Thursday, October 18, 2012

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: TRUE BLOOD's Carrie Preston On Being a Hyphenate and Directing-Producing 'That's What She Said'

TRUE BLOOD and THE GOOD WIFE star Carrie Preston
directed and produced the film That's What She Said,
out October 19 - Photo: Josh Williams
Georgia native Carrie Preston is a familiar face to television, film and theater audiences.  The multi-talented actress-director-producer stars in TRUE BLOOD, is returning to THE GOOD WIFE this season, and guesting on PERSON OF INTEREST.  She also has multiple films in the works where she will lend her acting talents.  Her latest project, the new film That's What She Said, finds her working behind the scenes serving as a producer and director.

That's What She Said tells the story of Bebe (LIPSTICK JUNGLE's Marcia DeBonis) and DeeDee (Daytime Emmy winner Anne Heche), best friends with different relationship problems, who embark on a New York City misadventure with their new acquaintance, Clementine (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT's Alia Shawkat).  We Love Soaps caught up with Preston this week to talk about the film, which hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles and on demand platforms on October 19.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Our mutual friend, Julie Ann Emery, let me know about the film and introduced us.  That woman can do it all!
CARRIE PRESTON:  I feel like I've found my kindred spirit.  We were sort of assigned as friends by Marcia DeBonis, who plays one of the leads in the film.  Marcia has been saying to me, "you have to be friends with Julie Ann."  And saying the same thing to Julie Ann.  Finally, Marcia started this group, we call ourselves "The Hyphenates," seven women who wear different hats like writer-director or actor-casting director.  It's like we were cast by Marcia to be women supporting women in the industry.  We are all rallying behind each other's projects.  It has turned out to be an extraordinary group of women.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The trailer for That's What She Said looks great! I've been a fan of Anne Heche since she started on ANOTHER WORLD when I was 17 years old. The part where she's brushing her teeth while smoking was hysterical. That scenario never even occurred to me before.
CARRIE PRESTON:  That was in the script, written by Kellie Overbey.  She wrote that and apparently Anne was pretty sold on the project when she read that, and it was on page 2.

Anne Heche plays Dee Dee in That's What She Said
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: We cover soap operas in daytime, primetime and on the web.  As I was looking through the cast of That's What She Said I found soap connections everywhere.  Miriam Shor was in GCB and on the last episode of THE GOOD WIFE.  Heather Lindell was in DAYS OF OUR LIVES.  Nick Gregory played one of the most famous serial killers in daytime history, the man who killed Frankie Frame on ANOTHER WORLD!  Marcia DeBonis was in LIPSTICK JUNGLE.  Kellie, who wrote the script, was in GUIDING LIGHT.
CARRIE PRESTON:  Kellie also plays a supporting role in the film.  She, Marcia and I were in a play together nine years ago at the Long Wharf Theatre.  Kellie and I were playing sisters, Mia Farrow was playing our mother, and Marcia was in the cast with us.  Kellie showed me the script, at the time a play called Girl Talk, and I read it and said, "You have to let me direct this and I've got to put Marcia in it."  We did it on stage about eight years ago and it went really well.  I said, "Let's figure out how we can turn this into a film."  Marcia's performance was so amazing I wanted to put it on screen.

Hollywood is fairly limited in how they cast women.  They were never going to do something like that so I decided that would be my mission.   That got me excited about creating a film.  I talked to Kellie about how I would want to open up the story and add other characters and she took that and ran with it.  We worked on the script for a while.  Both of us are blessed to be working actors so we would do our acting gigs then come back together and check in with That's What She Said.  We had readings of it to get people to invest.  This went on for about seven years before we could get it all together to shoot it two years ago in New York City.  Getting Anne and Alia Shawkat to be in it was very helpful not just for the investors but for the project because it strengthened the performances and elevated it to really wonderful level.

We premiered in Sundance in January and that's where we got our distribution.   We did several festivals along the way after Sundance and now it's coming out on Friday (October 19) in theaters in New York and Los Angeles.   Simultaneously it will appear on demand, iTunes, and every digital outlet.

It's a grittier, edgier take on genres like Sex and the City or Bridesmaids. It's funny, but a womance, an answer to all the bromances that have been ubiquitous the past few decades.  It was our way of knocking women down off the Hollywood pedestal and messing them up a little bit.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  Have you always wanted to direct?
CARRIE PRESTON:  I was one of those kids that started doing community theater plays when I was eight or nine years old in my hometown of Macon, Georgia.  And then by the time I was in seventh grade I had started my own street theater company with all the neighborhood kids.  I would recruit them all to be in the shows, and direct them, and then charge the neighborhood to come and watch it.  So I was already doing it before I knew what I was doing.

