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Sunday, March 15, 2015

MARIA OLSEN


There was no way I was passing up a chance to have another blood soaked promo picture when the opportunity presented itself.

I am just going to save some space here so you can do a big fun self-aggrandizing intro for yourself:

Oh, I’m just a girl from East London, South Africa, trying to navigate her way through Tinseltown without getting into too much trouble! 

You are in pretty much everything. Like, I have joked about that with a few subjects, but you are the queen. How do you keep track of it all? I am legit asking for time/life management tips here!

(Seriously. Check out her imdb page.)

Before I moved to the USA in 2005, I practiced as a Bankruptcy Trustee and administered hundreds of cases at a time. This taught me how to manage my time and how to prioritize, and I use what I learned there to keep track of the tons of projects I’m involved in, both acting and producing, and to ensure that I get everything done by when it has to be done. I also enjoy working to deadlines, as that gives me a concrete way to structure my time and to know when to get something done by. When there are no deadlines to work to, I allocate time to everything I have to do so that nothing is forgotten. Yes, it might take me a long time to get to read a certain script or answer a certain email, but that’s because I’m literally inundated with messages and such every day and, not only do I have to wade through everything to figure out what is urgent and what isn't, I also have to answer the things that need my immediate attention. And then, of course, my carefully constructed schemes are always thrown out of the window whenever unexpected auditions or shoots arrive! 

You have played your fair share of zombies in your career. As a seasoned pro, what advice would you have for anyone trying to break into the zombie acting biz?

Zombies must:

A. Love their prosthetic: do not be afraid to sneeze into your prosthetic as the make-up artist will absolutely love you when they have to take your prosthetic off after 10 hours of shooting and there’s slimy, sticky sneeze-debris all over the inside;  had an inside-prosthetic sneezing attack while shooting Death Valley.

B.  Learn their lines: the zombies who didn't know the words to their theme song in Undying Love never lived it down. It went something like “we’re zoooombies, we’re zooooombies; we zom all day and we bie all night." I kid you not; find the film on Youtube and watch it!

EDITORS NOTE: Did that for you.


C. Allow others to handle their eyeballs.  I cannot count the number of times make-up and FX people have stuck their fingers in my eyes to fix my FX contact lenses. 

Let me see: One: Let Them --  before every take. Two: The Remains. Three: Curtain. Four: Agoraphobia. Five...you get the picture!

You tend to bounce around from big named pictures like Saving Mr. Banks or Neighbors, to one of my favorite indie horror movies in years Starry Eyes. Now, disregarding size of the role, do you have to alter your mindset on each shoot, or is it all just the same?

What my mindset is on a particular shoot depends very much on the type and size of the role I’m playing -- so, yup, size IS important! 

[Laughs]

There is no way that my head will be in the same place for a few-hour no-line, just-standing-there, shoot like Neighbors, to an on-set-for-five-weeks, starring role, shoot like Reunion.  How I approach the bigger roles also depends on whether the characters I’m playing are human or not, as it’s very much easier – and takes very much less thought – to justify odd and often bloodthirsty behavior for creatures that aren't human.

I am just going to keep on trucking bouncing around your resume. You were in Percy Jackson, and I've always wondered what the feeling is on the set for big fantasy epics. I mean, it all seems silly on paper with elves and gods and what have you, just wonder how that translates to actually making the big costume epic.

Most of my scenes were all as normal as normal can be: they were in a classroom where I chatted to my students, on location at a Vancouver school, and in a museum where my students and I checked out an exhibition, in a studio just outside Vancouver. The interesting part came when I confronted Percy and suddenly found myself on top of – and then jumping off of – a 20ft high scaffolding! My Fury was all CGI, though, and I never actually got to fly around on set, or fly out of a window, covered in prosthetic with 20ft wings attached -- damn! I was going to be written into a scene in Hell with Hades, but that never panned out -- again, damn! THAT would have been interesting as there it would have been full-on “elves and gods,” so to speak!

