An eclectic group of actors has been brought together for an upcoming project. “Windsor Drive” follows River Miller, a young actor living with bi-polarity. River moves to Hollywood to try out for a role in a remade classic film and things begin to unfold.
I was able to get some questions to a few members of cast; a creative and energetic bunch. For the most part, pretty tight-lipped about all the issues that River will face in the film – the actors were all genuine in their enthusiasm for “Window Drive”.
You may know Samaire Armstrong from one of her many artistic endeavors. She’s not only an actress but also a model and a fashion designer. After living in a variety of countries around the world, Samaire settled in the US and focused on her acting career. She’s been in her fair share of cult TV shows such as “X-Files”, “Freaks and Geeks” and “Entourage“. Fans of “The OC“ may remember her as Anna Stern – the shows on-again, off-again love of Seth. “Windsor Drive” seems like a real change from her previous work.
IMP: How did you get involved with “Windsor Drive”?
SAMAIRE: I had been talking with Natalie Bible and Brieanna Steele for about a year in regards to another project they have in the works when I got the call to see if I’d like to be a part of “Windsor Drive”. I loved Natalie and Brieanna’s energy and enthusiasm and really got the sense that we would all work brilliantly together. So I of course said yes.
IMP: Can you talk a little bit about your role/character in the film?
SAMAIRE: To me my character was the type of woman who really is led by her heart. Logic might not be her strong point. She is someone who probably attracts chaos into her life, but tries to hold on to normalcy in the midst of it.
IMP: “Windsor Drive” is a thriller and seems very visual. Is that kind of aesthetic something you look for in a project?
SAMAIRE: I would say it’s more of an aesthetic that I HOPE for😉 I love art and multi-dimensional projects. For me, I think its beautiful when as an actor you can blend seamlessly into a film’s vision. Becoming one of the many layers in the essence of what the audience is experiencing while watching is a unique experience. When a project has many dimensions like unique lighting, wardrobe, music, camera angles, setting, blocking, etc, then the experience of making the film/acting in the film feels more purposeful to me. It’s the details and thoughts that are involved to create a magical arena.
IMP: What was the production like to work on? Can you share any parts that stand out in your mind?
SAMAIRE: Production was awesome because when I came on board the “machine” and it was in full effect. The “machine” being the total sum of brains involved in making, creating and exciting the film. We had awesome locations, two of which were lovely homes in Los Angeles. I remember distinctly feeling like I wasn’t at work at all, more like I was at my Aunts house hanging out. It was a very go with the flow process. There needs to be a lot of trust amongst everyone when filming, and not only was there a lot of trust, but there was a lot of laughs and confidence in people’s abilities to pull off tasks that would be required at a moments notice.
IMP: Why do you think people should see “Windsor Drive”?
SAMAIRE: “Windsor Drive” is the first of many films that will be coming out of Natalie’s brilliance. People should see the movie to get on board now and be a part of her journey. She is magical and creative. A type of director like that doesn’t come in to existence very often.
Canadian born Tommy O’Reilly plays River Miller in “Windsor Drive”; the film’s bipolar aspiring actor. Judging by the stills, Tommy has had his work cut out for him. The film is penned by O’Reilly so he has a unique perspective and insight into his character.
IMP: You’ve got a degree in Poli Sci – how did you end up acting? Was it always something you wanted to do? Are you more drawn to acting or writing?
TOMMY: That’s like asking me what kid I like better! Really I go through creative phases. Sometimes I feel like writing, and other times the only thing on my mind is acting.
Acting was always something I wanted to do. For a long time it was only a pipe dream until I actually made the conscious decision to pursue it actively and verbalized this to the people around me.
Writing as an interest is something relatively new to me. Growing up it was always a task and not a pleasure. In undergrad something changed and I started ‘screenwriting’ (if you could call it that) as a hobby. I amassed a lot of good material growing up and I just started to want to put it down on paper.
IMP: Your character “River Miller”, is an actor living with bipolar disorder. Where did the idea come from to have a character with something so significant to overcome?
TOMMY: I feel every lead character written for a movie should have something of that magnitude to overcome. It allows for them to be more interesting and memorably on-screen. I wrote the character knowing that I wanted to challenge myself by showing a vast range of emotion in my acting performance.
In River’s case bipolarity is only the beginning of his problems, wait until you see what else he has to deal with.
