25 April 2016

Q&A: Missi Pyle talks “PANDEMIC” and “DIRECTOR’S CUT”!

One of the obvious reasons why the fictional zombie apocalypse appeals to such a mass audience is that there’s an element of “what if?” voyeurism to the scenario. When we see characters bashing in the skulls of the undead or creating contraptions to guard themselves from scavengers and cannibals, we see ourselves in their shoes and wonder what exactly we would do had we been face-to-face with hordes of zombies. And in the film PANDEMIC, now on VOD from XLrator Media, audiences are literally face-to-face with the living dead as the film takes a first-person POV approach to surviving a rage virus break-out. FANGORIA recently caught up with PANDEMIC actress Missi Pyle to talk PANDEMIC as well as her upcoming turn in Adam Rifkin’s DIRECTOR’S CUT…

FANGORIA : So how did you first come aboard PANDEMIC?

MISSI PYLE : Well, I read it after my agent mentioned it to me, so I went and met with the writer and director and it just sounded so cool. When I met with them, they said, “Well, we’ve got this part for this nurse, would you be interested in that?” And I do so much comedy, so I really like an opportunity to do something that’s a little different.

FANGORIA : What was your first reaction to how the film was going to be shot?

PYLE : Well, it just sounded like nothing I had ever seen before and so I was really excited about that. And then when I got there, of course, the reality of it was just something very different. Normally when you’re acting with someone, you’re acting with them and the camera is static, either across the room or behind him or even behind you. It’s not really the character and in PANDEMIC, the camera is the character. So you are actually thinking of the camera as like the other person, and then when you are the one who is getting coverage in your POV, you’re not even in the room. You’re standing behind a door or literally are behind the camera person. It’s a ticket to a very different experience.

FANGORIA : Considering the sets and the filming approach to the film, PANDEMIC is certainly a more immersive project for a performer. What was that experience like?

PYLE : Yeah, I mean it definitely was insane. It felt overly engaging and a little bit more active than anything else I’ve done before. I could be with whoever it was that was a camera and the scene was different because I felt like we were more involved on some levels and that everything changed with each passing take.

FANGORIA : You largely got to work opposite Rachel Nichols, Alfie Allen and Mekhi Phifer for PANDEMIC. What was it like working with this limited cast?

PYLE : I loved it. I loved that, for a good chunk of the film, we really got a chance to to get to know each other because we were really thrown into something like PANDEMIC. We were really kind of on the run, going from second to second, and psychologically, we immediately had some kind of intimate experience as it was a bit harder. Of course, we were all playing these characters who are not like our real life selves, and we also were wearing these restrictive outfits, so it felt like something was not right in the air and that translated well with our characters being afraid of the virus.

We were even bonding over our experiences in between takes, because we were in clothes under those suits and if we needed to get or do anything, we’d help take the duct tape off our hands. But we would have to redo it everytime someone needed to use their phone or cool off, and every time [the tape] would a lot worse. But we were able to stay on track together. But it’s unique that we could have that experience; I’ve never had that kind of experience on a film, and I think we bonded a little bit more in this technological age.

FANGORIA : How was John Suits as a director?

PYLE : John is fantastic! I’ve worked with a lot of directors and he’s very, very chill and laid back. So he’s just very cool. PANDEMIC is like one of the lowest budgeted films I’ve ever been involved in and the film looks fantastic. So we were in this bus going down the street at different times throughout the day and all these things are happening and getting all of the coverage was very challenging to get done in time. With all the things that are going on outside and all of the action, I just feel like John did a really phenomenal job with the constraints that he had.

FANGORIA : As a performer, what attracted you to this character specifically?

PYLE : I loved the idea of doing an action movie, and playing this type of character in an action movie. Of course, I do a lot of comedy so I really liked the idea of doing that. Denise is the navigator of the group and so she knows she’s expendable and so the stakes are so much higher for her. I mean, basically, my character and Mekhi [Phifer] and Alfie [Allen]’s character are all in service of this doctor. Also, I just adopted a little girl and Denise had a son who had died of leukemia that [angle] was something that became a little bit more real to me.

FANGORIA : Do you have any other genre projects coming up?

PYLE : I have a few movies coming out this year. I did a movie called DIRECTOR’S CUT which is about a crowdfunded horror film-within-a-film that I star in with Penn Jillette that’s directed by Adam Rifkin. It also stars Harry Hamlin and Hayes MacArthur. It is a crazy movie where I get kidnapped by Penn Jillette’s character and he makes me recreate scenes from the movie in his basement and then he pieces them all together to make his own “Director’s Cut.” We just had a premiere of that at Slamdance and they’re looking to sell it. It’’s one of the craziest things i’ve ever done so I can’t wait for that.

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