I recently viewed the technicolor/60’s horror film inspired movie “The Love Witch” (directed by Anna Biller) at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg Brooklyn. In a somewhat abstract way the movie reminded me of a cross between The Craft and Valley of the Dolls, though with more serious underlying feminist themes. The movie was shot entirely on 35mm film, which was very inspiring for me as I have recently ditched my digital camera to shoot only using film.
I snuggled up in the back of the packed theatre and in true Nitehawk Cinema fashion enjoyed the accompanying menu specials that were inspired by the movie which included a rum infused cocktail called “The Libertine” and a Turkey and Avocado sandwich wrap they named the “Griff Meadows”.
Here’s an interview I recently had with the star of The Love Witch, Samantha Robinson:
The Gone Cat: What’s your background in acting and performance arts?
Samantha Robinson: I have had a considerable amount of theatre training. I grew up in London and studied at LAMDA since the age of seven. When I moved to moved to Miami for high school, which was definitely a different experience, I attended New World School of the Arts (a magnet performing arts school). After graduation, I attended UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television with a concentration in the acting track. I have been pursuing a career in film ever since graduation.
GC: Tell us about your character Elaine
SR: Elaine is quite an anomaly of a character; she herself is a juxtaposition. She embodies the image of a witch, which is a strong and rebellious figure and the original female rebel of patriarchy, and yet she has these regressive ideas on femininity and sexuality which make her sound like a Stepford wife. She has created a mask, to protect and shield herself from living as a woman in a world. Her whole life, she has been used by men, and so to regain control, she exploits her sexuality before men can. She is desperately looking for love and a “real man” but she can never attain this desire as men don’t really want the constructed false self she has created. Furthermore, because of the years of abuse she has experienced, I believe, she subconsciously hates men and thus her spells wont ever truly work. I think the film elucidates the two selves that Elaine has and hence creates sympathy for her, despite her psychopathic actions.
GC: How did the role of Elaine in Love Witch come about?
SR: I was still attending UCLA when I auditioned and got cast as Elaine. My manager at the time sent me the breakdown. When I saw that it was going to be shot on 35mm and pertained to the occult, I was instantly interested. I had an audition, a call-back and a private lunch meeting with Anna. About a week later I was offered the role as Elaine.
GC: In what ways if any can you relate to Elaine?
SR: I can relate to the character of Elaine in sundry ways. As an actress and a woman there are times when you create a ‘mask’ for yourself by putting on make-up, beautiful clothes etc. By doing these things, you are in a sense asking to be looked at. A sense of control is regained as you make the conscious choice to elicit attention and it is not just taken from you. Additionally, although some of Elaine’s notions on female roles and sexuality seem antiquated, they are actually very present today and I feel like I can relate to them quite strongly.
GC: Are there any classic female-centric films you’re a fan of?
SR: Yes, there are several. I actually watched a lot of classic female-centric films with Anna in preparation for the role. Some being: Polanski’s Repulsion with Catherine Deneuve and Bunuel’s Belle de Jour and Tristana. Deneuve is definitely one of my idols. Elizabeth Taylor in X, Y, Z and Joseph Losey’s Secret Ceremony (she was also a huge inspiration for the role). Gene Tierney in Leave her to Heave and The Razor’s Edge. Damiano Damiani’s La Strega in Amore was another great film I was inspired by.
GC: As a young actress who has grown up with modern technology, what difference if any did you notice in being shot via 35mm as opposed to digital?
SR: Making a movie on film was definitely a different experience to shooting digitally. It was my first time, so I had to actually learn all the terminology such as “print that”, “check the gate” and so forth. I didn’t even know what that meant! It was also such a blast doing rear projection. I felt like a classic movie star!
GC: If you could have a dinner party (as yourself not Elaine) with any 3 people in the world past or present, fictional or non fictional.. who would you choose?
SR: I think I would choose Elizabeth Taylor, Noel Coward and Michelle Obama.