Interview with Veronica Garcia, star of Five Across the Eyes
5th May 08
EatmyBrains recently caught up with Veronica Garcia, one of the stars of low budget horror Five Across the Eyes. Veronica stars as the unhinged driver who takes to making five young girls’ lives a living hell, giving a wholly convincing performance that has you wincing every time she takes to inflicting violence on her latest victim.
Eat My Brains: Veronica, looking at the finished product, the short shoot must have made for a very intense and draining experience. Did any of you ever find a point where you just couldn’t get the energy to scream again?
Veronica Garcia (VG): Well for me, the adrenaline and excitement of doing what I absolutely love and am passionate about, kept me going at all times. I didn’t realize just how hard we were working. It wasn’t until the shoot was finished and I returned home that the ‘rush transitioned into exhaustion’ and slept very well that first week.
EMB: With a fair deal of violence taking place, were there any injuries resulting from filming such full on scenes?
VG: Oh yeah... As a matter of fact, I didn’t realize just how banged up I was until I got home and my husband wanted to know what happened. With the exception of my face, I had bruises pretty much all over my body... I told him they were my ‘badges of honour’ from being a real actress who does my own stunt work (otherwise known as low-budget)!
EMB: Five Across the Eyes is fairly unique for a genre movie in that the women are generally more resourceful. Is that what appealed to you about taking the roles?
VG: Actually, when Ryan first called me about the film I was hesitant, because I am not a big fan of horror films in general. I lost interest in them very quickly as they all seemed to have the same stereo-typical roles; predictability, and as you mentioned... one dimensional bimbo-type clichés.
However, after Ryan explained how this film was different, I was willing to entertain the idea and audition. Once I auditioned and was offered the role, I received the script for review. It was at that point when I began to read the script that I knew this film would stand out from what audiences are used to expecting from this genre.
There were many differences that appealed to me... an all girl cast, no ‘sex or nudity’ to distract you from the terror of what was happening, the realism of the whole scenario, none of the stereo-type roles, and in the end, the only one that dies is the psycho... and she really does die... once... again, keeping the realism of it alive!
EMB: As well as writing female roles that are not the genre standard of one dimensional bimbo-type clichés, the directors appear generally to be more respectful of women too. For example the scene where you are all ordered to strip down could so easily have been a cheap excuse for some nakedness on screen. Was the scene filmed the way it was as a conscious decision by the filmmakers not to appear unnecessarily exploitive?
VG: Although the directors were very much gentlemen and very respectful to all of us on the set, I believe their intention of not going for the cheap shots like the nudity was more out of respect for the work and the viewers who expect more than the 'usual!' When you have a well written script with substance that will keep the audience engaged throughout the film, and directors who aren’t going to settle for less than that, it alleviates the need to fill it with cheap scenes that have no other purpose than to ‘apologize to the viewers,’ for the lack creativity and originality.
For me, it was as I said above, one of the things that appealed to me the most. There were no cheap ‘distractions,’ to diminish the intensity of the fear and suspense the viewers feel as they imagine that this ‘could actually happen' on a dark, isolated road somewhere near them...
EMB: What did the audition process involve? Did you apply to play specific characters or did that get decided later on?
VG: I was actually away on a mission trip to Peru when I was contacted about the audition. So by the time I got the message, I had missed the actual audition date(s). However, when I was able to respond to them, they were willing to wait for me to get home, get the sides, and film the audition (for the driver specifically) to send to them.
I found that to be an advantage for me because it allowed me the opportunity to audition the character to the full potential I interpreted her to be, including props and location that would not otherwise be available in a ‘studio type audition.’ I immediately recruited the help of some friends to put the tape together.
I had a couple days to think about the character and her state of mind, I already had the suburban; I borrowed a real shot gun from a friend that hunts, and had another friend with 80+ acres of land… That provided for the perfect isolated road for the scene, not to mention avoid the panic from an unsuspecting passer-by who would not realize this was ‘NOT a real scenario,’ much like the incident we had on the actual set with the police showing up one night unexpectedly. Needless to say, they loved the audition tape and I received an offer for the role a couple weeks after I sent them the tape.
EMB: Veronica, given how mean your character is to the five girls did you find that outside of filming they tended to give you a wide berth?
VG: Not at all… I have no problem getting into character at the snap of a finger and stepping out of a character just the same. So for the most part we all got along great and had lots of fun in between scenes. With all the different personalities on set, and the intensity of the schedule, there was one conflict that arose between a couple people but was quickly resolved and in the end all ended up good friends. Each person holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to possibly working with them again in the future.
EMB: The movie leaves the viewer drained and slightly stunned. Can you all name a horror movie that did the same for you? And do you have any particular horror movie favourites?
