By Saga Elmotaseb
If you love the 80’s and who doesn’t? This is your film. I totally loved “Creedmoria”! The story follows your typical dysfunctional East Coast family from one trial and error to the next. All seen thru the point of view of the main character, Candy, joyfully portrayed by Stef Dawson, who steals the show with her innocent mischievousness and spunky carrot top hair right down to her totally tubular outlook on staying true to her core.
The matriarch of the family, dashingly played by Rachel de Benedet (I loved hating her), shows that mother doesn’t always know best. The lack of love and tenderness and the tough love approach she uses with her kids, made me almost afraid of her wrath. What kept the film glued was the bond between Candy and her brothers. It brought me back to those high school days of sneaking around and hiding as many truths from mom because mom was so not cool, all in order to keep following your dream of being free and happy. Ahh, the good old days of New Age music and neon colors in everyday clothing!
Ultimately this movie is about family and that no matter what, you’ve got to keep it together or get the you know what out! I especially liked the soundtrack. Pat Benetar, The Cure and Tears for Fears, the classics of a decade of decadence that still resonate today. The music played a huge part in the emotions that director and writer Alicia Slimmer delivered. I loved the messy way these people love. It’s real, honest and I believed every second of it.
The Film“Creedmoria” is now running a 3 for 3 winning streak that began with 2016 Cinequest’s jury prize for Best Comedy Feature. “Creedmoria” was also honored twice in the same night, once in New York with The 2016 Brooklyn Film Festivals’s Audience Award, and again, hours later in LA with the 2016 Dances With Films Festival’s Industry Choice Award.
TAOM: Why did you make this movie?
Alicia Slimmer (Writer/Producer/Director): It was a dream of mine to make this movie! After making my first short, which screened at Dances With Films in 2012, I had a completely different movie in mind to make. It was a dream of mine to make a feature. I got pregnant with my daughter and while pregnant, I was thinking so much about the mother daughter relationship and family and what family really means.
TAOM:Film review & Interview with Writer/Producer/Director Alicia Slimmer and Star Stef Dawson. The movie feels somewhat biographical to me. Are you Candy?
AS: You know, she’s way more sunshiny than me! I was more afraid of everything and everybody as a young girl. I wanted to explore the mother/daughter dynamic because I thought your mother is the most important person as you’re growing up but you break away as you grow up which is natural, and I’m afraid of it with my daughter now. She’s 12 and thinks I’m a rock star but I know the day will come when she’ll think I’m not as cool anymore. That was the imputes that got all this started.
TAOM: Why the 80’s?
AS: That was the time period that I knew and grew up in. Making this movie set in that time period was a double-edged sword. There were no laptops, cells phones that I didn’t have to include in the script. Which was refreshing. But the downfall was keeping the modern day cars out of the shots and trying to make the look of the movie feel nostalgic like a throw back to that time.
TAOM: What production challenges came up while on set in keeping true to the 80’s? How did you handle wardrobe and production design?
AS: Well, we had no budget! When we were shooting, many of the crew didn’t get paid. I didn’t even pay myself. It was all a labor of love. Not having a budget for costumes was a big deal but luckily Beck Brown, my wardrobe designer, dived into dumpsters, went to thrift stores, asked people “oh do you have a mother from the 70s?” and they’d reach into their closests and let us borrow items for a couple hours to make the shots work, and they did! She was striping things off of people left and right and that was amazing!
The house was a time capsule. We didn’t do much to it and belonged to one of my co-producers parents in New York. We lucked out! The exteriors belonged to my sister-in-law so we were constantly begging and borrowing.
For the cars, I took my hottest girl fiend to a car meet up in Long Island and passed out post cards from my previous movie, which was about Hot Rods because I’ve got a thing for Hot Rods. So we would say, “Make your car a star in our movie!” and these guys would show up in their cars at 4am, sleep in their cars until we were ready to shoot, just to have their cars in a movie.
TAOM: I’ve said a few times now that the music played a huge orle in the film. It was almost like a character. Who’s your favorite 80’s music band?
AS: I’m glad you see it that way. Music is huge! It’s so funny, I’m a classic Rock girl. If I had it my way, I’d to a total Led Zeppelin movie. Growing up, my baby brother was into the new wave. His music seeped into my being. I totally love The Cure, kinda obscure but people love it, I saw them in concert. I have mixed feeling about these bands still playing but whatever! I almost had a Missing Person song in the movie. It’s such a great time in history. They don’t make music like that anymore.
TAOM: Why the 80’s? Was there something in the 80’s that we don’t see now in films?
AS: There’s so much content now on the 80’s but it wasn’t speaking to my 80’s. I don’t know. You need a little edge. Kids are having sex in cars just they did in the 80’s but I wanted to capture an essence of time gone and making an 80’s film felt natural to me.
TAOM: Speaking of influences, as we stand in front of a poster of Betty Davis by her Hollywood star, who were yours, both musically and cinematically?
AS: You know, Led Zeppelin probably influenced me more in my life, even to this day, and now my daughter is playing “Bring It On Home” on the guitar and I’m on air harmonica in the background, but most influence would be Zeppelin because they were so bad ass. They were one of the first to give solos to the background people on stage and up until that point, no one cared what the drummer was doing. The keyboard didn’t have a spotlight on him, or the bass player. So it was kind of the genius of Jimmy Page, who was like, “Oh no, take a moment, we got this far, we’re playing live”. No one did that. I’m reading all these biographies to prep for my next story. I’d like to do something like a Led Zeppelin story?!
