This article was last modified on August 16, 2010.


Interview with Victoria Summer

The world of Hollywood is full of starlets looking to make it big. Could the next one be Victoria Summer, an English actress who has uprooted herself and settled in Los Angeles? I think perhaps, yes, Victoria may be the real thing. Making the right connections, appearing in films when not singing… she has the look, she has the talent!

I had the pleasure to speak with Victoria in early August 2010, and tried to pick her brain on what it’s been like trying to break into the world of film. Allow me to share this with you and get the very first news on “Dracula Reborn” before it even hits the Internet Movie Database!

GS: Despite a successful career on the stage, you’re new on the film scene. So, tell us about Victoria Summer.

VS: I’m an actress and singer from England. I started to perform at age three as a ballerina which led into acting, singing, piano and modeling. After landing many lead roles in school and local productions and studying my A-Levels at school, I won a scholarship to train up in London as a triple threat – singer/dancer/actress for a three year degree in Dance and Musical Theatre. After doing a number of musicals on London’s Broadway, I got my first lead role in a movie as Leanne in Zombie Diaries which got taken on by the Weinstein Brothers and released in the US in 2008. I moved permanently to LA in June 2009. I am currently working on my own music whilst doing print, commercials, film and voice overs here in LA and I just wrapped the lead role as ‘Lina’ in ‘Dracula Reborn.’ Life is very busy, I work hard and I like it that way!

GS: And I hear you’re still taking ballet now? Is this a personal or professional hobby?

VS: As I said, I started ballet aged three and I went on to train professionally, doing ballet everyday as basic dance training at stage school – Arts Educational Schools, London. Now I do ballet once a week as a hobby here in LA because I enjoy it and it maintains my fitness and flexibility.

GS: Haven’t I heard you singing in clubs around the Los Angeles / Hollywood area?

VS: Yes. I have sung at a number of locations in Los Angeles; for example ‘Crustacean’ in Beverly Hills. Just last weekend I was singing a forty-five minute set with a seven piece band at a Celebrity Gala in Hollywood. I sing mainly adult contemporary and I look to the likes of Sade, Karen Carpenter and Ella Fitzgerald for inspiration.

GS: I have to ask, because people love gossip… any names or stories at this celebrity gala we can mention?

VS: It was a wonderful, classy event… no dirt to dish…

GS: As an English native, what was the biggest “culture shock” about coming to America?

VS: Everything is so big in America! That is from the food portions, to the roads to the cars and people’s personalities… In England we are somewhat more reserved you could say! When I go back to the UK now I feel like I am in toy town – I also realised that the car parking spaces in the UK are tiny!

GS: How has parallel parking been?

VS: I always go for the larger spots to save any embarrassment! I have to watch the high curbs in the US… I drive a sports car and need to be careful when opening the door… that is it. I love cars and I love driving.

GS: As you mentioned, horror fans might recognize you as Leeann from “The Zombie Diaries”. For those who missed it, what was this film about and how did you fit in?

VS: In ZD Leeann is a reporter documenting an unknown virus spreading through the populace at an alarming rate. Here is an excellent overview of the film I think you may be interested to read. [Victoria sent a review, which is attached below… it is worth reading.]

GS: Your next horror project is “Dracula Reborn”. You’re playing the lead, Lina Harker. I heard this takes place in modern-day LA but otherwise news is not leaking very fast. What can you tell us?

VS: I can tell you that we filmed all the scenes in Los Angeles; Downtown, Malibu and on a stage set-up in Van Nuys. The film is very well cast and is a modern take on the Bram Stoker classic. It has some interesting twists and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product. It should be released end of 2010 or early 2011.

GS: Other than yourself, I have heard nothing about the cast… who else is in it? Who is Dracula?

VS: Dracula is played by a British actor, Stuart McKenna. He has been in LA a lot longer than I have – I really was the new girl in town on set… Stuart does an excellent job as Dracula (Viscount Vladimir Sarkany is his full name…). He has done a lot of work in LA previously as a Tom Cruise look alike which I was amused to find out… he has some great stories and we joked around on set that after the movie was wrapped we would start showing up places and I would be his Katie Holmes…! [Among other places, you can see Stuart as Cruise in “Meet the Spartans”.]

