V/H/S breakout star Hannah Fierman is returning to her “Amateur Night” role in SiREN, our non-found-footage spinoff directed by Gregg Bishop (Dance of the Dead, The Other Side, VHS: Viral).
Now in limited theaters with a VOD, Digital HD and DVD date set for December 6, 2016 through Chiller Films, SiREN follows Jonah (Chase Williamson; The Guest, John Dies at the End, Beyond the Gates), an apprehensive groom-to-be whose bachelor party turns into a nightmare when he frees a seemingly innocent victimized girl (Fierman) locked up in a supernatural sex club.
I caught up with Fierman to revisit her “Amateur Night” role and learn about her transition for SiREN.
Hannah was one of the big standouts of our V/H/S; she talks a bit about the surprise success.
“We had no idea it was going to be as popular as it turned out to be. I originally accepted the part because I liked David’s segment in ‘The Signal’ and because I knew there was potential for my work to be seen by the other film-makers within the anthology,” Fierman tells me. “It was a huge surprise and took me a moment to adjust to all the attention.
“We did however think that there was potential for the short to be made into a feature. We brainstormed ideas of how it could be made into one but keeping it a found-footage feature seemed impossible. The regular narrative format like in ‘SiREN’ seemed like they only way to pull it off and I think the writers did a great job with that.”
Both the V/H/S and SiREN shoots were pretty rough – between the styles, having to wear SFX makeup, and having to be naked the entire time – Fierman talks about her your process of performing through tough circumstances.
“Really being self conscious or distracted by the nudity is something you get past pretty quickly,” reveals Fierman. “If you are focused on it then you are not doing your job and at the end of the shoot day (or night) everyone just wants to get the shot done. It is the elements and wildlife that you really need to worry about when shooting naked, in the middle of a sulfur swamp, in summer in GA. The biting gnats were everywhere and chiggers got into our harness’s for the flying stunts. It was so humid at times my SFX Makeup would literally sweat off my face and it was next to impossible to re-apply it with no AC. The hardest part of doing this type of role for me, was sitting in the FX chair for so long. It took alot of patience and stamina to sit still for 5 hours and then jump right into such a physical character.”
There’s a lot of people who call V/H/S, especially David Bruckner’s “Amateur Night” segment, misogynistic. While I can defend it on my own terms, I was curious what Fierman’s thoughts were on the controversy.
“I think calling the short sexist is too easy. You see the movie though the eyes of the misogynistic Bro’s but that does not mean you are rooting for them or on their team,” she explained. “If anything it makes you ashamed and uncomfortable to be among them. I think the short was an attempt to confront men’s fear of themselves. Yes, the monster is female but she is also the strongest character as well and the most forgivable.”
Nobody can touch Hannah’s performance as Lily (much like Robert Englund is the only Freddy Krueger); here she talks about inventing the character that’s, get this, inspired by bats!
“I knew she needed to be sympathetic and vulnerable. I wanted the viewer to be on her team even after the savagery or at least be understanding of why she did it.
“When we first started to create Lily, David Bruckner sent me a photo of a really cute little white bat with a flap on its forehead. I started looking at videos of bats and used bat-like movements even when Lily was in human form. I also gave her cat-like qualities to hopefully express a predatory edge. I wanted it to be subtle but there so people would take notice that this girl isn’t 100% normal even from the beginning of the short.”
SiREN is shot traditionally, unlike V/H/S, which was found footage. Hannah breaks down the difference as an actress.
“The only real difference is, with found-footage you should look in the camera and traditionally you should not. I guess it is more fun doing found-footage because you don’t usually have that kind of freedom as a film actor. I also think found-footage is in a way more rewarding because you make such a strong connection with the audience when you break the fourth wall and look directly into their eyes. The fan mail I get is requently very personal letters about themselves, their hopes and aspirations. Many of them are artists and filmmakers. I think breaking the fourth wall helped people feel comfortable with me as an actor. It is a powerful thing looking someone in the eyes and telling them you like them. It is bound to have an effect.”
Before we wrapped up, I wanted to know a funny Gregg Bishop story. Hannah shared the origin of the “Siren’s Song”…
“I mentioned to Gregg before we started shooting that I sing and that I would be happy to sing the role’s vocals. Gregg was like ‘ummhumm’ and then promptly forgot I had said anything. On set he asked me to lip-sink to this vocal track. I found it distracting and unnatural,” she revealed. “The breath and movements are different when a person is actually singing. Finally I asked them to turn it off and just sang it without the track and Gregg was like ‘Oh! You can sing! That’s way better!’ and they used my voice in the score for the ‘Siren’s Song’.”
When asked why she decided to return in SiREN, she exclaimed: “She’s mine and I enjoyed playing her. I am proud of our creation.” Fierman also shared her dream role, expressing her desire to play the story/role of Ann Boleyn as a musical, “Produced by Tim Burton and the music composed by Danny Elfman, of course.”
SiREN is now in limited theaters and arriving on VOD platforms tomorrow! Here’s the trailer.