Your new movie Silent
Retreat - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell
us about your character in it?
In a few words… Psycho Doctor, Creepy
Creature, and Strong Women!
follows the adventure of Janey
Andrews who is being imprisoned and brainwashed in a silent rehabilitation
camp. With the help of the other girls she tries to fight against the
elements that are silencing her, and let the world know she’s still
Janey Andrews comes across as a girl who is
closed off, someone who has given up and very stubborn towards the rules. But
as you get to know her, she develops to become this extremely powerful
character who is fighting to survive. When she was fourteen she was in a
brutal car crash. She lost her mom and dad and no matter how much she
tried she couldn’t save them. It took a lot for her to overcome the loss
of her family but she was never really the same. After a little help from
her new friend Alexis, she overcomes her fear of speaking up and has just
a few words to say to turn this "Silent Retreat" into something not so
What did you draw upon to
bring your character to life, and how much of Chelsea Jenish can we find
There was a lot of
myself in Janey Andrews. All the emotion and relationships built
throughout the film came directly from the experiences of working on set
with the other actors. Because there was so little dialogue in the film at
times I forgot I was “acting” and it just became so natural to react
to the situations happening in the film. For example, the thought of me
losing my family, like Janey had, was absolutely devastating. In the end
of the film after looking at the photo of my family it just brought me to
this dark place of loneliness and caused the breakdown you see at the
final scene. The camera crew just kept filming until I was done so they
could get every last moment. Just like Janey, I come across as a quiet and
low key girl, but once something triggers an emotion or I feel the comfort
that someone’s got my back, Like Alexis did, it's full force no holding
back whether its sadness, anger, passion, or laughter.
How did you get involved with the project in
the first place?
the time I was working with the Characters Talent Agency. They sent me the
script for the audition and I became so interested in the project. I went
to the audition and met with director Tricia Lee [Tricia
Lee interview - click here] and casting director
The audition piece was my monologue from the film. From there I got a call
back and met with them again to work through a few of the more gruesome
scenes and I got the role.
To what extent could you identify with
Retreat's horror theme, and is horror a genre at all dear to you,
and why (not)?
Until filming Silent
Retreat I had no real interest in horror because it scared the living
daylights out of me! Watching a trailer on the TV with my eyes open and
ears unplugged was a huge accomplishment. But after watching what goes
into making a horror flick, I have more interest in trying to make it
through a full film with my eyes open. I definitely have a love for
filming a horror movie. All the blood, guts and screaming was a lot of
Do talk about your director Tricia Lee [Tricia
Lee interview - click here] for a bit, and what was your
The collaboration with
Tricia was an amazing experience. Until Silent
Retreat I had only worked
with male directors, so I was interested to see how she worked
differently. I could see right from the start she loved the project she
wanted the best for all of her cast and crew. Prior to being on set,
myself, Robert Nolan [Robert Nolan
interview - click here] and Sofia Banzhaf met for rehearsals at her apartment. We read
through the script and put a lot of work into walking through some of the
more important scenes, discussing our ideas. I think because Tricia was so
close to the writing process, with Corey Brown, she was very interested in
hearing her cast’s opinion on the script, and was very open to changes
in dialogue to make it feel natural. On set, she would meet with us in
hair and makeup, discuss the scene with us, and help get us in the zone.
She was very hands-on and gave us a lot of feedback on the scenes. She was
a trooper out in the cold, working non-stop with us for 15 hours a day
always full of enthusiasm. It was great working with Tricia, I would do it
again in a heartbeat.
What can you tell us about the shoot
as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
For the shoot we were
lucky enough to have stayed on set for two weeks up in King City, at
Kettleby Valley Summer Camp. All the bunks in the film and the dining hall
you saw was our new home. I say we were “lucky” because it brought so
much realism to the experience and it really allowed me to stay in
character for the majority of those two weeks. It helped to build a
relationship with the other actors, especially Sofia Banzhaf (Alexis),
which made our connection on screen all natural. Staying on set was also a
little bit… ok maybe very terrifying. The bunks were located deep into
the woods, we could hear coyotes at night when we were shooting and when
we were sleeping, the cold air and the fog made my mind wander and it
really freaked me out at times. But other than the cold and the
possibility of a creature actually lurking in the woods, it was one of the
best experiences I have ever had. The cast was so helpful to one and
other, the crew and cast worked so well together really forming one big Silent
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
I just recently filmed
a short film called M.A.D. with up and coming director Curtis Larade.
Little hint… it involves zombies. It’s in post-production right now and
will hopefully be doing the horror festival run in the fall.
What got you into acting in the
first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
It’s actually a funny
story how this all began. I have always been a ballet dancer who was too
afraid to get up and speak in front of people. I could dance in a room
full of people but God forbid I had to say a few words without going red
in the face or tearing up. It wasn’t until my second year at Ryerson
University that I overcame this fear. I was in the Performance Dance
Program, in the Theatre School and it was mandatory to take a monologue
class. I got up there my first time and completely froze. That was until
my teacher, Marianne McIsaac told me to “pull the stick out of my ass
and get mad!” She made me throw shoes at people every time I said a
verb. Believe it or not… whatever it was, it worked. McIsaac helped me
get through monologue class and also recommended that I audition for
Theatre Ontario. From there I signed with The Characters Talent agency and
it all just kind of happened. Since then I’ve trained more with the
Ryerson Theatre program as well as classes and audition preparation with
Rosemary Dunsmore and The Walter Alza Acting School.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Silent
actually my first film. I had done some guest spots on Cold Blood: Motive
and Murders with Cineflix Productions but nothing close to
It was such a great experience for me and I was very lucky to be working
with such a talented cast and crew.
How would you describe yourself as an
actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
I’d describe myself
as fresh, energetic, determined. I haven’t been acting for very long but
I like to take every character like they’re another part of myself. I
take every part of their life and in some way relate it my own life, so
that it feels and comes across as natural as possible.
(and indeed actors) who inspire you?
Some actresses that
inspire me are Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Lawrence. Some
actors are Ryan Gosling, and Bradley Cooper. I like actors that are
versatile and can pull at my heart strings but have a goofy side to them
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
This is a difficult
one… it changes daily but right now some of my favourite movies are
Silver Linings Playbook, Blue Jasmine, RED and
Chicago and Black Swan (that’s the dancer coming out).
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Movies I deplore are
pretty much anything that is super cheesy and predictable. I can’t name
any films off the top of my head but anything else I’m usually ok to
watch, I can always find something interesting in a film.
website, Facebook, whatever else?
is my website http://chelseajenish.wix.com/chelseaj
And my Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chelsea.jenish
for the interview!