David Opie sits down with actress Maiara Walsh to talk about Summer Camp, a Spanish/American collaboration that follows a group of camp counsellors besieged by a zombie-like virus. The film is currently having a successful run at film festivals worldwide and our four star review is available to read here…
David Opie: Summer Camp is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time and you did a great job as one of the four leads. What originally attracted you to the project?
Maiara Walsh: Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. A couple of things attracted me to the project. I had worked with producer Peter Safran before, and I trust his judgment on movie selections. I was also excited for the opportunity to play a character that must be enraged and deranged for a good portion of the film. I had also worked with Diego Boneta before, and thought it would be fun to work on another project together. Not to mention it was shot in Barcelona, my absolute favourite city that I plan to live in one day!
DO: Can you tell us a bit more about your character in Summer Camp?
MW: My character, Michelle, is a strong willed and independent person. She has unresolved family issues that no doubt led her to apply for a position as a camp counsellor in another country. She’s quick on her feet and always looking out for the best interests of the entire group.
DO: There are lots of highlights, but what was your favourite scene in the film?
MW: I have two favorite scenes. First, the scene in the RV near the end when all the characters turn on my character, it’s such a sad and morose moment that I thought was really well done. I also love the scene where the kids arrive to the camp and splash in the water. The image of their little feet jumping in the mud flinging water everywhere and the reaction of the remaining characters is powerful.
DO: What challenges did you face filming Summer Camp? What kind of preparations did you make for the role?
MW: We had many night shoots during Summer Camp. We would show up to work around 5 or 6 at night and get home at 7 in the morning. Nights were freezing cold, and we had to keep our energy levels up, which was easy to do until we hit 3 in the morning. Then we would drink coffee and literally run back and forth before takes to get our blood pumping and character anxiety levels up! The roles were physical and demanding, but honestly, that was one of the reasons I loved it so much. And Alberto Marini and the whole crew were such a pleasure to work with. Everyone knew it was a tough shoot so we would make the best out of every situation.
DO: The mechanics of the infection in Summer Camp required you to play both the victim and the antagonist, the pursued and the pursuer. Which role was more fun to play?
MW: I definitely enjoyed playing both. I enjoy the psychology behind understanding rage and how that would manifest for my character. I often had to pull myself back from going too far, and ended up with bruises on a daily basis! Being pursued was interesting too, because for me, in order to believe that I am about to die, I must face my own mortality, and what it would mean to know that I’d be leaving behind family, friends, dreams, etc… It required a lot of deep thought processes, and I think that it’s good to have those conversations every once in a while to remind myself how fortunate I am to be here, alive and healthy.
DO: You’ve worked extensively in TV, films, music and more. Which one is most important to you, or is that like choosing a favourite child?
MW: Haha! Yes, that’s exactly like choosing a favourite child!! Well put. I have a very active brain and imagination and am most fulfilled when I can be working simultaneously on various projects. Singing and performing are things I’ve enjoyed since I was a child, and through this love I’ve started writing film scripts and directing as well. Story telling to me is an incredible part of being an artist, in whatever form that takes.
DO: Did shooting a TV pilot for Zombieland affect your experience making Summer Camp in any way?
MW: I think every shoot prepares me a little more for the next. I never turned into a zombie in Zombieland, but we did have a lot of action sequences that required a high level of focus that I could refer to when preparing for Summer Camp.
DO: If a zombie apocalypse ever happened, what would be your plan? Everyone has to have a plan, right?
MW: That’s a great question. I would make sure I had as many transportable provisions and basic needs as I could handle traveling with. I would make sure family and loved ones were safe, have something dependable to protect myself and others with, and stay on the move. I would also diffuse as much chaos as possible with any survivors and try to inspire hope and resiliency.
DO: Are you a fan of horror movies? What are your favourite ones to watch on Halloween?
MW: I grew up on horror films, though I don’t watch them anymore. I would watch horror movies to the point of becoming paranoid that someone or something was after me. I would stick chairs under my door and sleep with a pair of scissors near my bed in case someone tried to attack me! (laughs). I realised that was going a little overboard and so I haven’t watched many in the last few years. I love to watch Halloween on Halloween. That score is epic.
DO: If you could have the career of any actor, who would you choose and why?
MW: I have always loved Natalie Portman. She makes great role choices and is incredibly talented and intelligent. And now she’s directing. I think it’s also important to carve your own path. I don’t know exactly where mine is leading, and that is the exciting part. As long as I get to create and stretch myself beyond my comfort zone working with talented visionaries on meaningful projects, I will be happy!
DO: What projects are you working on next?
MW: I’m planning on directing my first feature next year that I have also written. It’s called Phoenix, and it’s a blend between Alice in Wonderland and Black Swan. I’m in the studio making music, auditioning, and continuing to write! I’m a workaholic. I literally don’t stop. I love what I do too much to sit around and wait for things to happen.
Thank you so much for your time and your great questions! All the best!
Many thanks to Maiara Walsh for taking the time for this interview.