Your new movie Seeking Valentina
- in a few words, what is it
about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
is a psychological thriller about grief, and in a way, a
surrealistic love story. The
great thing about my character, Valentina, is that you, the audience
member, get to decide who she is, if sheís a ghost, a runaway, a
hallucination or a dream.
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of Kristin
West can we find in Valentina?
The director Armin Nasseri [Armin
Nasseri interview - click here] and I had many discussions about the enigma of
Valentina and how to convey her mystique while maintaining her as a flesh
and bone reality. To create
the character, Armin and I really had to foster a deep partnership.
It was sort of like playing counterpoint with another musician, as
an analogy. Valentina
and I do share a special hobby, which you will see in the film, so
thereís a lot of me, Kristin, there.
I am playing against type as Valentina as well, which is always an exciting
challenge, so I drew from one of the other times that Iíve played
against type. A very astute
acting coach of mine had me play Laura in The Glass Menagerie in scene
study, which is completely against type for me.
I drew on that work for this too.
How did you get involved
with the project in the first place, and how did you end up on the
production side of things as well?
Armin and I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts together, so over the
years weíve developed a mutual respect, admiration and trust working
together. Over a year ago,
Armin showed me a draft of Seeking Valentina
and asked me what I thought.
Many drafts later and five months of pre-production beginning in
late 2014, we have Seeking Valentina.
I went to the University of Texas at Austin and have a B.S. in
Radio-TV-Film. Iíve always
envisioned myself as an actress that produces, so I geared my education
toward actualizing that goal. Armin
and I have acted and co-produced together before, so it was natural for us
to team up on Seeking Valentina.
What were the main
challenges when producing Seeking Valentina
- and did you
have any creative control (outside of your acting) over things as well?
We covered 500 miles in six days shooting this film.
The logistics of getting our cast and crew safely to each location
was an amazing challengeóbut we did it!
We spent three days in Big Bear Lake, which is 7,000 feet above sea
level and it was snowing, which was awesome.
My job as a producer was to give Armin choices for his movie that were within
our budget. Ultimately,
everything you see and hear in Seeking Valentina
was Arminís vision and
choice. I helped to create a
menu, so to say, for Armin to pick from.
can you tell us about your director Armin Nasseri [Armin
Nasseri interview - click here], and what was your
knows more about films and filmmakers than anyone I know.
Heís an encyclopedia of film trivia, so heís fun to collaborate
with. His knowledge of film
gives him a lot of material to draw on.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and
the on-set atmosphere!
on the Seeking Valentina team is enormously talented.
This was a huge adventure for everyone involved.
Our first day in Big Bear, we had a birthday party for Ali Bavarian [Ali
Bavarian interview - click here], the lead actor, because he was spending his birthday with us on
set! Ali is a tremendously talented individual and very dedicated his
It wasnít totally a party atmosphere. We
were there to work. I am
blessed to have worked with professionals like Mo Whelan and Vida Ghaffari
[Vida Ghaffari interview -
click here] along with the entire cast and crew.
It was intense, but in the best way a film set can be intense, because we
were deeply committed to creating the story in these special locations. My
hope is the audience recognizes our commitment and enjoys the film as much
as we enjoyed the process.
Any future projects you'd like to
After we wrapped on Seeking Valentina, I went on to act and produce
Strangers in Book. This was a great
collaboration with me and my Seeking Valentina
castmate Vida Ghaffari.
This is currently in post-production and I canít wait to see it
I am also in a future episode of Hellís Kitty alongside other wonderful
scream queens such as Chanel Ryan, Lynn Lowry, Victoria De Mare and Kelli
Maroney. If you hate cats and
love horror, be sure to check Hellís Kitty out.
I am thrilled to be part of the cast of
Expel the Wicked, shooting in August
in Arizona. Many horror
luminaries are in this cast, including Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here] and Debbie Rochon [Debbie
Rochon interview - click here].
Keep tabs on this project because it has an all-star cast.
What got you into acting in the first place, and
did you receive a formal education on the subject?
I have been acting since age seven, when I wanted to be in my countyís
production of Charlotteís Web and I played Fern.
Since then, Iíve been on stage or on camera.
Besides going to film school, I also went to the American Academy
of Dramatic Arts to study acting.
One of my most formative experiences in acting was preforming in the
Shakespeare at Winedale troupe which is an original practices Shakespeare
troupe that performs in a historic barn in Winedale, Texas.
If youíve ever wanted to test your commitment to acting, then do
what I did and do Shakespeare in residence in a hot barn all summer.
I went on to take workshops at the Globe Theatre in London and was
privileged to study with the Master of Voice Stewart Peace and the Master
of Movement Glyn Macdonald. I
still use the techniques I learned at the Globe in my acting work.
Every experience I have as an actor is a learning experience.
No two sets, directors or scripts are alike.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Seeking Valentina?
a character actress, Iíve been blessed to get to be chameleon of sorts.
I played Investigator West in Billy Ponís horror feature Circus
of the Dead. What I may be
most recognized for is my appearance on The Real Housewives of Beverly
making movies, you have also done your fair share of theatre work - so how
does performing on stage compare to acting in front of a camera, and which
do you prefer, actually?
on stage is a direct feedback loop. The
audience laughs or cries. Thereís
even an energy you can also access between you and the audience that in my
view, can feed a performance. On
camera, thereís you and your partner, which is why itís so important
to be a supportive scene partner. Sometimes,
itís just you and you have to feed that from within. I
love both, truthfully.
Actresses (and indeed actors)
who inspire you?
a huge fan of Ann Bancroft. Peter
Dinklage rocks my world too. I
love the whole Game of Thrones cast. Meryl
Streepís ability to shift into just about anyone she wants to be is
Your favourite movies?
always loved Amadeus, just because I think anyone whoís in the arts has
both their Salieri and Mozart moments.
Iím a fan of Werner Herzog as well, my favorite of his being
Nosferatu the Vampyre.
and of course, films you really deplore?
are fifty percent of the world, but only about a quarter of speaking parts
in major films. As an actress,
I am constantly reading casting notices and I canít tell you how many
times what Iíve read is just someone looking for a talking Barbie doll.
Women are multi-faceted. They
love; they suffer. Thereís a
lot of secret crevices of womenís lives that shouldnít just be on the
womenís cable networks. Films
that make women into caricatures are not for me.
Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
visit me on www.kristinwest.net.
I am also on Facebook at
and on Twitter at @kristin_west. For
a look at my other credits, visit my IMDb at
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
care deeply about how many people in the world are in a constant state of
hunger. Over the years, I have
volunteered with many organizations to alleviate hunger.
With all the resources we have, no one in the world should be going
hungry, especially children. Working
on a narrative film that really engages the issue of hunger would be a
passion project for me.