On With The Show: An Interview With Amy Karen

By Greg Kiernan

So the big night has come and what a journey it it has been.  I leave for Elgin from Chicago taking just enough time after I arrive home work to change into my suit.  Upon arriving I am immediately struck by the beauty of the venue.

The Marcus theatre of Elgin shimmers like a mirage in the desert, so beautiful -- well, actually it's more like casino on the strip, but you get my point.  This place looks awesome.  At the end the day this is what it was all about, getting everyone together and feeling excited about watching a movie.

We set to the work with the preparations.  There are cameras to set up, photos to take, flags to unfurl, wristbands to be put on and, most importantly of all, tickets to sell.  Everyone to their part -- Pete and Amy to the stage, Danellyn to the camera, Scottie to the cash box and me to the wristbands.  The result: a sold out show.

I feel the electricity in the air as I take my seat.  Then it's like looking into the future; Gwydhar Gebien stands before a whole theatre full of fascinated people to introduce her latest film and then winning their applause.  The final touches are amazing and that makes "Dark Before Dawn", in this humble writer's opinion, the best Blue Damen film to date.

So the big night came and what a journey it was.  As you loyal readers remember, last week's blog included one of the stars of the movie, Pete Garlock, having an interview with yours truly.  Here now to give her insight to the journey of this film is his counterpart, Amy Karen, who plays the lead female role in the movie.

GK: First of all, thank you for doing this.

AK: Oh, of course.

GK: So how did you first get involved with Blue Damen?  What started you on this path to this project?  Do you have any past experience with acting or in film?  What was your first impression of all this?

AK: I first heard about Blue Damen through Pete Garlock. We met at Acting Studio here in Chicago. We had taken a few classes together when Pete asked me if I wanted to be a part of a project he was working on. He briefly explained what it was about. As soon as he told me I needed to come up with a BIG secret, I was intrigued, my mind was racing with ideas!
I then pitched a couple of those ideas to Gwydhar & Danellyn when we met for the first time. They seemed to like one of the secrets in particular and we went from there. They explained that it was a low budget, mumblecore film. At the time I had no idea what "mumblecore" was. When I learned it meant we had no script, I can't lie, I was a little nervous. The only other experience I had other than Acting Studio classes were the year I spent majoring in theater at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, (which consisted mostly of partying) a couple of music videos, and a non-speaking extra roll in the movie "Stranger than Fiction" with Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Considering I've never REALLY worked with a script, I was also very excited, this meant I had more creative control over my character and I like that!

GK: Cool.  That actually brings me to my next question; do you think that having a script with this project would have added or detracted to your performance, the filming process or finished project?

AK: I enjoyed not having a script! It gave us as actors so much creative freedom. If we were filming a scene, we were in the moment. Every line was improvised so if something happened, it really evolved in that moment. There were a couple times when a scene went in a whole different direction than I had expected, simply because Pete (who plays Greg) reacted completely opposite of how I assumed he would react. That's the scary part, but it pushes you to think & come up with something better. In not having a script, I felt like we were a BIGGER part of the project, than just actors. Gwydhar put so much trust in us creatively. We got to chose our character names, where they were from, what they were wearing and especially how the story evolved!

I don't think this story would have turned out the same, had we had a script. Some of the best moments I think happened because they were not written, but were kind of in the moment accidents. Sure if we had a script we could have come up with some crazy off the wall ideas but that's not what it was about. I think it was the improvising that made it naturally raw.

GK: Did you do any research for you role?  Did you invest anything personally or were you particularly motivated by anything?  Have you ever felt any sort of internal conflict that the character you portray does?

AK: When I first created "Charlotte", I had no idea how much research I was going to have to do on a character I made up. Man, was I mistaken! I read books, watched Youtube videos, talked with people of similar background and upbringing. I was pretty exhausted by the end and was still a little unsure at times if I had enough to work with. I don't think I will ever stop researching this character! A lot of my inspiration came from past personal experiences I've dealt with, some issues I've help other friends with and some ideas really just came from out of my a**... I don't wanna give away too much though so you'll have to watch it if you want to find out more!

GK: A film in production typically has a number of setbacks.  What were some you can think of that happened during the shooting of this film?  Did anything in particular bother you or take its toll on you?

AK: There are always setbacks. That's life I suppose. Nothing too bad aside from the on again off again rain, the random midnight stragglers that roam the streets of Elgin BUT hey, that's how we met A.J. our creepy dumpster bum that spooks "Charlotte" in the alley. He was just one of those "in the moment accidents" that needed to happen!

I don't think anything happened on set that really bothered me. The only thing that really took a toll on me was my period. UGH. I was a little bitchy the last week of filming... Sorry guys!!

GK: Oh.  That's cool, I guess.  Any way, what do you think you take away from this whole experience?  What particular aspect of your performance makes you the most proud?  Is there anything you feel you could have improved?

AK: I take EVERYTHING from this! I've learned so much more than I could have ever imagined. I also met some of the best people out there. Everyone I worked with is so talented and brought something interesting to the table. I too was able to come up with ideas I never knew I had AND I got to see them come to life, I couldn't have asked for a better or more rewarding experience!

GK: Awesome.  Well thank you again, Amy.

AK: Absolutely!

And so Blue Damen reaches a new plateau of excellence.  It's California-bound for some of use, for others it's still Chi-town.  What does the future hold for Blue Damen?  Tune in later to find out the exciting continuation.

Until then, see you in the movies!


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