Amelia Moses has had a breakout year, with not one but two feature film releases: Bleed With Me, a psychological horror film which screened at Fantasia Festival this past summer, and now Bloodthirsty, a werewolf movie with more than a few twists and turns. Both films are screening as part of the 2020 Blood in the Snow Festival.
I was able to sit down with Amelia on Zoom for the second time to talk about her new film.
Matthew: Welcome. Amelia Moses! How are you doing today And how is your Blood in the Snow going?
Amelia: Good! It starts tonight. So I haven’t checked out any films, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing some stuff. I think there’s a very cool lineup.
Matthew: Yeah! You have two films in the lineup. We spoke about Bleed With Me back at Fantasia festival, and you have your new one, Bloodthirsty. Can tell us a little bit about the film just to get started.
Amelia: For sure. It follows Grey, who is an indie singer who has had some success with her first album, and she’s struggling to write her second album. So she’s invited by this reclusive record producer to write her second album in his mansion in the forest and turns out there’s some other stuff going on…she discovers a taste for flesh.
Matthew: This is your first film you didn’t write for correct? What drew you to it?
Amelia: I met Mike Peterson in about November of last year. I was looking for some friendly advice about distribution opportunities. I had heard of him as a producer through Knuckleball which he directed.
He happened to be looking for a director at the time. I read the script, and I think what really stood out to me was the premise. I really like this idea of this juxtaposition of the creative process, and then also these horror elements. And the fact that she was writing an album and there are all these studio scenes, where they’re writing music together, and that location really appealed to me.
I love music. I’m not a singer-songwriter. But obviously, I can relate to the creative process and writer’s block and struggling with that. Then on top of that, it had this really cool take on the werewolf genre that I felt like I could do something interesting with so that was really what drew me to the project.
I met with Wendy Hill –the writer and co-writer and co-producer– after reading the script, and I think we shot two months later. It was a very quick pre-production; from receiving the script for the first time to actually shooting was only two months.
Matthew: And it was shot in Alberta right?
Amelia: Yes, we shot in Edmonton.
Matthew: This film takes place in a beautiful mansion in the woods, and your previous film takes place in a beautiful cabin in the woods. I’m sensing a bit of a theme! Any chance of a trilogy happening here? An Amelia Moses Cabin in the woods trilogy?
Amelia: it was funny because when I read the script for Bloodthirsty, I was like, Okay, I can see why they’re interested in me directly because there’s definitely some weird parallels –even dead rabbits and things like that– between this and Bleed With Me as well.
It is another kind of wintry location shoot, and I do think the winter landscape can bring a lot in terms of atmosphere. This was a more palatial mansion rather than the small cabin, so to me, they were different locations, but obviously have their similarities.
I think more where maybe something else could come in is that a few reviews I’ve seen point out the fact that Bleed With Me is a vampire movie that’s not really a vampire movie. Bloodthirsty is more of an overt werewolf film but still playing with the tropes. So maybe I should do another monster movie.
Matthew: I’m clearly biased but I think you should!
Amelia: <laughs> yeah.
Matthew: Lauren Beatty is in both films, and on this one, she really commits to the role. What was the shoot like, and what was working with her for the second time like?
Amelia: It’s obviously a very demanding role both because of the creature stuff and prosthetics, but also it takes a lot of energy to commit like you’re saying to those scenes. On top of that, she had to sing and play the piano, and she had never played the piano before, so she learned those songs for the first time.
In the first week, we shot the transformation scene and all the recording studio stuff. So it was back to back singing, werewolf stuff, and prosthetics, so she was really thrown into the deep end with that. We had, again, a very short pre-production, so we were both really jumping into it, but I was really excited to work with her again because we had that trust built up from Bleed With Me.
I knew her less when I did my first film. But after that process, obviously, I understood her more as a person as an actor. I really wanted to work with her again for this film because she had written a song called Gaslight, which is this pop song that I’d heard a couple of years ago. So I thought, okay, not only can she sing, but she’s written music before. So I thought there was authenticity there that she could kind of bring to the role.
On top of that, she’s also a queer performer. Since both her and [Katharine King So] who plays Charlie are queer in real life I thought it could be a good opportunity for them to be able to portray queer characters on screen because I know sometimes, gay actors don’t always get the opportunity.
Matthew: Yeah, they’re fairly well represented on screen, but underrepresented by actual queer performers, for sure.
Matthew: The music in the film is all written by Lowell, and they have a writing credit on the film as well, right?
Amelia: Yeah, Lowell co-wrote it with [producer Wendy Hill-Tout], who is Lowell’s mom. Lowell is a singer-songwriter based in Toronto, and I think that when they started writing together, Lowell was reacting to some of her own experiences in the music industry –obviously not werewolf related, other things– and it developed from there in terms of the writing process. I’m not sure how long it took them to write it, but I think it went through different iterations.
Most of the songs that are in the film were already written when I came on board, except for Bloodthirsty, because the film had an alternative title, to begin with. It was when I was actually in Alberta, in pre-production, that I heard Bloodthirsty. It was just one of those songs where I was like, Whoa, it was really great off the bat. Lowell is an amazing singer-songwriter.