When I would be in the plays in the community theater or at school, I would memorize all the roles and learn the blocking.  If one of the kids wasn't there, I would play their part too.  I was just very much into and have been ever since.  I directed in college and grad school and some plays here and there.  My production company, Daisy 3 Pictures, was started in 2004 with one my classmates from Juilliard, James Vasquez.  I directed the first feature and he wrote and starred in it.  And he directed the second picture which I produced and starred in.  Then I directed That's What She Said.  We all kind of play tag team with the projects we've invested our passion and time into.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I've heard a little about the "Bestie" idea for fans to bring their best friends and come in a group to see the film.
CARRIE PRESTON:  One or our Hyphenates, Susan Ferrara, came up with the idea.  She was at the time calling it "Be a Social Captain," encouraging us to find Social Captains who would be in charge of getting a group of people to go to the theater and make a night of it, like they would do if they were going to a play, to make an event of it.

Julie Ann took that idea and batted it around with me and came up with the "Bestie" idea.  I got the PR company involved and we started promoting it on Facebook and Twitter (#TWSSBestie) and it seems to be starting to work.  Our first screening on Friday is sold out and apparently people are buying tickets!   It's important for a film in the first week to get some traction.  I think it's a fun way to get women to support women but also men, too.  Men are really enjoying this film more than they think they would. It's not one of those traditional glossy romantic comedies. It is bawdy in places and pushes the envelope in a comedic way.  I've heard some men say, "Do women really talk like that?"  They get to be a fly on the wall into women's relationship and how women related to each other, albeit elevated since it is a comedy.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:   We'll definitely be going and will bring some friends.  I think all my gay friends would love this!
CARRIE PRESTON:  We played at Outfest in L.A., FilmOut San Diego, and Marcia DeBonis won Best Supporting Actress there.  The other two features that my production company made are for the gay audience.  The first one was called 29th and Gay, and the second one is called Ready? OK! about a little boy who wants to be a cheerleader.  Our company is about reaching audiences that are under-served by Hollywood.  We say we make gay films you can take your mother to, and women's films with a "broad" appeal.  That's What She Said is the latter, but there is a lesbian couple in the film.  We definitely are speaking to that audience and have had a dialogue with that audience for our whole time as a company.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  For people not in New York or L.A., the film is on demand starting Friday.
CARRIE PRESTON:  Yes.  And some places it's already on demand like Comcast and Xfinity and is doing really well.  It will start to hit every other provider on Friday.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  You have played so many different roles and have directed and produced in your career.  Is there something you haven't done yet that would like to do?
CARRIE PRESTON:  I guess I would one day see what it would feel like to direct myself in something.  But I'm kind of enjoying when I'm behind the camera, I stay behind the camera.  It's a lot of work and, for me, it's a full-time, 24/7 energy commitment.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  In front of the camera, our readers love you as Arlene in TRUE BLOOD and Elsbeth in THE GOOD WIFE, and other roles.
CARRIE PRESTON:  I'm also at the moment doing a couple of episodes of PERSON OF INTEREST, and then next month I start filming a three-episode arc of THE GOOD WIFE.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: One of the first thoughts I had hearing about That's What She Said was how did  you squeezed this into your schedule.
CARRIE PRESTON:  We shot it during my hiatus two years ago.  Because I'm on a show with so many cast members none of us work every day.  While we were shooting Seasons 3 and 4 of TRUE BLOOD I was doing all the editing and post on That's What She Said.  Once or twice a week I would go off and do the job that pays me then go back to full-time getting a movie in shape.  It worked out really well and I'm very blessed to have TRUE BLOOD.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If you could go back to the beginning of your professional career and give yourself one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
CARRIE PRESTON:  I would tell myself to sit down, relax, breathe, and it's all going to be okay.  I'm a pretty driven person now but at the beginning of my career it was disproportionate to the rest of my life.  I would tell myself to smell the roses a little bit more.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To find out more about That's What Said and to watch the film's hilarious trailer, visit  If you go see the film in New York or Los Angeles or on demand, be sure to tweet a photo from your outing with the hashtag #TWSSBestie and we will retweet it. Carrie Preston and Anne Heche will retweet it too!

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.

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