Sarah French - Interview
How did you get into film?
Looking back, I’ve always loved to entertain. As a kid my sister and cousins and I would put on little plays for family at the farm I grew up on in Minnesota. In high school I made cheesy short skits and short horror films with my friends. I grew up watching horror films so that was always my go to when creating, I loved it. I always wanted to be that girl running through the woods, half naked, bloody and battered, running from a killer or being the killer!
Where it came to life for me was when I was in my early 20s, trying to figure out what I really wanted in life. I went to college for Horticulture first, and then changed my degree to Criminal Justice. I’ve always been interested in the criminal mind, so I thought I might want to work in that field. While going to college I took a theater class and fell in love with it. I was very shy growing up but really broke out of that when I started to go to college and focused on health and fitness, that’s where I started to gain more confidence in myself.
I was at a local metal concert in Minnesota in 2005. I had a photographer come up to me, gave me his business card, told me he loved my look and wanted to do a photoshoot with me. At the time I thought he was just some creeper because I’ve never had anyone ask me that before. I did have a unique look at the time; it was a metal/goth girl look so I guess he liked that. Like I said, I was going to school for Criminal Justice at the time and doing that kind of thing wasn’t even on my mind. A few months passed and I stumbled upon his business card. I said what the hell and set up a shoot. From that day on I was hooked! I loved being in front of the camera. I did a bunch of modeling over the next few months and just fell in love with the creativeness of it all and I loved to express myself, it was such a freeing feeling. Soon after that I was browsing the internet and came across a casting call for a short horror film and they were looking for someone that fit me perfectly. I knew I had to check this out. I met the filmmakers at a local coffee shop; they loved my look and attitude and hired me on the spot! That short film is also where I met my man, Joe Knetter. He played the killer. Joe and I didn’t get together till a few years and a few films later. Joe has played a key role in my life over the years and I am so grateful for him. We make one hell of a team, that’s for sure! You just never know where life is going to take you. I guess all the killing and mayhem in my first film kind of sealed the deal for us ha-ha! As the saying goes, it’s all history after that!
At the premiere of “Death Count”. Photo by Denise Truscello
Which of your roles did you like the most and why?
That’s a tough question and it’s always changing. They're all special to me in many ways. But if I had to pick a favorite movie and role, it would have to be my character "Faye" from my films BLIND and PRETTY BOY. Faye is special to me in many ways. BLIND started from a dream that our director Marcel Walz had, and writer Joe Knetter took that dream and created the screenplay BLIND. In BLIND, Faye is an actress that is at the height of her career; she lives in a beautiful house in the Hollywood hills, and decides to get laser eye surgery. Something goes wrong and she ends up blind. We meet her a year or so into her life as a newly blind woman. She’s depressed, she’s not working, and she feels alone, her whole life is turned upside down. The friends she thought she had have all drifted away, because let’s be honest, in Hollywood if you can’t be of value to someone, your Hollywood "friends" disappear. So, throughout the film she is trying to find herself and regain her life back and within that she starts to fall back in love with herself and Luke, played by Tyler Gallant, who has been by her side since she started therapy. She is also helped by her friend Sophia, Caroline Williams, who she met in therapy as well. While Faye is trying to regain her life back, she’s being stalked by "Pretty Boy", played by Jed Rowen. This is such a special role for me because there is so many emotions going on throughout the film. When I read the script I cried, I felt Faye and what she was going through. I immersed myself in that character. Even when we were done shooting, weeks after I would find myself crying in the bathtub and going through cupboards without looking. It was that close to me. The same goes with the sequel PRETTY BOY too. It was such an honor to bring Faye back to life for a second time! The first day I stepped back on set, in costume, in character, I cried. It was an emotional moment and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. Joe Knetter wrote beautiful scripts with so many layers and gave me so much to work with. Its character driven and I love those kinds of scripts. You feel for the characters and you're along for the ride with them. Marcel Walz directed his heart out with both films and gave so much beauty to them along with Thomas Rist who DP'd BLIND and added so many beautiful colors and beauty to each scene, same goes with Michael Su who DP'd PRETTY BOY and added so much beauty to that one as well. BLIND is a 70s style slow burn drama with horror elements and PRETTY BOY is our ode to the 80s style slasher. We all love horror, and we want to incorporate the different time period feels to each film. BLIND is available on most streaming platforms through Uncorked and PRETTY BOY should be coming out later this year through Lionsgate. We also have more planned up our sleeves... so stay tuned!
You've been in front of the camera in numerous times. Which shoot was the best for you and why?
