Loving Annabelle: Interview with Writer and Director Katherine Brooks

I was at the LA premier. One thing I noticed was
the laughter, the tears, and the gasps. What has
been the most surprising reaction from viewers?

The laughter. I always thought a few of the scenes
were funny, but the audiences laugh a lot. I think the actresses bring so much to the
table. That makes it so much funnier than what it was on paper. Especially
Gustine who plays Cat. She is a riot…and came on to the film the second day of
shooting after we lost our original Cat.

Did you have any expectations going into making Loving Annabelle?

I only hoped to finish it in one piece.

Loving Annabelle is certainly controversial. I want to stay away from
that question and take the softer side. The romantic feel of this film
Is captivating, are you a romantic at heart?

I use to be a hopeless romantic, but much heart break has lead me to
only write about it now….god that sounds depressing….I’m sure my
romantic side will return one day.

Did budget constraints mandate the 77 min film?

YES. YES. AND YES.

During the writing process of Loving Annabelle, did you develop the
supporting characters more in depth, i.e. the girl who cut herself? You
mentioned that you cut scenes that made Annabelle appear too aggressive,
this goes back to supporting characters, like ‘the cutter’. Don’t you feel
that going into a little more depth with that character could have
softened Annabelle’s predatory illusion?

There was so much more sub plot that was cut out of the film. For
instance, Kristen has a small child. It’s the reason her parents sent her
there. And Colins has more back story also, but I found it was taking
away from the connection of Simone and Annabelle and making it more about
Annabelle and Simone and their connection to the girls, which didn’t
interest me.

You have mentioned on several occasions that when you saw Erin you knew
she was Annabelle. What was it about Erin that stood out? Was there
ever a moment where you felt she may not be able to play Annabelle?

There were small moments of doubt in the beginning because she looked
so innocent. But, we worked for years on giving her an edge. I had to
make sure that the hair, wardrobe, her smoking – etc. Would help harden
her. And it did. But, Erin is a fantastic actress who always surprises
me with where she can go.

The chemistry between Simone and Annabelle is intense and very real.
When Diane came on to play Simone how did you know this was going to
work? What moment stood out?

When we met at Coffee Bean three days before shooting. Her and Erin
looked at each other and both smiled. The chemistry was intense.

Describe a typical day on the Annabelle set…

Get there at 7:00 am. Have a Chai. Go check in with Erin or Diane in
make-up. Go over the scenes for that day. Walk through each scene with
the assistant director and DP. Talk about shots we have to get. Talk
about how much time we don’t have to shoot it. Check in with the producers.
Look at wardrobe for the day. Make sure it’s what we want.
Talk to the extras if we have them that day. Shoot for about 12 hours.
Rush. Rush. Rush. No breaks at all. Have a meeting with DP after the 12
hour day. Meet with the AD. Meet again with the producers. Go home
after about 14-15 hours.

Describe working with Erin…

She is the most present actress I know. She takes more emotional risks
than I could ever ask for. She is always on time and ready to work. She
has no fear when it comes to acting. She goes for it. She has a
beautiful heart and would make each day so much easier because of her
willingness and commitment. I’ll use her in everything I do.

Myspace has become a community of avid fans who support not only Loving
Annabelle but you as well. When did you realize the impact you were
making with this film, with your career?

I have not realized that yet. All I know is we have the most supportive
fans in the entire world. They make the hard days easier.

As a minority (female and lesbian) director, Do you feel any
responsibility towards these communities? What are your thoughts on the
Hollywood Machine? Will you ever fit into the mold? Do you even want to?

I just want to tell stories that mean something to me. I don’t care if
I fit into a mold, just as long as I can do my work.

Describe your writing environment i.e. George Lucas while writing
listens to specific classical music. He makes notations of it and gives it
to John Williams so he can have an idea what the score should sound
like.)

I listen to music. Drink tea. And will not talk to anyone. I hermit
myself because I get trapped in whatever world I am writing and like to
stay there for long periods of time.

As a writer do you have a core network you bounce ideas off? Are you
structured or free with your writing time?

I bounce ideas here and there – throw out character ideas –
scenes…I love to hear things out loud. That helps me a lot. I am not
structured at all. But, when I write – I don’t stop. I have stayed up three
days and just written without a break. No drugs. No caffeine…and then
I’ll go five months without writing a word. Yesterday I was at the beach and
forgot my notebook and was writing in the sand.

Do you think that working in reality TV has made you a better director?
Do you feel your training has enabled you to deal with unexpected
chaos?

It’s been shocking the reviews I’ve read that have talked about me
directing reality in the past. Almost like it was a “bad” thing I came
from that world…it has taught me so much about life, film, people,
working with people…. The whole process of making a movie is taking
something that is not real and making it appear to be real. What better way
to know that you are capturing real moments than by having a history of
capturing real moments. Not sure if that makes much sense, but yeah,
Reality TV has given me a lot of tools as a director.

Do you have a mentor? Do you mentor others?

No. I’ve reached out in the past, but none ever came. So, now I make it
a habit if someone reaches out to at least respond to them and share
something personal that helped me get to where I am.

With all your talents, writing, directing, acting…Are you more
passionate about one or does your passion tend to rotate depending on the
project?

Most passionate about directing and acting. I hate writing, but it’s
the cross I bare.

What can we expect to see next from you?

I’m finishing a script right now called Mad World that is about a
psychiatrist who falls in love with her patient. I’m also directing some
music videos and possibly directing a feature someone else wrote in the
fall.

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