VG: When I hear or think of a ‘horror’ movie, I think of the cheesy, cheap, stereo-typical, predictable movies that we’ve talked about and therefore don’t have any favourites or any that really left me ‘stunned,’ or ‘shocked,’ in a way that kept me thinking once I walked out of the theater… Although I know FATE is being marketed in this genre, I would categorize it more as a suspense thriller, which to me implies a more realistic approach. With this in mind, the suspense thriller I would have to say first left me with that stunned emotion and believability was Misery.
EMB: What was the first thing that went through your heads when the police turned up during filming? In the DVD extras you all seem kind of relaxed about it. Was this really the case and how was the situation resolved?
VG: Well, I’m not sure how much you know about this incident, but here’s what I know and my perspective… The location we were shooting at that night and a couple other nights previously sat on the boundary of “two” counties. So, the police of the county we knew we were on had notice of what we were doing there. However, neither we nor the police of the neighbouring county knew about the other. So on this particular night when they received the call about us being there, they came to check it out.
But when they arrived, all they saw was a couple of vehicles with some people hanging out talking and eating. It was already dark by this point, so when they crept up slowly with their lights off at the top of the road, we were completely unaware that they were there.
Apparently, they had been sitting up at the top of the road watching us for some time… As we were in the vehicles eating, we were talking about the next shot, and how we were going to do it etc. So as soon as we finished, we all suddenly went ‘to work,’ and that’s when we took them off guard… Because this was supposed to be at night, we kept the lights to a minimum and could see no further than a few feet from where we were, but suddenly the officers see Ryan go into the bushes on one end of the road and Greg into the bushes on the other side of the road as they were trying to get out of the shot… the next thing they see is the sound guy and the girls get into the van and back into the bushes as I get into the SUV and begin pulling away…
At this point the officers are totally confused until suddenly I start the scene by suddenly backing up the SUV coming to a screeching halt in front of the van and I jump out charging and screaming at the girls! It was at this point when I had just reached the driver’s side window that I see two police officers, one charging and yelling at Ryan coming out of the bushes, and one charging at me and yelling at me to get on the ground…
I initially put my hands up and was calling back to them that “it” (the blood all over my clothes) was fake. “It’s fake, it’s fake” I said. But the officer ignored me, kept his gun pointed at me, and continued yelling at me to get on the ground as he approached closer… I tried once more to explain with my hands up… “We are making a film, it’s not real…” but I quickly sat down on the road as I saw he was not hearing a word of it until we were all on the floor and ‘under control,' as he continued to shout at me to get on the ground.
However, once we were all complying and had a chance to explain, it turned out there were three officers all together, and it was all a barrel of laughs… When they had a chance to explain their perspective, the one thing I will never forget them saying is that they couldn’t figure out what was going on, but as soon as they saw me jump out in a rage and charge the girls in the van they thought to themselves “Oh sh*@# this is not going to be good," as they reacted immediately to take control!
In retrospect, we were all incredibly fortunate that this didn’t take a wrong turn because as I thought about that particular scene, I realized it was one of the few times I did not have some kind of weapon in my hand as I went after them…. Had this been any other scene where I had the shot gun, jumper cables, hack saw, screw driver, etc, they may have felt they had no choice but to take a real shot at me, because as I was yelling and charging towards the girls, I made it all the way to the van by the time I heard and saw them.
EMB: What's next for you all? Would any of you consider another genre movie or are your career aspirations elsewhere?
VG: My first film was a short student film that did very well in film festivals and got me listed on IMDB.com, called Another Part of Me. FATE was my second film, first feature, which as you know has also done very well so far. Since then I was an extra in another short excellent film I helped direct, called Rewind, by a fantastic writer/director Dawn Miller, and had a lead or supporting role in four other features…Gone, Ikari, G-Nome Experiment, Secrets, Secrets.
In addition, I’ve done four commercials, one of which is airing in our area right now. I had a principal role in a 30 minute public announcement commercial and have done some voice over work for both another short film and a couple radio commercials. Also, on my resume are a couple print work jobs, and three Internet commercials through a company called Video Hot Shots, who is breaking into using actors to do video mainstreaming for companies advertising on the Internet.
Although I have begun to build my resume with a variety of work, that’s all I’m doing it for, is variety, so I don’t get type cast by only doing one genre or one type of character…. However, my passion will always be in films. For now the commercials and print work pays up front and fluffs up my resume, but I don’t really feel comfortable in those roles. I would much rather get down and dirty playing a character that people could never picture me in, yet find convincing once they see it, like the “Psycho Driver” in FATE.
As for now and the future... About a year and a half ago we adopted a 12 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy and my acting aspirations came to a screeching halt as we transitioned him into our family. So I haven’t done much acting lately. However, we’re getting back on a familiar and not so chaotic schedule... I've got something in the works for the near future that I can't really elaborate on just yet, but I'm excited about the opportunity as I’m itching to get back to film work.