Tiffany Shepis is best known as the reigning Scream Queen in the world of horror, but with her latest DVD release Trade In, the beautiful and very talented actress is taking on the world of comedy. In the movie, Shepis plays a used car salesperson hoping to save her lot from closing down in this harsh economic climate. We recently caught up with Tiffany to chat with her about the making of the film, her burgeoning career, and working with the late Corey Haim, a personal friend of hers that also appears in the movie.
Here is our conversation:
Looking at your resume, you have made ten thousand movies since you made this one in Arizona. And you are currently out promoting three different movies this week alone. How do you keep that all together?
Tiffany Shepis: I have no idea. I try to write notes down. So that I can remember things and not sound like a complete ass. I don't want to sit here going, "Ah, I don't really remember working on that." But that never really helps. Most often, when I start talking about a project, it all comes back. We just have to pray, man!
When you work this much, are you able to retain each experience, or does it just become another night washing dishes in your head?
Tiffany Shepis: I can retain a lot of the experience. Certainly, they are all different. You are always working with different types of people on each one. There is a part of it that gets jumbled up. Like, where if someone makes only one movie every three years, they are going to remember every single day. It's going to be like a diary written down in their head. With me, you can't just ask me what happened on day fourteen. I'll have no idea what you are talking about. Or, if you ask me to recall any particular situation, I might mix it up and talk about a completely different movie.
It looks like you have made twenty movies in 2010 alone...
Tiffany Shepis: If that is true, I certainly haven't gotten paid for them. (Laughs) If you are looking at IMDB, it's a little bit...There are moments where you or I could go up there and say we are making a movie with Bruce Willis. Unless someone takes it down, it will remain up there forever. I know there are a ton of movies listed as being in production. Or that I am rumored to be appearing in. These are projects I have possibly never even spoken to those people about. I have at least made five of those twenty movies.
Do you even know what movie I am calling you about?
Tiffany Shepis: We are talking about Trade In! I do know that. The fun, comedy car movie. Which is different from my usual fare of working with blood and guts, and T & A!
Are you aiming to be the Linnea Quigley of this generation?
Tiffany Shepis:No, I am not trying to become anything. I just like making horror movies. I was fifteen when I made my first one. With the group that is associated with making horror films, there is a lot of heart there. That is the work they like to do. And I can't think of anything better to be doing. Its mostly low budget indie horror films. Unlike the quote-unquote scream queens from back in the day, there are a lot cooler projects coming my way now. It's not all naked chicks in the woods. As fun as that stuff is. We had a movie that played Sundance this year. It's a slight step up from your ordinary B movie fare, when you have these kinds of elite films. Good or bad, how often do you hear about a Scream Queen going to Sundance? It's pretty cool. So I am hoping to raise it up a notch.
It looks like you got your start at Troma...
Tiffany Shepis: I did.
How have you taken the experience of those films, which are tough to work on, and exemplified that throughout the rest of your career?
Tiffany Shepis: Anybody that wants to make a movie should watch all of those documentaries on how Lloyd Kaufman makes his movies. Certainly, coming from the acting side of it, you realize that it's not all glamorous. Its not chalk full of trailers and people waiting on you hand and foot. You'd be surprised how many people go into acting thinking that's the way it is. That if you land a movie role, it's going to be this glamorous super star kind of treatment. I think it weeds a lot of people out. Once you realize that isn't how it is, and that its hard work, and that you are running around half-naked in not very desirable weather, in weird parts of town, covered in weird slimy things that are made of real animal carcasses and guts...It weeds them out. Where is your passion? Do you really want to be here doing this? You know what? Accounted sounds kind of good. Then they leave the industry. I think it's the best film school in the no budget. Because it gives you a sense of how hard it is to do this stuff, and it makes you appreciated it. Certainly, when you do have a budget to work with. When you have the luxuries to hire catering, and it's not my mom doing it. Every situation I had with Troma was an invaluable lesson that I have brought onto everything else. It helps you maintain...Not necessarily level headedness...You have a lot of people that go to these conventions. The horror movie conventions. You'll see people coping attitudes with fans. Shit, be glad anyone wants to talk to you, or purchase your autograph or a DVD. Coming from the Troma frame of mind; that helped me in that way. I am certainly grateful anytime someone comes up to me and has watched one of my movies, let alone liked it. Troma makes people sane. People that started with Troma certainly worked for their career. Nothing was handed to them on a silver platter. When you work for stuff, you appreciate it more, and you appreciate the people that help you do it. Which is interviewers. Which is the PA on the set. You all started at the same place, and everyone involved helped make that movie. Whereas, you get on one of these big budget productions, and everybody has their own job, they are just there to do it. I won't say that they don't appreciate what everybody else does. But it is definitely not a family unit. Where, if you are not there to help with something, it doesn't get made.
In Trade In, you are actually quite funny. Did you make this movie to show that side of yourself as a performer?
