Interview with Amanda Wyss and Thommy Hutson of “The Id”

Interview with Amanda Wyss and Thommy Hutson of “The Id”

WAIH: Tell me a bit about the film.

THOMMY HUTSON: [The Id] is really about a woman who kind of lives in the past and longs for what she believes to be her glory days with the man she had been in love with in high school, and in love with essentially all her life. Through these tidings and memories she’s taking care of her elderly father who’s sick and doesn’t treat her very well. It’s obvious they have a very contentious, not healthy relationship, and when a person from Meredith’s past comes back into her life it starts her on a spiral of hope and wanting to be free. But that doesn’t necessarily mean her father feels the same way, and things escalate and it gets really intense and suspenseful, and there’s a big tug of war between these two characters. It’s a war of wills, a war of what one wants versus what one deserves, and I think it ends up playing out in a very suspenseful, thrillery, darkly dramatic way.

WAIH: Sounds great.

THOMMY: Amanda why don’t you talk about Meredith like he was asking, you can definitely delve into her.

AMANDA: Okay. first read the script when Thommy brought it to me, it leapt at me; it scared me and I knew it would be a challenge, and I fell in love with her and thought “I have to play this role. Nobody else gets to play this role.” She’s just so complex and layered as all humans are and damaged. She’s just like a broken bird I just found her to be so beautifully flawed, and she just leapt into my heart for some reason and I wanted to bring her to life as truthfully as possible, and with that character help tell Thommy’s story the way he had envisioned it.

WAIH: It’s great when you feel territorial about a character. Amanda tell me, it sounds like a very dark premise, and it sounds like it would be taxing emotionally to play a character like that, how did you approach that and did you let yourself get worked up in that way when you were portraying her.

AMANDA: Well there’s a couple things. One is Thommy, and I talked a lot about the movie and the character before filming started. I did think as an actor, Thommy and I went over the character in such detail as far as who she was. I got really clear of that first history and what her reasons for her behavior and I just felt really safe with Thommy, so I was able to completely let go and step into Meredith’s world while we were at work. I think that I didn’t realize how taxing it was until we wrapped the movie. I was having a little bit of a challenge letting her go because she was just so–she had become my world. We were on location so I didn’t really have to let her go after work as you do when you come home and you have to make dinner and interact with people in your life. I didn’t really realize how taxing it was until we were done because I felt very safe with Thommy, and I just disappeared into that world. It was a safe environment to play in and I feel like I was able to just sort of step into that role for awhile.

WAIH: A question for Thommy, [The Id has] a very interesting premise, it’s got a lot of psychological undertones. What was your impetus for making this?  

THOMMY: Well, you know I had wanted to direct something for a long time, and it really came down to exactly what did I want to do. Just from a production standpoint finding something that could be made relatively well on a budget and also finding that money and things like that, and I had always wanted to do something that was really a character study. I know you know most movies go for good characterization because that is where a lot of drama stems from. I had made a lot of documentaries I had made the documentary about Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Return of the Living Dead,  so I was really well versed in kind of the slasher/monster genre. I had even made a movie for chiller called Hannibal which was literally a monster movie a creature feature so I knew that when I jumped behind the camera I wanted to tackle something different something that was a little more the thinking person’s thriller suspense horror where the horror wasn’t the obvious monster or the obvious killer. I had a kernel of an idea and I ran it by my producing partner on this Dan Ferrins. He was really sold on it as well so we looked up basic premises and the writer Sean Stewart and I had worked together on another project previously and I had wanted to work with him. He had wanted to work with me, so I threw it to him because at the time I had ended up finding financing for something. I was not able to write the script myself and I didn’t have anything in my stable already written that would fit the energy level, so Sean and I worked together and it was a fantastic process. When he turned in his first draft I really liked everything he brought to life, the way he took this woman from the very basic one or two line premise and created this whole incredibly engrossing sympathetic and mind boggling character in Meredith. Then he gave her a nemesis who was also just as sympathetic in the father and I just really was attracted to the humanity of this movie.. This is something that probably has happened. While this is not a true story, per say, it is not something that could be untrue, and I really was attracted to that and when Amanda signed on. I just saw it in my head even more with such clarity, because she’s such an amazing actress, and able to bring forth every single layer and color and flavor that this role needed. So it just attracted me the humanity again and there was just something that was real and compelling to me that I hoped I could put my stamp on in  terms of a visual sense and a sense of thrill and suspense and emotion.

