Gavin Schmitt Interviews Tiffany Shepis
I make no secret of the fact that Tiffany Shepis is my favorite scream queen. With all due respect to Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, or the many other “big names” out there, you’re a distant second place. From “Tromeo and Juliet” to the films of Rolfe Kanefsky, to “Tales of Halloween” and beyond, Shepis comes out on top.
So when given the chance to talk with her about Patricia Chica’s “Crimson Dance”, a short film premiering at the 2016 Fantasia film festival in support of blood drives, how could I say no? She was kind enough to take a few minutes out from her busy schedule (as both a full-time actress and full-time parent) to discuss some recent projects.
Overview: A primal and sensual dance is performed by a burlesque artist on stage to the delight of a blood thirsty audience, who watch in awe as she makes a splash to cure her ills.
Director: Patricia Chica
Writer: Patricia Chica
Starring: Tonya Kay, Tiffany Shepis, Michelle Romano
GS: How’s everything going?
TS: Great. Good to talk with you, it’s been a while. Let’s do this.
GS: You recently made a guest appearance on “12 Monkeys”. What was the role of your character on there?
TS: Yes, I just appeared on “12 Monkeys” in an episode called “Lullaby” as the character of Sergeant Stavros, a cool character that the show’s heroines meet up with at the Spearhead military colony. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, this might be a spoiler, but they’re stuck in a time loop. This puts my character in a situation where at different times through the loop, there are different outcomes – sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad. It was definitely exciting to be a part of it.
GS: How did you get involved with Patricia Chica’s “Crimson Dance”?
TS: What happened was, I got a call from Michelle Romano, one of the producers. She told me they were putting together a short film for the blood drive, something the Soska Sisters were involved with. She wanted me down there, and I was instantly ready and willing to do it. I had never met the Soska Sisters before, and I was kind of blown away by the dedication that their cast and crew had to everything. The scope of the production with lights and sound was just amazing for what was going to be only a couple minutes of footage. Everyone was putting all their creativity into this. But yeah, Michelle Romano brought me on board, and everyone was happy I could make it, I think. I got to play sort of a ringleader / master of ceremonies for this sexy, gory burlesque show.
GS: The film has an important message. Was this something that resonated with you?
TS: Oh, absolutely. The fact that we were making something for a reason was great. We weren’t making a showcase for our talents, or trying to get into festivals or trying to make a million dollars off of it. It was 100% for the message, just like any old school Public Service Announcement. Everybody was there for free as a labor of love. It was some of your favorite horror people doing something sexy and bloody like usual, but this time with a purpose.
Tonya Kay does a great job being sexy, bloody and weird; it’s hard to do that. I’ve done so much horror-themed sexy stuff, and I think it’s hard to get a message across when she’s half-naked. But she nailed it. We play around with fake blood all the time, but there are people out there who need real blood – and not because they’re vampires or just weird. There’s somebody in everybody’s family that needs blood because of cancer or a million other diseases.
GS: You’re also in Debbie Rochon’s directorial debut, “Model Hunger”.
TS: I am!
GS: You’ve known Debbie forever, so is working with her just like hanging out with old friends?
TS: Oh yeah, making “Model Hunger” was hanging out with friends. Debbie Rochon was there, Michael Varati was there, David Marancik… Brian Fortune came over all the way from Ireland to be a part of it. People know him for “Game of Thrones”, but Debbie and I worked with him in a movie called “Wrath of the Crows”. Most of the time you work with people in the horror genre, you tend to know at least a few people on set. For “Model Hunger”, I knew a big majority. (laughs) So it was like summer camp.
GS: Also working behind the scenes on “Model Hunger” was Greg Lamberson. Is this your first time working with Greg?
TS: Yes, it is. I had known Greg because of the convention circuit, and we’ve spoken in the past about different projects, but we never worked together. He’s really great. And he has some cool, crazy-big projects happening right now! We wish him the best of luck.
GS: You appear in the upcoming “Death House”, which has the distinction of being Gunnar Hansen’s final film. Can you give us any hints about what to expect?
TS: Yes, I am in “Death House” unless my scenes end up on the cutting room floor. My scenes are shot. What can you expect of it? I don’t know… it’s crazy madness and mayhem. There are a lot of horror actors in it, and everyone’s scenes are gory and weird, each one more than the one the one before. I haven’t seen the footage yet, so your guess is as good as mine, but from the stills they’ve released and the stories I’ve heard from other people involved, it’s going to be pretty crazy. We’re all in for a wild ride, and I think Gunnar would be pleased from what I’m hearing.
GS: Excellent. Thank you so much.
TS: Thank you for getting the word out on “Crimson Dance” and we’ll talk again soon.