Meet Evalena Marie. She’s an actress, a model and an all-around amazing person. She’s such a pleasure to work with on set and and she’s rocking it hard in the horror industry.
Evalena in Serena and the Ratts
1) How did you first get into the film industry?
I actually got into the industry completely by accident! There was an open casting call for a Martin Scorsese movie that was shooting locally. A friend of mine convinced me to go, and I thought it could be fun to watch Scorsese work since I love his movies so much! So I went to the casting call, and there were thousands of people there waiting, it was wild! But I eventually made it through and had my picture taken and then I left and completely forgot about it. But then I got a call a few days later that I’d been cast as a background concentration camp prisoner. I got there and I just soaked it all up. I loved all the people working there, and I loved watching them in their element, really spotlighting their talents and passions. It was on that set that I also met Kevin James Barry, the director of my first ever role in a movie, as Serena Donovan in Serena and The RATTS, his first script and feature film. That was the very beginning!
2) What first inspired you to want to act in films?
I was inspired to want to act in films when I met a filmmaker named Kevin James Barry. I was studying architecture in Boston at the time, and I had zero experience in filmmaking and even less interest at the time in being in front of the camera. But he told me about a feature script he had written a few years prior called Serena and The RATTS. I read it and was completely sucked into the world and entirely blown away. To me, this movie had to be made. And he thought I was his Serena. I wanted nothing more than to make this film become a reality, so I accepted the role and we immediately started figuring out how to make the movie happen! And it was on the set of Serena that I fell in love with acting. Bringing Serena to life was the most fulfilling thing I had ever done. I was creating a living, breathing, tangible person in collaboration with Kevin, all of my fellow actors, and with everyone that would eventually watch the film. It was true teamwork, and it felt just like a dream. I never wanted it to end, and I’ve been chasing that dream ever since!
3) The first time I saw you in a film was as Tori in Steve Niles “Remains.” Can you tell me a little bit about working on the film?
Evalena as Tori in Remains
I had so much fun working on Remains! It was my first time working with the Synthetic Cinema folks, and I just had a blast. I almost wasn’t ever cast though. I had submitted for the role, but when I heard back about scheduling an audition, I was booked solid shooting another project and couldn’t make any of the audition times. Synthetic was really patient and kept trying to reschedule with me, but this other project’s schedule kept getting in the way. I eventually just wrote it off as not going to work out and put it out of my mind. Then after I’d let it go, I got another email from the director, Colin Theys, saying he’d like to try once more to get a read from me because he had a good feeling and he learned to trust his good feelings. And his good feelings gave me good feelings, so I recorded my audition tape on set in between shots on my other project! I submitted the tape, never expecting to hear from them again, but then they called me down to the office and offered me the part! I was ecstatic! I loved my character and I loved the script. I couldn’t have been happier. And this was also my first time getting to work with Colin, who has since become one of my favorite directors to work with. I love his energy and how he communicates with me, and I think I enjoy watching him work most of all. He is so animated and externalizes everything so no matter what he’s up to or thinking about, he’s utterly fascinating to spy on. You can see all the wheels turning and you know the magic is happening!
It was such a blast working with a horde of zombies! They were all such hard-working, good sports too. They had it rough, it was long hours, lots of waiting, lots of heat, and of course lots of sticky zombie makeup to wear the whole time. And they were all enthusiastic and awesome people to work with. They made what could have been a very tiring experience a total blast! They also made the experience totally convincing, when we’re running from them in the movie, we’re REALLY RUNNING! It was not easy to out run that horde or hungry zombies! They were so dedicated and brought so much energy to the table that it created a very authentic experience to play in. I’m forever grateful to my zombie horde family!
5) Do you enjoy working on horror films? What about filming for horror is the best or worst thing?
I do love working in horror, though it isn’t necessarily for the horror elements. There are just typically tons of fun stuff you get to do as an actor in the horror genre! For instance, there are typically really fun scenarios that you get to bring to life, like you’re possessed by a demon, or you ARE a demon! Or you’re growing a tail! It’s like getting to play pretend when you’re a kid but everyone is playing along with you and wants to make it just as real as you do. Also, you get to get really gross and messy! Which is another favorite of mine of the horror genre! You are typically covered in something gross, whether it’s blood or slime or some other form of filth. It’s always a blast. Again, just like being a kid! It’s all the fun stuff. If there was any drawback of the horror genre, I would say that as an actor, one of the things you may not want is to get too much of just one thing. And sometimes with the horror genre, actors can come to be thought of as just the genre, and they might find it more difficult to branch out into other genres that also appeal to them and fulfill them in artistic ways. So for that reason, because I’m eager to find nourishment from a great many different genres and types of work, I try to choose my horror films very carefully, only choosing the ones that I really can’t miss out on!
6) What is your favorite genre to work in? What about it draws you in?
I love working in so many genres that I feel like it may be difficult to choose a favorite. But I think my top of the top is sci-fi and fantasy! I love sci-fi’s and fantasies in all their different shapes and sizes! I love sci-fi action! I love sci-fi drama! I love sci-fi comedy! I think sci-fi and fantasy are my favorites because I love the worlds. I love really leaving this place and going somewhere so new just nothing else can compare to it. That was always my favorite thing to pretend as a kid.
7) I have seen you perform in some very emotionally diverse roles, but you always seem to bring a particular strength to each of your characters. What is your process when you are creating these characters?
Since I started acting I have been naturally drawn to roles that will challenge me to explore and understand characters that I wouldn’t have otherwise identified with. I’m attracted to characters that demonstrate their internal conflicts as well as struggle with external goals that they need to achieve. Those are my favorite characters to watch on screen so when I get a chance to portray one in a film, I jump on it! I think the strength you may see in these roles is born with the writer and director and I do everything I can to bring it to life while shooting.
8) What was you favorite project to work on so far? What about it made it so enjoyable?
I think my favorite project to work on so far has been Dark Haul. It just really takes the whole cake in production insanity. It was just such a blast to get to work every day, to get to work with two lead actors whom I admired so much, and to get to work with such a fun crew of people that despite all their hardships were still smiling and laughing and having a blast suffering together. And let’s not forget all the stunts! Stunt work is some of my favorite stuff to do, and I had a wealth of all of my favorites on Dark Haul. I was doing something fun every day, with people I loved. And it just felt like I was a part of something really amazing alongside truly amazing people that came to feel like family to me. I miss them every day!
9) What have you been up to lately? Are there any new projects coming down the turnpike for you?
Lately I have become completely enamored with writing! It’s so cathartic. As an actor, there can sometimes be a lot of down time artistically. Since acting is such a collaborative art form, you don’t always get to do it as readily as you might like, so I really enjoy nurturing my creative needs through other outlets. So I have been working on a lot of my own scripts lately. I’m really excited to get to turn them into movies someday! See my mind’s eye become tangible in a way I could only ever dream of. My first feature script has been shot as another collaboration with Kevin, called Among Them. It’s currently in post-production and we’re hoping people will get a chance to see that one very soon!
10) Is there anything you would like the readers of Horror Made to check out? Such as a website, or a movie, etc.
I have a short film called Withdrawal premiering at Cinequest on March 1st, my leading man is once again the amazing Rick Ravanello, who played my leading man, Damon, in Dark Haul! And then of course Dark Haul itself, my most recent action flick, is also coming to DVD in March! And my very first ever film, Serena and The RATTS, just got released and is available online through iTunes, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Barnes and Noble! You can always get more info on Serena from the movie’s website: serenathemovie.com!