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An Interview with Scarlet Moreno, Director and Star of Velma

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2024

Scarlet Moreno on (re)Search my Trash

 

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

 

Velma is a 1960s visual feast that follows our main character on a psychological journey of shame and sexuality, and invites us to examine our societal views of both!

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Velma?

 

Velma is inspired by feminine internalized shame. When people ask and I say it out loud it actually makes me laugh to put it in those words, but I do think it explains the inspiration really well. For centuries women have been shamed or ridiculed for being either too sexual or not sexual enough, and I think unfortunately for many that shame becomes intrinsic and internalized. Writing this story through the lens of a character who experiences this shame so deeply and specifically was really what inspired the entire concept.

 

I think one of the key aspects of Velma is its costume and set design - so what were your outlines there, and to what extent were you involved in the actual creation of these?

 

The look of the film is very purposeful on my end. I love to set my stories in highly stylized worlds, as I think it's a really fun juxtaposition to put a difficult story in a beautiful setting. When it comes to execution, it's so important to build a team of people who I trust to execute the vision that I've set out to create. Chaine Leyendecker is the costume designer on Velma, and is an incredible talent who I have collaborated with on nearly all of my films. She fully understood the world of Velma and sourced costumes that perfectly expressed the character's insane inner world. Charlotte Long, our set designer, is another wonderfully talented artist who really understood what I was hoping to achieve with Velma's environment and also executed it beautifully. The house that I sourced as our location to serve as Velma's home came decorated as it appears in the film, so I feel like that was a huge gift from the universe in the film's creation.

 

A recurring element in Velma is the Andy Williams song Moon River - so why that song, and what does it mean to you personally?

 

When I create and then play a character, I usually make a playlist for said character that I listen to on set to get me into their mood and their world. Moon River was on the playlist for Velma, and because we shot the film MOS, I was able to play her playlist out loud. The first time I danced to that song with one of Velma's dates, I knew it was THE song for the film. It also has some personal significance to me as it was one of my paternal grandmother Thelma's favorite songs.

 

A few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

My directorial approach for Velma was I think very much to allow the juxtaposition between her inner world and her outer world to speak loudly to the audience. I think it helped to create a palpable discomfort. From the food to the clothing to the set dressing, there is a near-surreal glamour that pervades. Giving it a dream-like look helped drive forward the nightmare that is what is actually happening.

 

You also play the titular character in Vlema - so what can you tell us about her, what did you draw upon to bring her to life, and how much Scarlet Moreno can we actually find in Velma?

 

I love this question as it's actually pretty difficult to answer but also a little bit fun. Is Velma autobiographical? No. Is there a hint of Velma in all women who have experienced the difficult feelings that come with being a sexual object or having to learn to weaponize our own sexuality? Maybe. Was Velma more than a little bit cathartic for Scarlet Moreno to play? Definitely.

 

Do talk about your co-star Zach Tinker, and what made him perfect for the job?

 

Zach is a star. He is also a friend of mine and the kindest human. When he walks into a room his energy glows, so I think that close-up shot of him when he is introduced as "The Special One", where he is literally almost glowing really personifies his radiant energy as an actor and a person.

 

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

 

The on-set atmosphere was pretty wonderful. I worked with a very small crew. I believe there were no more than 12 people on set at once. We were all walking around this beautiful strange house, listening to "Moon River" on repeat, so I'd say there was a definite dreamy quality to it.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Velma be seen?

 

Velma goes public March 26th and is premiering via Geek Tyrant but will ultimately be available on Vimeo!

 

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

 

Throughout Velma's journey on the festival circuit, I really loved being able to share this film with people in person and experience their reactions to it in theatres. I think as a director, you of course hope that your film and your message is received as was intended, and that isn't always the case, for better or worse. With Velma though, it really was received how I hoped it would be, and that has been such a wonderful reward and a wonderful feeling.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Absolutely! My latest project, a short called Little Lucha & The Big Deal, will hopefully begin its festival circuit this year! I co-directed and co-wrote this film with Josh Stifter, who I met on the show Rebel Without a Crew, where we were both selected filmmakers. It's a wonderful tale of the underdog and how far an artist (or in this case, an 80s semi-pro wrestler) is willing to go to make their dreams come true. Look out for the trailer coming soon!

 

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

 

As a child I always knew I wanted to perform or act in some capacity. I also always loved film and was extremely inspired by directors like Wes Anderson and Tarantino. The worlds they built and the characters that inhabited them always spoke really loudly to me. Out of highschool, I went to NYU and got my BFA in Theatre. Then, I began writing and directing short films so that I could act in them. That's where I fell in love with directing as an artform. Although I never received formal training in filmmaking, I would say my acting training really helped me as a director.

 

You seem to be as comfortable in front of the camera as behind it - so which side do you actually prefer, and why?

 

Acting will always be my first love, but I have found that the magic is in the storytelling, which you can do on both sides of the camera. I truly love bringing characters and stories to life, whether it's in front of or behind it.

 

Your filmwork prior to Velma, in whatever position?

 

Prior to Velma I have directed and acted in three of my own short films as well as my first feature, Phaedrawhich I made under the guidance of director Robert Rodriguez on his show Rebel Without a Crew. The catch on that show was that we had to make our features in two weeks with a budget of only $7000, which is how Rodriguez made his first feature, El Mariachi. I call that experience the most difficult thing I'd ever done and simultaneously the most fun I'd ever had. I also love to direct music videos for independent artists and do some costume design and styling every once in a while!

 

How would you describe yourself as an actress, and how as a director?

 

As an actress, I would describe myself as a vessel through which to drive forward a larger narrative, a voice to tell stories for those who maybe feel they can't, hopefully a malleable artist who is able to leave my audience with new perspectives or even just new feelings. As a director, I would describe myself as one who builds wild and beautiful worlds within which to tell sometimes difficult truths.

 

Actresses, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

Actresses like Chloe Sevigny, Jennifer Coolidge, Reese Witherspoon, Winona Ryder, and Juliette Lewis among so many. Filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, John Waters, Dario Argento, Hitchcock and Fellini, among many others.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Inglourious Basterds, Valley of the Dolls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria, The Royal Tenenbaums.

 

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

 

This is such a funny and difficult question I really have to think about. Ok I officially thought very hard about this and this answer might be so annoying, but I can find the good in maybe any movie. I truly think a movie being made is an actual miracle, so I tend to see the good even in the objectively bad ones. I am also notorious for watching ANY horror movie, whether it's bad or good, and fully enjoying it. Perhaps not the answer you were looking for but there she is.

 

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

 

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You can find me @scarletinni on Instagram, and more info about me and my other work at www.scarletmoreno.com

 

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

 

I just want to give a big shout out to Velma's DP Justin Moore, who truly understood the assignment when it came to creating Velma, and had a huge hand in its feeling and execution, as well as my friend and collaborator Matias Piegari, who was the sound designer and created the original score for Velma and is just such an all around genius.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you so much for having me!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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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.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

Amazon

Amazon UK

Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
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
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!