Long overdue for an update, and things are getting busy!
We are nearing the final shoot days of Vic Effects with Kissing Kastles Productions and have released our first teaser, which you can find on my main page and in this post! Excitement is building for this project and I really feel it's going to be something special.
First table read of my next film, Dracula: The Count's Kin with Pascarelli Productions, went off swimmingly and I'll be heading back to my home state of Indiana for two days of filming in the next couple months.
Lost In Love, a short rom-com written by Leilani Downer and directed by Jennifer Gillenwater was a finalist in the Chicago International Blow-Up Art House Film Festival, and earned a screening at the fantastic Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. I had to miss the festival itself but was delighted the cast and crew got experience our film up on the big screen with the other finalists.
Tin Roof is continuing through the post-production process. There is no specific timeline for release yet but make sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss the latest news!
In late March, I'll be sitting down for an interview with Travis Bruce, host of Horror Realm, a Youtube channel focused on all things horror. Check out his awesome interview with Kissing Kastle's Chris Shern!
I am in full swing directing for camera for the first time! I've had the pleasure of directing for the stage a handful of times, and as an assistant director for select segments of the ongoing web series D&D PHB PSA's: The Next Generation with Creative Juices 7th, but never taken the driver's seat for anything on camera. Co-Founder of Creative Juices 7th, Wes Whitaker has trusted me to direct a 6 episode spin-off series following Kimothy, a Sorceress Healer who has something to say about the way healer's are treated....and her recently resurrected (ex) girlfriend might have something to say about it too. We've filmed 2 episodes already, and I'm excited to see what this team can put together. It helps to have super talented actors with incredible patience for a newbie director!
Many more irons are in the fire, so keep an eye on this space and my socials for the latest!
I hope folks are enjoying spooky season and watching lots of great scary movies! If you need some indies to watch, of course I recommend checking out Tubi (free everywhere!) where you can find my films Evil Lurks and Homecoming Massacre. I'm excited to add the camp slasher Tin Roof to the collection once it becomes available to streaming platforms (potentially in 2024, it's wrapping up the score then off to festivals). I'm currently shooting a new project in the horror genre, Vic Effects, written and directed by Chris Shern (co-writer, co-director, key editor, and sound genius of Evil Lurks, and lead singer of the band Invisible Cartoons). Principle photography is currently underway, and I've included some early stills from our initial shoot days below. It's a super twisty reality bending film that follows rising star foley artist Victoria "Vic" Paulette, played by me, as she creates the practical sound effects for the film that legendary foley artist Thomas Raven was working on when he suddenly died. Film and reality begin to twist together as Vic and sound engineer Coop work on the film, hurtling towards a shocking end.
Additionally, I recently learned I've been cast in a yet-to-be announced indie described as a "modern Dracula sequel". Once more official project and casting announcements have been made public I'll be sure to share - but what I can say is that I finally get to take a crack at a fun detective role!
What horror films are on your list this year? I've definitely seen some wild ones, from Winnie the Pooh: Blood & Honey, to Demons 2. Of course, I watch horror all year long, but there's something really satisfying about watching them when the leaves start changing and folks start really getting into the spooky spirit. Happy haunting!
Rounding up some recent reviews for Evil Lurks (and one for Homecoming Massacre) as well a recent interview about my career and recent films with horror Youtuber, Al Lucard - aka "The Bat" and host of Tubi Terrors.
Horror Scope Magazine - Evil Lurks Review
"Amanda Winston delivers a powerful portrayal of Kimberly, effectively conveying her grief, vulnerability, and determination."
"Evil Lurks delivers a chilling and hypnotic horror experience. With its captivating plot, stellar performances, and atmospheric setting, if you have some free time you can find this gem on tubitv.com"
Severed Cinema - Evil Lurks Review
"Amanda Winston, along with Chris (incidentally, he is more musical orientated and provided lots to the incredibly diverse soundtrack), and newcomer, Savannah Mae (as Erica) are all a force of nature, perfectly cast and work hard."
"The last fifteen minutes or so must be seen to be believed. I have never watched anything quite like it. Everything is plotted and nurtured to grow into a deep well, deeper than you first realize."
Special Mark Productions - Evil Lurks Review
"Amanda Winston’s Kimberly is a very sympathetic character. Winston makes you feel her frustration and sadness as she deals with all of the trauma she has experienced."
"What “Evil Lurks” may lack in budget it makes up for in spirit, creativity and talent. Hawkins and Shern tell a story that covers the subject of grief, loss, foster parenting, and trust."
