-Interview by Nic Brown-
Lewis, a native of Philadelphia, caught the acting bug and moved to New York City where she spent four years working Off-Broadway. Then she packed it up and headed on to bigger and better things in Hollywood. Not content to simply be an actress working in front of the camera, Brooke started Philly Chick Pictures, her own production company.
Now Brooke is involved in films, television, and even has two new web series going, including one working with Drac Studios who won the Academy Award for the special effects make-up in BENJAMIN BUTTON.
Before she had to catch her flight back to L.A., Brooke sat down with B Movie Man Nic Brown to give her thoughts on the horror genre, independent films vs. Hollywood productions, and why Ms. Vampy is becoming the hottest new horror hostess.
Nic - So Brooke how are you enjoying the show?
Brooke - I am having a fabulous time here at Xanadu Las Vegas, especially after hanging out with you and Tucky last night!
Nic - So what have you thought of Las Vegas so far?
Brooke - Well, being a
Right now being here with you guys in Vegas, I’ve had fun and met a couple of super cool people that I definitely hope to stay in touch with in the future and hope that we get to go on to do bigger conventions together in the future. Now I look at every convention and every experience is that if you can take one thing with you, learn something new about others or yourself or you make a new business contact then it’s all worth it.
Nic - Brooke you said you’re a newer Scream Queen. So what are some of your latest projects?
Brooke - (Grinning) I am a newer Scream Queen! I’m the girl that
started out in the comedy genre and I was doing "Tony n' Tina's
Wedding" Off-Broadway for years in
I have a number of films I’d recommend people check out. Number one is KINKY KILLERS. That is a horror thriller that I starred in opposite Beverly Lynn, she was the blonde lead. We got to act with Michael Pare from EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS who I loved as a kid, and the amazing, Oscar nominated Charles Durning and a lot of other talented people. It was a great film to work on and I was also one of the executive producers!
Another film that I am super, super proud of in the horror genre is IMURDERS! I got to act and executive produce this film as well. It was a really great film to work on; I was starring with the unbelievably talented Tony Todd from CANDYMAN. It was directed by Robbie Bryan and he is such a generous and wonderful man to work with and he’s become a dear friend of mine - he and his wife Christie Botelho, who was also in the film and is one of the producers. We got to work with William Forsythe, Billy Dee Williams and Margaret Colin, and the list goes on and on! It was an unbelievable experience! I got to play agent Lori Romano, a young FBI agent/detective who is trying to break the case with Tony Todd and it was just an incredible film! We’ve hit every major horror film festival; we’re at tons of conventions. We’ll be at the Texas Frightmare Weekend in a couple of weeks and we’ve just been so blessed!
Wow! I guess you do have a few things going on right now! In
addition to all that, I understand that you’ve recently been
working on a web series as well is that correct?
Nic - Wow! I guess you do have a few things going on right now! In addition to all that, I understand that you’ve recently been working on a web series as well is that correct?
Brooke - You know it’s so funny when I do these interviews and I
go off on a tangent about all my films, and I forget that there
are other avenues that I’m participating in. I’ve been doing a
lot of television and web series stuff lately in the horror and
horror comedy genres. One of them that I will give a shout out
to is LIFE’S A BUTCH with Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster from the
other one that I am so proud of is MS. VAMPY [leaning in and
drawing out the “Ms” to Mizzzz”]. MS. VAMPY is mostly improv but
I wrote it, directed it, produced it; I did everything with the
help of one of my best friends and business associates, Todd
Tucker of Drac Studios who just won the Oscar for BENJAMIN
BUTTON! It was such a gift and a blessing to be able to do MS.
VAMPY with him. That’s kind of my nickname now and she’s sort of
like Elvira but not. She’s this kind of horror hostess who has
this villa and it’s kind of like the
Nic - Where can I check out MS. VAMPY?
Brooke - WWW.MSVAMPY.NET
Nic - Cool. So how many episodes are there?
