I’ve been great! It’s been somewhat hectic since the release of ‘Before the Dawn.’ But it’s a good hectic.
Having studied improv – how would you say that has helped you tackle other genres aside from comedy?
Improv helps loosen you up and keeps you on your toes. For me, it just forces me to trust my instincts and go with them, which is something you can take into any genre. I’m working on a comedy at the moment, and a lot of that is improv, which is fun. It’s nice to do something a little lighter after ‘Before the Dawn.’
Speaking of ‘Before the Dawn,’ you not only play the lead, but you also wrote the screenplay. Tell us about what inspired you?
You know it’s so hard to remember. I’d had the concept in my mind for such a long time before I started writing it. It wasn’t really until I sat down to do it that it became a fully formed idea. There was a period where every other week, you were hearing about some teacher/student affair coming out in the news. I just wanted to explore why it was so prevalent. What are the factors that can play into this happening?
Was there a particular message you wanted to drive with the film?
Not so much a message as an exploration. I didn’t want to approach the relationship from a place of judgment. We all know right from wrong, that’s a given, but these things still keep happening. Why? I don’t think you can address issues adequately until you make an effort to understand them. They are just two people who find a bond in some similar circumstances in their lives. That connection grows, and it becomes complicated.
The premise is a little polemical – are you worried about people saying you are glorifying the relationship?
I don’t think anybody who watches the film will say that. There are consequences for both characters, but honestly, I do hope it opens up a dialogue. Invert the genders, with a male teacher and a female student, and I think people would be a lot more up in arms about it. That is something that interests me, and we touch on that in the film. To answer your question – a lot of things make me nervous, but people who talk about my movie isn’t one of them, haha. In all seriousness, I hope that people enjoy the film and it makes them think about people they know who are lonely or isolated or not in the best situation, and they reach out to them. We are all just looking for a connection, and you can stop people going down the wrong path if they know they are not alone in the world.
How did you approach this character personally? What were some of the questions you started to ask yourself while preparing for this role?
I honestly think that having written it gave me such a familiarity with the character that I didn’t feel the need to put a heap of additional prep into it. Of course, there were days when we were shooting some tougher scenes or more emotional content, and then I would need to take some time to get myself into the right headspace. I find music helps a lot for me with that. All of my character prep was happening during the writing process. I had played with her struggle with this attraction, and knowing it was wrong, and trying to fight it. It’s that tug of war that is continuously playing in her mind.
How would you say your life experiences helped create the character?
There are many little things in the writing that I borrowed from my life and the people close to me. There are little Easter eggs of familiarity that nobody knows except me. I obviously have never been a teacher, but we all know the feeling of doing something wrong and the fear of getting caught. I tap into those feelings and have them simmering under the surface. The love part is easy. I’m very familiar with that. And Jared Scott, my costar, he is so easy to work with that we had no problem creating that chemistry between the characters.
What were some of the most challenging aspects of playing Lila Kendy?
Honestly, it was that I missed me. I was playing this character for sometimes 16 hours a day for weeks. Getting to live other lives and experiences is what I love about acting, but I’m also happy when I get to be me again. This role, in particular, really made me appreciate my life and the people I surround myself with who love and support me.
When and where can people catch you in this film?
Now! ‘Before the Dawn’ is out on Amazon Prime. For people outside of the U.S., they can watch it on primevideo.com
What else is happening next in Alana de Freitas’s world?
Like I said, I’m working on a comedy at the moment called ‘Cash Collectors.’ It’s a lot of fun, and it’s such a fresh concept, I can’t wait to see the finished product. I also have a horror film called ‘Bashira’ that should be coming out early in the New Year. I shot that in Buffalo, and it was so great getting to work with the special effects – I shouldn’t say too much though. I think it’s going to be super creepy! And there are a few other projects that I have in the pipeline, but they are still under wraps. Stay tuned!