Natasha Kermani | IMITATION GIRL

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Natasha Kermani is an Iranian-American director based in New York. Her new film, Imitation Girl, screened at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017. STARBURST had the pleasure of meeting her near the venue.

STARBURST: What fascinated you most when writing and conceiving Imitation Girl?

Natasha Kermani: I think I was more drawn to the alien story initially – stranger in a strange world, I suppose. I was also trying to figure it out from the POV of the creature.

Aside from a couple of sequences, the film is less reliant on FX than character. Did the story start out like that?

I have been making short films for a long time and we have a realistic understanding of what can or can’t be done. I don’t think it need effects. I was inspired by films like 2001 and Andrei Tarkovsky’s work like Solaris and particularly Stalker, where one goes through an emotional journey. I also had the benefit of a very talented leading actress.

Which brings us nicely to my next question about your lead in the film. Lauren Ashley Carter is excellent in the dual role. Tell us about your working relationship with her and how you textured her performance?

The key thing was I wrote it with Lauren in mind. We also have been friends for ages and had done other work before this. I like to write with people in mind, something you can do in indie films.

We actually shot both her roles six months apart, firstly the New Mexico scenes with the alien and worked with a choreographer to achieve her mannerisms. I write one to two character notes. I saw her as a curious, good-natured creature. Lauren is also very funny and smart.

The Last Starfighter’s Catherine Mary Stewart makes a welcome appearance in Imitation Girl. How did you come to cast her?

Well, Catherine and Lauren have been friends for years and previously did a TV movie together.

The locations play a huge part in the film. Where did you scout before making your final choices?

New York was always going to be New York and we had valuable knowledge. We landed on New Mexico, partly because myself and my producer Forrest McClaine have family there in Albuquerque. The weather was unreliable. I have a love of westerns and wide shots where anything can happen.

We worked with the Zia Puerblo, a native tribe and they were instrumental in getting a lot of the locations we wanted.

You are New York based. How has living in the Big Apple shaped your life and career?

It informs everything about who I am. I grew up in Brooklyn and upstate New York. The city gives me a positive outlook and every time I step out of my house I love the fact millions of people there are making it work.

What was the budget and how long did it take to set up the film?

It was micro-budget and we shot in nineteen days.

Julianna is a very conventional female character in the underworld she inhabits. Did she start out like that?

Yes, she did. She’s a character who wants something, but feels she missed the boat and is determined to get it back

Finally, you have a tender sex scene in the film. How did you and the actor’s prepare?

Sex scenes are the least sexy to shoot and are very technical. Sex is part of the female experience and it’s meant to be romantic. It’s a sensory experience. The shoot was very technical and took about eight takes, which is more than the average of three I do. You shoot what you need. You have to prepare and Lauren was very professional and prepared.

You can read our review of Imitation Girl here.

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