Exclusive Interview: Actress Simone Policano Talks New Creepy Kid Thriller THIS IS OUR HOME

A struggling couple’s weekend getaway goes awry when a child arrives in the middle of the night claiming to be their son. The creepy kid thriller THIS IS OUR HOME will be available On Demand and DVD on Tuesday, December 3rd from Uncork’d Entertainment. Simone Policano is an actress and producer, known for Blue Bloods (2010), Auggie (2019) and Who Killed Jane Doe? (2007). The actress took some time to answer a few questions about the festival darling which she also produced.

Alien Bee – You must be exhausted, after wearing so many hats? Writer! Director! Actress! Producer!

Simone Policano – Hahaha a little I guess, but it’s the good kind of exhaustion! Always prefer to be busy than not.

Alien Bee – And how many of those hats did you get to wear on THIS IS OUR HOME?

Simone Policano – On TIOH I co-starred and co-produced.

Alien Bee – How did you get involved in this one?

Simone Policano – Jeff Ayars—my co-star and co-producer—and I were dating at the time, and Jeff knew Omri Dorani, our director, from working on films together years ago. About two and a half years ago Omri had just finished working on a broad comedy, “studio”-feel type film, and reached out to Jeff about wanting to do something darker and more artsy. Jeff introduced me to Omri and Omri brought in his writing partner, Rob Harmon, and the four of us began developing the idea together.

Alien Bee – When and how did your involvement as a producer come to be? In a nutshell : what did that entail?

Simone Policano – Omri, Jeff and I really built this movie from the ground up as producers, and it became our baby (pun…intended). On an independent film there isn’t really any structural support, so we had to figure it all out ourselves. We simplified our lives by working with what we had: we shot in my mom’s house upstate in Woodstock, NY so we didn’t have to scout for locations; Omri brought on an incredible DP he had worked with before, Thomas Taugher, and a camera team who all graciously worked for way less money than they deserve because they loved the story; we ran the casting search for Zeke ourselves so we didn’t have to hire a casting director. Producing is both about general oversight and specific task completion, and as producers on an indie we just did…everything.

Fun fact: the producer text thread with the three of us is called “This Is Our Homri.”

Alien Bee – A completely independent movie, I assume there are a lot of benefits there, getting to do a high-concept genre piece without studio involvement? What do you see those pluses are?

Simone Policano – You definitely have freedom you don’t get on a studio film. We were incredibly lucky that our Executive Producer, Joe Vaccone, trusted us to make our film and didn’t want any creative say, just wanted to be attached. Having an angel investor help fund our project without wanting influence over the film’s content was a rare gift. Though independent filmmaking is incredibly difficult—and stressful! anyone who tells you otherwise is lying!—there is a sense of satisfaction upon completion that you may not necessarily get on a larger project. There’s a sense of “wow, we made a movie completely by ourselves. We DID that.”

Alien Bee – In addition to yourself, there’s a beautiful ensemble here. There’s some fine work with Jeff Ayars here. Can you talk about the chemistry there..

Jeff is one of the most talented actors I’ve met. A comedian who also excels in drama, he’s really the best scene partner you could hope for. We were dating at the time, so there’s definitely a natural chemistry between us that really worked for the film. The whole thing hinges on people seeing how far this couple has fallen, so it was very important that we establish that these are two people who, under all the trauma, really care for each other. And when there’s a very real connection with the other actor, that can naturally just come out. The living room dancing scene, for example, was pretty much just Jeff and I drinking wine and dancing around my mom’s living room. It didn’t need to be more than that. But obviously Jeff and I are not Cory and Reina, so there was also a lot of character work and development that we did both together and on our own to bring them to life.

Alien Bee – Was there anything in the movie that you found difficult to film?

Simone Policano – The climax scene of the film, which I won’t spoil the specifics of, was really hard. It’s the moment that this couple hits their rock bottom: terrible things are said on both sides and an incredible amount of pain is inflicted. The scene is very visually jarring—again no spoilers but Cory isn’t looking too hot—and it holds one of very few moments of actual violence/gore in the film. Jeff and I had to go to a really dark place with each other in that scene, and doing that with someone I was actually very emotionally connected to was really tough. After every take we both checked in with each other and kind of hit reset, but I will tell you I did go take a walk and have a good cry after it was over.

Alien Bee – They say never work with kids or animals. How was your experience?

Simone Policano – I think it totally depends on the kid and/or animal. Drew Beckas was amazing. Drew was maybe the biggest gift of the film. I think nowadays people watch something like Stranger Things and assume that finding perfect child actors is very easy, but it is so challenging and nuanced. With a kid you need them to bring the acting chops as well as an incredible amount of patience to sit on set for long periods of time, and you need them to be mature enough to both take direction and not drive the crew and other actors crazy. Drew walked into the audition room and was this interesting kid with a unique vibe that none of us could quite put our fingers on but all of us loved. Rather than try to play at the idea of being creepy, the trick is for a “creepy horror movie kid” to actually be as sweet and innocent as possible, and then put that sweet innocence in a situation that makes it creepy. In this case, Zeke is just a kid who genuinely thinks these two are his parents, and just wants to play with his mom. Obviously the fact that Zeke is not their son (or is he…?) is where the creepiness in the film comes from, and why you start to wonder, wait, what’s up with this kid? Drew captured that innocence we needed perfectly and was down to play all the time, never too tired for another take, and really took such joy in working on this process. If anything he reminded us to have fun with it.

Alien Bee – Can you tease us on what’s next for you?

Simone Policano – I suppose I could, but what’s the fun in that? Just kidding. I’ve got another film streaming on iTunes and Amazon, it’s a sci-fi feature called Auggie about a man (Richard Kind) who falls in love with his AI companion — a la Her, but the AI is actually a visual character you can see, and the film is more about the repercussions within his family. I play Richard’s daughter, which was more fun than anyone should be allowed to have. I also just did a workshop of a new play here in New York City, so fingers crossed we shall see where that goes. Otherwise, @film community, let’s make some weird art! Hit me up. @spolicano

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