We were recently pleasantly surprised upon screening the micro-budget indie film Pretty Dead, the most impressive aspect of which is certainly the performance of Carly Oates in the lead role of Regina. This week she sat down with Dread Central to discuss the film.
“I had worked with Ben (Wilkins, Pretty Dead director) before, and he called and said I have something I want you to screen test for,” Oates said when describing how she became involved in the project. “But afterward I started thinking that there was no script and it was just kinda out there. So I told them I was going to pass on it. But Ben was like ‘No, no, no…let me get you a script. You’re gonna love it.’ He sent me the script and I still wasn’t sure because it was such an extreme story that’s really a blending of fantasy and reality. I tend to be more of a dramatic actor and I wasn’t sure how we were going to marry the two. So I started doing research and found out there were a lot more similarities between my character, Regina, and myself than I ever would have expected.”.
And a good call it was by Wilkins as he needed a truly beautiful actress to fill the role and make the film work, as those who have seen the film will attest. It’s a love story that pushes the limits of commitment for Oates’ co-star Ryan Shogren.
Oates noted that as Pretty Dead (review here) is a retrieved footage film, Wilkins wanted to keep the shots as realistic as possible. “Ben was really creative with finding a way to create situations where it would make sense that there would be a camera there and not having some random person just kinda hanging out that just happens to have a camera.”
The physicality of the role was certainly something that Oates had to adjust to. “When you have a project with a small budget, you’re doing a lot of guerilla filmmaking and I was in a real straitjacket and I remember I had this custom mask over my face and I’m like, ‘Really, I’m going to have to wear that with a straitjacket?’ It’s uncomfortable but it helps with the reality of understanding this is what it would have been like. I mean, you have pounds of makeup and pads on your body and a straitjacket and you can’t move your arms, crazy hair that’s sticking to the makeup on your face. I had to do some breathing because I was a little short of freaking out. For me, it helped me feel what she would have been experiencing.”
Oates recalls one particularly intense shoot. “There is a scene where I’m strapped down to a gurney and Ben is off camera screaming, ‘Keep going! Keep fighting them! You have inhuman strength.’ I remember at the end of the scene he calls out, ‘You okay, Carly?’ And I was like, ‘Fuck you, Ben. Fuck you.’ I had nothing left and it was the most honest response. I felt like I had run a marathon.”
Oates is open to future horror projects and if her performance in Pretty Dead is any indication, she’ll be a knockout again. Oates is not your average scream queen…she bites back! Keep an eye on her!
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