Again, they’re all special to me in many ways. As far as a more recent shoot, I’d say one of my favorites of 2022 was, “THAT’S A WRAP”. I just formed a production company with Marcel Walz and Joe Knetter called Neon Noir. Our goal with the company is to create visually stunning films that are both artistic and commercial. We just finished our first feature film under our new company called, "THAT’S A WRAP". It’s a giallo slasher that takes place in a film studio. Marcel Walz directed it, and Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas wrote it and we have great talent like Cerina Vincent from Cabin Fever along with Monique Parent, Dave Sheridan, and Robert Donavan along with many more amazing cast. Our DP is Marcus Friedlander nailed what we wanted the film to look like, and his team is just as amazing. The shoot went very well, from pre to production to post everyone was on point and you can see that in the final product. It was such a pleasure to be a part of the creative process on all ends, in front of the camera and behind. Everyone worked so well together and the shoot was simply amazing. We are very excited about “THAT’S A WRAP” and can’t wait to get it out there! We had a November 2022 premiere in LA and the screening went better than we had ever hoped for. Lots of great plans for that film and the future of our new company! We have a whole slate of films we're planning, and the future is looking really wonderful.
SplatGore & Sarah at Premiere from THAT’S A WRAP
Is there a role that you would like to play sometime?
I’ve been really fortunate to play a lot of amazing roles over the years that have really challenged me. I never like playing the same thing or typecasting myself. I like to think outside the box and really challenge myself with each role I take on. That’s what I love about working in the horror genre. I feel like the horror genre empowers women, especially now a days. More and more women are becoming stronger and stronger in film, and I love to see that! Those are the kind of roles I love to take on, the strong female leads, and I've been fortunate to get many roles like that over the last few years. In the past I used to be that naked girl running around getting murdered or whatever, now I'm the lead female character kicking ass and taking names. It’s all a part of the growing process. Yes, back in the day I loved the small part victim roles, but as I get older, I've focused more on the strong female lead. For example, in the BLIND and PRETTY BOY franchise some may see Faye as the "victim" but that’s not the way I see her. Throughout BLIND she has to fight her own demons and within that she becomes stronger mentally. In PRETTY BOY things change and she has to become even more stronger mentally because now she’s not fighting her own demons, she needs the strength to fight for her life. She can’t physically fight, but she can find it within her to fight mentally and to not give up. Another role I recently took on and want to do more of is a space adventure action film I shot last year called, “SPACE WARS: Quest for the Deepstar”. I'm super excited about this film because I get to play an ass kicking, bad ass woman and I do all my own stunts in the film! I trained in Vegas with my co-star Tyler Gallant and we also trained in LA before the shoot. I've always done my own "light stunts" as I'd like to say, throughout the years, but this one I go all in. Joe Knetter wrote a beautiful, action packed script and Garo Setian directed his heart out and gave it his all. This was a dream project for all of us and I'm very excited for everyone to see this! It’s another role I've always wanted to bring to life, and everyone did such an amazing job on it. You guys are going to LOVE it!
This is a tough industry; there is no question about it. You have to be mentally prepared and strong because this industry will eat you alive if you are not. You need to stay strong, stay focused, and always keep fighting. That’s why I love playing characters I've had the opportunity to bring to life over the last few years, because in each character, there is always a piece of me that is within that character and I sure as hell can relate to them.
Would you like to make film with a certain director and if so, who is it?
John Carpenter hands down. Do I need an explanation?
How did the contact with Marcel Walz come about?
I met Marcel through mutual friends in LA around 2016/2017. We would see each other at different events and stayed in touch online. Marcel came to me soon after we started hanging out and asked me to check out a new film he was putting together. It was “ROOTWOOD” and he wanted me to play the Erin role. I read the script and really enjoyed the role and agreed to do it! From that film on, we became very good friends and now have worked together on 4 feature films and a TV show he directed as well. Marcel is a Taurus like me and we tend to get along very well and have long lasting friendships, which is very true! Marcel is passionate, driven, and one hell of a sweetheart.
On set of “Blind”. Photo by Steven Shea
You've starred in his recent films. How did that come about?