I recently did an interview about my experience filming Evil Lurks (now out on Tubi and other platforms!) and my work as an actor with Mike Haberfelner of (re)Search My Trash. Check it out!
Plain text of the interview below:
An Interview with Amanda Winston, Star of Evil Lurks
by Mike Haberfelner
Your new movie Evil Lurks - in a few words, what is it about and what can you tell us about your character in it?
Evil Lurks is about a woman named Kimberly who seeks out help from a hypnotherapist as she struggles with her feelings of grief and loss. Unbeknownst to her, the hypnotist is possessed by an evil force that visits the earth every Blood Moon. The story follows her battle that's carried on 15 years later as Kimberly is driven to save the life of the daughter she was never meant to have. It's a bit of a mindbender that will make you question everything you've watched by the end - and I play Kimberly! Kim is a fighter. She's been through some serious shit - multiple miscarriages, sexual assault, the death of her mother at a young age and estrangement from her father. So when she's suddenly battling off this evil entity, she's tough as nails.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Amanda Winston can we actually find in Kimberly?
I like to consider myself a "take no shit" kind of person, so there's a lot of that in Kimberly. I haven't experienced the same traumas as Kimberly, but I draw on the loss I know and how I've seen others close to me deal with similar situations. Like Kim, I am also skeptical of hypnotherapy :)
How did you get involved with the project in the first place, and what drew you to it?
I was actually a last minute replacement. I think I was on set about 48 hours after my callback audition? The person they cast originally in my role had to back out, and a friend posted the casting search for Kimberly to Facebook. I'm a big fan of horror and suspense films, so it caught my eye. I'm very drawn to characters that aren't typical ingenues, and Kim is definitely not your typical ingenue.
To what extent could you relate to Evil Lurks' approach to horror, and is horror a genre at all dear to you?
Evil Lurks lives more on the arthouse side of horror, thanks in large part to Chris Shern's vision, score, and guidance of the edit. I think it's what makes the movie memorable. It's not a big jump scare movie, definitely more psychological/suspense. I love horror films! I feel like I'm constantly playing catch up trying to consume all the awesome content out there, but it's a fun arena to play in for sure.
What can you tell us about Evil Lurks' director Aaron Hawkins, and what was your collaboration like?
Collaborating with Aaron was pretty laid back - we had a lot of freedom as actors to build the characters how we wanted.
A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was definitely an all hands collaborative experience. With low-budget indie films, we're in it because we love it and helping out where we can. So you know at one point when we needed an extra set of hands I held the boom mic for a scene I wasn't in, for example. We took our time filming on weekends to fit people's schedules, and everyone was very cool to work with - very little on-set tension or anything like that.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
I'll be in a classic camp slasher (but with adults!) called Tin Roof that we're hoping will be out by the end of this year! We're doing a handful of reshoots this summer. I play Kat, part of a group of friends trying to save their favorite summer camp on the rocks, and it's a bloody good time. Rob Mello (of Happy Death Day fame) is the writer, with Rebecca Rinehart (The Embalmers, Frightvision, Sister Krampus) directing.
What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I've been into acting for as long as I can remember - seriously since pre-school when we put on a circus play and they made me the "ringmaster". I found out later they did that because I was a bossy kid, but it set off the performer in me and I've been doing it ever since. Growing up I did mostly school plays and drama camps, and then got my BA in Theatre from Butler University. Since college I moved to Chicago and have been working in theatre, film, VO, and various other acting and collaborative and creative efforts since. I've taken some classes at some local Chicago studios as well including Black Box Acting, Vagabond School, and The Forge.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Evil Lurks?
Prior to Evil Lurks I mostly did some super low-budget indies in Indiana (where I lived up until 2011). Evil Lurks actually kicked off a more serious interest in me to pursue on-camera acting and I've been lucky enough to do a handful of short films and indie features since. Prior to that I was much more focused on stagework. A film I did back around 2007 Homecoming Massacre came out finally in 2020 and is now on Tubi and other platforms - I won't say it's my best work but the murder clown is pretty badass.
Besides movies you've also done quite a bit of stage work - so how does acting for the camera compare to performing in front of a live audience, and which do you prefer, even?
It's both exactly the same and super different at the same time. What's the same is drawing from a place of truth - the camera and the audience know when you're "acting" and not really invested in what you're doing or saying. Character development and understanding the story are essential regardless of the medium. What changes is the technique. There are certain camera skills you have to be aware of with knowing your frame, and if you're in a close-up or a wide shot, to better tailor the "size" of your performance to the medium. It changes in theatre too - if you're doing a black box show where the audience of 50 is 2 feet away from you, it's a different kind of show than if you're in a proscenium theatre for hundreds of people and you need to project to the back of the balcony. What I prefer tends to go back and forth honestly. I love the subtlety I can bring to film, but there is something intoxicating and exhilarating about performing for a live audience.
