In this age of live-streaming and waning movie theater audiences, plenty of films are skipping theatrical releases and heading straight for Video on Demand (VOD). Unlike in years past, this doesn't make them any less worthwhile. In fact, some familiar faces use VOD movies to shine and really show off their skills.
Carrie Preston, who is known to the masses as the fiery redheaded Merlotte's waitress from True Blood, or perhaps the suit-clad Elsbeth from The Good Wife, stars in a new VOD movie, Vino Veritas. Preston is a theatrically trained actor, so in a film like Vino Veritas, which has a heavy theatrical influence, she comfortably takes control.
Filmed in just under two weeks, "Vino Veritas is about two suburban couples - longtime best friends - who get together on Halloween night and they share wine from Peru that is made out of the skin of a blue tree frog," Preston explains. "The wine acts as a truth serum and all of their inhibitions go away and they become brutally honest, and funny, and wicked, and hilarious, and human as the film goes on."
"It's a film for grown ups about relationships and marriage and being parents and getting older. There's not a subject that doesn't get touched upon - such as religion and sexual desires. Everything gets touched upon in the movie, and I think that's kind of rare these days."
Of the film's four characters -- Lauren, her husband Phil, and their friends Claire and Ridley -- the latter pair is arguably more entertaining to watch. Though Claire appears uptight and prudish at first, her character has plenty of secrets hidden underneath her Queen Elizabeth I costume.
"I was drawn to it immediately on the page because it does have that wonderful arc and I do get to transform and show the world one face and reveal another," says Preston. She compares her character development to peeling layers off an onion, and says that she started backwards; "I looked at where I needed to end up and built the character backwards so I knew what lies to tell and secrets to keep."
Whereas Claire turned out to be the opposite of her chaste persona, Preston says with a laugh that if she were to drink some truth wine at a dinner party she would just be a more animated version of herself. "I don't know if there would be some new thing that would come out that no one has ever seen before."
Although we didn't get to speak to Preston about the upcoming season of True Blood, she did throw in a quick impression of our favorite redhead. "Arlene pretty much lays out what she's thinkin'," she says with a Southern drawl, laughing. "She doesn't hold back her opinions about things, whereas Claire is more held back, [at least] before she drinks the wine," she adds.
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Preston's Vino Veritas costars also have backgrounds in theater, and when you get four theater actors together, she says, it becomes easy to jump right into the work and embrace the characters and especially the language -- "and this is a film that is very much about language." Indeed the language and dialogue at times felt awkward for a film and better suited for a stage production, but the actors made this disparity pleasant to watch.
"We would talk a lot and Sarah Knight [the director] would guide us with a sure hand and we would play," says Preston about her time filming. "We would throw each other the ball and knock it right back to the next person, and it was a truly remarkable experience."
Vino Veritas is available on VOD and iTunes starting today, January 15, and stars Carrie Preston, Bernard White, Brian Hutchison, and Heather Raffo.