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An Interview with Dana Kippel, Director and Star of Reflect

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2024

Dana Kippel on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Reflect - in a few words, what's it about?

 

In a few words… mental health, metaphysical philosophy and connection. :)

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Reflect, and is any of it based on personal experiences?

 

What inspired me the most was a book called The Red Book by Carl Jung and a book called The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock, which showed me a feminine story structure. It is heavily based on issues I have dealt with in my life like family trauma, childhood trauma, sobriety and addiction, and feeling disconnected. Also my trouble forming loving and trusting female relationships.

 

As Reflect contains elements of esoterica, science fiction, thriller, horror even, did you at all think along genre lines when thinking up your movie, and how would you categorize your film yourself?

 

I did not, haha! I knew I wanted to categorize it metaphysical film. I am trying to get that genre to be more popular and I think it will be over the next few years. It is mixing science and spirituality. It is a nice in-between where you can explore consciousness, thoughts on our reality and other subjects in an almost magical but natural way. Metaphysics is a paradox and art can also be a paradox. Some things are hard to put into words and you have to look deeper. Sometimes movies are more like a feeling. Or a knowing.

 

What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

I obsessed over my shot list when it came to the story. Obviously this was an indie movie and there were many things I could not pull off or achieve, but I did want to make sure we got closer into the girls faces as the film went on to show we were connecting more. I also wanted maximum depth to show the beautiful background of Sedona, Arizona in the film. I wanted vivid colors as well. I let the girls do their thing for the most part because I was also acting in it, so directing their performances was actually quite hard. I will not be acting in my second film because I want to make sure I dedicate myself as a director to the story in the future. My main goal was to make sure the girls felt free and comfortable to express themselves artistically. I have grown a lot since this film.

 

You also play the lead in Reflect - so what can you tell us about your character, what did you draw upon to bring her to life, and did you write Summer with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

I drew upon my own experiences with trauma and feeling disconnected from myself and others. I drew on my past relationship experiences as well. I tried to be open to letting whatever wanted to come through, come through. I didn’t exactly have myself in mind, but the way I wrote it was basically me so it just made sense to act in it as her. If I could do it again I actually would cast someone else so I could spend more time directing it and the performances.

 

Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

These people are my friends. That is literally why haha! I mean they are talented and I love them but I did not have many resources or much money and they all agreed to do it for cheap. I picked them specifically because I thought each of them brought something special to the character and I wrote it for them. Ariana Brown who played Nia is the only one who auditioned and I loved that she felt natural and seemed to fit the character well. She did a great job as a first timer.

 

You of course also have to talk about your wonderful outdoors location, and what was it like filming there? And how did you find it even?

 

It was COLD! We filmed in December so that there were no tourists and it was more barren. But it was breathtakingly beautiful as well. It was pretty easy to film there and the locals were very nice. I found it through location scouting myself twice, after visiting on a trip myself. I had filmed a movie called Hellhounds in Phoenix and wanted to take a little mental health break so I went to Sedona. I fell in love and knew I had to shoot my movie there.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

The atmosphere was natural and friendly. We all knew each other so we felt comfortable and it felt like it flowed. I am amazed we got everything finished for the money and time we had. Which was around 50k to shoot it and around 12-14 days in Sedona.

 

The $64-question of course, when and where will Reflect be released?

 

It is OUT NOW! Jan 9 on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu and will follow probably on Tubi soon after.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Reflect?

 

The audience surprisingly seems to be a bit older. Which I am loving. A lot of people who lived in the 60s and 70s said it reminded them more of films in that time, or more like French new wave cinema. Also it caters to a spiritual audience. People who are seeking answers… people who feel lost… people who like watching films to learn esoteric secrets. The reception I am not sure yet, but I will say it is a different film, it is meant to be more like a therapy session or mystery school, so I am sure some people will not like it, but the ones who get it will get it. And that is all I care about.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I am directing a bigger budgeted sci-fi this summer. I cannot say much but I am VERY excited to show how I have grown as a filmmaker.

 

What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I tried acting classes and I hated them. I did train with a private teacher, Anthony Gilardi, and he helped me fall back in love with acting and bring myself to it. I also think working on myself, therapy and my spirituality has greatly influenced my acting. I think the better you know yourself the more depth you can have as an actor and human.

 

Do describe yourself as an actress, and what are some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?

 

Sure yes! I would say filmmaker first, actress second. But I really do love acting and playing in specific roles. The role has to speak to me for me to do it, or else I am not the right person for it. My number one technique is letting go. I try to empty myself for the character to come through and use me. Almost like if they are a consciousness and I am receiving them. Sometimes it does not work and I am very in my head, but when it happens it feels like magic and it is addicting.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Reflect?

 

Reflect was the first major thing I did. I know it is not perfect. I am just learning as I go and putting myself out there. I know some people will like me and some won’t. I want to be great not just good. So I have work to do. And I know I have already grown so much.

 

From what I know, Reflect is your debut as writer and director - so what made you pick up behind-the-camera work for this movie? And based on your experiences with Reflect, could you ever be persuaded to write and direct another movie?

 

I have always wanted to make films. Ever since I was a kid. I just didn’t realize I could! As soon as I did it was game on! I love storytelling and bringing my unique ideas to others. It is a vehicle for me to hopefully get my ideas out there honestly. I will 1000% be directing and writing my next film this summer :)

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Picturesque, naturalistic, whimsical and metaphysical - I also like to do new things and experiment. I am a bit of a futurist and philosopher.

 

Filmmakers, actresses, writers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

Too many people so I will narrow it down to a few of each! Chris Nolan, M Night Shyamalan, Terrence Malick, Brit Marling, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Terry Gilliam, Jeff Nichols, Kirsten Dunst, Eve Hewson, Denzel Washington, Rain Wilso, David Bohm, Robert Temple, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nassim Haramein, Haruki Murakami, Nikola Tesla, Jean Houston, Lynne Mctaggart.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

I Origins and Another Earth, The Endless, Interstellar, Arrival, Contact, Mr. Nobody, Take Shelter, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Coherence, Boyhood, Good Time, Disconnect, Grandmas Boy, The Ring… I have a wide spectrum.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I know how hard it is to make a movie, let alone a good movie - so I won’t spread any hate. They are all miracles!

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

www.reflectmovie.com

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USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

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Instagram is @reflectmovie, and my Instagram is @dana.thealien

You can watch Reflect now on Amazon Prime, Vudu and Apple TV!!!! Also if you like poetry check out my book Autopoiesis: Metaphysical Poetry on Amazon!

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Do I believe in aliens? Yes.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

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special appearances by
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directed by
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written by
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produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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