Tag: Ashley Watkins

‘Neapolitan Sky’: Actress Ashley Watkins Discusses Voice-Over Project

Photo: Josh Daugherty

There are few artists with the ability to successfully transition between the world of dance, feature film and commercial work. Even fewer can successfully maneuver these mediums with desire, versatility and charm.

Ashley Watkins, a professional actress and dancer, and a fixture of the entertainment industry for nearly ten years, meets all of this criteria.

An accomplished artist and performer, her resume encapsulates the full spectrum of drama, comedy, horror and dance/music videos. Her versatility, prowess and beauty are matched only by her innate ability to draw deep emotion.

Watkins takes on multiple roles in her latest project; providing the voice-over narration for James Wood’s suspense-thriller, “Neapolitan Sky”.

In “Neapolitan Sky”, dreams of becoming a professional writer are abruptly put on hold for college student Nica Mitchell following the unexpected death of her mother and her father’s cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home when he’s hospitalized after encountering a near death experience, Nica learns that her father has been keeping a dark secret. Something in between the stages of life and death that, when revealed, will change her life forever.

Watkins’ entertaining and infectious voice can be heard on the Audible version of “Neapolitan Sky”, which is available now!

I recently spoke with Ashley Watkins about her work on “Neapolitan Sky” and more in this exclusive new interview.

Was voice-over work something you’ve always done as an actress?

I’ve done some voice work in the past but never voice-over narration. So, this was totally new for me. It was fun to delve into the characters and find out who they are and then bring them to life. At one point, I didn’t even have to look at my notes to see how to do each voice. It came very naturally.

What are some of the differences between typical acting and doing voice-over for a book?

In a film, there’s typically one actor with one character. This was one actor playing multiple characters. So, I had to focus not only on the main character, but the side characters as well and then bring them all to life. They all come up very quickly in the book, and I remember at one point five of the characters were together on one page! Having to distinguish between the voices when the men were having a conversation was also a bit of a challenge.

Was there anything you had to do to prepare to take on this project?

Just like a movie script, I had to read through the story and then break down the acting in each of the chapters. I used a different color highlighter on the page to mark each character who was speaking. That way, I could prepare by seeing in advance who I was going to be speaking for while I was recording. I also had to make sure I was able to pronounce words correctly, so I did some research beforehand. After I had recorded each chapter, it then went into the editing process where I would clean up any excess sounds. I didn’t want any breaths or smacks and wanted only true silence between every space and at the end of each chapter.

What did you enjoy most about the story?

I liked the twist. It was something I never saw coming. I’m reading this book with a character I can completely relate to: a girl with a military dad who grew up in the military and had a close group of friends. I related to so many things and then, out of nowhere, the twist just blew me away. You think everything is comfortable and then something happens that makes you re-think about life. You’re asking yourself, is this real? I felt for every character in the book. 

You began your career as a figure skater. What made you make the transition to acting?

When I moved to Northern California when I was twelve, I had to quit ice skating because there wasn’t anywhere to skate that was within driving distance. The closest thing I could do that was similar was cheerleading and dance. As I started doing that, I also fell in love with drama and theater, which eventually opened the door to film. At the time, I was really into leading lady characters like Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julia Ormund. I went to college and got a theater degree and as soon as I graduated college, I went straight to L.A..

Are there any other projects you’re currently involved with?

I have a movie called “Professor Dario Bava” where I play the villain, Camilla. We’re going through an Indigogo phase right now. Our director, Phil Mucci, also wants to turn it into a comic book series to build the fan base. We’ll probably start filming in the spring. 

What gives you the most satifaction about doing “Neapolitan Sky“?

I liked that I was able to add all of my touches on it. A writer brings the story to life and I got to bring the characters to life, vocally. Normally, there’d be an audio expert coming in to edit when everything is finished. But since I also did the editing, I learned a lot about the process. It was fulfilling to know I could put all that work into something and people will be able to hear it. It was fun to start the project and see it through to completion.

