First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who don't
already know you?
My name is Shayne
Leighton and I was born and raised in sunny South Florida (which I
despise and can't wait to move out of!)
I am nineteen, and
after graduating Dreyfoos School of the Arts for theater, I have
completed two independent feature films, Guardian of Eden and
Incubus (wrote, directed, and starred in both). Guardian of Eden won
for Best Up and Coming Filmmaker at the 2008 Delray Beach
International Film Festival and The Incubus is now being shopped for
distribution. I was also recently in the much anticipated independent
Legend of the Red Reaper
by Tara Cardinal [Tara
Cardinal interview - click here] coming soon in 2010.
Presently I am working on various other independent film projects as
well as my first album, all while trying to get myself out to California
Your upcoming film The Incubus - in a few words, what is it
about, and what character do you play in it?
Incubus is about a fictional small town that gets invaded by a coven of
ghosts that literally suck the life and energy out of human beings to
sustain themselves. My character is Marnie Rose, a college student in the
small town, who lives with a physically and mentally abusive Uncle (who is
also that town pastor by day... go figure). My character ultimately ends up
falling in love with Raphael (Frantisek Mach), who is one of the members
of the incubus clan upon finding out that when he feeds on her energy, he
is suddenly able to feel alive again. He no longer feels dead and empty as
before, but now his world has color. While these two characters try to
maintain their impossible romance they are met at every turn by the wicked
clan leader, Bianca (Alexandra Santanna). I will not give away the ending
but what I will say is that The Incubus is the ultimate metaphor for life
and undying first loves.
That which is as universal as death must be a
Alexandra Santanna, Shayne Leighton
You don't only
star in the film but also wrote and co-directed it, edited it and were
involed in the soundtrack. What can you tell us about your very
deep involvement in Incubus?
me and my executive producer, Marcie Gorman wore MANY hats while creating
this film... no joke. Also I want to clarify that I did not edit the film.
That awesome credit goes to both Full Service Films and Underdog
But it was both a tribulation and triumph to be so involved in a project
like this. It is truly my brainchild. I hatched it and with Marcie's and
everyone else's help, I was able to watch it grow into something more than
any high school graduate could have imagined. There wasn't a moment on set
where I could relax... but that was totally okay with me. I'm the kind of
person who enjoys running around like a chicken with the head cut off! And
trust me... there wasn't a full nights sleep while we were in production
either. We all sacrificed a lot... but in turn we were able to learn so
What were your inspirations
for writing Incubus?
main inspiration for the story was my actual first love. (No he didn't
suck the life out of me.) But I would definitely consider him my muse
because he is such a dark and interesting personality. He's a sweetheart
and a good friend to this day and I thought of this story because he has a
very funny way of expressing his emotions. (He doesn't really express any
at all... seemingly...) And to me this was so interesting because I am the
type of person that wears my heart on my sleeve constantly. But sometimes,
when you catch him in a good moment, he seems to completely light up. He
goes from black and white to color and surprises you (like Raphael's world
in the film). He is what truly inspired this story because there is
nothing like a first love.
Shayne Leighton, Michael Nouri
How would you describe your
directorial approach to the film?
come first. Before the lighting and the sound and the scenery, it is
always the performance that sells your story. I was lucky to be able to
cast some of the most interesting and amazing people I had ever met for
this film and they each fit their part perfectly. So it made my job that
much easier. I tried to inspire my cast with preliminary pieces of the
score that Anthony Espina composed early on for the film. I sent them
drawings and photos of things I found online that inspired the creation of
the characters in my script. Everything fell into place after that. I
didn't want this movie to look like anything else. I wanted it to sort of
have a Tim Burton feel without ripping him off. I wanted deeply
over-saturated colors and spooky locations and an incredibly haunting
score (which Anthony Espina did so beautifully). But what really achieved
my vision was Michael C Nouri's take on his character Johnny. With his
spiky black hair and deep eye-liner, you can't really get much more
"Burton-esque" than that.
Marcie Gorman, Shayne Leighton
A few words about you
co-director Marcie Gorman?
is impossible to say what she is to me in a few words. She is my angel, my
fairy godmother, a second mom, a soul-sister, and everything in-between.
She is the sole reason why this whole venture even started. I met Marcie
in my senior year of high school. I was playing Serena in Fame! the
Musical, and Marcie was brought on by our theater dean to help with the
production. Soon, Marcie and I started talking about her past lives and
careers and her interest in helping out youth in the arts. I sent her my
screenplay and the rest is history. It is so strange how life works
sometimes. One moment you are talking to a woman you barely know in the
parking lot of your school, leaving a Thursday night show to go home and
finish some essay or another, and the next moment this woman is your best
friend and you're making movies and planning huge things for your future -
all the while your head is spinning.