My husband is played by Corey Landis, he plays the role of Jonathan Harker and we had some nice scenes together… a little raunchy at times… we love each other, we are newlyweds… what can I say…

GS: The film’s producer is Ray Haboush, who had a big hit with the remake of “Last House on the Left”. How was working with Ray, what kind of character is he?

VS: I just finished working with Ray for the last four weeks and it has been a pleasure – we joked around a lot on set and it was a great atmosphere to work in although we spent long hours on set, Ray did a good job of keeping us all upbeat. As an actress, I like to be given trust and freedom to interpret a role as I please and Ray was unquestioning in my creative choices. I didn’t find ‘Lina’ a tough role to play. In many, many way we are incredibly alike. Ray told me after offering me the role that he had found it hard to find a ‘Lina’. They had been casting for a while before I snapped up the role in the tail-end of call-backs.

GS: In what ways are you and Lina similar… and where did you have to stretch your range as an actress?

VS: Lina is sweet, honest and fun… she has a sharp tongue.

I have never had to have so much blood in my mouth on any movie before… it was poured into my mouth take after take after take for one particular scene. Red coloured corn syrup… it took me a while to get over that one just mentally because it felt very real at the time. That was my best scene and the hardest scene… it took a lot of patience and the shot had to look just right… I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

GS: Do you have any dirt you can share on David Hasselhoff?

VS: Why David Hasselhoff??

GS: Oh, that’s just my thing…

VS: In my early teens I was obsessed with Baywatch… but I haven’t crossed paths with David just yet!

GS: What is on the horizon for Victoria Summer that fans should be on the lookout for?

VS: I am in talks with producers and directors regarding my next film role and for right now, I am going to continue to work on my music with my producer here in Los Angeles with a view to getting into the studio and finally recording which I am excited about!

***

Review of Zombie Diaries (source unknown):

