Free Ride is the first film by Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin’s new production company, SCAMP. Stephen served as Executive Producer on the film and Anna served as producer and also starred in the title role. Filming took place all during True Blood’s hiatus and recently wrapped production in Florida. While Anna was still in the sunshine state, she spoke to Mina Asayesh-Brown about the film. Below is part of that interview with Anna.
Anna Paquin just finished working on an independent film called Free Ride, written and directed by Shana Sosin. Paquin, who is also producing the movie, has been working 12- to 14-hour days to bring what she calls this “passion project” to life: The film is a product of the enthusiasm of Sosin, Paquin, their cast and crew, and the students and faculty of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. The school has served as a set for the film and provided students to help with the costuming and other aspects (they converted a room in a Sarasota high school to look like a 1970s kindergarten class).
Despite being exhausted from another long week of filming, Paquin, who is 29, was kind enough to meet with me at Ringling to talk about the process of making Free Ride, working with the college, True Blood and more. She preferred not to be “in the hot seat,” rejecting the cushy interview armchair and instead opting for us to chat in two simple office chairs in a Ringling conference room. She told me to relax (I tried). She even paused to make sure my tape recorder was on (it was). Like I said, she’s cool.
What has the process of making Free Ride been like for you, producing as well as acting?
I’ve always been very interested in what’s going on behind the scenes and have not really been a particularly passive participant as an actor. I like to be part of the decisionmaking process. I think the more aspects of the creative process that you are involved in, the more personal the whole project is. I like being in the loop, and not to sound immodest, but I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I do have some experience to draw on. Even though I’m relatively new to producing, you acquire a certain understanding of how movies are made and what’s important.
What about the experience of independent filmmaking?
One of the things about independent filmmaking is that you are very much reliant on the kindness of strangers. In this film, we have been incredibly fortunate to be taken under the wing of Ringling and (we’ve) been offered numerous students to help us in various departments at various points along the way in our production. When you’re shooting a film on a small budget you go on a hope and a prayer, so coming into this environment and finding an institution willing to help has been so unbelievable. . . . and the people who are just getting started, like the students at Ringling . . . there’s an enthusiasm that you just can’t replicate. You’ve studied it and learned about it, now you’re being thrown into it and doing it. One of the things I like most in my job is feeling inspired and working with people who have been doing it decades and decades longer than me.
What attracted you to the project?
My husband read the script and met with Shana and he basically said, out of curiosity, any particular reason my wife never read this script? It had never come across my radar, and she and I met, and as a woman in the film industry (I) could say there is a lack of really powerful strong female roles, especially ones that are not necessarily depicting perfect people being perfect and making great choices. And this is a story about a young single mother who’s just trying to survive and she’s making choices and doing things because it’s all she knows how to do at the time, and she’s not perfect but she’s doing the best she can, and those sorts of stories are sort of hard to get told. Shana is obviously writing about her own life experience, the character I’m playing is her mother, and it’s hard when you meet her not to be absolutely captivated by how much this all means to her.
Were you able to identify with the Ringling students and their enthusiasm for the arts?
I never studied it (the arts). The truth is, I had no enthusiasm for acting specifically; I kind of stumbled into it. So I can’t honestly say it was a life goal that came true. It was more something that happened that I then discovered I passionately loved. I know that I am incredibly fortunate and I am grateful every day that I get to make a living as someone in a creative art, a performance art no less. I mean, jeez, there are so many actors that are incredibly talented that you’re just like, why aren’t you working all the time? And it’s a very challenging way to make a living. (But) it’s the only thing I can see myself doing. And that’s why kids come to schools like this, because it’s like, oh I could be happy being a lawyer or an investment banker . . . but I can’t live with myself if I don’t do something creative. That’s the people (who) are supposed to be artists.
To read the rest of this interview by going to: tampabay.com