In ‘AWAKENED‘, Samantha Winston (Julianne Michelle) returns home after 14 years to unravel the mystery and discover the truth about her mother’s death. She suspects her father (John Savage) and seeks guidance and answers from her mother’s close friend Lucas Drake (Steven Bauer), Harriet Bendi (Sally Kirkland), her newly-discovered uncle Thomas (Edward Furlong), and new friend Liam Dawson (Bryan Dechart). Drake’s business partner (Stelio Savante) is more than displeased and seeks to destroy Samantha’s plans before the entire town is awakened.
Julianne Michelle is an award-winning actress and filmmaker who has been in the industry since age five. She won “Best Actress” at Flash Foundation’s Young Film Festival in Poland for her outstanding performance as Terry in the award winning feature film, ‘The House is Burning’,which premiered at The Cannes Film Festival. She is a three-time nominee for “Best Actress In a Motion Picture,” Youth in Film and International Young Artists Awards, and her most recent film credits include: Apartment 1303 3D, Sweet Lorraine, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Shannon’s Rainbow, and Down the PCH.
Anticipating ‘AWAKENED‘ Screening at the 2013 NYC Independent Film Festival on Saturday, October 19, 2013 (7:00pm) we spoke with the films lead actress Julianne Michelle on her experiences with the emotionally heavy subject matter, navigating the festival circuit and more.
Find Tickets & More Information for ‘AWAKENED’ at the 2013 NYC Independent Film Festival – HERE
The subject matter of ‘Awakened’ is quite dramatic, how did you personally put yourself (and keep yourself) in the right frame of mind while in character? How did your directors keep you in the right frame of mind?
I tried to bond with the character not only by finding similarities between us but also positioning myself as almost a protector. Samantha is vulnerable in a calculated and dangerous world. Even though Samantha is a fictional character, she represents so many young women today who are faced with similar struggles. I tried to draw on experiences I had that made me feel more vulnerable, and I made a promise to Samantha, as a secret pledge to all women, that I would do my best to give this role everything I had to help convey the powerful message of the filmmakers which is empowering and inspirational.
What was it about the script to ‘Awakened’ that drew you to wanting to be a part of the film?
Awakened is a very multidimensional film. There are psychological and supernatural elements to this mystery thriller, which is not very typical. There is really a little bit of everything. It also addresses certain issues such as alcoholism and PTSD. Samantha takes you on this journey with her, and it’s a rollercoaster. You just want everything to work out in the end.
I also wanted to work with Steven Bauer again. He plays Lucas flawlessly. Everyone including Stelio Savante, Sally Kirkland, Edward Furlong, John Savage, and Bryan Dechart just did a superb job.
Can you give us an idea as to your personal journey as an actress? How have you found the business, as you have gotten older? As being a professional actress from a young age, how do you generally view the craft of acting?
Ironically, I find acting to be a very honest profession because actors expose their souls and reveal their most inner feelings through the characters they portray. Like any industry, acting is very competitive and it takes a lot of hard work and persistence, but loving something so much makes it easier. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do what I love.
What was the most difficult aspect of shooting ‘Awakened’?
The beach scene was challenging to film because we only had one camera and had to shoot it over a period of a few days in order to get coverage on everyone. It’s a very climactic scene with a lot going on, but because it’s supposed to take place at twilight, we only had about a 20 min window to work with each time.
‘Awakened’ features a diverse cast of renowned actors, many of which are known for their diversity, as well as intensity. Describe what the experience was like working with Edward Furlong and company?
It was a wonderful experience to work with such fine actors. Acting opposite Edward Furlong just made our scenes effortlessy flow. The same goes for everyone. They were all so deep into their characters; it just didn’t feel like acting.
As ‘Awakened’ will be screened at the 2013 NYC Independent Film Festival, how do you find navigating the festival circuit? As an actress what are your impressions on the nature of film distribution? Do you find the film festival route to be as lucrative now as it used to be?
Awakened is just beginning to enter the festival circuit. It will be at the NYC Independent Film Festival October 19, and it’s also screening at the LA Femme International Film Festival in LA on October 18. I am looking forward to taking this journey with the film and sharing it with different markets. It’s always a learning experience. Festivals offer an opportunity for a variety of films to be seen by industry influencers, including distributors, and are great arenas for recognizing new talent.
I would like to make a special announcement to readers if I may J If you or someone you know has been contacted from beyond the grave please let us know and you will be eligible to win our AWAKENED national contest.
Everyone who sees the film in US theatres opening weekend will have the opportunity to submit his or her TRUE story of any sort of contact from a loved one who has passed. All these true stories will be given to the producers for review, and the best one will win a dinner with a star of Awakened at one of the finest restaurants in NY or LA. You could also post your story on our Awakened Facebook page with a “LIKE” and still be eligible to win.
Also, 100% of all net proceeds from opening night in either LA or NY will be donated to benefit those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.