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‘All I Ever Wanted’: Actress Ashley Watkins Discusses Emotional New Film

Ashley Watkins
Ashley Watkins

With a resume that encapsulates the realms of horror, drama, comedy and dance, actress Ashley Watkins has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most versatile artists. Her beauty equally matched by talent and an innate ability to draw emotion from the human connection.

Watkins will soon be seen in the Markiss McFadden and Mason Troy film, “All I Ever Wanted” – a gritty new drama about family, hope and forgiveness and how they all come together when we need them the most.

Inspired by real-life events, “All I Ever Wanted” represents Troy’s first foray into the writing world and promises to be a story that touches the heart and soul.

I had the chance to speak to this amazing actress about her new film and more in this exclusive interview.

What was it that attracted you to the project and story of “All I Ever Wanted”?

Markiss McFadden is one of the most focused and motivated entrepreneurs I know. He’s an actor, director and producer all in one and is super-talented. So I already knew going in that working with him would be amazing. Then after the first day of shooting, I got to meet Mason Troy. We went over a really deeply connected scene together and that’s when I realized just how important this story was to him. I’m not sure how true this story was to his past but he feels it. He’s lived it. The story, the emotion, the human connection. I instantly connected with that.

How would you describe the story of “All I Ever Wanted”?

It’s a story about Mason’s character, Ace, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and for years got stuck in this world of selling and dealing drugs. Ace wakes up one morning and realizes everything he has he doesn’t really own. It’s all drug money. He realizes that he has this inner talent and wants to do other things. He also wants to rekindle his relationship with his sister and stepfather. It’s the story of the coming together of all of those things.

Ashley Watkins & Mason Troy
Ashley Watkins & Mason Troy

What can you tell me about your character, Rose?

Rose is Ace’s sister and is a little more difficult. She grew up depressed and had a lot of social issues. She was also bullied in school and had anxiety attacks. She’s incredibly smart and someone who once had a great relationship with Ace but is struggling with her own demons. 

What was the filming process like?

Being on set with Markiss each day was just what I imagined. He was an absolute professional. And because he’s also an actor, he was so aware of what was needed. Working with Mason was also amazing. This was his first film where he wrote, produced and acted, which was huge. After we had finished filming I remember telling him not to worry if he heard any quirks about the film. I said, “You’ve just completed a film. Just the fact that you created and completed a film and that it’s right here, right now is bigger than anything.” We were all taken into a piece of Mason’s world and brought into it in such a beautiful and vulnerable way.

There’s an interesting musical scene in the film. What can you tell me about it?

Yes! There is a scene where I am singing. My character, Rose used to play the guitar so Ace buys her one and pushes her into going to sing at an open-mic night. She does and it actually becomes a window into Ace’s world and reflects what she’s trying to do for him. He’s trying to tell her that she’s got talent and needs to do what she needs to do — and she’s doing the same for him. It’s a beautiful moment.

Is there a message people can take away from watching “All I Ever Wanted”?

Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone stop you, control you or tell you that you’re not capable of doing something. 

What other projects are you currently working on?

I recently finished filming “The Young Pope”, which is a HBO series that stars Jude Law and Diane Keaton. I can’t say what it’s about but it was a dream role that I’ve wanted to film ever since I was a kid.

Photo by: CA Photography
Photo by: C.A. Francis Photography

Have you ever given thought to getting on the other side of the camera at some point – writing or directing?

I’ve been asked about that a lot of times. Being on the other side is a craft of its own. After a few more years of experience I think I’d be able to transition over. Right now though, I like to become the characters and live through them. But when I do decide I want it to be a project that is dear to me. Much like the way Markiss and Mason have done in telling a story of their own. When an actor and director can get to the same level of connection, creative thinking and understanding, it’s a beautiful thing!