You actually entered my radar because of the movie Die-ner (Get it?) because, if I see a title like that, there is no way I can resist it. I know you are the first one to die, but do you have any cool stories from the set? The whole thing was shot in about a week, right?

I think we shot it in just over a week, maybe 8 days. I was on set for only 5 of those days, if I remember correctly, and, although, yes, I bought it early, Zombie Rose lived to eat brains another day! My fave story from on set doesn't even concern me but, instead, has my now-producing partner, Edward Payson of An AntiHero Production, in a starring role: he was one of the random zombies that invade the diner at the end of the film and he was given an actual piece of pig’s intestine to chew on. Going “full zombie” he bit down into it...hard...and then spent the rest of the take with a mouthful of whatever the pig had eaten and tried to get rid of just before it had checked out... Can you say EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!???

You have a production company, MOnsterworks 66 (check out their facebook page here.). Tell me all about what cool stuff you're up to, what the mission statement is/what you have in the works. Basically, this is a clumsily worded forum for you to gush about what I think is the coolest thing you do.

I originally set up MO66 to be a company that connects people in order to get movies made. I have a HUGE number of industry connections, and if I hear of anyone wanting someone with a specific skill, I usually know just where to look for that skill, so I connect people, and they get stuff made. I also co-produce features, both narrative and documentary, and I usually lend my skills to areas like casting, marketing, promotions, administration and, occasionally, when on location, catering!

At the moment, here’s where we’re at with the different productions:

 Faraway, co-produced with Randal Kamradt’s Soliloquy Films, is on Amazon and showing in film festivals.

Live-in Fear, co-produced with Brandon Scullion’s Iodine Sky Produtions, is on the festival circuit and will shortly be released through Wild Eye Releasing. We recently won Best Grindhouse Feature and Best Actress, Arielle Brachfeld, at the 2014 RIP Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Way Down in Chinatown, co-produced with Eric Michael Kochmer, is on Amazon Instant Video.

Something Sinister, co-produced with Christopher Dye’s DyeNamic Films, is out of post-production and we’re about to have a test screening.

Reunion, co-produced with Shawn Chou and Precious Hilton, should emerge from post during April and then will be shown to several distributors who have asked to see it.

Our Friend Jon – The Documentary and Sunday Night Slaughters, both co-produced with Edward’s An AntiHero Production, are both still shooting. 

 We’re currently looking for funding for Blood Angel (Carl Lindbergh/ANOC Productions), Happy Ending (Phil Condit/Sick Puppy Pictures), Cruel Summer and Pitbull (An AntiHero), Our Zombie Mother (Patrick Griffin/Griffin Studios), Slash and Grizzled! (Rycke Foreman/haRMFul Productions) and several more.

I am a huge Cannon Films Junkie, and ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene?

For me I think it’s the fluidity of an action scene that makes it great. I think my all-time favorite action sequences are the opening of Superman III, the 1983 one, and Indiana Jones’ ride in a railway car in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

I really, really liked 1313 Blood Lane (The facebook page for it, naturally, can be found here.)  
Are there any plans for new episodes? I may or may not've watched A Nightmare on Elm Street with your commentary this past week. 

Ha! I hope you enjoyed Nightmare with our yapping in the background! Unfortunately, at the moment, due to our ever-increasing workloads, Barry, Edward and I don’t have any plans to record any more episodes, but, I guess, ya never know! We have many more fan commentaries that you can enjoy, though.

I hear through the grapevine you have a pretty impressive comic collection. Any standout issues you are proud to have in your possession? 

Well, I don’t know if they’re considered standout issues by anyone but myself, but the ones I love most are my Wonder Woman and Teen Titan issues drawn by Dick Giordano and George Perez!

Pretty much all my most prized comics are beat up old issues of Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, sentiment always trumps importance!

You can follow Maria on twitter, and  facebook. Also, as you can see from the imdb page I linked, you'd have to go out of your way to not see her in something!

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