WAIH: Thommy, what did you most enjoy about this process? What did you find the most difficult about shooting it, about writing it, basically any part of the process?

THOMMY: Sure. I think what I most enjoyed is actually the process of directing itself. The process of being the person who people are coming to and asking you know “Is this color right?” or “Do you want this dress or this dress?” and “My character says this but this is what I’m thinking and why,” and “can we try that.” I loved the idea that the thing that I saw in my head was something that I was being allowed to put on the screen with people who trusted me so implicitly. I’m a first time director. I had never gotten behind the camera in that way, in any way shape or form, and I was really blessed to have a cast and a crew that let me guide them and mold them and essentially do with them what I wanted to do my first time out. I just enjoyed the fact that it was a great first directing experience, and I was very lucky to be able to do the things I wanted to do, with people that I really wanted to do them with, who trusted me, and let me kind of run free with the crazy things. I was like “Hey, what if we did this with the camera and spun it around?” You’re always pressed for time and you’re always pressed on your budget. One of my favorite phrases that I would say to people is, when I ask them a question I say, “give me a slow yes rather than a fast no.” Everyone cast and crew allows me that luxury which I think is pretty rare for a first time director, so I enjoyed the process and that I was allowed to be creative and free like I was. What was difficult was kind of the other side of that coin, trying to do all the things in my head on a lower budget on a really tight schedule we only had ten days. So there just some things that were frustrating and difficult to do. I always bring up the bathroom. [It’s] a big deal in this movie, a lot goes on in that bathroom, and it is as Amanda can attest one of the smallest bathrooms, ever.

AMANDA: It was crazy.

THOMMY: It comfortably could fit two people, maybe three. Here we are trying to cram in six seven eight people with a boom with a gigantic camera with lights with a monitor, and those were the difficult days. There was so much that went on in that room and to write and really work, so those were just frustrating days, and to be completely honest we ended up filming again at the half pickup day to get some stuff where we could just focus on that and not worry about making our day having our fantastic first take [being told] we have to do another one. We can’t, we won’t make our day. I think one of the difficult things was timing. It was getting a lot in I think we were doing nine to ten pages a day on this movie and that fact that we were able to pull out what we did I think creatively and as far as performances by all the talent, I ‘m just thrilled and when I watch the movie again I see all the little grace notes and things that everyone put in. It’s kinda like a double edged sword and again two sides of the same coin the excitement of doing the process and having it actually work, it’s tough to get all that done on a low budget and not run out of time.

WAIH: Amanda same question, what did you most enjoy about embodying this character and what did you find most challenging.

AMANDA: Well as far as most enjoyable it was just such a delicious role to sink my teeth into and I was so supported by Thommy. I felt really safe in the vision that he was presenting, the way we worked together, and the crew was just super supportive. But what was really, and this sounds strange because it was such a dark tale [of] a broken person, but it was an incredibly enjoyable creative experience as far as the process that we all went through. It was a really nice group of people and I just remember it so fondly and I always will and I think the more difficult things were not because they were acting challenges but things that came up on the set, and they were definitely more sort of geographic things. The movie is shot 90% handheld Thommy, or is it all handheld?

THOMMY: Yeah, the entire movie is handheld except for two steady cam parts. I’ll let Amanda go on but I think Amanda really has to do the dance with the camera.

