Interview – Aria Emory

Some films create an atmosphere so well it is almost as if you are right there sweating it out with the crew. Capturing that dehydrated, heat-exhausted feeling flawlessly is cannibalistic new flick Drifter. Set in the desert, Drifter is a film of style with the background as much of the film as the dialogue. Helping bring it all to life, promising young Actor and first time Writer Aria Emory plays lead character Miles Pierce in this visually intense film in theaters February 24th and on VOD as of the 28th. Recently we caught up with Emory to talk his love for film, the work put into Drifter, his future projects, and much more. – At a young age, you have already been involved in a list of projects as an actor. First, tell us, what inspired you to get involved in film?  

Aria Emory – Basically, film in general, I always was drawn to it growing up. I was an only child, so I was immersed into film, there was something exciting about it. In terms of acting, it was sort of different and came later in my life. It really was a self expression type of thing. I found it exciting to delve into different people and understand different things. I think the best part of an actor’s job is learning how to do so many different things and growing as a human. You begin to understand people, and that is so rare, and something that everyone could sort of use in this time in this world we are living in. I think an actor’s job is so special in that sense, because you get to understand people and where they are coming from. – That are all very interesting points you raise. Your latest film, Drifter, is set for release on February 28th. This is your debut feature film as a writer. How did this film come about for you?

Aria Emory – Chris von Hoffmann, who is the director, is a good friend of mine. We had done a few projects together in the past; short films and little things here and there. We made one short film called Fuel Junkie (2014) which did quite well with audiences, so we decided we would tackle a feature. We thought about our setting and environment. In California, it is very hard to shoot in LA, so we wanted to get out there. We thought about the desert that sort of surrounds California, that is where the post-apocalyptic theme came from. Then Chris and I went back and talked about characters, ideas, then we would send edits back and forth to one another until we were happy with something. 

The production began after that. Casting began and I sort of stepped back from the script and started to analyze it from the actor’s perspective at that point. I let Chris take over on everything and did our best to bring it to life and give it justice. 

Aria Emory in Drifter
Aria Emory in Drifter – Sounds like it was a positive working experience. Beyond writing, you also are the lead actor in the film. How did being the co-writer reflect your performance on screen?

Aria Emory – I always enjoy writing, but I think there is sort of a challenge when you write something. When you write, you envision everything essentially; you envision the setting, the characters, and the way they look. When it comes to the acting portion, I sort of had to take a step back and forget about everything. That is because if I have preconceived ideas going into it, I am not going to be able to create a fully fleshed human being, which is basically my job.

There is some difficult in that, I have to turn one side of my brain off and turn another one on. I have to forget everything I wrote and act as if it is the first time I read the script. I have to analyze the character Miles and his journey throughout the film, what he wants, how he is going to get it, and all the obstacles that stand in his way. – That sounds like it could be a challenge. Filmed in the desert, there are some really beautiful shots throughout the entire film. As someone who also works in cinematography, was it important to you that this film had a certain look?

Aria Emory – Definitely, we had an incredible cinematographer named Tobias Deml. He has worked with us in the past as well, he is outstanding on set. Not only is he talented, but he also has so much life and passion to him. That gets everyone else excited and that is important to add, especially when everyone is exhausted from the sun and heat, or in the night when it is freezing in the desert environment. 

In terms of the look of the film, we really wanted it to feel hot when you are watching it, we wanted it to feel isolated and desolate as if these were the only people around. That was really important. That was Chris’ goal as well, to make you feel like these characters are suffering, really suffering being alive; there is nothing around you, there is no water, and there is the sun, fighting against everything you are trying to do. 

Xlrator Media – That really sounds like a very intense and challenging environment to work within.

Aria Emory – It definitely was. There were days that were really difficult, but you sort of know that going into filming it in the desert in the summer. We had peaks of 120 degrees and we had extremely cold nights. As I said before, it is really about the love for the craft and passion for the project that we were able to get this done.

The conditions are some you never want to work in, but it was part of the job at the end of the day. Chris was the leader of the pack, he was out there from the moment the day started all the way through the end. A lot of us were able to go back into air conditioned rooms and get something to eat, but he was out there from the start of the day until the end, you realize you had nothing to complain about. He was out there full-throttle trying to make this film. 

I cannot even neglect anyone on this project, from the PAs all the way up to Chris, to everyone else. It would not be possible without any of them and everyone worked their butts off. 

Drifter still – It sounds like everyone really gave it their all to make the film possible. It would be exciting to see what people think once it is released. Beyond Drifter, what can you tell us about your future projects? 

Aria Emory – A film I shot a year ago is called Sleepless. That is coming out the end of 2017 I believe. It is directed by Izzy Traub and it is more of a Action film, more so in sense of the effects. It is a very stylistic film as well, but in a different way. The film after that is called I Believe, I am in that alongside Tom Sizemore. I play the son of an Italian gangster, which is Tom Sizemore. That should be a very interesting film as well, that should be released sometime in 2018 I believe. 

Green Star Films
Prodigium Pictures – Those will be exciting to look forward to. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. covers music and Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of the genres, what are some of your all-time favorites?

Aria Emory – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was a big influence on Drifter from the beginning. That played a huge aspect going into the movie. Most recently, I thought It Follows (2014) was done very well. I think there is a sub-genre of Horror films right now.

I thought The Guest (2014) was really interesting, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a Horror movie, I would call it a Horror Thriller. I thought they did an excellent job with it, the music adds to it as well. The music in It Follows was incredible. I think music can add a bunch of different tones to a film. There is with the new style of music going into Horror movies, which is not necessarily scary, but it adds to the tension. I think it is really working right now. I recently saw the teaser trailer for the film called It Comes at Night with Joel Edgerton, that looks fantastic as well. 

Bryanston Pictures

Purchase Drifter: iTunes
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