How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?
I'm a collaborative actor. Meaning, I like to discuss and discover motive, story, and character and get really curious about the process with the creative team when I can. I pull a bit from a variety of techniques across Meisner, Viewpoints, Linklater, and others, but I don't subscribe to just "one" way of acting - I think it's too limiting. I find I do characters the most justice when I really spend a lot of time reading and re-reading the script, and filling in all the "blanks" of the character that aren't on the page - fill in their story to make them more real to me.
Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?
I'll rattle off a few favorites: Florence Pugh, Greta Gerwig, Kate Winslet, Philip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Pedro Pascal. I do love Nic Cage at his most Nic Cage-y and I just want to be besties with Keanu Reeves.
Your favourite movies?
This is such a hard question, I enjoy a lot of genres. Picking a handful off the top of my head; Midsommar, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Violent Night, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Princess Bride. I'm a sucker for the original Halloween-, Friday the 13th-, and Nightmare on Elm Street-franchises.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Okay unpopular opinion... I hated Bridesmaids. Beyond that, I'm really not a fan of westerns in general. Never watched a single The Fast & the Furious movie, but... I think I'd hate it (and I do like action!).
Your website, social media, whatever else?
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
My husband (Jonah D. Winston) is in the film! Playing my husband in some flashback scenes! That was pretty awesome. Also our dog Dr. Watson makes an appearance, and honestly, he was perfect.
Thanks for the interview!
© by Mike Haberfelner
We're kicking off spring in Amanda-land with an updated commercial reel, featuring a lovely healthcare spot with BCBS. And not long after sharing that reel with my agents, lo and behold I booked a local commercial shoot earlier in April! Rarely do we get feedback outside of the occasional theatre or film/tv review, but I'll take this as solid feedback that the new reel is a winner!
Meanwhile, I'm also dropping my updated comedy reel with a bit from my work with the folks at Creative Juices 7th and their D&D PSA series. My character, Sunlight the Dryad, came back for a second Q&A episode that was possibly goofier than the first. And I'm continuing to help assistant direct segments as the web series grows.
Check them both out below!
Recently I participated in the revived play reading series with Red Theater here in Chicago, with a fantastic new work by Chase Wheaton-Werle, The Curious Circumstances of Louis Le Prince. They're doing some great things over at Red with new play development and I hope to work with them and see more of their productions in the very near future! New play readings are always exciting to me; the thrill of a new play still being born, and having some kernel of impact on it is exhilarating.
In other adventures, this summer I'll be back on the road for a few days in Lowell, MA for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders coordinating the backstage movement, and then joining their Future Docs Abroad program as a chaperone to Vietnam for two weeks! I learn so much from these events and love getting the opportunity to encourage these bright young minds in their careers and expand my own horizons in the process.
More potential projects and ideas are cooking and formulating, and when something solid bubbles to the surface, I'll be sure to announce it here. :)
Happy Spring and excited for sunshine and creativity!
Things always seem to like to pop off at the start of the year!
Excited to share I have booked the role of Georgie (Understudy) for Griffin Theatre Company's production of Heisenberg by Simon Stephens! This production is being directed by Nate Cohen, and will perform at the Raven Theatre in Chicago. This two person play swirls around two strangers who seemingly can't seem to get out of each other's orbit, as they navigate loneliness, relationships, and the many masks we wear and ways we try to connect and get what we want. What happens when a whirlwind meets a monument, that seem inexplicably drawn to each other despite themselves? The show runs Feb 23 - March 26th, tickets available now! I currently don't have any scheduled performances, but will post an announcement across my social media should I get called to go on.
I head a great deal of fun recently spending a wild day acting in Avalanche Theatre's 24 Hour Play Festival. We had a sold out and raucous crowd, 5 totally new play premieres, and based on my unhinged expressions in the photos I'll include below.... it was a real good time. I appeared in The Legend of the Golden Egg: Part II , written by Owen Hickle-Edwards and directed by Martina Logan, co-starring Brooke-Erin Smith and Ryan Cody. Avalanche is doing some exciting new play development this season, which I definitely recommend checking out!
I am also looking forward to working with a repeat client for a new industrial video this month, and have appeared in and been assistant directing segments for the web-series from Creative Juices 7th: D&D PHB PSA's: TNG ..... translated - "Dungeons and Dragons, Players Handbook Public Service Announcements: The Next Generation". I appear in episode 3, and have assistant directed segments so far in episodes 3 & 5 - with more to come!
