Denice Duff – some of you will know her as Amanda from “The Young and the Restless,” others will recognize her as the charming woman who took their picture, and there are those who will know Denice as Michelle Morgan from Full Moon’s “Subspecies” series, as well as one of Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors’ most enthusiastic and friendly guests. Being that this is Film Threat, I’m betting that many of you know her as the latter two.
Recently, Denice made her feature film directorial debut with “Vampire Resurrection,” formerly known as “Song of the Vampire.” We nabbed the chance to talk with her about this major undertaking, as well as her various other projects.
Actress, filmmaker, photographer – how do you have time for it all?
I’ve never owned a watch…I have all the time I want!!
Has being in front of the camera as much as you have made you a better photographer?
Abso-friggin-lutely!!! And the irony is the best-trained actors who work all the time HATE getting their headshots done. They feel awkward “freezing” a real moment in time. I totally have compassion with that and I just become a stupid geek while shooting them and it takes attention off of themselves (If the stupid geek thing doesn’t work, I wear crop tops).
Have horror films always been a passion of yours, or are you an accidental scream queen?
Wow!! For the first time someone asked me that question! Yes, I AM an accidental horror film star (sounds better). I had done a lead guest role on that show “Northern Exposure,” then worked with Marlee Matlin and Mark Harmon on the show “Reasonable Doubts,” then with Andy Griffith on “Matlock,” then Sela and Rachel Ward (no relation) on a Movie of the Week. My next audition was for “Subspecies” by Full Moon Entertainment (“Puppet Masters,” “Trancers”) and next thing I was in Romania sucking down a bottle of blood for director Ted Nicolaou!
What’s the set like on a Full Moon Production?
Back then it was usually in Romania with a crew who barely spoke English, who were creating special effects right there on the set with plexiglass, fishing wire and dry ice. They were real craftsmen who didn’t have the luxury of the advanced technologies. My costumes were real antiques from the communist era that had to be sewn on me each day (no zippers). Some days they ran out of electricity or water. My favorite was when we were late to the set because hundreds of sheep took their time crossing the road.
Which of your films is your favorite?
I’ll pretend I really didn’t understand that question and say: “Midnight Express,” ”Papillion,” “Trilogy of Terror” & “Cinema Paradiso.”
What was it like working with Lou Ferrigno on “Hell Comes to Frogtown II?”
Lou was the consummate gentleman, quick witted, and relentless Matchmaker. He was a good sport about sitting in Green make-up once again! I would sing “It’s not easy being green, having to spend each day..the color of the trees…” -Kermit
Can you tell me a little bit about your directorial debut, “Song of the Vampire?”
Well first of all, ya big dork, the title is “Vampire Resurrection.” Blockbuster wanted an edgier title so we changed it. But two years ago, I was asked to be in this “student film” and I declined for union reasons, but said I would direct it. Then, during pre-production I upgraded it to 35mm, went with SAG union contracts, hired some kick a*s talents, and decided to risk looking like an idiot and star in it, too. We filmed for four weeks in LA and Baton Rouge. Then I got a contract on “The Young and the Restless” (Amanda – Mac’s Mom) and let the project sit. When I finished the soap opera, I got the film sold and began post production hell. Now I know why there are so few women directors. They are busy being good mothers, raising their children, unlike me for the last year trying to finish this albatross. I wasn’t around much and when I was I was always on the phone. But it’s done, it halfway decent, and it’s at friggin’ Blockbuster…that still amazes me. My little daughter makes us go into the video stores and find it on the shelf so she can show it to people. I oblige her…of course.
What were some of the biggest challenges in making your own film?
Getting the edit I wanted and getting the post production tweaks done to it that I had planned and was promised would be done. Simple things like dissolves, color correction, musical score, and a consistent aspect ratio size. The first time I watched the finished product, I sat in my living room crying, tears streaming down my face with disappointment.
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
Made a more specific goal. The goal I made two years ago was to direct a film that went to Blockbuster and that’s exactly what I got. I should have said, “Direct a 35mm film that has the edit and special effects I want and a slamming score orchestrated just for this film and a piece of the profits!” I would also have learned how to edit on my own computer. No one knows your vision except you. Just because someone is cool and you like them and their art, doesn’t mean they are in your head with the same vision.
Any plans on making another film?
Are you serious?
Contact me in two more years on the sequel…
Visit Denice at her official website.