AMANDA: Yeah, there’s so much movement in the movie so, the fact that the DP was constantly saying “Look at me.” He’d say “Now we’re gonna dance.” And we would and it was amazing, then with the steady cam, so I found those two things at the beginning to be the most challenging. After we all got in sync, then the bathroom, the bathroom was disgusting, I’m just gonna say it right now. That bathroom was utterly disgusting. I think Thommy bleached that bathroom, or the crew beached that bathroom, like twenty times, before we even went in it, and it was still disgusting, so there were times when  I’d say, “Whoa this is crazy.” But I have to say there weren’t moments on this film where I was unhappy or anything like that, but I did think that physical scenes like being dragged up stairs and things like that. I found those to be the most challenging just because they were physically taxing but there weren’t any scenes that were really particularly challenging as far as acting goes it was just a more physical and geographical. But in hindsight it’s a kinda funny situation.

THOMMY: You know I just wanna add something to piggy back on the whole enjoyable aspect. Something that I didn’t mention but Amanda started to touch on. We were a small movie but we had the luxury of being on location and we were all together in a hotel, and we really became our little own family we often had breakfast together in the hotel and then we would all cart over to the location, and that was something I’ll always look back on fondly. It was just that we all came together thinking, “how are we going to get all this done in this small amount of time?” But we all pulled together and did it and we still found time after we wrapped to have a really good time, again, considering the darkness of this material. You know Amanda and I would have dinner and we would go over the next day we would talk about the day we just had. Then I would meet with the DP and the first AD and we would talk about the technical aspect and any issues but it was always so positive and so “How are we going to do this?” and opposed to “We can’t do this.” I think we were all really lucky to be surrounded by each other on a movie that could have really gone south in so many ways and it just didn’t, and that’s really nice.

AMANDA: I agree, everything he just said, I agree, exactly true.

WAIH: The way you guys are talking about it, Thommy I want to ask you, with these limitations that you had to work with do you feel that you made the movie you set out to make? If you could’ve done anything differently, what might that be?

THOMMY: Well I think that’s such an interesting question because I really do look at the movie and I look at the script and I think of the original idea and I think of what Sean and I spoke about doing, and the changes we had to make based on location and I think of the conversations Amanda and I had in the beginning and I really do feel that the movie on the screen is really representative of what I had hoped to put together. When you’re filming a movie, especially a movie like this which is contained and relies so much on performance and just making sure that it doesn’t feel too small. You know there’s a small worry when you’re putting it together of “Will it work?” and I do believe it worked in the way I wanted it to. That being said every time I watch the movie I see bits and pieces that I remember thinking, “If we could gone a little longer on this.” or “I wish I had more X.” I think everyone wants more time and more money but I really feel that with what we had to work with the movie that came out is really the movie that was inside of me and I’m proud of what we accomplished definitely.

WAIH: One more question for you Amanda, did your understanding of the character and who she was change the longer you spent time with her? And if you did what was that like?

AMANDA: That’s a really good question. I think to some degree that it parallels how we evolve as humans or are willing to look at ourselves as we grow and learn and become more full and complete and a little more open. I think that happens also when you’re working on a character. You start with your basic understanding of the character and the more you delve into your imagination or your whatever your acting process is, you peel back another layer and another layer and then you step into that, and you step into that world and you walk around with that character and you figure out how they walk and how that feels, and as you get deeper into it and it becomes more free and organic, so I do think that that grows and evolves and I think because we had time before, you know Thommy and I we were fully immersed in the film by the time we started but by the end of the movie I felt that I had learned more about myself and the film, like just the compassion and love of family, and duty, and regret and things that we can all learn and grow from.. I just felt like it was this beautiful circle, the entire experience of her.

WAIH: You guys have been so terrific, thank you for talking with me. I can’t wait to see what you guys do in the future.

AMANDA: It was a pleasure talking to you and I look forward to seeing what you do in the future.

The Id is out now and available through Amazon and other media outlets.