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Grayce Wey

Grayce: "If you donít know what youíre doing,
you are wasting peopleís time and money".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
July 5th, 2004

Part 1...
Read Part 2 >  Read Part 3 >
Read Part 4 >  Read Part 5 >

Everyone knows that Virgins are important in horror movies right? Well, to kick start my week long celebrations, I interviewed Grayce Wey who wrote, produced and stars in 'Anna's Eve' a new horror movie which fans of Asian horror are sure to enjoy.

Whilst Grayce is more than experienced in the world of filmmaking, she found herself exploring new ground for her first time as a Scream Queen. Be sure to keep your eye on Grayce as she's had it confirmed by ghosts that she will be a big movie star and I'm certainly not one to doubt them.

When did you decide that you wanted to make films and act?
I started acting in high school and immediately fell in love with it. Acting allowed me to experience emotions and different points of view that I could never do on my own. Although I really wanted to pursue it in college, I eventually succumbed to my motherís pressure of majoring in something ďreal.Ē I walked away from acting for a few years while I pursued a career in law. Acting was always in the back of mind though, so I eventually quit law and went into acting full time three years ago. I started wanting to make my own films almost immediately when I saw the limited roles there were for Asians.

What kind of training did you do if any?
I took acting classes in high school and college. Plus, I had a lot of ďon the jobĒ training in acting while I was a lawyer! When I decided to seriously pursue acting, I began studying with various instructors around town, such as Doug Warhit, the East West Players, Sandy Marshall, and The Larry Moss Studio. My martial arts training in Krav Maga (former instructor) and kung fu (four years) have also come in handy for roles.

How did you go about breaking into the business?
I was very methodical about it. Since I literally knew no one in the business or how it all worked, I got an internship with a casting director, Robin Lippin, who was casting Lizzie McGuire at the time. I learned so much there about how casting works and how you really couldnít take it personally when you didnít get a part. So many other factors play into it besides talent; things you canít control like how tall you are. I also got an internship with a talent agency where I learned the business side of acting. Armed with how things work in this biz, I then joined East West Players, an Asian theater group, because they were and still are so active in getting their people in front of the television networks. I also got a subscription to Back Stage West, the actorís paper, and kept submitting to generate my own auditions. My hard work paid off in the form of a SAG card within six months. I was also really lucky in that the initial people I met in the biz were truly kind and genuine, which I am learning is a rarity in this town. In fact, I am still friends with Robin to this day.

Have you found that your training in Krav Maga and Kung Fu help with your acting, as I'm sure it must help you to be spatially aware not to mention that it would help with physical roles and even stunt work?
My training did help me break into acting. At the time, the whole Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon phenomenon was going on, and there were a lot of female Asian roles requiring martial art skills. In fact, thatís how I booked my first few jobs. A lot of actresses were stretching the truth about their martial arts skills, but you can tell in two seconds whether someone actually knows how to throw a punch or a kick. So, my training set me apart from a lot of those actresses. Although I love fighting in films and would kill to be in the next X-Men or Crouching Tiger movies, I also want to be careful not to be type cast as another Asian girl fighter like Lucy Liu and Kelly Hu have been.

Have you so far had to do any stunt work and if not would you be willing to?
The only stunt work Iíve done is my own fighting in movies because I like and can do it. When I first started acting, I was asked to double a stunt woman who was actually acting in a movie instead of doing stunts. They wanted me to fall down a flight of stairs for her. I thought it was hilarious that they wanted an actress to double the stunt woman for a stunt. I was so not trained to do that and passed on it. I always tell people that I am an actress who can kick and punch, not a stunt woman who acts. Stunt people go through a lot of time and training to do what they do. To pretend you know how to do stunts when you donít is just dangerous and really irresponsible. A lot of money goes into productions, and if you donít know what youíre doing, you are wasting peopleís time and money, not to mention possibly endangering other peopleís lives. That said though, I would still like to do as many of my own stunts as possible because I think itís fun for the most part and because I think the audience gets a kick out of seeing you do the stunt, not some body double.

