After Amber Moelter trained in dance, acting and musical theatre throughout the, Australia and the UK she graduated from London Studio Centre with a BA Honours in Theatre Dance (Musical Theatre) in 2003. By the time she saw the casting for Colin’s “Comic Book Film” Amber had acted in her first feature, TrashHouse, as well a string of short films. Amber believes she had just been cast in the off-West End production of Cosi, as well as given the lead role in the UK indie feature Cross-Eyed Waltz. she enjoys utilizing her dance training and physicality in my stage and film roles and thought a comic book film would be great fun.
COMIC BOOK BIN (through Christopher Moshier): Why Catwoman? Why not Wonder Woman or Batgirl?
AMBER MOELTER: Luckily for me, the choice was made for me. Colin chose Catwoman and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about wanting the role. Prior to my involvement on Catwoman: Copycat I wasn’t aware of the fan film microcosm, although I did actively read Archie comics when I was eight years old. I lived in Seoul, South Korea at the time and I stocked up any time my dad would take us to the American army base. I thought of myself as Betty on the outside, but Veronica on the inside; naughty motives with a sweet façade.
CBB: Catwoman: Copycat - Catwoman: Resolution. Can you distinguish between the two?
AM: Copycat is what you expect a fan film to be. You’ve got the character in the iconic costume, kick-ass fight scenes – comic book style. Without having seen the final cut, I assume it will have a Tim Burton feeling in terms of color schemes and tone. Resolution is not necessarily a prequel or a sequel; it is a day in Selina Kyle’s life. It deals with the woman behind The Cat, her humanity - or lack - thereof - her internal battle with what is right and wrong. I was intrigued with telling this story because we didn’t get a chance to look behind the mask in Copycat. Resolution was shot in a gritty, docudrama feeling and exists as its own entity. Everyone has their own interpretation of whom they think Selina Kyle is when she’s not inside the catsuit; this is my incarnation of a woman with a wild past and inner turmoil of her wants and needs. Written by two women (Amy E. Sousa and myself), we bring a feminine insight to Selina.
For the most part the team changed because we shot Copycat in the UK and we shot Resolution in NYC. Producing the film was really was a remarkable experience; it came about because Colin and Gareth Wilmot were joining me in NY for New Year’s 2005/ 2006. Those two are always up for anything, so I proposed shooting a ‘sequel.’ From that point on I had three weeks for development and pre-production. Prior to Resolution I had limited experience with co-producing – executive producing Resolution was such a huge learning curve.
CBB: What makes your version of Catwoman stand out from the other fan films using the same character?
AM: With Copycat we have resonated with fans that enjoyed the Tim Burton/ Michelle Pfieffer vision of Catwoman. We went with the sleek latex suit that both Colin and I had the deepest connection with. I was fortunate that Colin and I envisioned Catwoman in the same was; since being cast in Copycat I have researched her multiple lives and seen other fan films that portray her in alternate ways. Of course all of them are valid; I am lucky that Colin and I agreed on how to portray her for our first film.
Resolution takes a different story. Selina’s psyche is rarely explored on a humanistic level – we wanted to make the woman just as exciting as ‘the suit’ that encases her from time to time. Fans who connect with earlier incarnations of The Cat may appreciate our vision of Selina: the costume (made by couture designer Marcus Lee, who has worked for Prada in Italy) is a throwback to the original purple dress (albeit, a modern design showing a little more skin). Markus really was a genius in what he got the dress to do for the fight sequences – it’s an amalgamation of her purple dress and the purple catsuit. Speaking of the purple suit, we recently shot some second unit footage utilizing a new purple latex rubber suit made for us by Laura Petrielli Pulice at Vex Clothing for the film’s opening, based on the Jim Balent design.
Catwoman is such an amazing character to explore because of her many incarnations. While it is impossible to please all the fans all of the time, it is creatively rewarding to explore an iconic character and still have so much room to make her our own. I believe fans looking for a grittier, darker story - with a throwback to the original cat – will enjoy what we set out to do with Catwoman: Resolution.
CBB: You mentioned you produced and co-wrote Resolution. How did this differ personally from your experiences in relation to Copycat?
AM: I see Copycat as my initiation into the comic book/ fan film world. While it was Colin’s baby, I adored pouring into research and having fun with the script I was given. Chris Dee (author of Copycat) wrote a multi-dimensional script that I could relate to as a woman. The shoot was a lot of fun and many of my ideas were embraced – Colin’s a great collaborator and largely why I wanted to work with him again.
I decided to make Resolution about Selina because of the need to flesh out the character within myself. The situation felt real to me. I would categorize it more as dark thriller than fantasy. While producing and acting in the film nearly killed me (picture me in a “slip of a dress” in Central Park, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter), I had more control over the production, which I found rewarding. Actually, all throughout the design/fitting process of the costume I kept telling Markus that I was thinking as a producer, because – as an actress – if someone expected me to wear next to nothing in the middle of winter I would walk off set! It kept things cheery because no matter how cold everyone got I was always colder!