Love Story “Beside Her” To Screen At LA Women’s International Film Festival

BesideHerDirector Carrie Carnevale’s debut short film, “Beside Her” is a love story and fictional portrayal of the true human condition. An amazing piece of film work that’s been screened to audiences world wide. Now, here’s your chance to see the film for yourself.

Join Carnevale and members of the cast and crew of Beside Her for a screening at this year’s Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival on Saturday, March 15th .

Along with the amazing talents of actors Ashley Watkins, Erika Flores and Owen Conway, Carnevale delivers a film containing all the elements that make for a great story: love, tension, drama, suspense and even a twist in the end for good measure!

While watching “Beside Her” you quickly become oblivious to the fact that the lovers you see on-screen are female, and become more enthralled with the deep sense of love and connection they both share with each other. But Beside Her is much more than just a love story. It’s a beautiful film about the human condition and the connection we all share.

The Alliance of Women Filmmakers Inc. is a non-profit 501c(3) organization established to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women as well as increase exposure for women made movies. Each March, they produce the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival which showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films made by women of diverse backgrounds from around the world.

Beside Her will be screening as part of the LA Women’s Fest Shorts Program Four. For more information and to purchase tickets Click Here

Be sure to type in the code “AWF” to get a discounted ticket price of $6.00.
For more information on “Beside Her” and 17 Films Click Here

Beside Her: Watch Now and Vote!

BesideHerYou’ve been hearing me rave about Director Carrie Carnevale’s short film Beside Her; a love story and fictional portrayal of the true human condition. Now here’s your chance to see the film for yourself.

‘Beside Her’ is part of the FirstGlance Short Online Contest powered by FESTIVAL GENIUS.  A competition where YOU get to choose the winner.

34 short films are in competition for over $2000 in prizes and the opportunity to premiere at FirstGlance Film Fest Philadelphia in October 2013! Anyone who registers on the FirstGlance website is eligible to watch and vote. The contest runs April 15th – May 14th. You are limited to only vote per day, per short film.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Carrie as well as all of the actors from the film: Ashley Watkins, Erika Flores and Owen Conway. Check out my article below then head over to watch and vote for Beside Her!! Help support independent film making and the amazing cast and crew who did such a beautiful job on this short.

Click Here To Watch Beside Her

______________________

While watching “Beside Her”, you quickly forget that the lovers you see on-screen are female and become more enthralled with the deep love and connection they both share with each other.

Along with the amazing talents of actors Ashley Watkins , Erika Flores and Owen Conway, director Carrie Carnevale delivers a film that contains all of the elements that make up a great story: there’s love, tension, drama, passion, suspense and even a twist in the end for good measure!

But Beside Her is much more than a love story between two women. It’s a beautiful film about the human condition and the deep connection we all share but are often oblivious to.

Beside Her tells the story of Dr. Rachel Moretti (Ashley Watkins) and Sofia Rios (Erika Flores) and how, in one brief moment in time, their love for each other is measured beyond the norms of their everyday lives.

Carrie Carnevale 

Tell me a little bit about the film’s origin.

CC: I wanted to write a story about the human connection; about the ways in which human beings connect with each other. Whether it be someone you’re dating, someone you’re married to, family, friends or even strangers; we’re all connected all the time. The problem is we tend to get distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that sometimes we forget that.

I wanted to concentrate this story on two people who are in a relationship because I think that type makes for a very complex and compelling situation. There’s an unspoken connection that two people in love share with each other that makes the connection a lot deeper.

Were you concerned at all about the content and subject matter of a love story between two women?

CC: No, not at all. Even when people initially read the script, they were glad to see that it was a story about love rather than a story about being gay. Showing that gay or not, love is love and we all have those same feelings of connectedness.

The musical score for the film is amazing. It perfectly complements the love scene and the ending as well.

CC: It really does. The song we chose for those scenes are an absolute match. Lyrically, it’s great and the mood it sets is just so powerful and amazing.

How did you get started in film making?

