Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Chatting With "Alice Fades Away" Director Ryan Bliss

Ryan Bliss is a up-and-coming Director who is unafraid to explore the surreal, somewhat darker life. With films like "Rot" and "Clover" he plays on the emotional tug-of-war, between the self and the psychological horrors one endures, with compassion to the humanist exploration. Now Ryan Bliss has a new feature project, "Alice Fades Away", a stylized thriller slated for spring 2019.

"Alice Fades Away" stars the notable Ashley Shelton known for Something, Anything (2014), Sollers Point (2017),  Award winning Tommy Beadmore, Emmy Award winning Blanche Barker, British film and stage actress Joanna Pickering, and Paxton Singleton of Mike Flanagan The Haunting Hill House, among a rising cast. Ryan Bliss has assembled a stellar cast, and "Alice Fades Away" premise reads like a dark, timeless, classic. I had the opportunity to chat with Ryan about his new project, and the film's stars. Check out our interview, as well as some exclusive stills from the film below.

ASouthernLifeHow did the concept of "Alice Fades Away" come about?

Ryan Bliss: Post-WWII is a fascinating time to me. Most Americans were still healing from the wounds of the war, which then created a strong sense of community and of family values and prosperity. Alice is a character who completely rejects those ideals, making her someone out of place. I knew I wanted to do a character study on a person like her. But I wanted to do it using genre elements, most notably the home invasion angle.

ASoutherLife: What about the story really compelled you to want to make this movie,  and what do you hope fans take away from seeing it?
Ryan Bliss: More than anything, I hope the fans leave the film entertained. A movie with a message is nothing if it’s not entertaining. I want them to be thrilled, to be on the edge of their seat.

I was writing the film for well over a year and in that time it went through many variations. However, the core ingredients were always the same. Take the peaceful, idealistic early 1950’s and flip it on its head. I wanted to create two characters who go head to head. Alice, a woman trapped by the times who suffers an unspeakable tragedy, and Holden, a WWII vet turned assassin, hired by the family of Alice’s husband. The idea of this underestimated woman taking on a trained killer really excited me.

ASoutherLife: The film seems to blend the concept of idealistic life verses the uncontrolled one both environmentally and internally. Is that accurate?
Ryan Bliss:Yes, that’s very accurate. Well put. The group of people who take in Alice are not prepared for the uncontrollable id of Alice and the main antagonist, Holden, played by Timothy Sekk—who is superb. They represent the animalistic nature of the human condition.

ASouthernLife: I love the title, and the psychological implications have my attention. How was the writing process,  and how much of real experience did you draw inspiration when writing the story?
Ryan Bliss: Writing a story of this nature can be taxing. I knew I wanted Alice to be a flawed human being, but the real challenge was figuring out how unlikable to make her. She had to be disturbed enough to make everyone on the farm begin to question her, but relatable enough for the audience to side with her once the villain appears. Ashley Shelton pulled that off in spades and it would not have worked if it was not for her sympathetic and very human performance. I took the characters as far as I could in the writing process and then relied on the actors to give them the extra push to really make them their own. For example, Timothy studied American POW’s in WWII and found many disturbing, yet fascinating things which we then incorporated into the film.

ASouthernLife: What has it been like working with film legend Blanche Baker?
Ryan Bliss: Blanche was a joy to work with. She totally got the character and the movie we were trying to make. She is truly a professional and a sweetheart on top of that. On her last day on set, she gave me a jar of her homemade family honey. I’m saving it for a special occasion!

ASouthernLife: You have a strong female cast and added the talented Joanna Pickering to join Ashley Shelton (who plays Alice) and Blanche Baker. She is a great actress I am very familiar with, having followed her career from her avant garde performances in the UK and her Independent film projects here. What drew you to cast Miss Pickering for the role of Dylan?
Ryan Bliss: It was easy to spot Joanna’s passion for the project right from the start. She auditioned for the role and her initial read of the character won me over quickly. When I spoke with her soon after, it was clear she was the right person for the role of Dylan. Dylan’s character provides the backstory that drives the film so it was an important role for her to portray. I was also lucky with all my main cast—Jay Potter, Tommy Beardmore, Conor William Wright, Emily Eckes, Paxton Singleton, Nick Yiakoumatos and Benjamin Russell— check them and all the crew out on imdb. 

ASouthernLife: When can we expect "Alice Fades Away" to be ready for release?
Ryan Bliss: Expect Alice to be a theatrical release in US by spring of next year. We still have a little more filming before we wrap in a new location—in particular a scene involving an important character we just cast. I can’t say who just yet, but I’m excited to announce it very soon. The footage and performances we have already shot, helped the film evolve more than we imagined and it is attracting more major interest from star actors and regards distribution.

A special thank you to Jacqueline Cooper for photos from"Alice Fades Away"

"Alice Fades Away" IMDb

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