TAOM: How challenging was the music for the film? Did you get the rights for all of them?
AS: I only have rights and clearances for the festivals. I have a badass licensing woman, she was amazing, so if we get world rights, she’ll probably get a deal going which I hope but I wanted to have my movie on the screen at DWF and if that meant screening without the rights, that was the risk I was willing to take. Everyone loves the sound track so much so I took a risk and I’m and got to screen it here.
TAOM: Well, if art is nothing but a risk, then you succeeded!
AS: Oh, well, thank you! I’m going to go home now!
TAOM: What was post like? Was it easier or more difficult than production?
AS: Post sucked! Production was easier, it was a dream! We shot 31 days in 6 weeks. It was very relaxed. We shot most of movie in Brooklyn and Queens and 4 days out in the Hampton where we shot the Burger Barn. I had to raise more money for post. It took so long and my editor got sick and had to put it on hold for a while. So there were all these starts and stops which is typical in indie films, right?
TAOM: What are you working on now? What’s the next dream gig?
AS: My dream would be to do a Zeppelin movie about Robert Plant & Jimmy Page movie, kind of like Oliver Stones “The Doors”. But I couldn’t imagine doing it without them on board as producers, because they are genius’s about allowing their music being let out into the world and one of the last people to make their music accessible on MP3 devices. That would be a dream.
AOM: Why Led Zeppelin? What about their music resonated with your artistic voice?
AS: They’re just so loud and proud and badass. They have such a power in their music and they have a gorgeous, cinematic sound. When I listen to Zeppelin my mind goes to places, it’s prolific. Their body of work is amazing. I love all of it! I’m also working on a episodic period piece set in 15th century France that I’d like to keep under wraps for now.
AOM: You may want to reach out to Starz Network. They love period pieces and are about quality. I watch “Outlander” on Starz and it’s a period piece.
AS: Oh, I love “Outlander” too. Great quality from that show. I’ve been binge watching “Game of Thrones” and it’s great! You have to watch the pilot. It always looked sexist, you know, Dragon lady was having sex and being enslaved but when you start from the beginning, you realize, these are fierce women. It’s so good.
TAOM: Well, women resonate with the strength of those characters, which is refreshing to see on any show especially in shows when women of that particular time were not given the opportunity to rise above.
TAOM: Speaking of strong women, we are now joined by the lovely Stef Dawson, the star of “Creedmoria”. Hello! Tell me what your proudest moment was on set was or in the making of this amazing film? You pretty much held this film on your own. It’s quite amazing.
Stef Dawson: Aw, well, Thank you! There were so many moments like that! I feel like everyday we were constantly, “Yeah”. It’s a freaking miracle when you’re making an indie film and you get thru the shots of the day and achieve what you set out to do. This movie was blessed in every step of the way.
AS: Still is!!
SD: There’s some magic in this movie because so many things could have gone wrong in every step of the way but miraculously it got done. It was special. From day one, we bonded as a family.
TAOM: Why did you take on this role?
SD: Because I’d be crazy not to! Roles like this don’t come along all the time as a young female lead that’s got so much depth to her and is fighting a good fight. Candy, my character, is so complex and so un- stereotypical, she’s all I could possibly want in a role. What I love about her is that she doesn’t give up, she goes for her dreams, fiercely, which is brave and I resonate with her. I get that. Busting out of expectations and what people expect of you. I did that. I left my country, my family to follow my dream and find roles like Candy.
TAOM: How did you come across this role and meet Alicia?
SD: I actually found the role on line! It was before “Hunger Games”. I was searching, trolling in the rough. As soon as I saw it, it was the diamond in the rough.
AS: She was a diamond in the rough. Her audition tape was unlike any of the others. She was in costume, had two locations. It was amazing!
TAOM: Tell me how was it working with Alicia? Be honest! It felt like there was a kindred love going on there. Watching you perform, it felt like you wanted to make Alicia proud.
SD: So interesting that you picked up on that. We had a love affair from the beginning, we are kindred spirits. She’s my spirit animal man! Why would she cast this crazy little Australian actress with a crazy Queens accent, that I got from watching lots of “The Nanny”. Then I realized, I’m a lot like her! But there’s a lot of similarities, I got her world and her heart. I love this part more than anything.
TAOM: What about your accent? You’re originally from Australia. Where did you learn to do the Queens accent?
SD: For real I watched “The Nanny”! Thanks Fran Drescher! And Alicia was on set to help perfect my accent.
TAOM: What was the most difficult aspect of the production as an actor?
SD: Probably the cold. Working in those conditions. This one time, we were doing major donuts right before the sex scene in the car and it was cold out.
AS: I was actually driving! I brought a bottle of Tequila. SD: We didn’t actually need the Tequila!
AS: So we’re spinning out doing donuts in the parking lot of my youth, not knowing there were cops in the parking lot. We hear the siren. So I go up to them and ask, “Hey, wanna be in a movie?”
SD: We were egging her on, hiding in the back of the car. It was hilarious!
AS: Yup, so the cop played one of the security guards in the movie. Honest to God truth. That’s how indie film making is done!
TAOM: If you can give words of wisdom to any artists or the rebels of out there, what would you say to them?
AS: Don’t let money stand in your way. Make your movie, find a way. If you have a dream to make it, do it. The moment you have the want and the will, the impetus is there to do it by any means. Just go do it. We need more female voices now.
SD: The battle cry from this film is have the best day ever, period! And it’s got nothing to do with circumstances. It’s about fighting hard for your dreams and people you love.[TAOM]