CC: I’ve always had a love for film making. I went to film school and spent time in the independent scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of those years of work, I was able to learn so much about day-to-day production. I learned what to do and what not to do.

Along the way, I met some fellow artists who would hire me to work on their pieces, which I was honored and proud to do. In the past couple of years I felt it was time to start telling my own stories and producing my own projects and Beside Her was my first and I could not be more proud.

Ashley Watkins (Dr. Rachel Moretti)

It’s a project where it was the right time and the right place. Everything about it just felt natural!

ashleyHow would you describe Beside Her?

Ashley Watkins (AW): It’s a story about love and that intuitive connection we all have and listening to it.

We all go about our lives every day not really paying attention to that “little turn in your stomach” or the “ring in your ear”. It’s instinct.

What attracted you to this role?

AW: I’m very supportive and totally believe in equality for everyone. As an actress, there are no limits to the types of roles that I’ll play as long as I’m portrayed respectfully, and/or not exploited. If I can play something that emphasizes the common good for people and it’s something that I believe in, I love to do it. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do that with this project and Carrie just has so much passion for the film.

Erika Flores (Sofia Rios)

It’s a story about two people who have a strong connection and in the end, there’s a twist. You don’t expect the ending at all.

erikaWere you concerned at all about the subject matter?

Erika Flores (EF): No, not at all. I like portraying raw, challenging characters. I loved the idea of being connected and really showing the relationship.

What was it like working with Carrie on her first short film?

EF: It honestly didn’t feel like it was her first film, because the entire process was professional and handled so well.

What did you like most about the experience of filming Beside Her?

EF: Challenging myself with this role was fun. I also loved the location in Malibu where we shot my scene. That was beautiful.

If you had to briefly describe the story of Beside Her, what would it be?

EF: It’s a slice of life between two people and the relationship that they share. How their connection is so powerful that they can actually feel each other.

OwenConwayOwen Conway (Jeffrey)

What attracted you most to the role?

OC: It was a role that I really wanted to play. Jeffrey is a heavy character with a lot of desperation. It’s not something that you get to play very often.

Tell me a little bit more about Jeffrey.

OC: Jeffrey is a “street” person who definitely has some issues.

But the thing that struck me the most about him was the fact that he’s so young. For him, it’s just about survival.

What was the experience of filming Beside Her like?

OC: The entire shoot was fantastic. I remember seeing the final product for the first time at a screening a few months ago and being really moved by it. The whole thing came together beautifully.

For more info on Beside Her, check out 17films Facebook page.

Beside Her: A Short Film That Defines The Human Connection

Carrie Carnevale. Remember the name, because Carrie’s directorial debut in the movie Beside Her is nothing short of incredible.

The short film, a love story and fictional portrayal of the true human condition, will next be screened on Saturday, September 22nd at the Healdsburg International Short Film Festival in Healdsburg, CA.

Watching the film, you quickly forget that the lovers you see on-screen are female and become more enthralled with the deep love and connection they both share with each other.

Along with the amazing talents of actors Ashley Watkins , Erika Flores and Owen Conway, Carrie delivers a film that contains all of the elements that make up a great story: there’s love, tension, drama, passion, suspense and even a twist in the end for good measure!

But Beside Her is much more than a love story between two women. It’s a beautiful film about the human condition and the deep connection we all share but are often oblivious to.

Beside Her tells the story of Dr. Rachel Moretti (Ashley Watkins) and Sofia Rios (Erika Flores) and how, in one brief moment in time, their love for each other is measured beyond the norms of their everyday lives.

I had the opportunity to speak with Carrie and the cast of “Beside Her”.

goJimmygo (gJg): Carrie, congratulations on directing your first short film and all of your success!

Carrie Carnevale (CC): Thank You. I was lucky enough to have an amazing team, full of extremely talented people. It was a wonderful collaborative experience.

gJg: Tell me a little bit about the film’s origin.