As an actress, what did you
draw upon to bring your character to life?
if I said I drew upon real-life experiences, people would be giving me
very funny looks right now. Marnie is a very soft spoken character. (I am
the exact opposite.) If I had to give her a color, she would be blue
because she is so serene and almost sad in a way. Going to an arts high
school, you meet a lot of very different personalities. I suppose I strung
Marnie together with bits and pieces of real people from my life. The
biggest piece I took though was actually from a character I had seen in a
short film about a ghost (ironically.) This film wasn't really a thriller
and even more of a love story than mine, but the lead character was so
breathtakingly pure and endearing that I found myself taking a lot from
what I had seen in that film.
A few words
about your co-stars?
most AMAZING and TALENTED bunch of people I ever had the pleasure to work
with. James Pace and Mikey Nouri are absolutely brilliant actors.
Frantisek Mach came such a long way in a short while and he is brilliant
as well. (The next Van Damme!) Alexandra Santanna went from being my sweet
and beautiful best friend to a sinister little evil doll in five seconds
flat. The drop-dead gorgeous Donna Lisa and lovely Danielle Lilley are so
amazing and off to California to go after their dream... I know they will
succeed! And last but definitely not least is my favorite... Melvin Lima
(who?) he is so adorable and brilliant and talented and I know I will see
his name in lights. Much love to the Incubus cast... we became a family.
When and where will the film be out
and not in stone it will be released Spring 2010 hopefully, and we are
looking at domestic theatrical release. Again... nothing concrete that I
can actually announce but if you want to find The Incubus fan page on
facebook or go to http://www.theincubusfilm.com
you can see all the updates as
Your and your film's website(s),
MySpace(s), Facebook(s), whatever else?
Ok people...here's a
running list of the links! Ready? Go!
Official Website: http://www.TheIncubusFilm.com
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/shayneleighton?v=feed&story_fbid=1287487623153#!/
Twitter (Incubus): http://www.twitter.com/theincubusfilm
Twitter (Mine): http://www.twitter.com/shayneleighton
My Official Website: http://www.wix.com/theincubus/Shaynes-website
You are also (as
actress only) in the upcoming Legend of the Red Reaper. A few words
about that movie and your role in it?
jealous kid-sister to the Red Reaper (Tara Cardinal [Tara
Cardinal interview - click here]). This set was such a
pleasure to work on and Tara is such a talent. I was only on set for three
days but I felt an instant connection with everyone and I truly
appreciated the experience. It was very professional and fun at the same
time, and after three years of Red Cardinal Productions trying to get this
damned thing done, I really can't wait to see it. Check out the trailer!
It's sure to be awesome!
Any other upcoming
or future projects you'd like to talk about?
films to speak of right now, but I am working on my first solo album this
year, so please stay tuned :)
I hope to be on another film set real soon.
(As an actress and not much else.)
the present and future behind for the moment and move forward into the
past: You started acting at a very early age in your life - what can you
tell us about your beginnings?
started acting in television commercials when I was five. My favorite
commercial experience was doing the Nike commercial for the 2005 Summer
Olympics campaign, but my favorite experience overall growing up, was
being in the Italian Vogue Bambini when I was seven years old with a close
friend (another redhead). Some people consider starting out so young as a
vice and sacrifice that you have to handle later life, but in my case it
was definitely a blessing. Learning so many things so young is the reason
why I am so driven today.
Have you ever had any
formal training as an actress?
I try to study as much as possible - when the finances permit :). My
favorite coach is Marc Durso with ActTrue. His teachings are nothing but
honesty and really being. He often says as actors, that means we must
ACT... not emote. Because then we would be called emoters. It is about our
actions and what causes our actions and the way we feel as a result of
Your movie debut as an
actress was Miami Ghost Tale if I'm not mistaken. A few words about
was a learning experience for a lot of people. I was fifteen at the time,
so I appreciated it for what it was.
On Guardian of Eden, you already
served as director/actor/star. What can you tell us about this film and
your experiences on it?
was my first try at really creating and manifesting my own vision.
Honestly, I would have to say that my vision did not manifest exactly the
way I wanted it to, but like Miami Ghost Tale, it was a learning curve and
an experience that taught me lessons I now apply today. Plus I got a film
festival award... so it ain't all bad. :)
Any other films you've been in I
have forgotten to mention you'd like to talk about?