Brooke - There are four episodes so far and we shot them all inside of one shoot. That was the intention and we have a marketing company that is marketing it all over the internet. That’s it for right now because: A. we spent a small fortune for a web series and B. the amount of time and energy that it took for this project. I mean there were so many people involved that I can’t even list them all and to do something like this with a web series where you don’t know if there is going to be a financial return. It would be insane to keep doing it out of pocket unless something was to take off. So we’ll see. We do have some people interested in the sitcom arena and if someone comes along and sponsors us, we’ll do more!
Nic - Shifting gears a little bit and going back to the straight horror side of things. What are some of your thoughts about women’s roles in horror films?
Brooke - That is a great question and since I just finished speaking on two panels related to this subject. The first one was on women in film with Rachel Grubb, and the other one was on women in horror, sexuality and the objectification of women and I did that panel with Rachel and Tucky. Both of the panels were great and I stick with what I said on them. I’ve never done nudity. I’ve done some amazing sex scenes where I’ve been down to a bra but I feel that artistically unless the nudity moves the story it does not need to be in there. It does not need to be gratuitous for the sake of distribution. I do get it - I’m a producer too so I’m all for putting a little bit of T & A in there to get some foreign distribution, that’s fantastic. But, I am taking a stand as both an actress and a producer for powerful women to say I can be sexy at any age, any size, I don’t have to get naked and let’s be powerful! True beauty and power come from within and it’s taken me a long time to learn that for myself and now I’m embracing it and I want to share that with all women in horror and outside of horror, in all films.
For me as a strong woman I love to have roles where the female is the villain or the killer and it’s not all about just running around naked! I think that kind of role in horror is so empowering for women and I’m super excited to see more of that!
Nic - So how would Brooke Lewis define horror?
Brooke - [Scrunching up her face in thought for a moment] That’s
a really good question too! I’ve learned so much here this
weekend working on panels with these amazing women like Tucky
Williams and Rachel Grubb and having conversations with them
about the difference between “Hollywood” horror films and the
kind of films you guys are doing in places like
So how I would define horror is so ambiguous and so relative. I mean you’ve got these super, super low budget things that are being made, some with nudity, but they’re very artistic and they don’t have super big names but they sell like crazy in foreign distribution and they go straight to DVD and that’s not really part of my world. Then you jump to the Hollywood horror thing where it’s not so much about the sex and nudity or the slash them up gore; it’s more about what names are attached to your project, what’s your budget, how do you get the major distribution for this, and now you’re getting at this whole other thing that’s much more mainstream, and I think that for some horror fans it defies what the real, true genre fans want to see. So there is just a plethora of different areas of horror to me.
Nic -As someone who also works behind the camera, what do you find to be the biggest challenge in filmmaking?
Brooke - Financing! [Laughs]
Nic - After all that other stuff you mentioned, I should have picked that up!
Brooke - [Still laughing] Well seriously there are a couple of things. Number one is for sure financing. Two is to establish a team that can come together as a cohesive group that respects one another and can work together. When you do a project people think that it’s “Oh let’s go in and shoot for a month!” And that’s not the case. Films can take from three to seven years when you include post production, distribution and everything. So you had better have a group that you trust and that you love. I have been screwed over six ways to Tuesday as both an actress and a producer in this business, and so now I make sure that my team is trustworthy and respectable, that supports my vision and the project and that we are all on board with that.
I also think that it is very challenging to be a woman in this business, both as an actress and as a producer. Sometimes you are not taken seriously sometimes when you are just acting. Then there is the other side where they say sure you can star in my film if you will produce it and go out there and raise the finances for it, if this and if that! I am hit with so many different challenges as an actress and a filmmaker!
Nic - I find it hard to believe anyone could not take you seriously Brooke! Now I do have one last question for you…. If I wanted to learn more about Brooke Lewis, other than visiting MSVAMPY.net where could I go?
Brooke - You would go to my production company: Philly Chick Pictures and you can find that on the web at www.phillychickpictures.com. You can email me there, see pictures and find out what’s going on! There is also my IMDB page or you can just hit Google, there is soooo much out there!
Scroll to the bottom of the page to see Brooke's interview at the 2010 Texas Frightmare weekend!