CC: I wanted to write a story about the human connection; about the ways in which human beings connect with each other. Whether it be someone you’re dating, someone you’re married to, family, friends or even strangers; we’re all connected all the time. The problem is we tend to get distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, that sometimes we forget that.

I wanted to concentrate this story on two people who are in a relationship because I think that type makes for a very complex and compelling situation. There’s an unspoken connection that two people in love share with each other that makes the connection a lot deeper.

gJg: Were you concerned at all about the content and subject matter of a love story between two women?

CC: No, not at all. Even when people initially read the script, they were glad to see that it was a story about love rather than a story about being gay. Showing that gay or not, love is love and we all have those same feelings of connectedness.

gJg: The musical score for the film is amazing. It perfectly complements the love scene and the ending as well.

CC: It really does. The song we chose for those scenes are an absolute match. Lyrically, it’s great and the mood it sets is just so powerful and amazing.

gJg: How did you get started in film making?

CC: I’ve always had a love for film making. I went to film school and spent time in the independent scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of those years of work, I was able to learn so much about day-to-day production. I learned what to do and what not to do.

Along the way, I met some fellow artists who would hire me to work on their pieces, which I was honored and proud to do. In the past couple of years I felt it was time to start telling my own stories and producing my own projects and Beside Her was my first and I could not be more proud.

Ashley Watkins (Dr. Rachel Moretti)

It’s a project where it was the right time and the right place. Everything about it just felt natural!

gJg: How would you describe Beside Her?

Ashley Watkins (AW): It’s a story about love and that intuitive connection we all have and listening to it. 

We all go about our lives every day not really paying attention to that “little turn in your stomach” or the “ring in your ear”. It’s instinct.

gJg: What attracted you to this role?

AW: I’m very supportive and totally believe in equality for everyone. As an actress, there are no limits to the types of roles that I’ll play as long as I’m portrayed respectfully, and/or not exploited. If I can play something that emphasizes the common good for people and it’s something that I believe in, I love to do it. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to do that with this project and Carrie just has so much passion for the film.

Erika Flores (Sofia Rios)

It’s a story about two people who have a strong connection and in the end, there’s a twist. You don’t expect the ending at all.

gJg: Were you concerned at all about the subject matter?

Erika Flores (EF): No, not at all. I like portraying raw, challenging characters. I loved the idea of being connected and really showing the relationship.

What was it like working with Carrie on her first short film?

EF: It honestly didn’t feel like it was her first film, because the entire process was professional and handled so well.

gJg: What did you like most about the experience of filming Beside Her?

EF: Challenging myself with this role was fun. I also loved the location in Malibu where we shot my scene. That was beautiful.

gJg: If you had to briefly describe the story of Beside Her, what would it be?

EF: It’s a slice of life between two people and the relationship that they share. How their connection is so powerful that they can actually feel each other.

Owen Conway (Jeffrey)

gJg: What attracted you most to the role?

OC:  It was  a role that I really wanted to play. Jeffrey is a heavy character with a lot of desperation. It’s not something that you get to play very often.

gJg: Tell me a little bit more about Jeffrey.

OC: Jeffrey is  a “street” person who definitely has some issues. But the thing that struck me the most about him was the fact that he’s so young. 

For him, it’s just about survival.

gJg: What was the experience of filming Beside Her like?

OC: The entire shoot was fantastic. I remember seeing the final product for the first time at a screening a few months ago and being really moved by it. The whole thing came together beautifully.

You can keep up with Beside Her on Facebook and by following 17 Films on Twitter

Article first published as Beside Her: A Short Film That Defines The Human Connection on Technorati.

A Conversation With Actress Ashley Watkins

Ashley Watkins

Ashley Watkins has arrived. The Hollywood newcomer has already made her mark in the horror genre by playing the lead role in the Richard Swindell film, “Pelt“; her first feature film.

Ashley plays the role of Jenny, a level-headed girl whose instincts are put to the ultimate test when a camping adventure goes horribly wrong.

