The award-winning actress known as Julia Campanelli was nice enough to grant me some time to talk. The amazing talent is starring in the remake of Francis Ford Coppola’s first film Dementia 13. Check out our conversation down below.
Julia Campanelli has also appeared in some other great projects like Kill The Monsters, The Equalizer, and ABC’s One Life To Live. She also has a short film currently on the festival circuit called 116 through her company Shelter Films.
One other tidbit, she is also known for becoming the first girl to play on a boy’s soccer team in the U.S.. She was 16 years old at the time. Could she be anymore kick-ass?
RONN!E: Hi, Julia, how are you?
Julia Campanelli: Hi Ronnie! I’m awesome, thank you!
RONN!E: First off, thanks for speaking with me, I really appreciate it.
Julia Campanelli: Oh it’s my pleasure.
RONN!E: So you have Dementia 13 coming out, which is a remake of the Frances Ford Coppola film. I wanted to know first off: how did that project end up in your lap?
Julia Campanelli : I auditioned for it. When I auditioned for it I didn’t know that it was a remake of Frances Ford Coppola’s film, so that was pretty huge. I think I didn’t know. You know, it was just a horror film and the characters sounded pretty interesting, and I’d never done a horror film. So they called me back in and had me read again and they really liked me and they kept me–they ran it by the producers. And I’m such a fan of Coppola. Who isn’t? So I thought it was pretty immense, a huge responsibility to do justice to this film. It’s a reworking of his very first feature, or commercially released feature that has a cult following, so it comes with a feeling of responsibility to the fans of the first one to really do our best and to do it justice.
RONN!E: So you play Gloria Haloran in the film…
Julia Campanelli: Yes, hello!
RONN!E: It seems like a very intense character, so did you have to do a lot of preparation to get ready for that character?
Julia Campanelli : You know, the script was so good and it was so well written, and I thought this character, she was so well written, and they gave me such beautiful monologues to read that helped so much, and talking with the director and the producers about it, they said that she really is the center of the family and they inherited this wealth and Gloria is this fearless (woman), she’s wonderfully unfiltered and she doesn’t give a fig about what anybody thinks about her because she’s rich enough. But with this inheritance she’s inherited the history of this unfortunate family incident that her children would like to forget, but she–Gloria really cleaves to that because she feels that it’s who they are and that it is a curse on the family, which is why she decides to give all the money away and not to her children. So preparing for it, I mean, I don’t know, you just really get into the character and, like I said, it was easy because it was written so well, and also working with the director, Richard LeMay, he was such a dream to work with because he just allowed us to approach it this way or that way. We really did work together on bringing out the best in each character in each take.
RONN!E: Right on. Awesome! Speaking of working with Richard LeMay, who is very great, but you also had other cast members in here like Channing Pickett, Ana Isabelle, Steve Polites. What was it like working with that cast?
Julia Campanelli: It was fabulous! They helped us all. They helped all the family members–they put us all up on one house, sort of like a dormitory. So we all lived together onsite and offsite, so it really was a great bonding experience for all of us. You know, we would work all day for twelve hours and then we’d come home and stay up all night talking and, you know, gabbing, and just having fun together. So if it looks like we were a real family it’s because we really felt like a real family! Because we actually were living together and we all got along famously and just had so much fun together.
RONN!E: How long was shooting?
Julia Campanelli: How long was it? About a month. You know, it was pretty intense, to shoot a feature in a month.
RONN!E: Yeah, because it looks like you guys were on a beautiful estate in the film.
Julia Campanelli: Yes, we were! The place was like a castle. It was a thousand acre estate. It was really beautiful and it really felt like it was haunted. The previous owners had just walked out of the castle one day and left all of their belongings intact.
Julia Campanelli: Yes, and there’s a child’s room that still has all these toys in it. It was really kind of creepy, you know? You just really felt some other presence was there and all the time watching you. So it really felt like it was a haunted castle.
RONN!E: That must have made it easier for getting into character.
Julia Campanelli: It really did! And it was ice cold, too, so it really felt a portal to hell at times. “Oh yeah, here we are, we’ve arrived.”
RONN!E: So did you ever get scared making the movie?
Julia Campanelli. Yeah. Yeah, not so much from the movie but the crew played a pretty awesome prank on us on one of our last nights of shooting. It really scared the sh*t out of me, I mean I’ve never been so terrified. It was really something. We still have to get back at them for that. It was pretty funny. But we were screaming. We were driving off the and they had put this–there was a dummy they had used for Channing’s character when we drag her into the lake–and they had put a clown costume on it and put it up on the wires with some balloons. And we were driving past it and all the sudden out of nowhere we saw this clown and we started screaming. It was–I’ve never been so scared in my life, I swear. We were so terrified and Chris, who plays my son, John, wanted to get out of the car, and I said, “Are you crazy? You’re not getting out of this car!” We thought it was real. We thought it was somebody dressed up as a clown and then we realized that we had been pranked and it was really a golden moment for us.
RONN!E: It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun filming.
Julia Campanelli: We did. We had a blast.
RONN!E: So I did want to ask you one other thing that’s not actually Dementia 13 related, which is your new project company you have out called Shelter Films.
Julia Campanelli: Yes, my production company, Shelter Films.
RONN!E: You just had 116 come out?
Julia Campanelli: Yes, it’s currently on the festival circuit and it’s… I just started submitting it in July or August and it’s already been it’s been officially selected for 15 or 16 festivals and it’s won five awards already. I started it to give women, to kind of balance out… There’s a lot of talk about the issue of gender bias in the film industry currently, so I started it just to give women more projects to work on, and also to give women filmmakers and crews more projects to work on as well, in my own small way, here in New York.
RONN!E: How did you get started? How did you come up with the idea to start doing Shelter Films?
Julia Campanelli: Well I have a theater group called Shelter Theater Group which was started for the same reason in the 90s. Because the roles available to women weren’t that great, so I thought hey, I’m just going to find some female writers or men who write women’s roles and produce them. I did that for five years, I dropped out of acting and then I decided I wanted to go to film school, so I went to film school–shut down the theater company and went to film school–and that’s how I got into film, so I thought… I wanted to start making films because I don’t see enough women, enough representation for women, and for diversity in general, so… And you know, this is a dialog, it’s been in the zeitgeist for a couple of years. So I just started Shelter Films. I have several projects in development for that, that I’m very excited about.
RONN!E: That’s awesome. I definitely have a lot of female filmmaker friends, I’ll try to send them your way.
Julia Campanelli: Yes!
RONN!E: Thank you so much for talking to me.
Julia Campanelli: Thank you, it was my pleasure.
RONN!E: I think Shelter Films is a very awesome idea and I wish you the best of luck with it, and with Dementia 13, which looks really really good.
Julia Campanelli: Thank you! I hope you enjoyed it.
DEMENTIA 13 hits theaters on October 6th, 2017 and is on VOD and Digital HD on October 10th, 2017.