Back in January, did you see on the news how they found a case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus on a
farm in our very own England? And as a result they initiated a mass culling of umpteen thousand Bernard
Matthews’ turkeys? Did it remind you of the whole foot and mouth thing, when you had to wash your feet
in that pink stuff if ever you went walking in the countryside? Did you think what a load of fuss assuming,
like the rest of us, that nothing really bad like that ever happens in the UK? Well, if that’s what you
thought and, maybe, if that’s your general opinion of life in this green and pleasant land, Michael Bartlett
and Kevin Gates’ The Zombie Diaries might just be as much of a close to the bone, sweet little eye opener
horror movie for you as it is for us.
The film opens, you see, with a radio news broadcast of a recent bird flu viral outbreak played over a
montage of Londoners going to work, with the occasional glimpse of a city worker wearing a surgical
mask, just like they did in Hong Kong at the height of the SARS epidemic a couple of years ago. Then the
movie’s actual narrative kicks in, with the story settling on a news team as they head out of London to
interview a farmer who’s just been ordered to cull all his poultry by order of the Government. They
journey out of London through thick congestion and bicker amongst themselves about nothing in
particular while one of the crew named Matt films them on his video camera. Arriving at the farm no one
is around, which is a surprise as because the farmer should be expecting them, and Vanessa, the
attractive blonde character, has a little freak out because she can’t get a reception on her mobile phone.
But that’s the least of their worries; after discovering that the local village is also strangely deserted and
that their car has broken down, they decide to break in to the farm and wait for the owner to return,
which seems like a good plan until they hear a strange bumping sound coming from upstairs.
That’s just the opening ten minutes or so of The Zombie Diaries . From here the story moves on,
eventually encompassing three groups of characters which initially at least seem unrelated except for the
obvious zombie infestation they’ve suddenly found themselves living in. The second group is introduced to
us as the scavengers by means of a supplies raid they instigate on a seemingly abandoned village. They
consist of Greg and Elizabeth and their mate John, who films on his trusty video camera while they hunt
for useful supplies like food, booze and a radio, while casually passing slight of hand social commentary on
the stuff they quite literally don’t need any more and happily leave behind. Then it’s back to the car as
soon as the zombies start to arrive, although there’s always time for a couple of well placed headshots
before they make their getaway.
Moving on the plot then shifts to the last group introduced to us as the survivors. These guys have rallied around a farmhouse, have fortified and have got themselves organized. They scan the radio waves for
distress signals, search the surrounding area for more wandering zombies and organize their own
scavenger hunts for their supplies. They also have steadfast rules about things like dealing with the threat
of contamination, tackling infections and dealing with increasingly unacceptable behaviour inside the
group, and it soon becomes clear which of those is the biggest threat to their little bit of sanctuary.
Throughout the 80s in particular, zombie movies seemed to have a curious fascination with the cause of
the zombie outbreak with a lot of thought being put into that and not much else. The Zombie Diaries too
opens with the realisation that the cause here is a mutated strain of the bird flu virus, nicely touching
upon our contemporary pandemic fears. Soon however it becomes clear that the bird flu curve ball is in
fact just a premise and thankfully not the big twist I was hinting at.
The real twist, and ultimately why The Zombie Diaries is such a triumph, is that the whole movie is filmed on a video camera in a ‘video diaries’ format, and it works so well you wonder why the pairing of diary
format and the zombie movie hasn’t been done before.
Of course, the diary format and the horror genre have been melded many times, namely in the classic
Cannibal Holocaust and very recently in The Last Horror Movie. But the most successful of this cross over
genre is undoubtedly The Blair Witch Project, and for that reason alone comparisons between this movie
and that are inevitable. It is true that both use the naturally claustrophobic atmosphere a video camera
gives you to their advantage with both containing running shaky-cam sequences where it’s pretty hard to
see what’s going on, but whereas Blair Witch is blighted by it’s over use of such techniques, The Zombie
Diaries uses them sparingly, mainly in the night time action sequences, and then only to ramp up tension.
Similarly, whereas Blair Witch has lots of cheap, talking directly into the camera sections, The Zombie
Diaries only resorts to that once and even then it comes as more of a nod to Night of the Living Dead,
specifically the sequence where Ben recounts him witnessing a group of zombies over-power a gas station.
Much cheaper than actually filming the gas station get overrun but nonetheless effective in portraying the
horror of the situation because it’s so well acted, this is used in the same way in The Zombie Diaries with
similar effectiveness, this time with the story being about a plane crash terrorist event. They don’t miss a
trick these low-budget filmmakers, do they?
Other comparisons to the cream of Romero’s work are also inevitable, but then again that’s part and
parcel of making a zombie film these days and as such should be expected. The Zombie Diaries however
bravely tackles the zombie movie clichés head on, taking the obligatory zombie movie plot devices in its
stride while occasionally throwing in a few very original concepts in to the mix to keep us on the edge of
our respective seats. The zombie movie set pieces (like the supplies run, the night time zombie onslaught
and the body that walks off when no one is paying attention) are all here, as is the usual lack of trust
theme between survivors, which mimics the contemporary way we don’t even trust our own neighbours
any more pretty well, and because of that the tension escalates nicely right up to the final, and very
shocking, end sequence.
Along the way though other themes are explored, including the paranoia associated with infection and
dealing with an infected loved one, plus the way people react to the sniff of salvation which may, or may
not, actually happen. And all the time you’re also mindful of the wraparound sequence at the beginning,
which is concluded at the end, of a platoon of soldiers clearing the farmhouse at which the majority of the
movie is set. These sequences are obviously set after the fact, and add a sense of budget to the
proceedings, while also adding a sense of closure to the zombie outbreak, giving us a feeling that, at the
very least, everything is eventually going to be alright. With a movie as refreshingly bleak in tone as The
Zombie Diaries, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Well shot, well edited and, most surprisingly for such a low-budget effort, well acted, The Zombie Diaries is arguably the best zombie movie ever to come out of the UK. Dark, uncompromising and frighteningly
real, this is the kind of straight-faced horror movie that isn’t made as much as it should be these days,
and in that respect we at eatmybrains.com are going to plug it to death until it gets that solid distribution
deal it deserves. And fingers crossed it does, especially as Romero himself appears to be going down a
similar route with his next dead movie, Diary of the Dead. Little is known about that film right now, but
it’s ironic how much diary format zombie movies are I suppose like buses, in the sense that none come
along for ages then two turn up at once. All I can say is that Romero really has to raise his game to come
up to Bartlett and Gates’ standard as The Zombie Diaries , written and shot before Diary of the Dead was
even announced, really raises the bar for serious undead apocalypse movies everywhere. Oh, and it’s also
worth noting that the zombies themselves are some of the best we’ve ever seen in a low-budget film, and
there are enough headshots on show to keep even the most hardened gorehounds happy. Keep your eyes
on eatmybrains.com for news of upcoming screenings, DVD release details and other info related to this
movie, as this is one film you will not want to miss.

Also try another article under Film Industry
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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