Grayce: "In general, modern western horror is
like going on a roller coaster ride".

You have already made quite an impression as an actress but I want to talk to you about your new project Anna's Eve which you wrote and produced as well as starred in. Can you tell us a little about the plot?
Sure. Itís about a social worker who is trying to move on with her life after the murder of one of her clients, an eight year old boy. Her best friend tries to help by taking her to a psychic as a birthday present. It turns out that the psychic is helping the police investigate the same murder and unintentionally channels a ghost who starts haunting the social worker.

Where did you get the idea for the story?
Annaís Eve was my attempt at combining some of the suspenseful qualities of western horror with the atmospheric characteristics of Asian horror. The part of the psychic is actually based on the well known Vietnamese psychic, Lan Vo, in Hawaii. I was vacationing there and my aunt told me about her. I decided to go see her since I was in a rut at the time. Happily, as soon as she saw me and without me saying anything to her, she said, ďHello, movie star!Ē I had an amazing session with her, which ultimately led to me leaving law. Afterwards, my aunt said to me, ďI doní t know how you did that. Iím worried that the ghosts she gets her information from will follow me home.Ē When I decided to write a horror script, I remembered what my aunt said and went from there.

Are you a fan of the genre?
YES! I love it all from any country even though I still have to watch it with my hand over my eyes and through my fingers.

Which horror films would you say inspired you when writing the script?
Youíll definitely see the influences from The Eye, The Ring, The Grudge, and Phone. One difference is that I threw in some dark humor that you don ít really see in Asian horror, but which is present in western horror.

What are your feelings on Eastern horror versus Western horror?
In general, modern western horror is like going on a roller coaster ride. Itís fun while it lasts, but you donít really think about it once itís over. Western horror tends to go more for the suspenseful, jump in your seat moments. It also seems to be gorier, sexual, and set within crazy circumstances. Asian horror is usually atmospheric, related to the supernatural or a really odd woman or child, and just plain old creepy because you can see it really happening to you. With Asian horror, you leave the theater either really disturbed by what you saw or just looking over your shoulder. I enjoy both types immensely.

I am a huge fan of Asian horror as the filmmakers are so clever at making the most natural things terrify the audience, whilst retaining human elements such as deep relationships and good characters that we care for. Why do you think that we have not had an Asian version of Scream?
Thatís really brilliant. Iíd love to see someone do that. I wonder what the rules would be. Something with the supernatural, psycho women, and things that kill you after you watch them.

Are you frightened by Asian horror movies?
Definitely! Like I said before, they usually have a lingering effect on you, particularly the supernatural ones.

I am very interested in the culture and would love to know more about Asian approaches to ghosts and mythology.
I canít speak for all Asians, but I know that with many Chinese, we honor our ancestors and assume they are just hanging around us still. I grew up believing in ghosts and other supernatural elements, such as psychics and fortune tellers. I still find it a little scary though because of the unknown quality of it all. When I go to places I know may be haunted, I tell the ghosts, ďI respect and believe in you so please donít show yourselves to me unless you want me to have a heart attack and join you.Ē It seems to work since I havenít seen a ghost yet.

Are you annoyed that Hollywood is remaking every Asian horror movie at the moment? I think personally, that it is a good thing as the stories will reach a wider audience but at the same time I dislike the ignorance of audiences who are totally oblivious to the fact that these films are remakes of already excellent films.
I agree with you. I donít mind the remakes at all, particularly when they are done well like The Ring. I still like it when they give the originals a theatrical run like they are doing with The Grudge so folks can appreciate them as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people are just too lazy to read subtitles and would never check out these great movies if they werenít remade. The only thing I would like more is that they stick some Asians in the remakes since they are taking it from our homeland.