CBB: Do you have any crazy stories from your experiences with either Catwoman film?
AM: Copycat : Ok people, I’m sure there are those out there that disagree with me, but a latex bodysuit is NOT sexy! Maybe to look at, granted. And, initially, wearing it gives this sense of empowerment that I did not anticipate. However, the sensation felt similar to what I can only describe as becoming a cold-blooded reptile. The suit offers no insulation in the cold and becomes a personal sauna under the lights (and fight scenes). By the end of the first day of the big fight sequence my skin reacted to the combination of the latex, lube gel (that I needed to get into the suit) and my sweat. The rash on my body was not pretty. The hot bath I took only made it worse. So, the second day of the shoot was a little uncomfortable, to say the least.
Another fond memory of Copycat: the scene where I grab somebody’s balls come to mind. I believe I crushed a tea towel (kitchen towel) to death for that one. We kept cracking up and had to shoot that a fair few times. The maturity of the cast and crew were at an all-time high.
Resolution : Just trying to get the whole thing shot in 5 days (the length of time Colin was in NY) was crazy! I felt so badly that he didn’t get to kick back without a camera once. He seriously never put the thing down. He and Gareth got a unique tour of New York - from running errands in Brooklyn and Queens, to shooting in Central Park, the Bronx, Fifth Avenue and the Top of the Rock. We got some amazing rain for one of our scenes, but I swear to god that is the closest I have even seen Colin to breaking. It was like little hail pelting our faces and his camera. I hope he has forgiven me for that one (or forgotten). We really had to push to get through the shots; the fight sequence took us from sundown to 6 am. I couldn’t imagine completing this film without my great cast and crew that gave themselves so generously.
Unfortunately, the purple dress attracted a mixed-bag of attention: I did get some not-so-nice comments from girls about the cut of my dress and some not-so-nice comments (of a different variety) from guys – also about the cut of my dress. I also had a pair of tights that were cut to follow the line of the dress that I had to tape to my ass - they kept falling down! I couldn’t believe that I longed to have the Catsuit on!
CBB: When will either film be available for public consumption?
AM: As I’m not part of the Copycat post-production, I can only refer you to the Copycat website for release updates. Georgia Hilton at World Wide Audio, an amazing post-production house in TriBeCa, is handling post for Resolution and we plan on releasing it New Year’s Eve 2006.
CBB: How has playing Catwoman or even being in the growing list of fan films helped your career if at all?
AM: Somehow I have accumulated most of my fans through Copycat. I would strongly suggest any actor looking to kick-start their career to tackle a fan film. Besides the humbling process of working on a film that will never make any money, you get to explore an iconic character that has a built-in fan base. If you don’t demolish what that character means to people – BANG - you’ve got yourself some fans. After the initial press for Copycat came out I was contacted by a series of directors and producers that are eyeing me for future projects. It’s nice to know that someone’s keeping an eye on me, but I still believe in being proactive and making work that means something personally. Having the press for Copycat definitely helped getting a great crew onboard for Resolution.
CBB: Kind of in relation to the last question. There seems to be a lot of struggling actors - probably struggling isn’t the best word - unknown actors just wanting to practice their craft popping up in these fan films. What brings these “unknown” talents into the world of fan films?
AM: I wasn’t aware of the fan film world until responding to Colin’s casting notice, but (as I said above) it seems to be the quickest way to connect with an audience that has never heard of you. A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would spend their own money on something that is, by default, unprofitable. All you need to do it take a look at 99.9% of short films. They don’t make a penny. They are a promotional tool – to win awards or entrust a producer to give you money to make a feature. Similarly, any short film is a tool to practice, stretch your skills, and form a showreel. Shorts have a bad rep (I recently went to an international film seminar that preached the excising of the short form, being a waste of time and money), but the fact is the future is in the short. As cinema becomes even more personalized (from cinemas to TV to personal computers, phones and iPods) and attention spans become shorter – the shorter format will be embraced and films will be developed for the micro-screen format. Fan films are a marvelous calling card since many fans have personal portable playing devices. If made well, the short will be appreciated by those out there that are looking for their hero/ heroine to be personified. And fan film geeks are the most faithful fans.
CBB: What can you tell us about either Catwoman fan film no one on the planet Earth may be aware of?
AM: Oh, secrets. Hmmm. How about what I’m wearing under the catsuit? Victoria Secret is helping me out up top… as for down under, that will have to remain a mystery.
CBB: Let’s break away from the geekdom so you can tell us your other projects you are currently working on or what is coming up.