IMP: Is this a story that came to you recently or one that’s been brewing for a while? Can you talk about where the idea came from?
TOMMY: I stockpile ideas for months and drive myself slowly insane by thinking about them. When I finally make the decision of which project I want to do next I work quickly. From original concept to completed script this one took me three months.
The plot for Windsor Drive was brewing in my mind for a couple of months. The motivation to physically sit down and write Windsor Drive finally clicked when I moved into a new place back in June. The house itself was a complex character in upon itself. It was an old Hancock Park mansion that was built-in 1919. I wanted to take the history of the house and create a story whose reality is blurred thorough complex characters.
IMP: Is it challenging to put the “writer” aside while acting – how do you deal with wearing both hats?
TOMMY: Wearing two hats was not that difficult. Try wearing about 10 and then you’ve got a real challenge on your hands.
More seriously though, I actually enjoy high-pressure situations because I thrive in it. It forces me to do my best work. The more challenging a project is for me, the more rewarding it is when it is all said and done.
IMP: How much of “River Miller” Is you?
TOMMY: River Miller is a literary fictional construction. That being said every meaningful character I write stems from an experience I have had at some point in my life. For the purpose of this filmed I embodied him in every single way because that’s how I work. In that sense I am River Miller and River Miller is I.
IMP: What can you say about “Windsor Drive” that will make people want to see it? The visuals on the website are stunning – is the filming along the same vein?
TOMMY: Windsor Drive will blow people’s minds. It’s a film that touches on very controversial topics, topics that most people would try to avoid. The team behind “Windsor Drive” is not afraid to test boundaries and push limits. We’re going to put a film out there that makes audiences think about issues in modern society and force them to form their own opinions.
If you think that the visuals on the website are stunning wait until you see the entire film.
IMP: This is a relatively small cast and was shot over a short period of time. Are there challenges to working that way?
TOMMY: There are always challenges no matter how big or small a project. The key is to overcome those in the quickest and most efficient way possible and keep on moving forward.
Matt Cohen has a few projects on the go but always seems to find time for acting. Co-owner of “Trinity Boxing”, Matt still finds time to work on independent projects and those he believes in. For “Windsor Drive” one of the draws was working with his wife, Mandy Musgrave. Another draw? Matt’s first time playing “himself”.
IMP: Okay – when you’re a method actor – how do you play “yourself”? Is it playing the character of “Matt Cohen” or … how’s it done?
MATT: Well Its really just about playing into what people may think an actor is like in real life. I like to choose the negative stereotypes and take them to an extreme. I put myself in a head space of “Oh i am here on a set, and these people should full fill my every need” (that’s the method in it) which makes me come off as a complete prick!
IMP: You told me in Vancouver that you wanted to be in the film partly to work with Mandy again – what’s it like acting with your wife -when she’s playing someone completely different?
MATT: I always feel extremely lucky to work with my very talented wife. As an actor I want to continue to learn and grow, and working with her allows me to do so.
IMP: What memory stands out for you from your time filming “Windsor Drive”?
MATT: The whole experience was a great pleasure I couldn’t possibly pick one.
IMP: Tell me – from what you’ve seen of the film, what will people take away from it once they’ve seen it?
MATT: I hope that the viewers are affected in someway whether it be positive or negative, just affected. I think that at the end of the day as long as the viewers are entertained in one way or another, that’s all I can hope for.
IMP: Your life is going in all kinds of directions: convention appearances, TV, Indie films, web shows, TV, boxing – what is it that keeps you going?
MATT: You only have one chance at this life!
IMP: In light of the way you’ve disappeared at the end of some films and TV shows … A fan of yours online – @cravenhawk – wants to know if you live till the end of “Windsor Drive”.
MATT: I do! LOL
I first saw Mandy Musgrave in “South of Nowhere”. The teen drama was ground-breaking, addressing challenging issues and not pulling any punches. Mandy had a great deal of depth to her; she brings a lot to each role she plays – boldly embracing the characters she’s given.
IMP: How did you end up connected with Absinthe-Productions / “Windsor Drive”?
MANDY: They actually approached me. They said that when they read the script, they thought I would be perfect for the character of ‘June’. Matt had already worked with them before so I was looking forward to meeting and working with them.
IMP: What stands out for you about “Windsor Drive”, something you think makes it a must-see?
