Amber Connor is an up-and-coming young actress whose resume includes extensive voice-over work, commercials, and a number of films. Her breakout role as "CB" in Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan is getting her quite a bit of attention. Ms. Connor was kind enough to find time in her busy schedule to participate in an exclusive interview for readers of Examiner.com.
Robert Elliott: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Amber.
Amber Connor: It's my pleasure :-) So nice to be talking with you!
Ok, sooo ... Man, sometimes I can't believe I got to work with all these awesome genre vets and amazing actors for my first horror film!! I couldn't be more proud. It was awesome to have "Grizzly Adams" in the movie, but unfortunately I was not lucky enough to work with him on-set -- his scenes were shot after the majority of principal photography was finished. We shot in late summer/early fall, and they wanted a beautiful snow for that set-up -- I personally love the contrast of it with the rest of the film! I got to hang with Dan when our film was at Texas Frightmare Weekend and, I have to say, the man is still a total stud!! Lol. He's such a charming jokester that I'm absolutely positive working with him has got to be nothing but fun!
As far as Joe Estevez is concerned, I adore that man. He is a complete professional and SO NICE!!! Please excuse my excessive use of exclamation marks, but I really loved my experience on this film :-) Everything you hear about Charlie Sheen, true or not -- who knows? -- is pretty much the opposite of anything I could tell you about Joe ... As far as acting goes, watching him slip into that character was crazy, he just made it all so natural and effortless. I had a hard time believing it when he told me that this was his first time getting to be so off-balance in a role -- it's like he was born to play this character. Joe is out there working constantly, you can tell he loves his craft, and I truly hope our paths cross again someday soon in another fun flick!
RE: Very cool.
The director of the movie is Gary Jones, a man with a great deal of experience in the industry, including directorial work on Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp, and numerous other movies and television shows with colons in the title. As a relatively new actress, what did you learn working with Mr. Jones? Did he take you under his wing?
AC: I love that you said "colons in the title." Every time I turn on a creature feature, I can't help but smile to myself, because I honestly got to work with some of the best creature artists in the industry. Quite honestly, I'd be a happy camper just doing movies with Gary Jones for the rest of my life!!! The passion he still has for film is unbreakable and it's completely contagious to everyone around him. His catchphrase is "cool, cool" and hearing him say those words is something I still miss! He most definitely took me under his wing, giving me a big chance as a lil' ole unknown from Columbus, Ohio.
He is definitely an "actor's director." He gives a lot of trust and respect to the actors, while still managing to keep the focus on what it's really all about -- the CREATURE!! He's also got a few of his own director tricks up his sleeve, but you know I can't give those away ... Oh man, I learned so much from him and I can't thank him enough.
RE: Cool, cool.
So tell us a little bit about your previous acting roles, such as when you played Ellie in Cornhole: The Movie (filmed in Ohio).
AC: Haha! Ok. So ... Cornhole: The Movie -- it's not a porn!! Seriously though, I met one of my best friends for life on that movie, Vernon Dew. He convinced me to make the move to LA and it was one of my best life decisions. The movie was a mockumentary about the game Cornhole, which originated in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have to say, it was my first professionally run movie set -- and the bug definitely bit me on that one. I was hooked into the whole thing. I later filmed a brilliant short, Served Cold -- a noir -- produced by the lovely Phil Garrett who not only introduced me to the amazing Gary Jones, but was a co-producer of Axe Giant. It allll comes full circle. My advice? Love people, and they'll love you!
RE: Vernon Dew has to be a screen name, right?
So are you currently working on any upcoming projects?
AC: Vernon is his real name -- sounds great, right?!?
Next weekend, I'm filming another amazing short -- Internal Graffiti. I play a disturbed lesbian in search of a reason to live beyond the voices that assault her in her head. I wanted to take on a piece that is a bit more dramatic, but addresses a real, scary issue. It will be a part on the Cineladies movement -- started by Marisilda Garcia -- in an effort to showcase all the positions in film that woman can and should be holding in cinema. There will be a screening -- and you can bet I'll keep the world posted!!!
RE: Yes, please let us know what that is released.
So my job description at Examiner, while flexible, does require me to make my articles relevant to government/politics in some way. So if you'd like to plug a cause, an organization, a candidate, or just tell us your opinion about an issue, this would be an excellent opportunity to do so.
AC: I'm glad you asked this. I have a cause that's recently become near and dear to my heart. I have always loved animals so, a couple months back, when an abused pit bull (from his scars, it appears he was used as a bait dog) made his way into my life I didn't think three times about keeping it out of a shelter by inviting it into my home. It's amazing to me the number of people who have said to me that I am crazy or that I am a better person than they could be for doing what I did. I find that to be ridiculous now that I think about it. No one said life was easy and, comparably to many other struggles, keeping this dog might make my life a bit of a Rubik's Cube at times ... but every time he overcomes a hurdle or lays his sweet face next to mine it doesn't seem like such a big deal and it's so worth it.
The Obama administration has recently come out against dog breed-specific legislation -- recognizing that directing efforts in a more positive direction would be more effective. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren't deterred by breed regulations -- when their communities establish a ban, these people just seek out new, unregulated breeds. And the simple fact is that dogs of any breed can become dangerous when they're intentionally or unintentionally raised to be aggressive. I sought out help from many rescues in Los Angeles and beyond and, although many gave me advice, they were all so over-run with animals that not a single one could help me with a severely abused pitty (who is sweet as a kitten, by the way). Looking into all these avenues literally opened my eyes to the fact that more than roughly 1,000 animals are destroyed every hour in the nation's shelter population. Many of them have been abused, and have virtually no chance to be adopted and rehabilitated. Too many of them are dogs such as pit bulls (or dogs that look like the breed) who face a ton of discrimination due to misinformation and misconceptions. As of February 2013, American pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers scored 84-86% on their temperament tests at the American Temperament Test Society -- roughly the same (a little better, actually) than golden retrievers, and higher than the average overall for dog breeds. Pit bulls are actually BRED to be affectionate towards people. They have been bred for hundreds of years for strength, agility, high pain tolerance, and absence of aggression towards humans (everything you'd want in a babysitter, lol). They are extremely loyal dogs and intelligent dogs who take their cues from the humans who raise them.
I hope to help educate people about breeds, the importance of responsible, informed ownership, and the value of rescuing and fostering dogs out of shelters. Someday down the road, once my career allows it, I plan to own my own animal sanctuary. <3
RE: That's a very worthy goal.
So if there's anything else you want the readers to know, spill it. :)
AC: Anything else I want the readers to know? Ummm ... I have 6 samurai swords in my apartment, the Dark Tower series by Stephen King are pretty much the best books you'll ever read, and if you shoot a horror film, bring bug spray, a solid winter coat, some Icy Hot, and buckle up (or down) for the ride. You will thank me one day! :-)