Jamie Bernadette is a very busy lady. Last year she took the starring role – opposite Camille Keaton – in Meir Zarchi’s eagerly awaited I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu, and since then she’s wrapped several more projects including The 6th Friend, for which she was recently awarded best actress at the Freak Show horror film festival in Orlando, Florida (The 6th Friend didn’t do too badly either – it was awarded best feature). Jamie dropped by to tell us what The 6th Friend’ is all about.

Jamie: It’s about (unsurprisingly!) six friends that get into some trouble on the night of their college graduation and throughout the story we’re trying to figure out what actually happened to them. After the graduation night they kind of separated from each other, especially the girl I play – Joey – who distances herself from the rest of the group and kind of crawls away and hides. And then we jump ahead five years later and meet them again – not only does that stir up the past but they actually start seeing this other mysterious person who was also there on the night they got into trouble, so you’re trying to figure out what exactly is going on. This is where the paranormal aspect comes in – is he real, is he inside their minds… it’s a paranormal slasher and a psychological thriller and there’s a lot of drama in it. It’s not like other films where the girls will go to a party and get killed one by one like they’re on some kind of victim production line! It’s about the characters and their relationships to one another.

Movie Ramblings: And you wrote the original story. Is this your first onscreen story and screenplay credit?

Jamie: Yes, I’ve been writing for a long time but this is the first one that’s ever gotten made. I was inspired by a horror film called The Descent and wanted to write a story about an all-female principal cast of strong women who weren’t the female stereotypes you often see in the movies: the promiscuous one, the dumb one, the bitchy one – you know what I mean? The Descent doesn’t fall into those stereotypes either and not only did I love that film because it was so brilliantly executed, but the females were real people. Every female in The 6th Friend is smart, they make their own decisions, it’s not another Cinderella story where they’re waiting for the man to save them. The women have to save themselves.

Movie Ramblings: And you co-wrote the screenplay with Letia Clouston, who also directed?

Jamie: I did! When we hired Letia as director she came on and said “This movie is like… “ and she referred to another film I don’t want to name because I don’t want to give anything away, but I could see what she meant so together we started to make changes to the script. Letia had some wonderful ideas, really amazing – she’s a brilliant, talented lady. So she did a second draft and then we bounced the script back and forth about eight or nine times and I would put in things, she’d put in things, I’d take things out, she’d take things out, we’d discuss them… it was a cool collaboration. The basic storyline stayed pretty much true to my original but Letia made it so much better.

Movie Ramblings: You wrote your first novel when you were ten. After the success of The 6th Friend, can you ever imagine a time when you’ll focus completely on writing?

Jamie: I do want to write more. I’d like to write a trilogy of novels, and I’ve got two screenplays in mind at the moment. One day I’d really like to get a book of poetry out there. But I don’t see myself as not acting, ever.

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Movie Ramblings: We first spoke last year, after you’d wrapped I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu, and since then you’ve racked up another twelve credits on IMDb…

Jamie: I’ve done four features this year – two of those were lead roles. The other was a short film where I played the Catwoman, and the other was American Satan. That was great, but that was a smaller role too. But I’m being pickier about the parts that I’m choosing. I really thoroughly look into a director’s work before I say yes to something but you can’t be guaranteed that a film will turn out well even with a bigger budget behind it. I turned down a lot of projects this year because I’m super picky. I just want to be in really good films.

Movie Ramblings: You do seem to be choosing a lot of consistently strong projects, and I Spit on Your Grave is still waiting to be released.

Jamie: Ah, I Spit on Your Grave! I’ve heard from people who have seen the rough cut and say that it’s really good. I’m superstitious so I don’t want to talk about it too much in case I jinx it, but I know that Meir and Terry (Zarchi) are really putting their heart and soul into getting it right. They’re being very meticulous, which I love. I’ve also done some other films that I think are really good which will hopefully be out soon – 13 Days, which they’re trying to sell right now, and Killing Joan, which I have very high hopes for…

Movie Ramblings: And while we’re on the subject of getting movies out there – you produced The 6th Friend. How hard was it to get off the ground?