AM: Nice segueway. While we’re wrapping up Resolution, my company is developing a string of features and television programs. I plan to direct my first feature next year, along with a third installation of Catwoman. This one will be a bit glossier than Resolution enabling fans to see both sides of the coin in conjunction: Selina and Cats joined together by purple. We’ll be utilizing the new suit that can be seen in Resolution.
CBB: Besides yourself - because that would be cheating - who do you think has played the ultimate Catwoman in any format?
AM: As I consistently admit, I adored Michell Pfieffer’s multi-layered performance as Selina and Cats. Another favorite is Gina Gershon as the voice of Catwoman in the animated series. Gershon has one sexy voice and brings a great cheekiness to the role. Really, every actress that has tackled the role is fantastic in her own way – I feel they enable the viewer to see straight through them to each woman’s deepest fantasy of themselves as a liberated feline female. Or purrrhaps, that’s just what I feel like when I crack the whip!
CBB: If you had one role you could play to fulfill your creative fancy what would it be?
AM: One role - that’s like a last meal question. For me, I would never stop eating, bring on the next course!
I would love to do something that hasn’t been done before. I don’t know if that’s even possible, since there isn’t much new under the sun. I’d like to explore ideas about spirituality and the mind, possibly within the realms of multiple realities and dimensions. One show I LOVED growing up was Quantum leap and I also adored those choose-your-own-adventure books. I would love to explore cutting-edge technology, combining a quantum physics theme with hundreds of different paths for every character. It would appease the audience’s need for reality TV, but the interactive ability would create a greater emotional attachment to the characters. The scenarios could range across all genres, busting open the box that media is being packaged neatly within. The creative team involved would be huge, to cater to the multiple stories that need to be followed (similar to Time Code, only on a grander scale) as well as the diverse subject matter that would be tackled. It’s a pretty ambitious idea, but if I only had one role, this one sounds pretty kick ass. No boundaries. Forward-thinking. Each character is the lead of their story, just like in life.
CBB: What inspired you to become an actress?
AM: Inspiration for me comes from the people around me. I never saw one particular performance for me that made it all click, that I can recall. I have been inspired by many performances (my mood dictates my favorites), but really I think it comes down to wanting to create and express what I observe in everyday life. For me it has a lot to do with how I view life as a constant evolution, constant change: my love for performance art came from loving sports, then loving dance, then loving singing, then loving acting. It’s all playing. As long as it’s fun or challenging I’m happy.
Right now I am getting an amazing amount of personal satisfaction from producing and creating something out of nothing. I adore the fruition of ideas and surrounding myself with creative geniuses that can birth a life out of thin air. As an actress I look up to women that are intelligent in their choices and are strong as individuals: Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collete, Kate Winslet are a few examples that instantly come to mind. Other multi-talented woman: Shirley Maclaine, Anne Reinking, Gwen Verdon, Ann Margaret, the list goes on. In terms of emulating a career, right now I look up to George Clooney with the way he effortlessly wears the many different hats of actor, director, producer, writer, and humanitarian. I also would love to emulate a path of artistic freedom akin to Ed Burns. For me there is no point in providing entertainment unless it is done with a great intention and to make an impact on the’ viewer.
CBB: You have the floor. Tell us what else we should know about you, thank whom ever you think should be thanked, or just shoot us a funny joke!
AM: I want to dedicate where I am right now to my family. My parents have supported me so unconditionally I wouldn’t have had such a blessed life without their support. Also the gorgeous women that I have surrounded myself with, especially in this last year, have greatly impacted my state of mind and productivity. I use filmmaking to explore my beliefs and ideas, but also to share and offer a place where people can interact and exchange ideas and knowledge. I strongly encourage feedback and would love to hear from anyone that has a thought or a feeling come from anything that I have been a part of. I believe the reason we are here is to connect with each other and I strongly encourage you to reach out and share with each other.
So as not to leave you on a super-solemn note - I have a cat anecdote:
When I lived in Sydney, Australia I stayed for a short time with some friends of a friend. I was sleeping on a blow-up mattress on the floor and my cat, Mulder, would wander in and out of the house. We had no need for a litter box because he would go outside. One day I came home from my studies and he rushed up to meet me, as he often did. I briefly sat down on my mattress to rub his belly and then got up to get some food for him. When I went in the kitchen I noticed that the back door was closed, meaning he was trapped inside all day. Then I noticed the strong odor of cat poo. When I bent down to get some food out of the cupboard the smell got stronger. I searched inside the cupboard – thinking maybe he got stuck inside and pooed in there. No luck. I looked all around, but couldn’t find this smell that seemed to be everywhere. I went back to the front room. At the foot of my blow-up mattress there was a squished pile of cat poo. I turned around and discovered that I had sat in it! That’s why the smell was following me around. Mulder knew what he was doing when he invited me to scratch his belly at the foot of my mattresss, cheeky little bugger.
I have some other naughty Mulder stories - but they must wait for another time.