Deborah Twiss has guest stared in "Law And Order: Special Victims Unit", "Law And Order: Criminal Intent", "Fringe", "As The World Turns" and other TV shows. She tells us about her new movie "Sapiosexual".
What inspired you to create Sapiosexual?
I really wanted to – twofold, I wanted to make a movie that brought back Dogma 95. There was this whole movement that happened in the 90s, when they first started making digital cinema, where basically, it was to be able to put the power back into the hands of the filmmaker and be able to make movies for a lower budget. And I wanted to do that. But also, the whole #metoo movement had me very curious. I wanted to explore the darker side of that and the potential flip side as far as women are concerned, or other people who have accused men of different things, you know, maybe there was something else going on. And I just really wanted to dive into that, along with the backdrop of an aging narcissist, luring people to his country house to have a farewell ceremony.
What were the main challenges of creating such a movie?
I think the hardest part was we shot it in only five days. And I like to keep the days at 10 hour days so that people don't get too worn out. So, we were shooting 20 pages in a day. So, it was very much about really making sure we had two and three cameras all the time. And I really wanted to make sure that we were able to capture everything properly and keep in the character. We had to stay in character in order to get this accomplished in five days.
Were any scenes difficult to film?
You would think the sex scene was difficult, but that wasn't; it was very choreographed. So, that actually was very easy. I think the hardest scene to shoot was the end scene when Freddy’s standing up, and I'm with him, and then Liam comes in, and he's sitting on a sofa, and the different coverage, because they stand up, and they have an argument. There was a lot of work that had to go into that scene, because of all the different elements. I think it was about about a six page scene. So, there were different setups that had to happen, but we tried to keep it going all in one take each time as well. So, we did the scene many times. That scene took about three hours to shoot, which compared to the rest of the film was a lot.
This movie deals with mental conditions like narcissistic personality disorder. Did you consult with a psychologist? Or did you do any research on that aspect of the script?
Oh, so much. And my best friend is actually a therapist. I've known her since college. Yeah, so I talked to her about this a lot. And also, I've known several crazy narcissists in my life, like crazy, crazy ones. That dancing scene actually came from an experience I had with a crazy narcissist who made me dance with this guy; it was very weird. So, the experiences that I had with different narcissists made me go down the rabbit hole doing a lot of research about that disorder. So, I have a lot of education in it, but, you know, Google education. It’s like I'm a Google psychologist.
In the press release of the movie, it says that you witnessed all sorts of wild situations. Can you elaborate? If this question is out of bounds, just say.
Nothing's out of bounds with me, I'm totally cool. I'll talk about anything if you want to talk about it. Yeah, there were amazingly wild situations. There was one thing in particular that happened to me in 1998, 1997. There was a guy who said he was interested in investing a million dollars in this film that the guy that I was working with at the time had written called Dream Killers. So, I went to meet with the guy. I was really excited. I thought, “That's it. We're gonna have dinner; I'm gonna nail this million dollars, and we're gonna make the movie.” And when I showed up at his place in Tribeca, I rang the doorbell downstairs, and he said, “Come on up, I'm not ready.” I was like, “Okay.” So, I went up, he opens the door, and he's, he's wearing a towel, waist down, just a towel. I roll my eyes to myself. And he says, “Why don't you come on in? I'll finish getting ready.” And I thought, “All right, I'm just gonna let you finish.” So, I go in, sit down in the living room, and this is the time when, you know, the first big giant widescreen, plasma screen Sony's came out. So, this guy apparently had like a four foot wide Sony in his bedroom, and he told me, he said, “Oh, I've got the newest Sony plasma screen. You want to come see it?” I'm like, “No, I'm good.” And he says, you know, “No, come here. I really want you to see it.” So, I go in, and he sits down on the edge of the bed. He pats [it], like sitting next to me. So, I sit next to him, and I'm looking at the TV, and I'm just getting so angry. I was just getting so angry. And he puts his hand on my knee, and he says, “We could always order in.” I stand up, and I say to him, “You know what? This is really inappropriate. I'm gonna go wait downstairs. You finish getting dressed, and then we'll go have dinner and talk about my movie.” And I went out. And then the whole time we were at dinner, he kept trying to like touch my hand and all this other stuff, and I kept trying to bring the conversation back to the film I was trying to get financed. And then finally, I just left, and I said, “You know what? Call me tomorrow if you want to talk about the film. Thanks for dinner.” And I never heard from him again. And then, when the whole #metoo thing came out, I thought, “Oh, so I guess I was supposed to if I wanted to get the money,” but I'm glad I didn't, because I didn't need to deal with that guy, and it's better that I didn't make that film, I guess.
