Valerie Weiss’s premiered her action-packed film, “The Archer” at SXSW this year.
The film chronicles the life of high school archery champion Lauren Pierce (Bailey Noble) as she is sentenced to a corrupt juvenile correctional facility after hospitalizing a boy in self-defense. Soon after her arrival, Lauren learns the camp is run under dictator rule by bow-hunter Bob Patrice (Bill Sage) and his son Michael (Michael Grant) and attempts to makes her escape, traversing the wilderness with rebellious inmate Rebecca Rolinski (Jeanine Mason).
Check out our exclusive interview with the cast and director:
Q: How did you connect with the writer, Casey Schroen of the film?
Valerie Weiss: It came through the studio who had acquired the script and I had a general meeting with them. We really liked each other, they liked my last film and said they wanted to find a project to do together and so they sent me the script.
Q: In your previous career you were a scientist, a PhD. Can you talk about that transition into film?
Valerie Weiss: I loved science and one path was obviously a lot more predictable where you know if you do the work you can kind of predict your success and the film business especially for women who have so few role models, female directors and the statistics are so terrible. So it was a real big struggle to decide if I was going to go back this big leap of faith in this career that is so unpredictable. I was learning on the side and sort of planning for this. I made my first film while I was working on my dissertation in my last year and two weeks after we wrapped I defended my thesis.
Q: Did you purposely make the detention center all female?
Valerie Weiss: Well I think they are normally separated by gender. I think that’s what makes it so powerful, the fact that it’s all young women and then these men that are controlling their destiny I think is a very strong and symbolic part of this movie. I think it’s very feminist and then in a lot of ways, the obvious ways strong female action hero. I think one of the most feminine messaging of the movie … is that the male antagonist Bob tries to take Lauren’s power. Several times in the movie he says “You need me. I can help you. I can make you better. I can make you stronger” and it’s not true and I think it’s a very insidious dangerous thing that happens in society where even when women don’t need men sometimes men with dubious motives try to convince women that they are not sure enough without them.
Q: How did you discover the project?
Bailey Noble: I cosmetically met Valerie, our director at a screening for a friend’s film. He said “can I bring a friend?” and Valerie was like “Yeah, who’s your friend?” and he mentioned my name. She had been working on the script and looking to cast my role. So I met Valerie and we hit it off, she did not say one word about the project to me at all and then later she said can we met for coffee. I read the script and absolutely feel in love with it eight months before we shot.
Q: How long did you train?
Bailey Noble: I started getting in physical shape for the film a couple months before. For archery I trained a month leading up to the film, twice a week. I trained with a coach at Pasadena Roving Archers.
Q: Any new and exciting projects coming up?
Bailey Noble: I’m working on an Amazon series right now called “The Last Tycoon” that should come out in Spring. I’m recurring on that and it’s set in the 1930s. It’s based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel but the booming movie industry. It stars Matt Bomer, Lily Collins and Kelsey Grammer.
Q: Can you elaborate on the motivation behind the cruelness behind your character’s role?
Bill Sage: He is about how more relevant now without being specific about it. He is part of a culture that does not hold women at the same level and why is that? He’s been handed down a tradition that he’s bought into. If you’re part of that culture, unless you look at the rest of the world and change it, you are just going to continue being abusive and not even realize it. That’s how I looked at my role. I don’t think that he fully understands how abusive he is. Valerie and I were on the same page of what we thought of the antagonist and she let us explore a little bit.
How did you get brought on to the project?
Michael Grant Terry: I humbly auditioned and Val and I just jived in the room. It was just one of those auditions that was fantastic. You send a long time in the room with the director and you really work it. We dived into the vulnerability and youth of Michael so he’s not so much of a villain per say, he’s humanized in making him real and a prisoner himself in the system.