Horror Debutante Courtney Hope Interviewed

by Marc Lissenburg

During the course of the After Dark Originals Horrorfest in the UK I had the honour of speaking to one of the stars from the imaginative movie PROWL. Courtney Hope plays Amber in the lead role within the film, which also happens to be the first Horror project Courtney has undertaken. Not only was it heartening to watch such a sincere portrayal of Amber's character, it was also wonderful to conduct an interview with an actress with such a sanguine attitude toward Horror movies and its followers….

Courtney Hope

Marc: Firstly thank you Courtney for taking the time to talk to SGM, secondly thank you for taking the Horror Genre so seriously.

Ok First question… How has your perception of Horror movies changed before and after making PROWL?

Courtney: Well I have always loved Horror movies but I must confess I was pretty clueless as to what was involved in actually making a good scary picture. I think first and foremost I have developed a real sense of respect for those who make Horror films. The effort that goes into trying to create the right atmosphere within a horror movie -the effort it takes to try and scare people also. You know, everyone involved in the filmmaking process contributed so the overall thing I learned really was respect for the whole process. It surprised me I have to say how much attention was paid to every little detail and basically just how hard it is to make a genuinely scary film. So in a word.. RESPECT for the horror genre and its film makers.

Marc: Ok so If I was to ask you your top three movies of all time, and your top three Horror movies, would there be much overlap or be completely separate?

Courtney: Well I loved Silence of the Lambs as a movie and as a horror movie. I think the psychological aspect of the movie is what got me. There were no cheap scares - just a building atmosphere that didn't let go from start to finish. Again going back to the earlier question, it takes real skill to achieve this and working within the genre I had no idea what effort is required to get this right.

Marc: In the UK the Horror Festival scene is positively booming at the moment. Have you any experience of Horror conventions etc and would you consider coming to the UK?

Courtney: Yeah I have done a few conventions and you know, what really strikes me, well what really blew me away was the passion and commitment of Horror fans. They know their movies!! You can really tell these people have watched these movies more than once just by the questions they ask which generate real interest about so many different aspects of the picture. There seems to be a real togetherness among the fans and like I say they are awfully committed and passionate about the genre. And yes it would be great to do an international festival…. if they would have me!

Marc: We live in technologically advanced times and it would be foolish to ignore the influence of the internet, torrents, downloading etc. as an actress what are your thoughts on this?

Courtney: Yeah it's a tough one you know. On one hand for independent and lesser-known movies it is a great way of getting exposure. It makes a lot of unknown picture more accessible but I guess the line has to be drawn somewhere. If the balance swings too far toward getting movies for free and nobody is investing, the industry is inevitable going to suffer. I think those who download need to do so responsibly and use it to gain exposure but not forget that without the tills ringing at the very least the quality of future productions will be diluted. Its bitter sweet I guess.

Courtney Hope in Prowl

Marc: Amber is clearly portrayed as an athletic individual in PROWL. I hear you have a novel way of keeping fit by cheerleading. We don't have cheerleading as such in the UK so tell us something about that that perhaps people in the UK are unaware of?

Courtney: Well I have been cheerleading since I was very young and just love it. Yes it keeps me fit but there is so much more to it then just a few simple jumps and smiles! People don't appreciate the training that goes into it. The stretching involved, the choreography, the injuries you can sustain and the stamina involved. It's a tough sport behind the scenes with all the training and I guess the vast majority of people only get to see the fruits of this.

Marc: Obviously PROWL is a character driven film, and the diverse realistic characters really was a very strong element of the movie. I loved the way the characters retained their personalities as the revelations unfurled. How challenging was it to keep Amber as Amber during the movies climax and not transcend into a comic book super-heroine type stereotype? Courtney: I had been in character for so long, I started thinking like Amber. I have the mindset of being a real person with just a little extra strength and fight in her than most. Since she has spent her whole life as a normal human being, not knowing she was a creature, her characteristics were more human like than anything. It wasn't too difficult.

Marc: The soundtrack in the movie worked really well throughout the picture and utilised the modern technology surround sound etc. How aware were you as an actress of what audio effects and music would be added later?

Courtney: I actually had no idea what music they would be using. The only thing sound wise that I was aware of were the creature sounds. As far as the score, I was completely unaware. I agree though, it fit perfectly. Great choices were made.

Courtney Hope

Marc: Great stories require solid believable characters and settings. We have talked about the character but were there any personal experiences you could call on to related to Ambers complete desperation to get away from the small town setting?

Courtney: I related to her need and drive to find out who she really was, and her struggles of becoming an adult. I was 19 when I shot this film, so I was in that era in my life where I was coming into my own as an adult and in general as a person. I think everyone goes through that at some point or another throughout their life. Also, I grew up in a small to medium sized town outside Dallas, Texas, and my desire to be an actress led me to yearn to move to Los Angeles. This allowed me to tap into that desire and drive and transfer it into Ambers situation. Granted, even though, Ambers situation was the extreme, I related to her naivety about certain things and her complete understanding and strength of others.

Marc: What was your "Girlhood dream role"??? Has it changed..?

Courtney: Honestly, any role I feel like I could sink my teeth into, grow with the character, and make a difference for the people watching it, is something I always strive for. I don't have a specific dream role that I have been after, but I think when I find a character that has that much grit and ability to make people think and evaluate their own lives, I will be closer to finding it.

Marc: Our British readers might well be aware of some of Rutu Gemintas's work on UK TV and the bond/ relationship on screen between Susie and Amber was realistic and added yet another layer to the story. What was it like working with Ruta?

Courtney: Ruta was great to work with and I learned a lot from working with her. We immediately had that sister bond. Ruta always felt the need to look after me and treat me as if I was her younger sister. Even though technically we were best friends in the film, there was an underlying motherly quality of how Susie treated Amber, which we had in real life.


Marc: There was, thankfully, a distinct lack of CGI in the movie which meant the makeup man was kept busy with actual fake blood etc! What was it like working with the make up?

Courtney: I thought it was fun. I loved going to set every day and getting sprayed down with blood and dirt. It was something new to me, rather than being all done up in regular everyday makeup.

Marc: The ending was beautifully poised for a sequel. How would you feel about doing PROWL 2 and are there any plans for this project?

Courtney: I haven't heard anything specifically on a sequel, but the way the film ended definitely set itself up for another one. I'm not sure if they are thinking about doing another one, but I wouldn't be opposed to it.

Marc: It's quite possible after PROWL hits the UK you may have a few new British Courtney Hope fans! What other projects are in the pipeline that you may wish to tell us about?

Courtney: That's fantastic! I shot a few independent films since Prowl, which will be coming to DVD here in the States this summer. I, also, am about to start working on a pilot here in the next month, but as far as a UK release there really isn't much at the moment. Hopefully, that will change soon though.

Marc: Thanks again for talking to SGM and hope to see you in the UK for a festival soon!!

Courtney: Absolutely, that would be great. Thank you so much!

Special thanks to Courtney, After Dark Films, G2 Pictures and the team at Organic

Back to the Spotlight page