MANDY: When I read the script I could visualize how incredible it would be. A unique film about the perspective of what an actor’s life can be and the challenges that individuals face. Then when I watched the lights go up, and the stage set it felt so dark and mysterious. When I looked at some of the set up’s they blew me away. They were so beautiful and artistic. Those are the moments/projects that actors look forward to being a part of.
IMP: You always seem to play unique characters. Not your average girl. “June” might literally be the girl next door – but what’s her story really?
MANDY: Ha! I do always find myself playing vastly different characters. But with June she is the most “real” a character can get. She is an intelligent hard-working young woman whose dreams were not unreasonable, whose looks were never envied by others and whose heart had never been captured. She is strong and keeps others at arm’s length, though her heart is screaming out for some affection.
IMP: Can you talk a bit about your process of “becoming June”?
MANDY: The process of becoming June was simple. Give up my insecurities of needing to look pretty, and intensify my insecurities of not being good enough. It was an emotional yet powerful place to be. I had to also lose my sarcasm and confidence.
IMP: What was it like working with Matt again?
MANDY: AMAZING!!! It was so nice to act in a scene with him where I wasn’t having to hide my pining love inside. I could just ACT! He is so much fun to watch. He is more free and daring with his choices now. His spirit and energy on set kept me constantly smiling. Bringing the two things together that I am most passionate about… made me feel invincible.
IMP: Is acting still a real focus for you? Are there other parts to the production of a film that you would like to try out?
MANDY: You know my father always asks me that same question, he says “You know kiddo you are such a great leader, I bet you would be a great director” But I have not fulfilled the desire of this stage yet to even see myself trying any other aspect of the entertainment industry. Plus, just watching every director I know… whew… I honestly don’t know if I have the patience, self-control or emotional stability to handle that. That is a field that FEW can do well. Maybe crafty though… that would be fun.😉
IMP: What draws you to the projects you work on?
MANDY: Diversity, portraying someone who is far from who I am, or a character who I admire and wish I was more like. I value strength and wit in characters and sometimes the ultimate self-confidence. Getting to pretend for a day that “I have it all going on” Is fun! Even the “mean girl” characters I have played are fun. I get to say things I would perhaps think but would never say, in fear of hurting someone’s feelings or simply stooping to their level.
IMP: What inspires you?
MANDY: My family and their unconditional love, they way they have their up’s and down’s financially and emotionally and yet they always know that tomorrow will be better, My husband and his ability to continue to wake up each day and strive to be better, Romance novels & films that portray true kinship that we all desire deep within. My grandparents inspire me because they wake up and exercise every day and keep up with technology and aren’t afraid of change (and they are in their 80’s!) Motivational speeches and stories of triumph inspire me. The fans that love my work and who they think I am, inspire me. They inspire me to be better than I am.
Jillian Murray may be a familiar name if you’re a horror-genre fan. Jillian was one of the kick-ass stars in “The Graves” – a potential cult classic in the making. Jillian will be back next year in “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” – I might be biased because “Cabin Fever” was one of my genre-faves! In the mean time, Jillian has been involved in a number of project including “Windsor Drive”.
IMP: You didn’t seem to have any hesitation about starting a career in acting. Did you always know that was what you wanted to do?
JILLIAN: I think it was. I really wanted to be in the arts in any way I could. I love telling stories and collaborating with others and I found acting to be a very exhilarating experience.
IMP: You’re, perhaps, most well known in some circles for your role in “The Graves”. Do you enjoy the horror/suspense genre?
JILLAN: Honestly I have no idea how I got pegged into the horror genre so much but I do find it most challenging in terms of genres to act in. So I guess as an actor we look for the next challenge and for me, horror is tough. But yes i enjoy the genre
IMP: How did you get involved in “Windsor Drive”?
JILLIAN: I was offered the role from my friend Tommy who i met just recently before and he pitched the idea to me and I thought it sounded exciting
IMP: What kind of character is “Jordana”?
JILLIAN: Well she has a pivotal role in the movie because the relationship she has with River stays with him and haunts him throughout.
IMP: How do you decide which projects to work on?
JILLIAN: Well sometimes you cant take a lot of projects you want to do because of scheduling conflicts with other films but I personally am always looking for interesting roles and interesting people to work with.
You can visit the official site for “Windsor Drive” the movie – here