I was just very amazed at how quickly she could put a song together. She’d say “I think I’m just gonna play around this afternoon” and then a couple of hours later she was sending us this really great song. So it was I was super lucky that when I came on board that already had its place and that Lowell was doing that side of things because it’s a really massive contribution to the film.
Matthew: Is there any plans for a soundtrack album or release of any kind?
Amelia: Lots of people been asking us that aaaaaaand it’s not my department. That’d be a producer question, but I think they totally should because I really love all the songs, and it seems like they’ve been getting a really good reception.
Matthew: This is a total aside, but one thing I really miss in this age of streaming is: remember back in the day, a movie would come out, and there’d be a soundtrack album to go with it? If there was like original music that’d be one album, and if there was a score there’d be that album. We don’t get that in the same way anymore.
Amelia: Yeah, totally. I mean, I guess you have that release on Spotify or something. People make their own playlists, but it’s not the same as a soundtrack. This would be a great film for that too because there’s lots of good music, and Michelle Osis also did a really amazing job on the score.
Matthew: How did you connect with Greg Bryk?
Amelia: Greg was already attached to the project when I came on board, and I wasn’t actually super familiar with his work, so I checked out some of his stuff. Obviously, he’s a very accomplished actor within Canada and also done work in the states as well. He was just a really great fit for Vaughn. He just had that kind of sensibility, so I was looking forward to working with him.
It was interesting, because like I said before, I knew Katherine King So and Lauren Beatty from already, so Greg was the only main actor who I didn’t know. Getting shown him on set and getting to know the way he works, I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a really great actor.
Matthew: Yeah he’s one of those guys who when you see him you’re like “oh hey, it’s that guy!”
Amelia: Yeah, yeah, for sure! I think I’d seen him in a commercial for Far Cry where he plays a creepy priest. He does that really well. He’s very good at being creepy.
Matthew: My most recent good memory of him –and just as a recommendation– is a show that Cinemax produced called Jett, which is I really enjoyed, and he’s the bad guy in it.
Amelia: Yeah, he’s good at playing a villain.
Matthew: Yes! And same question, but Michael Ironside. He’s obviously a Canadian Legend.
Amelia: 100%!. The producer, Mike Peterson, on the first day I landed in Calgary and in one of the very first meetings we had said: “hey, so I know Michael Ironside, how would you feel if he played the doctor as a little cameo?” And I was like, “What?! yes please!” Mike had done a film called Knuckleball with him a few years prior, so they’re good friends, and it just worked out.
He was on set for a day. Obviously, those scenes are quite short, but it was really awesome to work with him for a day. He’s obviously a very intimidating guy, but he was really, really great to work with. It was totally one of those crazy experiences where I’m kept saying to myself “Oh, my God, I’m shooting with Michael Ironside! This is crazy!”
Matthew: His scenes are short and bookend the film, but he lends gravitas to whatever he’s in.
Amelia: 100%, and when you work with someone who’s been acting for that long, they can do so much with so little. It’s really cool.
Matthew: You’ve mentioned a couple of times that the pre-production phase was quite short, is there anything that you wish you had a little more time with? I was thinking of the effects. I think the effects are really great, but I was just wondering if you look at anything now and think “I wish we could have gone further?“
Amelia: Yeah, for sure. I think that was definitely something that was going to be a challenge no matter what for both time and money reasons. That dictated my artistic and creative approach to those scenes, but I think that’s definitely a place I would have wanted to kind of push things more. It’s either time or money, and we almost had neither!
I’m exaggerating, but a short film I did a couple of years ago, which was a body horror thing which had lots of practical effects. We had no money to do that, but we had so much time in pre-production because it was just me and my friends. So, I think that that definitely was a challenge, but I think, in the end, I kind of let that dictate some of the stylistic choices, which I think worked in the end.
Matthew: Is there a release plan for the film at this point?
Amelia: We’re just focusing on our festival run for now! We’re playing Blood in the Snow and we played Fantastic Fest, and the next ones haven’t been announced yet.
Matthew: And what’s next for you? You’re focusing on the promotion of this one right now but what’s the next thing coming up for you?
Amelia: I’m just taking the time to think about what I want to do next in terms of another feature film, and working on developing a TV miniseries with producer Lee Marshall who produced Bleed With Me and also starred in that, and with writer Laura Di Girolamo from the Bloody Mary Film Festival. It’s about a woman who goes back to a high school reunion, which gets crashed by a squid monster. So it’s a horror-comedy, which should be some fun!
Matthew: That sounds awesome! Thank you for the time today, nice to see you again. Looking forward to seeing whatever’s next.
Amelia: Thank you!
I really enjoyed speaking with Amelia again, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for her. You can read my full review of Bloodthirsty, as well as a review of Bleed With Me and my first interview with Amelia, both from Fantasia Festival.
Bloodthirsty will air on SuperChannel as part of the 2020 Blood in the Snow Festival on Wednesday, November 4th at 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern.