Gold Star: An Interview

Female written, directed, produced and acted Victoria Negri's film Gold Star is a beautiful and moving true to life story. Based on a story from Victoria's past she creates a moment in time, which is a force to be reckoned with. 

Gold Star starts with a silent opener in what appears to be a tableau of assorted furniture pieces that tells the tale of the daughter's father (Robert Vaughn). He's a painter, pianist, and lover of good art. The colors are purple and look as if it's this haze of emotion and dreamy atmospheric disruption. 

This movie is quiet in the first act as we watch the main character come to terms with her own life. There's a moment where she opens her father's wardrobe and looks at his jackets and pulls out this cowboy hat and wears it. Once again it's this quiet moment, but very beautiful and introspective. It's very rare these days movies give the audience this room to breathe and just sit with the character. 

From a cinematography level, this film lets you be with the characters on screen to the point where the camera isn't another eye, it's a stationary object that lets you observe what's happening on screen. The direction leads the actors to come close to the camera because they walk near it. in one way the viewer is almost "in the way". It's an engaging way to watch a film because even though the camera doesn't move too much your eye is constantly wondering where everyone might be placed in the scene. 

It's a coming of age tale and a story about a young woman and her aging father and how they tackle life together after he has a stroke. 

Victoria Negri takes a moment to tell us more about her very personal film. 

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Theatrical and VOD Release Date: November 10, 2017

You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime HERE

Who are you and what do you do? 

 Film is a challenging art form because it alternates between being surrounded by many collaborators and live audience members, to facing challenges alone. You go from writing a screenplay alone in your apartment, to showcasing a film to wider audiences at festivals. It’s a living breathing thing, both in involving collaborators, but also opening your work up to the world.

VN Cowboy 1.jpg

Victoria Negri

I’m a filmmaker, actor and producer. I love storytelling in many forms and am passionate about making people feel less alone in the world through my work.

Gold Star had a camera presence that made the audience highly aware of what they were watching. What was the motivation behind keeping the camera as still as possible, versus having it follow the character in most shots? 

Yes, thank you for asking about this. I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with many people about the filming style. I wanted Gold Star to isolate the characters in their environment, to make them feel alone, different, as though they’re moving through another world. I wanted the house to feel trapped in time, and by allowing the camera to be still while the characters moved around, I think it subconsciously gave this feeling of both isolation, but also an unstated presence and history within the house of the protagonist.

 Victoria Negri (Left) Robert Vaughn (Right) 

Victoria Negri (Left) Robert Vaughn (Right) 

What inspired you to write this film? 

The making of Gold Star has been highly personal. I began writing it after my father had a stroke in 2011. What began as a way to explore a father/daughter story in a screenplay very different from what I was experiencing evolved more and more into my struggles as a caregiver, helping take care of my elderly father.

What was one success in directing the film and what made you want to act in it? 

The simple answer is that I did it. I initially didn’t intend to direct the film. I wrote Gold Star to give myself a role I knew I could play, with a subject matter I was deeply passionate about. The end success is that I believe I’ve found my calling. I don’t plan on hanging up the “acting hat” anytime soon, but I already have another feature screenplay I intend on directing and look forward to making more and more films.

Honestly, I couldn’t see myself not directing and acting, when it came down to making the decisions of who to hire. I wrote the role specifically for myself, but I also think subconsciously it was a way for me to cope with losing my father, to exercise some sort of power over his loss in having a voice in this film, in showing that maybe I wasn’t okay at times, maybe I was far from okay, and that I’m not alone in that experience.

 (Left) Victoria Negri, (Right) Robert Vaughn 

(Left) Victoria Negri, (Right) Robert Vaughn 

How long did it take you to create the film in terms of prepro to post? 

Making this film has been a long journey. I started writing it in 2011, and we wrapped post in the summer of 2016, just before our year-long festival run. I think six years from start to distribution isn’t uncommon for debut feature films, especially one in which I was wearing many hats and was dealing with some very personal things at the time.

Do you have any funny moments on set to share? 

Despite the heavy subject matter of the film, we had a lot of fun on set. Each day was a different great memory, but one of my favorite memories was when I switched roles with my character’s love interest, Chris, played by Jacob Heimer in the film. We had just wrapped a driving scene, where my character gets a bit flirty, and I thought it would be fun to switch roles while I drove us home back to base camp. So we shot the entire scene again just for fun with myself playing Jacob’s role and him playing mine.

 (Left) Jacob Heimer, Robert Vaughn, Victoria Negri 

(Left) Jacob Heimer, Robert Vaughn, Victoria Negri 

What kinds of stories are you drawn to write about besides Gold Star? 

I’m drawn to many different stories, but I’m really interested in lonely characters, people who are isolated or feel different, on the outskirts of society. I’ve always been drawn to films about outsiders and people who feel as though they don’t fit in, for whatever reason. I believe this kind of theme can cross any genre as well.

The ocean seems to represent something deep within the main character Vicki. What did you hope to convey with it?

I love this question. I’m obsessed with the ocean myself. To me, it represents the depth of human nature, how we can think we know a lot about ourselves, but deep down, there are unknowns that we can never know or even tap into. But sometimes, these deep currents can pop up and wash ashore at unexpected moments. For me, the ocean is mysterious and overwhelming, it holds life and is the source from which all life as we know it was born. It’s a giver and a taker, quite literally, in that it comes in waves, and what washes ashore and when is always a mystery.

 (Left) Robert Vaughn, Catherine Curtin (Right) 

(Left) Robert Vaughn, Catherine Curtin (Right) 

What does that island mean to you in the film? 

The island is one of my favorite places in Connecticut. It’s off the coast of Milford’s Silver Sands beach. I spent a lot of time there writing in a journal when I was going through some fairly rough years, and I remember always staring at that island and wishing my life were different. To me, the island represents something within plain view of us, but we can’t quite get there. If only my life were this, everything would be okay. I can imagine a perfect life for myself, but is it ever attainable? Can I ever get there?

Fun questions

If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you? No rules

There are the practical answers to this one and then the fun ones. For the sake of fun, let’s say I’m really good at starting fires and that the island has an abundance of fresh water. I would want a photo album, some good films/something to watch them on, some great records/something to play them on, a notebook and pen to write, and a phone with a charger to call people. It seems like that’s over 5 items, but I’m greedy and can’t narrow it down between communicating with the outside world and art to keep me happy.

If you could travel in time where would you go?

I’d like to be a fly on the “wall” when the big bang happened. So I guess I’d like to see what happened at zero time.

If you could travel in the universe what would you see? 

I’d want to go as close to a black hole as I could without getting sucked in. I’m so fascinated by them. What happens when you pass through one (if you wouldn’t die while journeying) and where does it lead?

What is your favorite holiday? 

I love Christmas Eve specifically. There’s something about the anticipation of the next morning that always excites me, that as an adult, still has nostalgic meaning for me. One of my favorite smells is the smell of a fireplace burning wood, and my family often lights a fire on Christmas. It’s all just linked to great nostalgic memories from my childhood that I’ll never outgrow.

What is your favorite movie? 

This question is impossible for me. I always get overwhelmed and panic when people ask me what my favorite film is because I hate narrowing it down. I can answer with what I’ve seen lately. I’ve watched Mulholland Drive many times within the past year, I’ve been obsessed with Kelly Reichardt’s films for some time now, and Truffaut’s films I keep coming back to. It’s so hard to narrow it down because I watch so many films.