Meet up and coming actress and director Athena Baumeister, the star of Blip TV's hit web series Correction House.
While Athena pursued her dreams in acting with various roles in short films and commercials, she stumbled upon her calling for directing films, drawing on inspiration by directors Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton.
Athena made her directorial debut with the short, Who’s Suffering More. At the tender age of 12, Athena was granted Prize Winning Short Film by Providential Film Festival for her independently directed film. Her acceptance in the realm of filmmaking motivated young Athena to continue directing. A year later, she wrote, directed, and acted in the short film, Caroline’s Crush.
Having garnered so much attention, her film went on to be translated in Portuguese and won Best Film in the Kids and Teen Filmmaker Awards for her age group.
Athena talked to us about her career in film and making a life in Los Angeles.
How did your passion for film develop?
Oh, gosh, I’ve always loved film. My parents showed me many great movies when I was a kid, and I’ve always been really interested in all parts of filmmaking. From when I was 7 to around 11, I acted in a lot of student films at FSU (Florida State University) Film School. The students who worked on the crews were often really helpful and happy to show me all the aspects of the filmmaking experience. They inspired me to want to go to film school!
Tell us about your short film "Caroline's Crush." You wrote, directed, and acted! That must have been an intense experience. What was it like, and how long did "Caroline's Crush" take to produce?
It was crazy but great! Writing took a couple months, filming took a few days, and editing was a couple months. I had several casting problems—one of the main actresses quit on her first day of shooting because of stage fright (or maybe “camera fright” is a more appropriate term). That was kind of a setback. But it was still a really fun experience and I learned much.
Acting and directing seem very different on the surface. Are there any similarities?
I think that being a director makes you a better actor and vice versa. It’s really good to understand both so that you can communicate better. The same thing can be said with many other jobs in the entertainment industry, like writing or editing for example.
What has been your favorite project so far and why?
I hate picking favorites! I had so much fun filming Monster & Me, though. We just wrapped—it’s a Christmas feature film I starred in. I had to wear “ugly” makeup for many of the scenes!
Tell us about "Correction House." What can viewers expect when they tune in?
It’s a quirky comedy about cons living in a halfway house.
What do you hope people take away from watching "Correction House"?
With any project I do, I just hope that people enjoy it and that it can make them feel something. I’m very into the philosophy of “art is made to trigger feelings,” and so that’s what I want whenever someone watches any of my work.
What's it like working on a web series?
It’s pretty similar to working on an independent movie. Correction House was a SAG project so it was a fairly professional set.
You're inspired by Burton and Tarantino, correct? What is it you like best about each of these directors and what are some of your favorite films Burton and Tarantino?
I really like their unique styles. Of course, they have very different styles from each other, but I’m a fan of both. I like almost everything they have done, but I’d have to say my favorites are, for Tarantino, the Kill Bill series, and for Burton, Sleepy Hollow.
How do you see Burton and Tarantino influencing your work in coming years?
I like how Tarantino will often give himself a small role in his films. I think that’s really awesome and I love to see him act as well as direct. Someday, I’d love to have a big enough budget to have the freedom with set design and special effects that Burton has. I love the use of visual imagery in Burton’s films too—look at Sweeney Todd, for example. Usually the colors are very dark and neutral, so whenever there’s a bright color, it is a very significant part of the film.
What can we expect to see next from you?
!Monster & Me”! I play Rubie-- a spoiled brat who is cursed by the one and only Santa Claus. Santa changes me from a beautiful, spoiled brat into an awkward, not-so-attractive tween. “Monster & Me” comes out on November 17th. I’m psyched!