Tiffany Shepis: It was an interesting opportunity. Because I had moved recently to Arizona. I didn't think any movies were made that often in Arizona. They said it wasn't a horror movie, but a comedy. I thought, "That would be fun." Most of my horror films end up being a comedy one way or the other. A lot of my stuff has been in the horror comedy vein. There was part of me that wanted to take this because it was a straight comedy. The other part of me wanted to take it because we shot right down the street from my house, man! That is the easiest traveling I have ever done.
Where did they get all of the cars for this thing?
Tiffany Shepis: The executive producer, the story came from him, he owns a car lot called Trade In. In Tucson, Arizona. Everyone who worked on it got to watch these guys first hand making these sales. Let me tell you, all of the stuff in the movie is not far off from what happens on a regular car lot. (Laughs) They do some crazy shit to get a car sold.
You are talking about actually selling the cars. Not what we see happening in the first few minutes of the film...
Tiffany Shepis: (Laughs) Some of the characters are like that.
The movie does have a very Arizona-type feel to it. You can feel that atmosphere on film. Do you think the guy that put up the money for this was looking at it as an opportunity to make a feature length commercial for his car lot?
Tiffany Shepis: I don't know if that was the mentality behind it, but it certainly couldn't have hurt, right? If you have that business, why not tie them all together. The movie did premiere in Tucson. That's not like premiering something in New York or Los Angeles. People go, "Wow! They made a movie about that? It was at Trade In?" There is a branding that goes into it. You can see the movie, you can go buy a car. It's cross promotion in every sense of the word. If you are spending the money on radio and commercials, why not make a film? You can have the reporters there from The Tucson Sun. I think it was a cross- promotion. But I don't think it was made solely as a commercial for his place. It would be a very expensive commercial to make.
I don't know. Once it's on DVD, and people start buying that up, and then you cut the film into one hundred and eighty commercial spots, he'll make his money back.
Tiffany Shepis: We'll see. Hopefully.
I'm known for being a huge fan of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim here at the site. That's one of the reasons they passed this particular movie onto me. Haim is only in Trade In for about two minutes. Did you get to work with him? Or did he just come in, do his lines, and then disappear?
Tiffany Shepis: No, Corey was on the set the whole time. He was there hanging out with everybody. That is why the part is there. That is why they wrote it in. "Well, Corey is here. We might as well use him." He wanted to work more, so the writers were like, "What can we do with him? We don't really have a character." So they decided to write him this really bizarre, creepy dream sequence. They threw him in there. He would have happily worked more days, but everything was already done and set. They had the actors locked, and they couldn't afford to just bring someone on for a full three weeks of shooting.
Why was he just hanging out there for the shoot?
Tiffany Shepis: I was friends with Corey. He came out to Arizona to work on himself, and get away from Los Angeles, and all the demons that it has to offer. Certainly, Arizona doesn't have any less of them. They are just not as in your face as they are in Los Angeles.
I didn't know that you were close friends with him. I hope I am not bringing up a sensitive subject.
Tiffany Shepis: No. Its okay. He was a great guy, and its very sad when anybody passes away, He definitely brought a cool light to our movie. It was fun having him around, and everyone enjoyed having him there. Certainly, it being one of his last films, we wish we cold have given him something bigger to do. Because that's what he really wanted. He just wanted to make more movies.
What can you tell me about some of the other cameos that are in this. I know that Ron Jeremy pops up at one point...
Tiffany Shepis: I don't know how they actually got Ron Jeremy. I have known him for a long time, because of the horror circuit and the Troma family. He has worked for them a bunch of times. But I am not sure how they got in touch with him. They were just like, all of a sudden, "Ron Jeremy is here!" I was like, "No way! I know Ron." It was a fun reunion. Once I saw that he was there, we said, "Shit! We have to have a scene together." So we just improvised that whole deal. I am certain you can tell. We thought it was fun. Why not have Ron Jeremy? People like Ron. It's interesting how the porn world, the horror world, and the comic book world all intermingle. (Laughs) A lot of times, it's a lot of the same fans. It worked. Sometimes I don't like to see weird, bizarre cameos in a movie. But it doesn't hurt it. That's for sure.
Yeah. They are shooting a porno in the back of the car dealership. Watching the movie, I was thinking, it could have been a horror movie, or some cheap comic book movie. It's all inter-changeable. Any three of those would have worked for shooting on a low budget behind a car dealership.
Tiffany Shepis: (Laughs) Totally. We could have had a comic book convention going on back there.
Being in Arizona, are you finding that there are a lot of movies being made there? Or are you still traveling to Los Angeles for work a lot of the time?
Tiffany Shepis: Its funny. I almost never shot in Los Angeles. That is why I made the move to Arizona. Thankfully, the horror genre is very loyal, and if they like you, you keep working. So I didn't have to be in Los Angeles. I was getting work through referrals. We are always shooting in places like Iowa, and Louisianna. I was like, "Why the Hell do I live here? Its expensive and I hate the people that live here." So I moved to Arizona. Trade In is like the second or third movie I have shot here. There is certainly stuff going on here. It's like anywhere else. Its cheaper to shoot anywhere besides Los Anegles and New York. We have the facilities and sound stages, and fairly good crews.
Trade In is available on DVD now.