Working from the ground up, Amy Lynn Best has come to learn about and love many different aspects of film production, bringing her in contact with numerous B-movie legends and ultimately finding her directing her own film, the short Were-Grrl. Still infected by the bite from the filmmaking bug, Amy is currently busy working on her feature film debut for Happy Cloud Pictures, “Severe Injuries.”
In between work on “Severe Injuries” and her various horror convention appearances, Amy took some time to talk with us about her dedication to filmmaking and all things horror.
When did you figure out that you wanted to make films?
After I started. My first moviemaking experience was about 10 years ago when I started dating Mike Watt. He was making a short film called “Neck-Up” and had been shooting with many problems for about two years. I came on, helped organize the shooting schedules, got the locations, played a small role, and whatever else was needed. After that, whenever Mike or another filmmaker needed help, I always tried to be around. I enjoy just about every aspect of filmmaking. Acting, producing, direction, lighting, editing, and even craft services.
Did you grow up fascinated with horror films?
Yes! I’ve always liked classic monster movies and Hammer, and I loved slasher films. The best ones are the ones that made you jump and turn on the lights as soon as they were over.
What’s your favorite childhood horror film recollection?
I can tell you one of my earliest. I was about nine-years-old and my uncle took my cousins and me to a double feature of “Last House on the Left” and “The Amityville Horror”. They weren’t as stringent on the MPAA ratings back then I guess. I don’t remember much about “Last House,” but I do remember being terrified at “Amityville” because my cousin told me that it was a true story and it’d probably happen at my house. What do you want? I was 9!!
Is horror your true love or would you like to branch out and maybe make a Civil War musical?
I would love to do a musical! Maybe not a Civil War one, but maybe a horror musical. With demons, and vampires and zombies dancing around, breaking into song. That would be fun.
How have the reactions to Were-Grrl been?
Overall, Were-Grrl has been well received. The issues most people have with the sound and picture problems, we agree with completely. It seems to go over the best with women, especially lesbians. We got a great write-up in Curve magazine. The group that seems to give us the most negative feedback about the overall movie is straight men. Go figure.
Who have been a couple of your favorite people you’ve worked with?
Oh wow. LOTS. To start with, the entire Happy Cloud Family- Mike Watt-of course, Charlie Fleming, Shelli Fleming, Bill Homan, Tim Gross, Jim Steinhoff, Francis Veltri, Stacy Bartlebaugh-Gyms, Jenna Bull-Trumbold, Debbie Rochon, Jasi Lanier, Robyn Griggs and Keith Kline. Also, Lillith Stabbs, Lee Wildermuth, Lloyd Kaufman, Nic Pesante, Jeff Waltrowski. Sorry it’s so long, I’m trying not to leave anyone out. Everyone’s been great.
How were your experiences directing “Severe Injuries”?
We had a great time. Everyone was wonderful and cooperative. We tried to keep an enjoyable set because we had a lot to do and we wanted everyone to have fun doing it. I think that we accomplished this for the most part. Robyn Griggs and Keith Kline came in for a weekend and we shot all of her scenes in two days. We had almost the entire cast there and we had to do the bulk of the dialogue and some basic effects (courtesy of Chris Mills and Ken Shupe from the Tom Savini Program of Special Make-Up and Design) while we had everyone. It was hard work, but the cast and crew were amazing. They were very supportive and helpful. Probably because they knew when we got done Saturday night we were having a bonfire party. We also had a great shoot with Lillith Stabs. We shot her scenes another weekend and she basically got tossed, half dressed, on a guy she just met that morning. What a trooper! Lloyd Kaufman was also fantastic to work with. He was so personable and professional that I would work with him anytime.
How did directing a feature differ from directing a short?
It was actually easier. With the short we had four days to shoot and there was a lot of dialogue. The feature was spread out over 2 ½ months and there was action intercut with the dialogue so it wasn’t as stressful on the actors. This made it easier to direct them. Of course, since it took longer it seemed like it would never end. We also had more mishaps and complications, though. One of our leads broke his leg less than a month into shooting, our big outside extras shoot got rained out, and our lead actor’s wife, Shelli Fleming, was pregnant, so we had to make sure all of his stuff got finished ASAP. (By the way, Harrison Troy Fleming was born to Charlie, Shelli and big sister Sara on July 30, 2003). The “Severe Injuries” cast and crew deserve a lot of credit for what they did and for putting up with my insanity. Mike deserves a big thanks for helping, especially the scenes I was in.
What’s the status of “The Resurrection Game”?
We just got the neg-to-tape transfer out of the lab. Now Mike needs to cut it again and we need to add the mixed-down sound. We have it all on DV and we’re editing on our PC. As soon as we get “Severe Injuries” finished, we’ll work on “Resurrection Game.” I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the year.
Get the rest of the interview in part two of AMY LYNN BEST: SEVERELY DEDICATED>>>