happen? Did you guys just not stop working?" But, in reality, there was a year in between shooting both films. In fact, it might've been exactly a year to the day of when we started shooting Bleed with Me to when we started shooting Bloodthirsty.
And with Bloodthirsty, just the fact that this character, not only is she queer, not only is it like a female-led story, but she's also a pop star, and I'm also a singer and a songwriter, so that was right up my alley. Plus, both experiences working with Amelia have just blown me away. She's just so gifted, and she's so inspiring and she's such a hard worker. And it's people like her that make me really hopeful about the future of filmmaking, because I feel like women need to start leading the charge. I feel like Emilia is going to be one of those people that is going to just start to make herself known, and I think that it's already happening. I could write a whole essay about Amelia, so I’ll just stop there [laughs].
Coming into this project and immersing yourself in the world of Grey, what was that process like for you, in terms of pulling back the layers on this character and finding who she really was as she’s coming into her own throughout this story?
Lauren Beatty: I think the journey of Grey, like you said, has so many different layers. So for me, she's a werewolf and all those things, but if you peel back those sort of extraordinary circumstances, this person is very relatable, especially as a woman, so I was able to find a lot of myself in Grey. I think, for years, I was victim of societal pressures of how women are supposed to be, and how women are supposed to act, as in terms of quieting myself, and making myself smaller, and realizing recently that that kind of behavior never served me. And in that, I've been seeing this transformation in myself as an artist and just realizing, "No, I'm going to take my voice back, I'm going to take my authority back and my autonomy back, too.”
I really think that's what Grey is doing throughout this whole film, and I really loved the idea of exploring her transformations because, obviously, the werewolf transformation is a huge thing. This thought of transformation and how women are just always transforming themselves, that was relatable to me. So, honestly, it was quite cathartic to play this character because we go with her on this journey where she’s going from being prey to essentially becoming a predator in the end. Emilia was really helpful with that, too. She sat down with me and we broke down the script into sections, where we had started with prey, and then it went into desire, and then it went into power, when she starts to feel her power taking hold, and realizes that there's something lurking underneath that she's been ignoring or suppressing, then it goes into identity and self, where she starts to really accept who she is, and finally, she’s a predator.
That was also just really helpful for me on set because you're always shooting things out of order, so I could always refer to what phase Grey was in for any given scene, and put myself in that headspace before going into the scene.
Beyond the performances from you and the entire cast, there are two components to this film that I feel add to this really great atmosphere in Bloodthirsty. One is the locale, and the other is the music, which I'm really hoping that we are going to get a proper soundtrack release for because it's incredible. Did those elements help heighten your performance at all?
Lauren Beatty: Definitely. The second that Lowell sent me "Bloodthirsty" to learn for the audition, I was just in awe of this song. She also sent me a couple others that are in the film and I remember listening to them and just immediately realizing, "Holy shit, this is going to be a lot different than most horror films.” The music was just so palpable and so eerie, but also really deep and meaningful and dramatic. As soon as I heard the song, I was like, "Oh, I know exactly what this movie is." And not to sound corny, but I felt like I had just always known these songs, and I was like, "Oh man, this is going to be devastating if I don't get this part," because I was just so in love with the music. It really did take everything to a whole other level.
And I think that's why a lot of people find this film so impactful, because this music really does seep into your bones, and it just stays with you.
Because this is a werewolf movie, that means there is a fun transformation scene here. Can you talk about giving yourself over to those moments in Bloodthirsty?
Lauren Beatty: What I really loved about the werewolf transformation was that the prosthetics and the makeup they had me in was all practical. Nothing was done in post, so what you see is what I actually looked like. I think part of the makeup was due to budget because they didn't have a massive budget for a big fur suit or anything, but I think that's also not what Amelia envisioned, anyways.
I know that she wanted more of a hybrid creature where you still see the human characteristics of Grey, where you can still see her emoting through the prosthetics. I think that was really important to Amelia, and I realized now, after doing it, that it was a really cool choice. But then after actually seeing the film and just seeing myself in that makeup, I was like, "Wow, this was such a smart choice because you really do see her. There's a monstrosity there, but she's also a human in those moments." You don't ever lose Grey in this story, and I think that's super impactful.
On the day shooting the transformation scenes when I was in that makeup, and I've said this a couple of times, selfishly, it was very helpful for me as an actor because if you're doing a lot of that stuff in post, I don't get to see what I actually look like until I see the finished product. But the fact that this was all practical helped me remember exactly where she is, and what's going on with her in those moments. And in terms of just letting myself go and just finding that primalness, I think that it was pretty cathartic. The common themes that I see in Bloodthirsty and Bleed With Me is that women have the same capacity for monstrosity as men do, and that capacity exists in every human. It's not just men. And obviously in horror, the majority of monsters that we see are male. But there is this primal urge and this primal naturalistic instinct in all of us that we have. It was really cool for me to have that makeup on in that recording booth, where I am just trapped in there and have Amelia go, "Okay, now just fucking let loose, just scream, because you're trying to crawl out of your skin and that’s driving you crazy." I used my body and my voice in that scene in ways that I hadn't ever done before.
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