By RACHEL MEGHAN
Natasha Kermani’s new film IMITATION GIRL (now on VOD as a Dread Central Presents title) tells the story of two identical women—one an adult-film star, the other a newborn alien clone of said adult-film star. Differentiating between these two similar yet wildly different characters was a feat that could only be accomplished by an actor of unique and versatile talent.
Lauren Ashley Carter (THE WOMAN, DARLING) is that actor, whose efforts in the film demonstrate the wide range she has gained in her experience in indie horror movies. The individual mannerisms she utilizes to separate the characters is astounding. We had the pleasure of speaking with Carter about her work on the film, as well as what drew her to the industry.
How did you get involved with IMITATION GIRL?
I met Natasha through a mutual friend around 2012, and we worked really well together and had similar ideas of how we wanted to produce and what kinds of films we wanted to make. Natasha had been working on the concept for IMITATION GIRL for a few years. We filmed a scene experimenting with split screen, and she wrote numerous drafts, and finally it all came together because of her tenacity, and the equal persistence of her team at Illium.
Was it a challenge to differentiate Julianna and Imitation through their individual subtleties?
I was very fortunate, because there was a significant amount of time between the Imitation shoot in New Mexico and Julianna’s scenes in New York City. It is not typical of indie films to have time to rehearse, let alone time to exist as two very different characters for equal amounts of time. That was just luck for me! That time was a blessing, and allowed me to give my full attention to both characters before the shoots. I had about six or seven months in between.
What was it like working in two contrasting locations?
It was extremely helpful to separate the tones in the script, the messages in the story and the personalities of the characters. I love being able to go on location, to remove myself from my everyday. Filming in New York was a challenge because I had to continue working my part-time job while I was there, and I had a horrific flu for the entire shoot. But I think the physical stress of it probably helped Julianna’s story. There are some scenes where I look a fright, and it fits her so well! With Julianna, it was the drugs and hard living, with me it was a fever and infection!
“There are so many wonderful stories being told within indie horror.”
Lauren Ashley Carter
How was it working with director Natasha Kermani? How was she different from other filmmakers you’ve worked with?
It’s always fantastic to have worked with a director before, and Natasha and I had done a few projects together prior to IMITATION GIRL. The biggest difference is that we already knew one another from work, so we shared a language. Natasha is also a musician, and she appreciates rehearsals and understands how important they are for performance. In independent film, rehearsals might happen on the day you shoot, if you’re lucky. It means everything to have that time, months before the shoot, to rehearse with the other actors and the director, and even meet the cinematographer and chat about lighting and atmosphere. Having more information is a blessing to a performance. It is always a good idea—unless you’re trying to get a truly frightened reaction from them by making an alien explode out of their buddy’s chest.
Did you have any insecurities regarding some of the script’s content?
Playing the piano! I learned how to play piano very late in life, and my lack of skill was not lost on me. The audition scene brought back a terrible memory of a concert from my youth. I was dreading that scene. In terms of the porn set and backstory, no, I didn’t feel insecure about it, and Julianna doesn’t either. Sex is the easy bit.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
I absolutely loved filming with Sanam Erfani and Neimah Djourabchi in New Mexico. We had so much fun together, and being in Imitation’s headspace was a very relaxing and comfortable place. The house was so cozy, and I got to eat a lot of incredible food! Even the fried chicken in the dumpster was really fantastic.
What draws you to indie horror?
There are so many wonderful stories being told within indie horror. There are no rules, there is so much freedom. It’s an opportunity to bend and distort the lens through which we see life in its chaos, tragedy and beauty. I don’t see the world as a simple place; it’s very confusing, and I never feel like I can find the right words. Independent horror and genre are accepting of different mediums of communication, and it sparks conversation.