I think you've nailed them all. We can list some projects that I was an
extra in... but how uninteresting would that be? haha
were still very young when making Guardian of Eden - and in fact
are not exactly old now ... How come you have at a rather early age plunged into all
aspects of filmmaking pretty much head-on?
question! As stated at the beginning, I am the ripe old age of 19. I am
aware of how severely young that is, but when you love something
passionately, it is never too early to begin your journey. I just love
every piece it takes to make a story on screen come alive. Every aspect is
brought to attention. You have music, performance, visual arts. Without
one piece, it would fall apart. That is why I try to delve into as many
aspects as I can, because it is such a beautiful collaborative effort. I
love working as a team to achieve something. And regarding my age, I guess
it is just because I have always been told that I'm an old soul. I've
known exactly what I wanted to do since I was five years old. I'm driven,
and I think starting early is a challenge, but one I love to face head on
tend to have a supernatural edge to them. Is the supernatural something
that especially appeals to you (as a writer and/or as a person) or is that
at all a coincidence. I am currently in the writing phases of my first
novel (also supernatural). I just love the genre and the mystical element!
It's so interesting to me. People have to deal with reality everyday. So
when you're able to create something that has no earthly limitations, why
not make it something out of this world? I appreciate the things we as
humans don't understand as well as the things that hatched out of many
years of storytelling passed down. I love and believe that there is magic
out there. Reality leaves a lot to the imagination!
What can you tell us about your
experience as editor - as far as I know you have edited quite a few
trailers (mainly for books, right?) over the years?
I run a side business, when I am not on a film set, editing book trailers
mostly for authors of young-adult books. I have worked the most with
Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize book series (also supernatural). My most
recent book trailer was one I did for Kimberley Griffiths Little's book,
The Healing Spell. I also edit trailers for independent films. This is
another part of the filmmaking process that I enjoy so greatly, because
you are taking all of the pieces and pulling them together to make one
you also make rock music - what can you tell us about your music, where is
it available, and who are your main influences?
first three original songs that I recorded especially for The Incubus
Motion Picture Soundtrack are now available on iTunes. They were
masterfully produced and co-written by Ginger-Ly Salem and Steve Salem
from Ginger-Ly Enterprises. I am currently in the development stages of
finding myself as an artist. But what I can already say about my
music-to-come is that because I am such a dramatic personality, my music
will have a lot of dramatic influences. I love rock and songs that
actually make you feel something - songs that bring something out of you.
I absolutely love Paramore! They are my first influence, though my voice
sounds nothing like hers. I also love Lady Gaga, and Kings of Leon, and
Creed. So a little of this and a little of that and you get Shayne! :)
(and/or indeed actors) who inspire you?
Kidman (for her performance in Moulin Rouge) - she is beautiful and
amazing, and a redhead! She doesn't feel the need to be classic Hollywood
and spend time in tanning beds all day. I also
really admire and respect Meryl Streep! She is so dynamic and can play
anything! I love Jodie Foster - for her strength, and Penelope Cruz - for
her sensuality. I think Robert Downey jr is legendary and amazing and
of course I can't leave my dream husband Johnny Depp off the list. But not
because he's good looking. Because I fell in love with him when he played
Sam in Benny and Joon, which is my all time favorite movie.
Rice. Enough said. Her novels aren't novels. They are poetry in book form.
I also have a lot of respect for the Coen Brothers.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Directors who have influenced your directorial
Burton. Tim Burton... did I say Tim Burton? He is a genius. I love how
magical he makes every one of his films feel. It's like I feel like I'm
ten again when I watch them - like I am experiencing magic for the first
time. He is so brilliant and I have seen every last one of his films ten
Your favourite movies?
and Joon, Coraline, Edward Scissorhands, Moulin
Rouge, Big Fish, Mamma Mia,
and Sweeney Todd.
course, films you have really deplored?
we just discuss Twilight for a minute since I know there will be people
comparing my film to that of Catherine Hardwicke. That woman was given
millions of dollars. I was given thousands. Lets take a look at these
films side by side. I know there are a lot of Twi-lovers out there, and I
totally respect the fandom. Like I said, I love the supernatural romance
genre, and I liked the books, but there was so much to be done with this
film both directorial and acting-wise that just wasn't done.
I also can't
stand idiotic comedies with bathroom humor... (i.e. Not Another Teen
Super Bad (gonna get hate mail for that one), Scary Movie-series,
Beer Fest, ... I think you get the picture.) I also hated the movie
which I thought I would like... but it was a sad disappointment.
you are dying to mention and I have just forgotten to ask?
an awesome interviewer! I seriously think we have covered it all.
for the interview!
No no... thank you!!! :)