How much time did the script writing and prep take up?
I actually wrote Annaís Eve in a week out of necessity. I was training for another movie with my director, Kantz, when that movie was pushed right before Thanksgiving. As a result, we were free for December and January. Over Thanksgiving, we were having an Asian horror movie marathon, and afterwards, I said, ďWhy donít we do a horror movie instead?Ē Kantz said, ďWell, we need a script.Ē Within a week, I had a first draft. We went into pre-production the week after, cast over Christmas and started shooting January 8th. With Kantzís suggestions, I was frantically cutting down my original 130 page script to a 90 minute movie the entire time.

How did you find your cast?
Because of the time frame, we advertised online at nowcasting.com and on craigslist.org. Mini budget movies tend to skimp on talent, but we definitely didnít. Our cast is really great. I also went out of my way to cast Annaís Eve with different races so that it would represent the real world.

Grayce: "I just hope the public doesnít
think my baby is ugly!".

How long did the shoot take and where was the film shot?
We shot the movie in two weeks in and around Los Angeles. It was tough. We were basically shooting in fourteen days what a major studio would take three months to shoot.

I have to admit I was a tad naÔve in terms of how easy I thought it would be to shoot a horror movie. I was coming from doing action/martial art films where weíd blow through dialogue so weíd have time to shoot the action scenes. I found out during the shoot that you have to do the same thing with horror movies: speed through the dialogue scenes so you have enough time to shoot the scary scenes properly. As a result, I had to change some of the scary parts because we just ran out of time. The time issue and many bizarre accidents/incidents (I swear our shoot was haunted) also forced me to do rewrites while we were shooting sometimes right before scenes were being shot.

Can you give us an indication of the tone and what we can expect from the film in terms of gore or scares?
It is definitely atmospheric, but there are a few surprises that hopefully will cause people to jump in their seats. Kantz is a really talented director and shot the movie with an old school feel, which completely captured the mood I was trying to get across.

The film has its first screening this coming Tuesday if I'm not mistaken. Is everything going well in preparation for the event?
Yes, very well, thank you for asking. The screening is on Tuesday, July 6th, at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood. You can get more information about it at www.annaseve.com. Itís an industry screening that is also open to the public. It was hilarious how Kantz, my co-producer, Demi Ownens, and I chose that date. We actually sat around and discussed how the distributors would probably be recovering from their 4th of July partying on Monday. Then, they would come in on Tuesday not really ready to work yet and be happy to leave early to catch our movie. Since itís still their job to watch movies, they could justify leaving early since they are still technically working. I think we overanalyzed the situation just a bit!

How do you think audiences will react to the film?
Hopefully, weíll make them jump three times, which is what someone told me is the industry standard for scary movies. Weíve done a lot of at-home test screenings for people of all ages and races and have gotten a very positive response. Weíre excited to see what outsiders think. For me, it ís like having a baby that you think is beautiful, but of course, you are biased and will overlook its imperfections. So taking it out in public for the first time is very nerve-racking because youíll find out whether everyone else feels the same way. I just hope the public doesnít think my baby is ugly!

What are your hopes for distribution and such?
I would love an art house release before going to video and cable. Because Asian horror films have had art house releases, there is definitely an audience for these kinds of movies. Ultimately though, I just want my investors to get a great return and still have money left over to do my next movie.

Would you like to make more horror movies?
Yes! Iíve got a story about demons Iíd love to do a la The Omen and Rosemaryís Baby. Plus, now youíve got me thinking on that Asian version of Scream.

What are you working on next?
I am doing the rewrites on my martial art dramedy, Sister Fury, which Iím planning to shoot this fall. Itís my homage to Bruce Leeís Return of the Dragon and the Korean movie, My Wife is a Gangster. Itís going to be a blast. After running from all these ghosts, Iím in the mood to kick butt again!

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Grayce.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

You can visit Grayce's official web site right here: www.graycewey.com

Read Part 2:
Julie Strain Interview
right here >>
Read Part 3:
Tiffany Shepis Interview
right here >>
Read Part 4:
Judith O'Dea Interview
right here >>
Part 5:
Linnea Quigley Interview
right here >>

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