From the film’s website: Sudden, gory, death, hides behind every bush. When beautiful Jennifer and her friends embark on a backpacking excursion deep into the woods, they come chest to chest with an evil as old as the trees. Listen…above the crackling of the campfire…is that the sound of a twig snapping or your best girlfriend’s neck? The interlopers discover that when the locals warn you not to trespass, it’s a warning you should heed.

I recently spoke with Ashley and discussed her character as well as what she enjoyed the most about her experiences filming “Pelt”.

goJimmygo (gJg): I love your role in this movie. Your character is so dramatic and level-headed.

Ashley Watkins (AW): Thank you! Jenny was the smart one. If they would have listened to her, they would have survived. <laughs>

gJg: How did the role come about for you?

AW: The casting director gave me a call and told me about the audition. She didn’t have much information and the audition was that very night. I almost didn’t go because it was so last minute. But I went in, auditioned and got a call back. To this day, it’s still one of the best shoots I’ve ever been on.

gJg: Did you originally audition for the role of Jenny?

AW: I originally auditioned for the role of Debbie and actually got a call back for that role. Sarah (Zurell) was the original choice for Jenny. During the table read, the two of us along with Richard (Swindell) decided that something just didn’t seem right. So, Sarah and I wound up switching roles and it worked out awesome for both of us.

gJg: What did you like most about playing the role of Jenny?

AW: It was a fantastic role to start off my feature film career with. I am a huge Wes Craven fan and “Scream” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Neve Campbell is one of my inspirations.

This was kind of like that role for me; the lead in a horror film. Jenny is smart and intelligent but she’s not being a superhero; she’s normal.

As a female actress starting out in Hollywood, it’s very rare to find good, strong female roles. Jenny was not only the latter, but intelligent as well. One thing that Richard did great was create all of Pelt’s characters as fighters, including the women.

Nobody just “accidentally” tripped over a log or instantly got killed. Every character went down with a fight!  So, it was great to experience that level of empowerment for the entire cast, and especially as a female. They didn’t just give up or give in!

gJg: What did you like most about making the movie?

AW: I remember how excited I was during pre-production when Richard was explaining his vision of Pelt to me.

Richard is a fan of Judd Apatow and I’m a big Wes Craven fan, so when he said he envisioned it to be a “Scream meets Superbad!” I smiled REALLY big! I knew right off the bat; this was going to be great! It’s a horror cake frosted with comedy!

I’m also a nature freak so for me, getting out of the city was a lot of fun. Then of course, we had such a great cast and crew. We were out in a remote area where there was limited cell phone service and contact with the outside world. 

The location scouting was also amazing. I remember the tower scene, it took us 45 minutes just to get there and pretty much everything you see inside was already there.

gJg: What’s the story of Pelt?

AW: Pelt is the story about seven young friends who go out exploring the uncharted territory of the woods and unfortunately, begin to get knocked off one by one. It quickly becomes the process of survival. For me, it was more of a mind game. It’s a horror story with over the top goriness but also has some funny moments mixed in as well.

gJg: Were you always involved in the arts while growing up?

AW: I figure skated competitively & danced here and there for many years during my childhood. I then transitioned fairly easily into dance during college because of my skating background. When I moved to LA, I started with a few small dancing gigs, which eventually lead into a full professional dance career. 

I have been blessed to make a living as a dancer for the past three years, while pursuing acting. I get paid to work out and enjoy losing myself in the moment to music!

gJg: You’ve also done some TV work as well. What would you say are the differences between filming a feature like “Pelt” as opposed to “Entourage”?

AW: It’s cool to be on set for television, but unless you’ve got a specific role, it’s only a one day taping. For Entourage, I was a featured dancer. As far as films go, you become more like a family when you make them. You develop as a character, as an actress and a person.  But most of all, as is the case with Pelt, you also make great friends for life!

Article first published as A Conversation With Actress Ashley Watkins on Technorati.