I recently got the chance to talk to Camille Montgomery about her role in Rene Perez’ new film, ‘The Dead And The Damned’. Here Camille talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on the film and about how she got into acting in the first place…
Hey Camille. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. Of course we‘re here to talk to you about your new film ‘The Dead And The Damned’ – currently in selected UK cinemas now.
Hi Matt. Thanks so much for having me. The U.S. version of the film called “The Dead And The Damned” was just released July 26th and the film was released in the UK on August 1st as “Cowboys & Zombies.”
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The story revolves around a cowboy named Mortimer, (played by David Lockhart) who has come to the gold mining outpost of Jamestown to collect the bounty on a native warrior and outlaw, known as Brother Wolf (Rick Mora). In order to catch Brother Wolf, Mortimer uses my character, Rhiannon as bait. Meanwhile, two local gold miners have unwittingly uncovered a strange meteor. As the miners bring their discovery back to the local town, the meteor unexpectedly breaks open mutating the townsfolk into zombies. The unlikely trio of Mortimer, Rhiannon and Brother Wolf are forced to unite together to fend off these bloodthirsty zombies!
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I had just graduated from San Diego State University and decided to move back to my hometown of San Francisco. I planned on doing community theatre and indie films in the bay area and somehow stumbled across a casting call for the leading lady in ‘Cowboys & Zombies’. I met with the director and writer of the film, Rene Perez, for an audition and just a couple of weeks later we were in Jamestown filming.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Rhiannon is an extremely independent and lively woman. She is exceptionally opinionated and has no problem speaking her mind. Although she is quite vulnerable throughout the film’s entirety, she is also strong-willed and determined. It was a lot of fun delving into the role of this feisty, warm-hearted girl, who is faced with such a wide range of emotional situations.
How has the reception been to the film so far?
So far, the film seems to be getting a positive response. It premiered at a film festival in San Francisco, since then there have been a few showings in Los Angeles. Also, the director, Rene, and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the film’s first international screening at the Almeria Western Film Festival in Spain this September. The zombie movie genre has definitely taken off in the last couple of years. ‘Cowboys & Zombies’ is a fun and entertaining zombie film and the wild west aspect has sparked a lot of excitement amongst viewers.
The film stars David A. Lockhart, your good self, Rick Mora and Robert Amstler – with Rene Perez onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew?†
It was a blast working with the cast and crew on this film. Since there was a close-knit group of us, it became like a family during the several weeks of filming. Rene Perez had a specific style and vision in mind for each character in the film and he has a very authentic approach to his work. Dave Lockhart is the sweetest person and such a talented actor. It was such a treat to work with him and watch him bring to life his gun-slinging cowboy character. Another accomplished actor that I feel truly lucky to have worked with is Rick Mora. He has such a strong presence on and off camera. Both Dave and Rick taught me a lot about the entertainment industry, they actually convinced me to make the big move to Los Angeles. I was really excited to work with Robert Amstler after seeing his work in Rene’s other films where he played an extremely tough action hero. Robert has been working in the entertainment industry for a long time and used to body double for Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a terrific actor and a total sweetheart. The crew was fantastic, as well. We had a phenomenal cinematographer, Paul Nordin, and Ed Martinez did an excellent job creating the unique look of the zombies. This was my first feature and I feel extremely lucky that I got to work with this talented group and that it was such a great learning experience.
Let’s talk a bit about you Camille. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Acting has impacted my life in such a profound way. When I was little, I idolized Audrey Hepburn and I would watch ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ and ‘Roman Holiday’ repeatedly. At a young age, I would put on little shows for my family or anyone who was willing to watch and eventually started acting at the Younger Performer’s Theatre in San Francisco. I participated in plays throughout middle school and continued to purse theatre throughout high school and then college. I had the opportunity to study at the British Academy of Dramatic Arts, which was a life changing experience. I started focusing on film towards the end of my college experience. I recently watched Olivier Dahan’s film, ‘La Vie En Rose’, starring Marion Cotillard. Her transformation into the legendary Edith Piaf blew me away. I was so affected and inspired by her captivating performance. There are so many brilliant artists that inspire me and change the way I look at the world; I only hope that one day I can affect someone’s life the way these talented artists have affected mine.
What advice would you give to people wanting to pursue a career in acting?
If you have a deep love for acting, I believe you will be successful. If you are truly passionate about pursing a career, I would recommend going for it and giving it your all. I’ve discovered that it is definitely a difficult lifestyle, but I think it is very much worth exploring. I am just starting out my career and I’m realizing how important it is to remember who you are and what your purpose is. I have to remind myself of this everyday. The best artists have a sense of ownership of who they are and make no apologies for it. I think that is a goal that we spend our entire lives pursing.
You’ve had a number of roles on a range of different projects – who has been your favorite actor to work with so far and who has given the best advice to you?
I recently worked with Alex Beh, on a music video for the song “Hey Ali” by the band Runner Runner. Alex recently starred in the phenomenal indie feature called ‘Peach, Plum, Pear’. He has an authentic and instinctive presence that is reflected in his work. He is a remarkable actor, writer, and director, and it was a pleasure getting to work with him. I have received a lot of helpful advice, but I think the best advice I’ve been given is from my Dad. He is constantly reminding me to keep my chin up and stay focused. It might sound simple, but the support from my family and friends has really helped to keep me grounded and focused. I’ve realized how crucial it is to surround yourself with positive people who help to motivate and inspire you.
What does a Camille Montgomery day usually consist of?†
I recently found an amazing yoga studio close to where I live, so I’ve been trying to start each day with yoga. When I’m not working on acting projects, I spend most of my time researching, rehearsing, and studying for upcoming productions. In my free time, I like to catch up with my Grandma and like to hang out with my friends and family. I love relaxing in the pool and if there’s an opportunity to see a good play or concert in town, I’m there!
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month?
I’ve recently heard that Apple Inc. has more liquid assets than the US government. I find that piece of information somewhat disturbing and quite revealing in regards to the unfortunate state of our government.
You’re currently in a number of shorts being released both this year and in 2012 – how important do you think the indie industry is nowadays?†
The indie industry is extremely important, especially now with current camera technology. Nowadays, anyone with even a tiny budget has the ability and the tools to write, produce, direct, film, and star in their own work. Since the budget on these films limits their ability to create big budget action, many indie films concentrate on the relationship between the characters. They focus on character development rather than big budget visual stunts. The focus on character relationships and development attracts me more to this kind of work. One of my favorite indie films is ‘Brick’, written and directed by Rian Johnson. The movie is a modern-day film noir; I was instantly consumed by the film’s unique visual style and its powerful and intimate story.
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
I just started training at the Working Actor Studio with an exceptional actor and teacher named Geoffrey Blake. I feel really lucky to be a part of such a talented group of actors; it has been an incredible experience so far. I’m also about to film another short that deals with schizophrenia and focuses primarily on one man’s struggle with the disease. It was written and will be directed by Thomas Schade and aims to raise awareness and break any stereotypes that we, as a society, have towards mental illness. I’m really looking forward to being a part of the film and can’t wait for all the other exciting endeavors in 2011!
Thanks for the interview!