Welcome to the DoT Daily Horror Film Fest! Throughout the month, I’ll be featuring new horror every weekday. Sometimes that will be indie films, sometimes it’ll be big-name stuff, shorts, or even TV shows. Scary, funny, schlocky, quiet, eerie – something for the well-rounded horror fan. Plus interviews with filmmakers and a chance to support projects still in the works. Today’s feature is The 6th Friend, labeled a “slasher film with a paranormal twist,” the debut feature from writer, producer, and star Jamie Bernadette.
The film is fresh off winning “Best Feature” at the Freakshow Horror Film Festival in Orlando over the weekend, where Bernadette also snagged the award for “Best Actress.” I caught up with Bernadette to ask a few questions about the movie, which pops up next at the RIP Film Festival in LA next month, and her prolific acting career.
What made you strike out and produce your first film?
I always wanted to write a script and make it. I have been a writer since I was six years old. I wrote my first novel when I was about ten years old. So when I started acting in film, I naturally began to write screenplays. After I saw “The Descent” I was inspired to write a film with an all-female main cast of characters who were not stereotypical women. I didn’t want to have the “dumb blond,” the promiscuous one, the goth one, etc. I wanted to make a film with smart women who make intelligent decisions when faced with tragedy and who don’t wait for the man to bail them out. I didn’t want to make another “Cinderella” movie where the men are saving the women. I wanted the women to save themselves. So I wrote The 6th Friend.
I had my script nearly completed when I met Chantelle Albers on a film that we were acting in together. I told her about my script The 6th Friend on a hike that we took one day in the mountains of the cabin we were staying at during our shoot. She told me that she wanted to make a film and I said so do I. So on that rainy afternoon, we decided to make my script The 6th Friend together.
Did you always want to make this yourself or did you submit to studios first?
No, I always wanted to make it myself. I wanted to make sure it was done the way I wanted it to be done so I just decided to do it myself. I really wanted to be involved in the casting as well and almost everyone that was cast was someone who I had worked with before or who I had met before. Once you give it to a studio, casting is usually out of your hands unless you work that out in the contract. This way, producing the film myself, I could be involved in every step of the process.
How did you feel when you saw the completed movie for the first time?
I was blown away. My director, Letia Clouston, who also ended up writing the film with me on the subsequent drafts after the first, did an incredible job of bringing our vision to life. Her changes to the script were also phenomenal. Her husband, Matt Clouston, who also acts in the film as a talk show host, did the VFX work on the film. For those not familiar with making a film, VFX is the effects work that is done in post-production, after the film is shot. Matt did a wonderful job both in acting in the film and on the VFX work. I am completely satisfied with the final product of the film and it is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. I can’t thank my team enough.
Would you classify this as a slasher film? That particular subgenre has not traditionally been the most female-friendly — is that something you’d agree with? Is it something that was on your mind when you were making this film?
This film can be classified as so many different genres. Yes, it is slasher and yes, I had that in mind when I wrote it because I absolutely love the Halloween films. I wanted the killer to move slowly and deliberately like Michael Myers in Halloween. But, the film is a mind-bender. It’s a mystery, a psychological thriller, a drama, and it is very paranormal. Everyone who has seen it, which is just family at this point, cannot figure it out. The film will keep you guessing and will blow you away at what you find out. It’s definitely so much more than just a slasher film.
What has the reaction been so far in screenings?
People who have seen it are blown away. Honestly. They can’t believe how good it is. The response has been nothing short of spectacular.
How many movies have you been in? Where did you find the time to make one on your own?
I actually have no idea at this point! Maybe 60? Where did I find the time? I have no idea. I can’t believe I did it. Making this film was the toughest thing I have ever done in my life but it has all been worth it.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing two more screenplays. One has never been done before that I know of. I am so excited about my idea. I plan to pitch it to a production company. I don’t plan to make it myself. The second one I may make myself. I already have two of the main roles cast in my head. That’s the way The 6th Friend started. I wrote the film with actresses’ photos hanging on my wall above my computer.
I just wrapped as the lead role in a great film called 4/20 Massacre. I play a martial artist which was fun.I am working on finishing another feature film I produced called State of Desolation. I am working closely with the director/writer Jim Towns, who also produced the film with me, to get the film completed. We are in editing right now. I’m attached to several projects, some of which I cannot yet release details about.
I am preparing for the release of I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu. The film is almost through editing and will come out in 2017. I’m doing interviews and photoshoots to help market the film. Everyone involved in the project is so excited about it and the positive response from the fans has been amazing