by Rich Moreland, March 2017
Here is the second installment of my interview with Amy Hesketh, producer/director/actor and founder of Decadent Cinema.
For newcomers to her work, Amy is a native New Englander. Her professional film career began under the tutelage of Pachamama Films’ Jac Avila.
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Yes and No
My talk with Amy Hesketh continues. The subject turns to a staple of her films: nudity.
Do the actresses take on the amount of nakedness they are comfortable with?
Yes and no, Amy responds and cites Maga, the singer in Barbazul, as a prominent example. The actress, Paola Teran, was open to whatever Amy wanted and had no personal issue with baring it all.
However, the screenplay had a determining factor built in.
“I was doing my own effects and it helped that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time making the wounds in front of her,” as would have been required were she totally nude.
But that’s only part of the story. Amy explains that the film “had a lot of palettes” and as the director, she pays a significant attention to color and how it relates to the composition of a shot.
“Essentially when you look at the frame, there’s a certain amount of color in the composition, so if she (Maga) were nude there, she clashed a little bit [because] purple is her color and I didn’t see enough of it in the rest of the shot, so I needed it there because otherwise my palette would be off.”
As for the writer Jane, her color is pink, Amy adds, a good thing since she ended up playing the role herself.
“My skin is fine, it went with the palette.”
Consequently, after a number of test shots, nudity was a fit for Jane’s character.
Once the basic narrative and characters are in place, how do they shape the finished film?
To begin with, Amy has a vision for her production which includes the film’s palette and mood. Often she relies on storyboarding, a popular technique used by fiction writers, cartoonists, playwrights, and others.
Then as the plot line takes shape the characters will go their own way. Often conflicts come out of a character’s back story which opens the door for further creativity.
“When I’m writing, a character becomes real and fleshed out. Obviously the actor’s interpretation becomes slightly different, so I tend to go with that,” Amy says, because she doesn’t want to force any cast member into “an unnatural performance.”
Her style is to let things find their own direction, a flexibility not every director possesses.
The payoff is a worth it.
“There are a lot of wonderful surprises when you’re shooting a film, so if you can go with that and learn how to write it in and direct it, then you have something magical, something beautiful and spectacular that comes out of it,” Amy concludes.
Speaking of characters, Amy’s work appears to use location as an animated character. Is that an accurate assessment?
“Absolutely, I generally use locations as characters. [In Barbazul] the hacienda is a character in the sense that it is the patriarch/matriarch. It’s the glue that holds everything together. It represents the oppression of the past,” Amy says.
In Ollala another old house is center stage. My guess is the upcoming Pygmalion may also have one.
“I often have old houses in my films because I find them to be this oppressive force,” Amy says.
“It’s the weight of history. It’s something I’m constantly pushing back against with my films so it’s often a character in my films, a character in my life.”
What is her most difficult challenge when she’s in front of the camera?
“The hardest thing for me with a character is losing myself in the character,” which in her view can become risky considering the types of dramas Pachamama/Decadent Films produces.
Amy understands that her productions can be a gamble when it comes to its effects on the actors. As director she must assume some responsibility for any negative outcomes the cast might suffer as a result of filming.
“So if you’re [the director] leading this person down a rabbit hole that is not nice, it’s your responsibility to care for them afterwards, make sure that they are alright and can get out of it. It often takes a lot more work than leading them into it,” Amy declares.
Of course for Amy, she is often her own director and that presents further issues.
“I haven’t really had much help with that in my films, so that’s the hardest part for me. I’ll chose these characters so in order to portray them I have to travel to very, very dark place inside myself. And getting out of that becomes this terribly hard work, rather difficult and painful work to create other pathways.
“The most difficult part for me is getting back to myself and be in a positive space, to be happy and not to be in a dark miserable place.”
I mention her role in Maleficarum where she is tortured and crucified in the name of religion.
It took her two months to climb out of that abyss, Amy recalls.
The Eroticism of Torture
Finally, we talk about her fan base and I offer that part of her following must be BDSM fans who relish the eroticism of her torture scenes.
Are these fans attracted to her work because of it’s perceived pornographic slant?
Amy replies she doesn’t know much about pornography and doesn’t consider her films to fall under that umbrella. But she knows some fans may see her performances that way and she’s okay with their interpretation because there is “a certain niche market of people” out there who follow her.
Amy welcomes all points of view and when it comes to the fetish crowd, she states, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either. It’s marvelous. I wish we weren’t so condemning [of them].”
She remembers the words of a professor she at Bard College where she got her undergrad degree. He related a point he learned from one of his profs: when it comes to stimulating the mind, “If it’s not sexy, it’s not art.”
Amy Heskeths’s films are certainly art, and she is superbly sexy. . . and an absolute delight to talk with, I might add.
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To purchase Amy’s films, check out Vermeerworks.