In "streaming" news, you can now watch two independent horror films that I star in on various streaming platforms!
The photo above is so much more than getting to do a show to me. As we wrap up the run of ROUTES at Remy Bumppo Theatre in Chicago, I wanted to reflect on the journey here.
Getting to understudy this role, at this theatre, with a director and institution I truly respect and admire has been an unexpected gift, but one that comes from years of work to finally get to this point. I've been in Chicago for a little over 11 years, and during my time here I've been lucky enough to perform at a handful of storefront and suburban theaters, a company member of 2 now defunct theatre companies, an "almost junior board member" of another defunct theatre company, and part of countless readings and workshops at various theaters across the city. I've had some really lovely experiences and just as many less than pleasant ones that left me very jaded about the Chicago theatre scene. Chicago theatre can be so artistically rich, warm, and exciting. It can also be very cold, incredibly difficult to crack into at all levels, and exhausting with very little reward. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, I, like many artists, questioned if there was still a place for me in the theatre.
This show marks my first performances with an equity theatre in Chicago. Getting to be in the room with artists operating at this level was nothing short of exhilarating and has breathed life back into my love of doing theatre. What a joy to work with a company helmed by the incredible artistic director Marti Lyons, whose impact on Remy Bumppo is keenly felt. She's been nothing but warm, approachable, welcoming, and steadfast in her dedication to ensuring things are run professionally and to a high standard of safety, care, and artistic integrity. Reuniting with director Mikael Burke after appearing in his production of MEDEA back in our Butler University days was a special treat as well. His ability to lead actors in the creative process while creating cinematic unforgettable theatre while doing justice to this important story is really remarkable. I was never treated as "just an understudy" and felt so supported when I was called to perform not just once, but six times over the course of the production.
To get to be in the room with a collective of artists who are so deeply invested in their art, nerding out about every detail, picking apart and putting back together the character, story, and circumstances so that we might be able to show audiences something they haven't seen before - it was an honor. So thank you to Remy Bumppo and everyone involved in ROUTES for reminding me why I love theatre.
I am so excited to finally share my updated acting reel AND some bonus "sizzle" reels! It can take a great deal of time to retrieve footage from projects due to a variety of factors and over the last few months I was able to get enough new clips to do some serious updates to my reel content. Checkout my reels below for an updated peek at my on-camera work, and all now posted to the main page of the site!
I am utterly thrilled to announce my next project! I am understudying the role of Anka in Remy Bumppo's production of ROUTES (a US premiere!) by Rachel De-lahay and directed by Mikael Burke. Remy Bumppo is a theatre in Chicago that I have long respected and have been eager to work with. I am excited to see the direction the theatre takes under artistic director Marti Lyons' vision, and am thrilled that my return to the stage after the big "pandemic pause" will be at such a fantastic institution. While I can't be sure I'll have any guaranteed performances as an understudy, I am truly thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow as an actor with this ensemble. I'm also personally excited to work with director Mikael Burke again, after last appearing in his production of MEDEA back in our college days at Butler University. Mikael is a hell of a director with fresh perspectives that Chicago needs to see on its stages.
A brief synopsis of ROUTES:
Olufemi hopes to return home to his family. Bashir wants to remain in the only home he knows. Kola yearns to find home in a place that’s never felt like one. Rachel De-lahay’s shattering, urgent new play looks through the eyes of immigrants, refugees, and children in conflict with the law as they fight to get home through an impossibly complex system designed to keep them out.
The show performs at Theatre Wit, October 12 - November 20, 2022 - tickets are now on sale!
A few photos from our first rehearsal!
The short film Literal Revolution is finally released! I was originally cast in a version of this short back in 2020. Then the pandemic hit, things shifted, the script went through a full rewrite, and we finally got our shot to film this in 2021, right as everyone was getting vaccinated and filming was picking back up. I remember we shot it all in a day, everyone a bit nervous and shaking the edge off of just recently being released from mandated quarantines, and we just had fun with it. Literal Revolution was written by D.R. Johnson and directed by Joshua Pessetti. This was produced by Hollywood Casting and Film, now known as The Slate.
Another short film produced by Hollywood Casting and Film (The Slate), Lost in Love, has also been completed! I can't share the full film yet as it's in consideration for festival submissions, but I can share a short clip. Lost in Love was written by Leilani Downer and directed by Jennifer Gillenwater. It's a fun little romantic comedy we shot last summer, where my character takes "ghosting" to a whole new level.
I hope you enjoy the films/clips, and more to come soon!
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