It really all started with our taco Tuesday group. Joe Knetter and I moved to LA in 2015. We quickly realized it’s not easy to live here and is a constant hustle. No one really has time to spend together or hang out because everyone is constantly working trying to pay bills, because the rent out here is ridiculous! Joe and I wanted to change that. We wanted to see our friends, at least once a week if possible. A get together where you can just let your hair down one night, have drinks, and just shoot the shit. So we found a cool restaurant/bar in our neighborhood and let our friends know we were going to hang there every taco Tuesday night and if they want to join us, they are more than welcome to. Marcel was one of the first few that joined us. At that point Marcel and Joe didn’t hang out much. Their relationship quickly grew as we all did. That year we started the taco Tues group, it grew from just a few friends to a bunch of new and old friends joining us! The thing was everyone that hung out with us worked in the film industry in some way. We had directors, writers, actors, producers, makeup artists, DP’s, grips, etc. One night Marcel came over to our place to watch a movie. While he was there he told us about a dream he had the night before. Joe, being the amazing screenwriter he is, stood up and started to brainstorm and we all started to throw ideas out there…. That night, “BLIND” was created with Joe writing the screenplay, Marcel directing, and myself starring. We were able to get the budget that night and we were off and running! That’s the thing you learn in this industry, if you want something done, you just have to go out and do it. Our whole taco Tuesday group worked on the film in some capacity and the rest is history. From that film on Joe, Marcel and I became one hell of a team and I couldn’t be happier with what we all created together and am so grateful for all of the opportunities.
You founded Neon Noir with Marcel Walz and Joe Knetter. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Yes! Like I mentioned earlier, Neon Noir is our new production company. Our goal with the company is to create visually stunning films that are both artistic and commercial. We have a slate of our own films that we are working on to bring to life and are very excited about. Joe, Marcel, and I worked so well together in “BLIND” and “PRETTY BOY” we knew it was time to step it up a notch and create our own company, do our own thing. We are very excited about “THAT’S A WRAP” and cannot wait to unleash this beast. We have so much more in store, so be sure to stay tuned!
Group photo of Neon Noir
That's a Wrap premiered in Hollywood recently. How was it for you?
It was really amazing and went over better than we expected! You just never know how these things are going to go, its very nerve racking. The theater we booked was very accommodating and so friendly. It was a big venue with lots of room for our red carpet. That night it was raining and when it rains in LA, the whole city stops. But not this night! We ended up with about 220 people making it out. The theater was close to being full, which was amazing! LA is one of the toughest crowds to please and the reaction to the horror and comedy in this film went over extremely well! We were all very pleased. That was such a magical night, everyone just seemed so happy with the film. Most of the cast and crew were able to make it out too and to see their reactions to the film was wonderful. Joe, Marcel, and I are very happy with the film and cannot wait to get it out there!
at Premiere from THAT’S A WRAP
When will the film be released in the US?
We’re in talks with distribution as we speak. We’re hoping sometime in 2023, we’ll keep everyone posted!
Are there any plans for a release in Europe, especially in Germany?
At the LA screening of “Space Wars: Quest for the Deepstar”
You've been to a few premieres lately. Did you film that much?
Ha-ha yes! I’m always working on something and have projects in production, post, and being released soon. I had a few screenings and premieres recently for my sci-fi action film I mentioned earlier, “SPACE WARS: Quest for the Deepstar”. We filmed that last year and it was recently finished, so we were able to submit it to some festivals here in LA! We had a premiere in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was amazing and I cannot wait to share more on our space adventure film! We’re hoping for a Spring 2023 release, so keep your eyes peeled for that! We also try to make it to other indie film screenings as well. We try to support the community. At the very least we rent most of the films that come out from the LA scene.
Scarlet Salem was your stage name back in the day. Why did you decide to go with your real name Sarah French?
When I got into modeling before acting, my very first photographer told me that’s what most models and actresses do; they have stage names they go by. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time and thought that was the normal thing to do. So my photographer helped me come up with Scarlet Salem, which I loved because I’m a big horror girl, so it fit. Soon after modeling I got into acting. I did a bunch of no budget/low budget horror films starting out and just used the name for those. As time went on, I started to take acting more serious and felt if I had a stage name like that, it would put me in a box and limit me. So in 2011 I decided to get rid of Scarlet Salem and go with my real name from that point on.
What can we expect in the future with you?
As far as the near future, 2023 is already shaping up to be a great year! I have projects in the works as we speak and a handful of releases coming this year as well! Neon Noir is also in full swing with new projects we’re putting together and the future is looking bright. I’m always posting on social media and keeping everyone up to date on my projects, so be sure to stay up to date with me! You can find me on Instagram at @sarahfrenchonline and Facebook at Sarah French and Twitter at @scarlet_salem. I love to interact with my fans so be sure to say hi!
Thank you so much for this fun interview!