What would you say the hardest part of writing a movie is?
I think the hardest thing about writing a film is really making sure that each character has a very distinct voice. It's very easy, since it's all coming from one person, to blur the lines between the characters. On subsequent drafts, after I do the first draft, I always make sure that each character's voice is very well defined and is unique to that character. That's the most intense part of it, but I don't call it difficult. It's just like a step that takes an extra bit of thinking.
Who are your favorite writers and directors?
I'm right now obsessed with the show Succession. I think it's just so brilliantly written and directed, and I mean, it is just fantastic, and it's so deep, and it's so multidimensional. The characters are great. So, the teams, because when you when it's episodic, it's teams, so it's almost never the same director for every episode. Same with, you know, there's usually a group of writers, but I think they're fabulous. The guys that created Saul, that was fantastic. It's funny; I am not as into feature directors lately. Of course I love Quentin Tarantino. I mean Kill Bill is my one of my favorite films of all time, like both volumes one and two together, but I also love Miyazaki films. I love Miyazaki films. I think that the whole spiritual aspect of the Miyazaki films is really just brilliant. So, I mean, my taste is pretty diverse.
Aside from Sapiosexual, what screen production that you've done are you most pleased with?
…I have a movie that's out on Tubi right now called Sebastian, and I love that movie. It's actually based on an actual haunting that we experienced in the brownstone that we were living in, in Brooklyn, and I just love that film. Eric Roberts is in it, Cathy Moriarty…There's just a lot of great people in it, and it's fantastic. And my kids, my real my kids play my kids. We did it 10 years ago, and my kids were little, and they experienced the haunting with me in Brooklyn. So yes, Sebastian. It's on Tubi right now. I love it. Love the film.
Can you share details of any upcoming projects that you're involved with?
Yes, I have a series coming out, probably in July, called Crazy Town. It's a whole first season, seven episodes, 30 minutes each, and it's about the experiences that I had back in the 90s when I was working in strip clubs. And I only wanted to do it for two years, but ended up doing it for 10, because of - it’s a long story, but that's addressed in Crazy Town. You know, I'd seen strip clubs in movies before, and it's always told from a male perspective. They're very, you know, not accurate. I wanted to tell the truth about what really goes on inside and what the relationships are like between the different women and the people that run the place, and it's very different than anything anybody expects, I can guarantee you that. And it's a lot of fun. It's a great little dark comedy kind of show.
What has been your favorite TV role to play?
I really loved when I got to do the role on SVU where I was the private pilot, and I was flying girls from Eastern Europe over to the to the United States for rich American men. I love that character. I thought it was really interesting and dark. That was really cool.
What have been some of your most challenging roles to play throughout your career?
I think one of the most challenging that I did recently was playing a lesbian FBI agent in my friend Gabriele Altobelli’s film, Art of Diversion. There's just a lot of different elements to the character, and I was on it for 15 days as well. So, that was a long time, and they were longer days a lot. And they were very far, like some of the shoots were all the way out in Montauk, and I live in New Jersey. So, it was like a four hour commute. That was challenging, but it was great, because I was working with a director that I'm so close to and his incredible DP, Antonella Emidi. There are just very talented Italian guys that working with them is amazing. But it was challenging, for sure. That was cool.
How did you get into acting?
When I was three years old, I was standing in front of the TV, and I wanted so badly to get inside and play with everybody that was in there. They looked like they were having fun. So, I turned to my parents, and I said, “When I grow up, I'm gonna play inside the TV with them.” And they laughed at me and they said, “Oh, you can't do that. You'd have to be an actor.” And I said, “Well, I'm going to be an actor then.”
What do you find more challenging, acting or producing?
Producing, by far. Producing is like going to war. Acting is like playing pretend and make believe and just having a party. Like, that's awesome, but producing, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. People are complaining. There's never enough time. There's never enough money. I mean, it's just rough. So, acting's the vacation, producing the job.
Where can people watch Sapiosexual?
On iTunes, Amazon, and several other platforms. I'm not exactly sure where, but Breaking Glass Pictures is putting it out. So, if you go to the Breaking Glass Pictures website, it says where it is, in addition to those two places.
Where can people follow you?
I'm on Facebook Deborah Twiss and the same name on Instagram.
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