Jamie: Surprisingly easy. The financing kind of fell into my lap which doesn’t usually happen. I just got lucky.

Movie Ramblings: Is it kind of schizophrenic to be a producer and also an actor? There’s a lot of responsibility on both sides of the camera…

Jamie: Yes, there is and it can be pretty intense. When you’re dealing with a 35-person crew as a producer problems are going to come up. We were staying at a cabin for part of the shoot and people had issues – issues with their bed, with the food… but I was so prepared for The 6th Friend that I didn’t find it hard to focus when I was in front of the camera. Juggling the two roles is a ton of responsibility and the hardest thing I’ve ever done but when I’m acting I’m acting. Of course it helped that I’d also co-written the script!

Movie Ramblings: How has the film been received so far?

Jamie: It’s been amazing! In Orlando, people were gasping in the audience! It was very dramatic and so gratifying. It’s been very very cool and nobody has guessed correctly what’s happening in the film – they’re always shocked by the ending – so I’m super excited.

Movie Ramblings: Do you know when we’ll see The 6th Friend in the UK?

Jamie: Not yet. We submitted to 26 film festivals around the world – we won best feature and I won best actress in Orlando last weekend, and then at the upcoming RIP film festival I’m nominated for best actress and the film is nominated for best feature so we’re hoping that will help us sell the film internationally if we can keep getting into festivals and winning awards. Several distributors are considering the film but they watch so many films each week, I’ve no idea if they’re actually looking at The 6th Friend or not. I hope so. But we want someone really good, and I think the film is strong enough to get that kind of backing.

Movie Ramblings: It sounds like the perfect film for Frightfest.

Jamie: I think we may have missed the deadline for that one. I’ll have to check but Frightfest would have been so cool.

Movie Ramblings: The 6th Friend is the second movie you’ve made with Dominique Swain, who UK viewers will especially know from Adrian Lyne’s Lolita. What’s she like to work with?

Jamie: I’ve actually shot three projects with Dominique – The 6th Friend, State of Desolation – which we’re hoping might be close to completion soon – and a short film called The Demon in the Dark we made for Letia, which is a fantastic Batman fan film. It’s phenomenal and it’s on YouTube so check it out! Dominique’s a sweetheart. I remember in The 6th Friend, watching her work, how she was always so completely in the scene, in the moment. Her character is the funny one, the person who always makes cracks to lighten the mood and get out of uncomfortable situations. She was perfect but before we cast her I didn’t know if she could do comedy, I wasn’t sure, and we didn’t want to offend her by asking her to audition… Lolita is one of my favourite films of all time and Dominique doesn’t even know that. She’s incredible.

I watch her work and the little things she does that she brought to each scene… I learned a lot from her. Things you can’t learn in acting class.

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Movie Ramblings: It’s a cliché, but over the past couple of years your career really has been a rollercoaster ride. When you started out, did you ever picture yourself in horror movies?

Jamie: Since I was a little girl I’d dreamed about playing the lead in a horror franchise. I’d play A Nightmare On Elm Street and pretend I was Nancy. I wanted to be Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween – I still want to be in Halloween! – and then, getting the opportunity to work on I Spit on Your Grave, I don’t know, it’s still surreal. A part of me still can’t believe it really happened.

Movie Ramblings: And the remarkable thing about I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu is that, because it’s the true sequel to one of the most notorious movies ever made, it’s automatically in the history books. That’s incredibly exciting.

Jamie: It’s unbelievable, and for that reason – as well as a bunch of others – we all felt the pressure to get I Spit on Your Grave: Déjà Vu right. I’m very proud to be a part of that legacy.

Movie Ramblings: Well, hopefully the next time we talk it will be to celebrate I Spit on Your Grave’s release! Thanks for chatting with us Jamie, and congratulations on The 6th Friend. We can’t wait to see it.

Jamie: You’re very welcome! It’s been a pleasure!

 

About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white