(Courtesy of Abandoned House Productions)
In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer/director Asta Paredes discusses undertaking many roles on her dramatic short film, The Slightest Touch. The final results of The Slightest Touch attest to her immeasurable talent and drive — and will no doubt “start a dialogue” with audiences.
Described as a frenetic psychodrama, The Slightest Touch follows a woman battling post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the debilitating condition of PTSD, viewers will discover what happens in a single day of her life.
During our conversation, I went over with The Slightest Touch filmmaker about her directing process, collaborating with her lead actress Angela Carbone, and her upcoming projects.
VILLAIN MEDIA: Tell me how you became involved with Abandoned House Productions?
ASTA PAREDES: Well, my husband [Clay von Carlowitz] started the company when he made the feature film, The House In The Woods. Three years ago, we revived the name and used it to put up a production of John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny & the Deep Blue Sea: An Apache Dance.” This past year, we made the company official. So now I’m officially co-owner for this company and looking forward to using to give a platform to tons of creative work.
VM: What inspired you to sit down and write a story about a woman battling PTSD?
AP: Post-traumatic stress disorder has been an unfortunate personal journey for me. As an artist I’m lucky that I get to use art to process life. I had scribbled some thoughts and put them aside. Then one day, I realized this feature length film I was developing required me to make some smaller films of my own first. So in order to grow as a person and filmmaker, I decided to do this piece about a subject I don’t just know, but have a unique perspective on it.
As I dove through research on films about PTSD and the subject of rape, I noticed two startling things. PTSD has been far and wide covered as an exclusively war veteran based experience. The subject of rape is usually drawn as a mode for a male character to seek revenge for a female character, or an exploitative rape revenge where a woman decides to torture the assailant or males in general.
My experience has been one jarred by my ability to process sensory overloads as well as come to terms with a horrific event in my life. The more I talked with other women, the more I realized that most have a bigger issue with the culture of shame around their assault rather than the assailant themselves. Hating myself, blaming myself, and not confronting my experience head-on, led me to years of numbing.
This story was born of wanting to capture that feeling — actually seeking to feel, and process this event, and takes its power over this woman away from crippling her.
VM: What sparked your interest with your lead actress, Angela Carbone? What brought your attention to her during the audition process?
AP: Oh, Angela! She’s incredible! I put up a listing on Backstage as well as an open search via social media. I received around 800 submissions for the WOMAN character alone. My breakdown read, “A stunning visage. The kind that inspires artwork. One that can be both charmingly emotive & hauntingly stoic. She tells a vivid story with this face.”
After narrowing it down to about 30, I set out for a round of auditions. Angela was unable to attend, so I opted for a coffee meeting where we discussed the subject matter. Between her look, reel, and her incredible understanding of not only the material but my perspective — it was her. She’s not just a pretty face but multi-talented, and we immediately clicked.
VM: What motivates you as a director? What do you wish to bring out of your cast during a scene?
AP: I’m motivated by the story. I’m driven by getting everyone on board with telling the story. Why this story? What makes this perspective unique? I also like to discover things in the moment. All I want from my actors is emotional honesty — which is different for each scene and actor.
VM: Because you’ve been in front of the camera, with Sociopathia and Return To Nuke ‘Em High, what were the challenges switching hats and being behind the camera?
AP: The challenge was switching from the nurtured to the nurturer. Knowing the vulnerability of an actor, I wanted to balance the needs of the actor, but also place the story first. It’s like the Troma motto; safety first. It’s very true but also making sure that Angela in particular knew that I would make sure she was safe to go on this character’s emotional journey.
VM: What do you want audiences to come away with after they see The Slightest Touch?
AP: I want people to feel. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. We are all trying to censor and numb feelings. I just want this slice of life film to start a dialogue.
VM: What other projects are you working on now?
AP: A bunch of crazy awesome stuff! My focus right now is in pre-production for The Shadow Scarf written and will be directed by Clay von Carlowitz. It’ll be our second short film production at Abandoned House Productions, but Clay & I will be acting in it as well. I’ll be playing Aurora, a mysterious woman with an axe to grind. I’m also going to be on TV this summer for some work I’m really excited about. Other work announcements will be available soon on my websites at www.astaparedes.com and www.abandonedhousepresents.com.
For more updates, announcements, and screenings, check out The Slightest Touch here.
– By Jorge Solis