Interview with Hallie Shepherd of Last Seen in Idaho
By IndieClub columnist Petra Davies
September 17, 2015
In the spirit of Interview Magazine, the following is the transcript of an interview with writer-producer-actress Hallie Shepherd regarding her upcoming film Last Seen in Idaho, a film from the Washington-state production company Fireshoe Productions, which you can follow on Facebook & Twitter:
Petra Davies (PD) - You just wrapped production on your latest feature film, Last Seen in Idaho.
Hallie Shepherd (HS) - We did.
PD - How do you feel about that?
HS - Well, you're catching me less than forty-eight hours since we wrapped, so there's some mixed emotions. I'm really excited about this movie. We had a fantastic cast and crew on board, and it always feels like a huge accomplishment to finish a shoot. But it's also sad to say goodbye to everyone. It's such a rush to make a movie. I mean, it's many months in a row to get ready for a film and then you get to set, and it's crazy-long hours of non-stop work and fast bonding with everyone, and then suddenly, everything is done. Well, not everything. Now we have an entire movie to edit. The whole post-production starts!
PD - Is editing the next step then?
HS - No, the next step is to sleep for three days straight. Then we begin editing.
PD - Can you tell us about the story?
HS - The script?
PD - Right.
HS - Yeah, it's about a woman named Summer who witnesses a crime and flees the scene, wrecking her car in a big fireball.
PD - That sounds fatal.
HS - It probably usually is. (laughs) Not if you're thrown from the car. Then it's just near fatal.
PD - Right.
HS - So Summer wakes up in the hospital and can't remember the day of the accident, so she's got no memory of the crime she witnessed. But she's having some strange symptoms. She's having visions of her future kidnapping and murder, all linked to what she witnessed and now can't recall. Basically, she has to stop her own murder before it happens.
PD - Ooh, that's sounds good.
HS - Thanks. I hope so. There are some really interesting characters in the story that you don't know their intentions along the way - are they good, are they bad? Lots of twists and turns. And we had some amazing actors bring them to life and take what was on the page and do so much more with it.
PD - Who's in your cast?
HS - We had Casper Van Dien [Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow, Mortal Combat] playing one of the lead villains.
PD - Starship Troopers! Love that guy.
HS - Yes, Starship Troopers! So cool, right? Yeah, in our movie, Casper plays Brock, who is a really cold, sick character that enjoys inflicting pain. Casper was fantastic to work with. He brought a really intense performance that's exciting to watch and exciting to act opposite. And then we also had Wes Ramsey [CSI Miami, Charmed, Deliverance Creek] playing Franco, a complex character that's assigned by the bad guys to find out what Summer can or can't remember.
PD - So he's a villain too?
HS - Well, he's in with the bad guys, but some audience members may find themselves wanting to like him despite it all. Wes brings a lot of interesting layers to the role. A lot of our scenes in the film are together, and I loved acting with him. He really elevates the scene.
PD - So would you say the Franco character is an anti-hero?
HS - That's hard to answer. A lot of this movie has to do with who Summer can and can't trust, and that's ever changing. You'll have to watch it and decide for yourself who you like or don't like. And then we also had Shawn Christian [Days of our Lives, Small Town Saturday Night] playing, well, another bad guy (laughs).
PD - Lots of bad guys in this movie.
HS - I guess there are. Of course, if you talk to Shawn, his character has a heart of gold, and it's all Summer's fault that he's turned to a life of crime.
PD - Summer's fault?
HS - Sorry, you have no context for what I'm saying, do you? Let me back this up. Shawn plays Lance, who is Summer's ex-boyfriend and one of the leaders of this group of criminals that committed the crime she witnesses in the beginning of the movie. Shawn is one of those actors that comes in with a very elaborate, fully realized back story for his character, and I really felt like it added so much to the character of Lance. It's not necessarily something that the audience ever gets to know in terms of back story, but Shawn would tell me where he was coming from and I'd just think it was brilliant. We had fun improvising lines between the takes just to get into the mindset when the camera wasn't rolling.
PD - And you play the lead character Summer?
HS - I do.
PD - When you wrote the script, did you know you were playing Summer?
HS - Um.... well, I wrote an original version of the script about nine years ago that was an absolute mess. But I really liked the main characters and the overall premise, so I revisited it three years after that and I did a totally different version that was more of an action-comedy. But I felt like that missed the mark tone-wise. And then about three years after that, I wrote a much grittier version but the mystery elements were just too convoluted - kind of like this answer to your question. Yes, I am actually circling back to your original question!
PD - I was starting to wonder.
HS - So with those first three scrapped versions, no I did not really think of myself as playing Summer. It never really got past me feeling like it was just a rough draft that wasn't working. But then in the fall of 2014, I wrote a completely new version of the script from page one, really only hanging on to a few key elements and characters, and with that version - which is the movie version - I knew I was playing Summer. But when I'm writing early on, I don't tend to think of myself in the role. I write it as a writer the way I want to tell the story. In later writing stages, I started to think of the character as me.
PD - Did the main character always have psychic visions in all versions of the script?
HS - Yes.
PD - So there was always a supernatural element?
HS - I guess that depends on your point of view when it comes to psychic abilities (laughs). Personally, yes, I would say there is a slight supernatural element to it. Some people might challenge that.
PD - Like who?
HS - Like maybe tarot card readers (laughs). I don't know! Listen, I am open-minded. I don't think we know what the mind is really capable of. I try to trust my intuition, and it's guided me well many times in surprising ways where I have felt like I knew things in my gut before it was proven to be true in any tangible way. Call it a sixth sense, or maybe just call it not wearing blinders and not being oblivious to the signals you get from people and surroundings. I don't know. But in any case, I do think there are also a lot of so-called psychics that claim to be able to do things in order to take advantage monetarily of people who are hurting or grieving. But overall, I am fascinated by topics of premonition and intuition. It makes for good dinner conversation. I mean, depending on what's for dinner.
PD - Depending on what's for dinner?
HS - Yeah, like it seems like something you'd talk about over salmon and quinoa, but maybe not pizza. (laughs). Or maybe it would actually be better to discuss over pizza and beer. Yeah! You know, I think any cuisine would work. Never mind. I'm not making sense anymore. I'm tired from the shoot. (laughs)
PD - (laughs) Tell me about working with IndieClub creator and director Eric Colley.
HS - Well, I love working with Eric, of course. He's my husband, for one, and we've been a team for over a decade. He's very talented and a very calm leader on set. This was an ambitious shoot on a pretty short schedule with an indie budget. I don't know anyone better than Eric to tackle a project of this scope and make sure at the end of the day, we walk away with all of the important story moments and really beautiful shots to capture a look and feel that's unique to this story.
PD - Any final thoughts?
HS - Final thoughts? Well... I feel like I've said a lot. Do you feel like I've deprived you of interesting things? Should we have a do-over? Back to one?
PD - (laughs) No. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything.
HS - No, I think we're good. Really, I'd just like to thank our cast and crew for working so hard. I miss them already.
PD - Thanks, Hallie. I look forward to seeing the movie.
HS - Thank you.