Table-turning and Stepford Wifery: Samantha Robinson on being The Love Witch

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Director and Writer Anna Biller Cast Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Laura Waddell, Gian Keys Running Time 120 minutes UK Release Date 10th March 2017

The Love Witch is about to make DIY feminist film history (read our review), so we couldn’t have been more delighted to speak to Samantha Robinson who plays Elaine, the love witch herself, about what it was like to be involved in such a project. Take note ladies – this kind of filmmaking is the F-U-T-U-R-E.

How/when did you get on board the project?

I got the role through a regular audition process. My manager at the time sent me the breakdown; I loved the fact that it pertained to the occult and that it was going to be shot on 35mm. I had an audition, callback and a private lunch meeting with Anna. It was soon after that she offered me the role of Elaine. I was cast about six months earlier than any of the other characters in the film. Anna did this to not only help me prepare for the role, but also so that she had time to hand-make most of my costumes in the film. She took my measurements and created a dress form in my size. 

How was your lead-director relationship with Anna Biller? How did you work together?

It was really amazing getting to work so intimately with Anna. We watched a lot of films and went through the script together. I definitely needed her guidance so that I could give her the specific vision she had for Elaine. It was fun because oftentimes we were figuring out the character together, what worked and what didn’t. We became quite close in the in the process. 

Was there conversation about this being a ‘feminist film’ at all during filming?

There wasn’t any talk of the film being ‘feminist’ during filming, however, it was clear that the film was uniquely from a female point of view, elucidating the psychological complexities of a strong female lead. It was empowering turning the tables on the male characters in the film, killing them off rather early in the script or reducing THEM to blubbering messes. It was clear, throughout the filming, that Anna truly got pleasure out of creating a film such as this and that she was catering to the female gaze just as much as the male. 

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What genre would you place this film in?! I found it VERY hard to categorise. 

It is hard to categorize. I would say that The Love Witch is part horror, part melodrama and part feminist satire.

What do you think about this industry’s landscape for women – is it a struggle to navigate purely because of your sexuality or does it feel like things are getting better/don’t need to change for women?

This is a difficult question because I have not spent years in the industry yet. Female sexuality is always a point of reference and can be both helpful and an obstacle, all depending on who you are working or negotiating with. I do think that many women can feel objectified and not really seen as a human beings in the industry and that unfortunately, just like Elaine, that can sometimes lead to emotional despair and collapse. 

“We can all relate to Elaine because we have all felt lonely, narcissistic, longing for love, empowered.”

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When I was watching this film it felt so perfectly formed and like the pinacle of years of feminist culture and arguments, finally cemented in this ironic comic-yet-tragic form. Did you feel like something revolutionary was happening in the making of it at all?

Yes, actually we all did. I remember chatting with my make-up artist as well as the other actors and we all just had a really great feeling about the film.

Do you relate to Elaine? Have you experienced some of the problematic relationships she has, with men or women?

Yes, I think we can all relate to Elaine because we have all felt lonely, narcissistic, longing for love, empowered. If is often difficult to navigate your place as a woman in a patriarchal world, especially with all the expectations imposed upon us. I also know many women who feel like they have to act like a Stepford wife in order to keep their man; these antiquated views on female sexuality are still very present today. I think that in a sense Elaine can be seen as metaphor for all women.

The Final Girls are screening The Love Witch at The Prince Charles Cinema on the 23rd February – tickets here.

The Love Witch comes to UK cinemas, Digital Download and VOD 10th March

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