The following is an interview with actor/writer/director Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ed Wood) on the upcoming release of her directorial debut, A Place Among the Dead, to be distributed by Modern Films. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Landau about the inspiration behind the film, her creative process in balancing the directorial duties as well as her time on screen, the advance (virtual) screening opportunities available for viewers on Halloween weekend, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your film and directorial debut, A Place Among the Dead! What inspired you to bring this story to the screen?
Juliet Landau: I wanted to make a movie about the repercussions of growing up under the sway of narcissism and evil. My husband Dev and I both come from that background. We feel if we’d seen a movie like this when we were 18, it would have changed the course and journey of our lives. We used the vampire genre, first of all, to make an entertaining movie, but also to lull the audience into a sense of safety to explore radical, unsafe ideas. The vampire is the perfect metaphor for the ultimate narcissist. It’s a being which drains you completely for its own needs and desires.
BD: Given that you are serving as director and star of the film, what can you share with us about your creative process in balancing these various roles while bringing the story to life?
JL: It’s an interesting process because you have to be alternately objective and subjective. Objective, as the director, overseeing everything, steering the ship, pulling the best out of everyone, communicating your vision and then subjective, when you step in front of the camera. My character “Jules” goes through a lot. At a particular point in the movie, it becomes a roller coaster of emotions. It’s like descending the steps to Hell. It takes a lot of focus to be logical and in your head between takes and in your body, subconscious and a hurricane of emotions during them. I loved it! We had 150 people work for us and it was a brilliant group. We couldn’t have picked a better team.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew working on the production, including Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Robert Patrick, Lance Henriksen, and Joss Whedon. What can you tell us about your process of both performing with and directing such iconic performers and creators?
JL: I am so fortunate to have worked with these brilliant artists. We all play alter-ego versions of ourselves. The movie is entirely scripted but it’s crafted in an unusual way. We use a meld of fact, fiction, and the fantastical. We blur the lines of what is real. Dev and I spent time with each of our actors, scripting the interview segments to suit them, so they would feel true to themselves and spontaneous. It was really cute because Gary kept checking with me over and over, “Do I seem real?” “Does that feel like me?” “Is it natural?” And I would say things like, “Yes, Gary! I think you have this acting thing down!” (LOL)
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that A Place Among the Dead’s story will connect with and impact viewers?
JL: I made the film searing personal. As they say, “The more personal… the more universal.” The aim is for the spectator to opens the floodgates and become the participant. It’s about engendering a broad discussion, examining societal taboos, giving voice to what has affected many. Dr Ramani, the premiere psychologist on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Abuse, loves the movie. She, like us, believes this is one of the most important issues of our time.
Obviously, narcissism and evil has been running rampant. But there’s interest in combating that. Each of Dr Ramani’s videos garners 400-500 thousand views.
Of course, we are getting at this through art and entertainment. A Place Among the Dead is an intense and visceral ride. The response at our sneak peeks, when we finished the movie, just before lockdown was like nothing we’ve ever seen at a movie before! Many were moved to tears. Each time, the entire audience stayed for over 2 hours discussing the film passionately and then shared intensely personal stories.
BD: Can you tell us about the release of the film, the premiere, and the advance virtual screenings on Halloween weekend (October 30-31), which you are hosting? What can viewers anticipate from these exclusive events, and what is the best way to register for tickets?
JL: We have a lot of exciting ways for people to see the movie.
*NY Comic Con and M.A.C cosmetics are sponsoring the Worldwide Virtual Premiere on Oct 29th! A lot of our cast will be coming.
*Special virtual Preview Screening events start Halloween weekend! Starfury’s Halloween Among the Dead on October 30th is Buffy-centric and has a lot on offer. Tomorrow’s Ghosts is music and goth centric. It offers an expansive, Halloween-themed program.
*We have our PVOD run in the US at Laemmle Theatres starting Oct 30th. Also in in theaters, where possible.
*We will be on the Modern site and virtual theatres through Europe on Nov 9th.
Tickets for all of the above are available here.
We’ve crafted a traditional release plan with Modern Films, and we’re particularly excited about these online events. We made the film to open up a dialogue. With these events and the others we’re putting together, we will get to talk directly with people about the movie after they’ve experienced it. We picked Modern Films not only for the quality and integrity of the movies they distribute, but also because we wanted to have this communal experience.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about A Place Among the Dead and your other work?
JL: They can go to my website, which has info on acting roles as well as directing. I recurred on Amazons’ Bosch last season and was shooting a recurring role on TNT’s Claws just before lockdown. I will have some info on our series soon, but can’t say anything just yet.
As far as A Place Among The Dead, there was an announcement in Deadline. Entertainment Weekly did an exclusive release of the trailer. You can check out that trailer, get more info, and purchase tickets here!