Supanova Comic Con & Gaming’s first-ever online Supa-Star event, an interactive online screening of Juliet Landau‘s A Place Among The Dead, starring Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman and more, is set to take place on Saturday, 13 February.
The film is a revealing and terrifying exploration of our fascination with vampires, and ahead of its screening, we caught up with Landau, who wrote, directed and stars in the film, to talk about its creation, working with such a huge cast, what influence her role as Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer had and more.
How would you describe ‘A Place Among The Dead’ to someone?
A Place Among The Dead explores the repercussions of growing up under the sway of narcissism and evil. I play an alter ego version of myself, as does Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Robert Patrick, Lance Henriksen, Joss Whedon and best-selling authors Charlaine Harris and Anne Rice, both appearing for the first time ever in a scripted, narrative movie.
We use the vampire metaphor to make an entertaining movie AND to lull the audience into a sense of safety to explore unsafe and radical ideas. I bring in my and the other actors’ histories, and of course, the vampire is the perfect metaphor for the ultimate narcissist.
Where did the inspiration for the film and its unique format come from?
My husband, Deverill Weekes, and I co-wrote and co-produced the movie. We both come from this kind of background. We wanted to make a movie that we hadn’t seen before and tackle something that isn’t covered in film, and really isn’t covered in society as a whole. But there is a deep yearning for it. If you type in “narcissism”, the numbers are staggering! There are 9,120,000 YouTube video results, 70,400,000 Google results. Psychological abuse has 188 million Google results. There obviously is a need for people to look at this.
A Place Among The Dead is entirely scripted. We do blur the lines of reality. The movie is crafted as part fact part, part fiction, part fantastical… but it’s all scripted. Even our faux interviews sections are completely scripted. I chose to make A Place Among The Dead searingly personal. You know the old adage, “the more personal, the more universal”. I’m inviting the viewer to become the participant, to have an emotional and visceral experience, to put themselves into the story. The whole point is to make a compelling movie AND to give voice to what has affected many, to open up a dialogue.
How was it working with such a huge cast on your directorial debut?
It was incredible! The very first person that I reached out to was Anne Rice. We had a conversation, and she immediately said yes!
Gary Oldman, I had worked with prior. I reached out to him, and it was the same thing. Robert Patrick produced one of the first movies I ever did. I sent him the material and he came on board immediately. I had worked with Lance on a different project, and went to his manager. Bringing the cast together was a serendipitous experience. Not one person whom we reached out to said no. Every single person not only said yes, but said so quickly. It seems the talent believed in the message of the movie and the vision that I had for it.
Why do you think people are so fascinated with vampires? What sort of insight have you gained over the years via Drusilla?
I think it’s an enduring way to explore different facets of our own natures. It is a dance with the intriguing idea of staying young and vital forever, of cheating mortality. Playing Dru and being part of Joss’ universe was extraordinary. I not only gained insight into vampires, but also about how to try to best to run my own set and hopefully foster an environment of focused creativity.
What do you hope audiences take away from ‘A Place Among The Dead’?
Each of the interactive zooms with the audience post screenings has lasted four hours!
The response has been profound. People, who don’t come from this kind of background, relate in different ways. They’ve had experiences with a spouse, an ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, a boss, co-worker, friend, relative. They’re impacted by our world leaders. Clearly, at this particular moment, where narcissism, cruelty, and evil actions are escalating in our society, it is a critical discussion to be having. It’s time…
Any messages for your Supa-Fans?
I’m so excited to get to see everyone at this special screening event we’ve put together just for the awesome Supa-Fans! It’s a perfect way to stay connected. We’ve all been starved for connection, communication and entertainment. We can’t come to Australia to screen in person right now, but we can share in watching A Place Among The Dead all together and talking about it! I can’t wait to see everyone there!
Lead image: ‘A Place Among The Dead’ stars Juliet Landau and Gary Oldman. Photo by Deverill Weekes.