In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, actress/producer Simone Policano talks about her role in the mesmerizing psychological thriller, This Is Our Home. Discover the maddening deconstruction of a toxic relationship as a couple confront a dark secret from their past.
A struggling couple tries to salvage what’s left of their relationship. During a weekend getaway, they are greeted in the middle of the night by a child claiming to be their son.
With This Is Our Home available on VOD and DVD, Simone Policano discusses her heartbreaking portrayal of the tragic character, Reina, juggling the responsibilities of an actress and producer, and how the project changed her. Check out our review of This is Our Home as we head into the actor’s studio to discuss creating a character from script to screen.
Villain Media: Tell me how you became involved in the project.
Simone Policano: Jeff Ayars, who is my co-star, and I were dating at the time. He knows Omri Dorani, our director, from years ago. They worked on a couple of different films together. Omri had just finished a film, How To Get Girls, which is on Hulu. It’s more of a broad comedy, a studio type movie. After that, he wanted to shift gears a little bit. He wanted something more artsy. Jeff introduced Omri and I. Omri brought in his writing partner, Rob [Harmon]. We all worked on it together.
The film was built around Jeff and I. With Omri and Rob, we talked a lot about relationships. We wanted to make a horror movie that was about relationships. Jeff and I were actually dating. Omri was committed to a long-term relationship. Rob had his own stuff. It was very much a homegrown film.
VM: Reina is such a sympathetic and tragic figure. She starts out pretty frail before empowering herself. What interested you about the character?
SP: I love her! Thank you so much for saying that! It’s interesting at the end, you’re asking yourself, “Who is the bad guy?” What we wanted to take away was that there isn’t always one good guy, one bad guy. I am personally very much like Reina. What I love about her is that she is someone who fights for her right to take up space and to exist the way she wants to. She was made to fall by this man, who makes choices for her and doesn’t want her to make choices. Her journey is one of reclaiming that. That’s what I love about her. She’s incredibly human. She goes through a major loss. She has to recover from that. In my mind, the film is her reclaiming her autonomy and a sense of herself.
VM: Tell me about juggling the responsibilities of an actress and a producer.
SP: It’s such a specific experience. With other projects I’ve worked on where I only acted in it, you shoot your thing. You either stay in character and preserve that. Or, you go in a room, drink water, and relax. The biggest difference producing it, I would shoot a scene, talk with Omri about how I want to do the next shot, or how to set up. Then talk to Drew [Beckas] about the scene, and his Mom about his homework.
We’re all shooting in my actual house in upstate New York. A lot of it was managing how to dress the room, what are the props, and move stuff around. I was keeping an eye on everything. I was doing so many things at once!
VM: There is an excruciatingly suspenseful scene wonderfully caught on camera between Reina and Cory (Jeff Ayers). It’s a cringe-inducing scene takes place with just two props; a slab of meat and a scalpel. Tell me about filming that scene.
SP: You’re standing next to the person you love, holding a knife, cutting into his head. What’s so hard about that? [Laughs] The way that we did it, we got the shot of Jeff with the meat on his head. I would cut into it lightly when it was actually him under it. We would cut and put the steak on a piece of wood. So that it wasn’t Jeff’s head underneath it. I would cut into it a lot harder. They cut the two together to make it look like I was applying pressure on him.
It was funny because he’s lying on my dining room table, with a steak on his head. We would be making jokes. Do you get salmonella with that? Silly things like that! But then we drop in, and I’m holding a knife, cutting into his head. It’s my scene. And it’s all over. There was a lot of focus that went into it.
VM: One of my favorite scenes is when Reina is confessing to the camera. It’a an extreme closeup and Reina is blaming Cory for not having any child. It’s an amazing performance! Tell me about getting to the emotional truth of the character.
SP: That was a lot! Thank you! I’m glad you liked that! That was basically me, Omri the director, and Tom [Thomas Taugher] on DP, and the crew and stuff. It was in one of the bedrooms. Closeup on my face. And they were like, “Go to town! Get as intense as you possibly can!”
We did about four takes maybe. By the end, I was super losing my voice. I was really yelling. I just thought of times in any relationship where you feel frustrated or violated. That was one of those scenes whereI was like, “Okay, I want to feel emotionally depleted by the end of this. I want to give this everything I have.”
So I just screamed. I got really angry. And then there were minutes after that scene, where I was like, “I’m going to take a walk to cool off! No one talk to me! I need to decompress!” [Laughs]
VM: How did This Is Our Home change you as an artist?
SP: Oh! That’s a great question! I think it allowed me to push the limits of what I’m capable of. I had never acted and produced a feature before, at the same time. This is the first feature I produced. I showed myself that you can make a crazy goal for yourself and work hard, surround yourself with good people who are dedicated as you. You can pull it off.
Although it reminded me and affirmed to me that I should always be, when I can, working with people that I love. Everyone on this film felt like a family. It was such a specific personal experience. Because Jeff and I were dating, because it was in my house, because it was a movie I was involved in since the concept of the idea. It showed me that the earlier you get involved in a project, the more the emotional payoff is.
The fact that it’s out now, that people can see it, the feedback on it. It was an indie film that we made from the ground up. We did this! We made a movie out of nothing! I think that is what the movie has given me, a feeling of “Wow!” There was nothing there and we created something that came out to the world. And that’s a great feeling!
VM: How can the readers of Villain Media find your movie?
SP: Our movie is now available on iTunes and Amazon. You can also buy the DVD online from the website, thisisourhomefilm.com. You can rent or buy it. We are looking into a screening release. We don’t know when yet. Hopefully in the coming year. We’re not sure what streaming services it will land on, but it’s absolutely available digitally.
VM: What are you working on now?
SP: I had another feature come out on Amazon and iTunes called, Auggie. I play the daughter of Richard Kind, who is wonderful! It’s a sci-fi film about a guy who falls in love with an A.I. companion thing. I’m really proud of that! People can check that out!
I did a workshop of a new play here in New York. We will see if that goes somewhere exciting. I’ve been writing a couple of pilots for a while. I’m flexing a bunch of different muscles across the board!
This Is Our Home is now available on VOD and DVD.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Links are highlighted in bold.]