Actor Tara Miller Talks Troma Entertainment’s Latest Endeavors
Tara Miller (undead) lives, wheezes, and bleeds horror. Starring in the latest feature film from Troma Entertainment, Tara made lifelong friends, had memorable moments, and created a horror movie entitled Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I, but her work with Troma has yet to end.
Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, launching Troma Entertainment’s Occupy Cannes campaign. Along with the screening of the recent film, Troma plans to shed light on the obstacles and achievements of independent filmmaking by shooting a documentary.
Check out our interview with actor Tara Miller below.
Gruesome Little Me (GLM): What was the atmosphere on the set of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I?
Tara Miller: Think Phantasm. Genuinely! I know it sounds rather absurd. The filming process was exceedingly unique in that in addition to creating a horror film, we were also kind of…in one. How meta can you get?
The spot we called home whilst on location was an old funeral home, which much prior to our arrival, was owned by a powerful mob boss in western New York. If you allowed your mind to ponder the possibilities of what transpired there in the past, you could do a pretty good job of freaking yourself out. Some of us would joke that the bodies were going to escape at any moment from the concrete, and we’d suddenly find ourselves in a Lucio Fulci film or something.
So, whether a believer or not in the paranormal upon arrival, you sure as heck left as one! I can assert, wholeheartedly, the place was haunted, and perhaps a few of us were followed subsequent to our departure…but that’s a tale for another time. So, if you can conjure up a mental image, think of roughly 50 folks—mostly punks, metalheads, long hairs, eccentric film enthusiasts, horror aficionados and all around self-proclaimed weirdos (in the best way possible, of corpse!)— all thriving in this creepy old funeral home. We worked together, ate together, slept together (not like that, well…), laughed together, cried together, bled together.
Within days we became one jovial, degenerate family; a collection of creatures who busted our tailbones to complete what needed to be done, and knew how to slaughter our livers and lungs upon work’s completion.
Though admittedly, work was endless, especially when you’re a small, totally independent film company like Troma is; everything is DIY. But that’s the beauty of Troma films, and films like them, and I think that’s why the fans revere Lloyd so fervently!
Actors would be doing makeup, our costume designer Gabrielle would be throwing out ideas for a cool soundtrack, our art director Seager would choreograph our fights, Pat Klouman did everything…well, you get the point. There wasn’t really an emphasis placed on titles or roles, people did everything in reason to aid the production and to ensure progress, and everyone’s ideas were considered and embraced.
I felt really appreciated while working there, and my experience was so incredible that these people have become my best friends, my world. We were so fortunate that everyone was on the same page, and worked together so beautifully. Really talented, generous, motivated people – the best.
GLM: What was your favorite moment during the filming of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I?
Tara Miller: It’s exceedingly difficult to choose merely one moment! Aside from filming, the whole experience is kind of like this pastiche of foggy memories, comprised of drunken heavy metal sing-a-longs, dive bar expeditions, 3 a.m. Wal-Mart runs dressed in drag, chain smoking, and lots of baked chicken…all sewn together with a heck of ‘alotta fake blood and green slime.
There was never a dull moment when living at that madhouse, and no words can describe how epic the experience was. And I don’t take the word “epic” lightly! A favorite was Liam, Pat (production assistants and art department), Mark (actor), Gabby (costume design and makeup) and I loved to have obnoxious 4 a.m. sing-a-longs in the middle of the street, or in the middle of Wal-Mart.
But sincerely, all the eccentric moments of mayhem and debauchery aside (things I won’t mention here ha!), some of the best memories were when after a hard, rigorous day of shooting, we’d all flock on the steps of the porch under the moonlight, and just chat. Obviously a common theme was to nerd it out about horror films; dissect our favorite gross-out sequences, spit out our favorite slasher films, debate about which reigns supreme: 70s or 80s horror, etc. Real geek stuff.
Our production manager/producer Justin Martell would always make everyone nearly urinate themselves in laughter; he always knew how to make not-so-rad situations into ones we could all chuckle over at the end of the day, or night (sleep quickly became an obsolete concept).
Another super cool thing about Troma is people came from all over the world to work on this film, out of sheer passion and love for the company. We had folks come from Japan, Iceland, Argentina, Portugal, England, Cananda, and I may be missing some, to lend their hand in the creation of this project. That was killer!
GLM: How does the premiere of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I embody the aim of the Occupy Cannes campaign?
Tara Miller: Our film is the result of an undying work ethic on everyone’s behalf, our total DIY practice, and of corpse, the Troma fans—they are the blood that keeps this production company pumping! We want to emphasize this in our documentary. Working with Lloyd Kaufman was a dream, as he is a man I have incessantly revered for his refusal to sacrifice his vision.
The independent film industry is crammed with starry-eyed, idealistic hopefuls who also note Lloyd as a personal hero, and refuse to sacrifice their vision due to Lloyd’s example, fortitude, and perseverance.
However, (though it’s no secret) these filmmakers continue to struggle, meanwhile mainstream film production companies have sponsorships from corporations that enable more opportunity for promotion and ability to attend events like Cannes Film Festival.
Due to Troma’s undying passion, we have since launched a campaign entitled Occupy Cannes.
GLM: What is the goal of the Occupy Cannes campaign?
Tara Miller: The aim is to shed light on the struggles and triumphs of independent film making through the creation of a documentary.
Go to http://www.indiegogo.com/OccupyCannes to check it out! We have to raise $50,000 in total to attend Cannes, where our film Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I is screening, whilst shooting the documentary. The Occupy Cannes campaign is not to exclusively advocate for Troma Entertainment, but to inspire other independent film makers that IT IS possible to achieve success while preserving your artistic integrity and keeping your vision pure.
Some of the most potent material circulating out there today is found within the underbelly of the underground, created by folks whose names you wouldn’t necessarily recognize at first glance: it’s for the Doug Sakmann’s, the Slasher Dave’s, the Evan Makrogiannis’, the James Balsamo’s and the Anthony Curry’s of the world! This campaign is for all of those involved in creating underground cinema! I am honored to be part of Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume I, and I hope to be able to share the magick only found in independent cinema with the world – by creating this documentary.
GLM: How are you personally supporting the Occupy Cannes campaign? And how can others help support the Occupy Cannes campaign?
Tara Miller: Everything I can! Word of mouth! Social media! Contacting those who we predict to be interested in our cause! And if not, telling them anyway! Anything to spread the word! Others can help by doing the same, via facebook, twitter, word of mouth, etc! We need your help!
Troma has organized a really wonderful, free event in NYC entitled “We ‘Cannes’ Do this!” Donations welcome but not required. The fundraiser is in conjunction with Culture Fix. The Recession Art Gallery will be exhibiting works from the film and inspired by the film, Return to Nuke ‘Em High, acoustic, live, and standup performances, screenings of classic Troma films and clips from our upcoming film, auctions and raffles of cool and rare Troma stuff, and of corpse, Lloyd Kaufman! It shall be a blast!
If you are in the NY area, we’d love for anyone interested to come! Let’s toast to underground horror! The fundraiser will be hosted by the stars of and production team behind Return to Nuke ‘Em High! February 16 at 2:00 p.m. until February 17 at 2:00 a.m. at Culture Fix, 9 Clinton Street, New York, New York 10002.
Check out the Occupy Cannes campaign page here.
If you have any further inquiries, please feel free to contact Tara Miller at email@example.com.
Show your support of the genre, and help inspire other independent filmmakers to follow their dreams, bring their true visions to fruition, and never lose sight in the film industry.