She is married to the tallest Horror Icon in my Horror Icon Hall of Fame. She is an actress, producer and writer. She is the talented Renae Geerlings.
REI: How did you get your start in writing screenplays, producing films and, of course, acting?
RENAE: I've always been a writer since I was very young, but honestly I never considered making it a career path. It was just something I enjoyed. I won a writing contest in the 3rd grade and that pretty much had me hooked. In middle school and high school, having tested very highly in writing and English, I was allowed to skip the regular classes and take a creative writing course at Hope College for two years. I ended up going to college for theatre though, as acting was always my first love, and while there I studied playwriting as a part of that course load.
Once I came to LA, though, writing wasn't a focus until a couple years later when I was in a band and was doing some song writing. I had started working my way through the editorial ranks at Top Cow and I did think about trying to write comics but the schedule was just too hectic. I did write one short WITCHBLADE story as a one off, but really acting was always where I saw myself heading. Then I met Tyler...
He's been the whole impetus for writing screenplays. He had so many ideas and once we started riffing off each other it only seemed natural that we should create our own material and produce some content. Having taken 10 years away from the whole film/acting world it's tough to jump in without any credits so... I'm just creating my own work!
REI: What do you prefer to do – write the stories or star in them?
RENAE: Act. I love to act. When I really get into a groove with writing it becomes a joy, but after all that time editing other people's work, getting out of the headspace of finding the "problems" is difficult. The hardest thing for me is sitting down to an empty page and trying to just "write for the wastebasket" to get a first draft out. As Hemingway said, "The first draft of anything is shit." The editor in me has a VERY hard time with that. I like saying other people's words. Plus writing for my OWN character ended up being the hardest to write! Don't know why.
REI: You co-wrote and starred in Compound Fracture with your husband, Tyler Mane. How did you come up with the concept for a film that I dubbed to be one of the best movies of 2013?
RENAE: Like anything it came out of a couple real stories we heard that we said, "Oh, what if we combine those?" It was also from my desire to have our first film be very contained. One location, ten characters. Go! It's a challenge to write a film based in one house, but I think we did all right. I had to look at it like a play in a lot of ways.
REI: What was the highlight for you in Compound Fracture?
RENAE: The real highlight was the very first day and first scene of shooting when Alex Saxon, who played Brandon, came onto set in costume and I saw him walk into frame on the monitor for the first time. The whole writing process and days of banging my head against the keyboard and lamenting over these characters all flashed before my eyes and ended with him in that moment, THERE, looking EXACTLY as I'd pictured the scene. It was definitely surreal. And addictive.
REI: Though the movie’s completed and had a small tour throughout the US, Compound Fracture is yet to be released on DVD, especially here in Australia. Any plans to release it soon?
RENAE: Yes! We actually have distribution with Level 33 for North America and are talking about international distribution now. I'll get it in your pretty hands, I promise! :)
REI: Let’s talk about your current project, Penance Lane. Once again you are starring alongside your husband and Muse Watson. What is the film about?
RENAE: Crimson Matthews, an ex-con fresh out of prison, rolls into a dying little town apparently looking for a fresh start, and takes a job as a handyman in a dilapidated house. He quickly realizes he's not alone, and the things in the house with him are out for blood. But he didn't come to this town, and specifically this house, by chance, and he's not leaving until he gets what he came for. Unfortunately, in so doing, he pulls some newfound acquaintances down that bloody trail with him.
REI: Penance Lane is currently featured on Indiegogo as you’re trying to raise additional funds. Why did you decided to fan fund it and why should people donate to this particular cause? What sets this film apart from every other horror movie?
RENAE: One of the things we learned while on tour with COMPOUND FRACTURE is that having the personal connection with the fans of the film is one of the best feelings of making them. It's so fulfilling. So with PENANCE LANE we wanted to start pulling the curtain back earlier in the process and let people take the WHOLE journey with us. That's a what this campaign is about. To get people invested and connected and in the loop from the get go. We're not a machine. We're a family run film company and we want our family to keep getting bigger!
REI: Going through your filmography, you tend to appear in a lot of horror/thriller movies. Do you enjoy watching horror movies and if so what is your favourite horror movie?
RENAE: You know, it's funny. I was SUCH a horror movie wuss until Tyler did HALLOWEEN. That opened my eyes. It used to be that I couldn't even turn the lights out after watching THE RING. Now I watch horror movies all the time and LOVE them. Once I saw how they were made, I was hooked. I don't know what it is about this genre that creates such a solid and supportive group of like-minded individuals, both making and supporting the films. I love it!
REI: From one writer to another, do you have any unfinished works that you would love to see brought to life on screen and if so, what are the stories about?
RENAE: I have SEVERAL scripts in development, horror, drama, period, sci fi. They WILL be brought to life. :)
REI: Is there anyone in particular you would want to work with?
RENAE: Three. Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams and Kevin Smith. I love their female characters. The joke here is that I'll get to JJ on my 10th film. Our first director was AJ Rickert-Epstein. Our second film is done by BJ Mc Donnell. I have 7 more letters to get through...
REI: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
RENAE: Don't listen to the "rules." Everyone will tell you that you can't do it (whatever your "it" is) because you're too "whatever": old, tall, young, thin, ugly, pretty, quiet, poor, big. It's all bull. There are no rules. You make your own rules and create your own reality. Don't buy into the negativity that pervades the industry. For every rule there's a list of people who prove it wrong. Just pick something and do it until it's done. If you waste your time thinking about it, that's time you should have spent just doing it.
REI: What do you find is the best way to unwind after a stressful day?
RENAE: Hugging my dogs and listening to a good audiobook. Oh, also embarrassingly Candy Crush.
REI: Where do you find your inspiration to help create characters when you’re acting or creating a storyline when you write?
RENAE: Everywhere. Every second of every day. Family, friends, people I see on the street that do something quirky, books, tv, dreams, people who piss me off that I work my issues out on in a script, people who inspired me and I want to carry their memory...into a script. Our brains are full of so many ideas. I don't ever want for inspiration.
REI: Are there any plans to travel to Australia?
RENAE: I'd LOVE to. No solid plans. But it's one place I've always wanted to see. Plus a lot of my favorite movies come from there. I need to go steal some down under mojo!