Lost in the Movies: How's Annie? (interview with Cameron Cloutier & Amy Ostbo, director & actor from Queen of Hearts, a Twin Peaks fan film)

How's Annie? (interview with Cameron Cloutier & Amy Ostbo, director & actor from Queen of Hearts, a Twin Peaks fan film)

"For a long time, no itch. But at the same time, there's a thing in Fire Walk With Me where Laura is in her bed and she's visited by Annie. Annie says, 'I'm in the Black Lodge with the good Dale. Write that in your diary.' That little bit right there held a string of dreams." - David Lynch (May 2, 2018)

Twin Peaks lives and so, it seems, does Annie Blackburn. The controversial character, played by Heather Graham in the show's second season in 1991, was notably absent from the recent Showtime revival aside from a few lines about her. Mark Frost's follow-up novel Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier went a little deeper but still left much unsaid (we learned that Annie had been mostly catatonic since her kidnapping and rescue from Glastonbury Grove). As a viewer, Twin Peaks super-fan Cameron Cloutier may have been frustrated by the character's loose ends but as a filmmaker himself, he saw an opportunity. Host of the YouTube channel Obnoxious & Anonymous (a deep well of Twin Peaks content since 2013), Cameron gauged his audience's interest in a fan film about Annie and was able to raise over $20,000 to launch this production (the film's page offers colorful descriptions and updates, and is still accepting funding).

The project has deep roots, extending to Cameron's days as a teenage fan of the show when it originally aired, and particularly to his enthusiasm for the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which demonstrated Lynch's continued interest in the character (hence the recent quote, as well as Annie's sole incorporation into the third season). In a sustained burst of creativity, Cameron has not only been working hard on a screenplay for this film, he's been crafting eye-catching trailers, including one starring Jake Wardle (green-gloved Freddie himself) delivering a message to Annie through static filters, and a recent, epic ten-minute promo featuring Annie drifting through various Twin Peaks locations, including the infamous Palmer home (whose owner Mary Reber - she actually plays the house's resident in Twin Peaks' final episode! - is a very generous host). The whole preview was shot on site by Cameron and a recent addition to the project, Amy Ostbo. Initially an assistant to the costumer (her sister), Amy's screen presence in the test footage left such an impression that she was cast as Annie herself.

A few weeks ago, Cameron and Amy both joined me for a chat full of energy, enthusiasm, and good humor about this imaginative endeavor. We covered both participants' history with the series (spoilers ahead, if such a thing needs warning), the creation of the trailer, Amy's thoughts about Annie (which may, or may not, surprise you), Cameron's take on The Final Dossier's big reveal, the delightful genesis of the Jake Wardle promo, and lots of other interesting material. Of particular interest may be Cameron's unfilmed screenplay about the Golden State Killer's final victim; his research for that passion project has become a treasure trove for the recent spate of documentaries on the subject. (Coincidentally, in a major news story just a week or so after this interview, police identified one of their own as the likely suspect, decades after his last murder.)

Meanwhile, how's Annie? We'll have to wait until December to find out (as Cameron observes, "I'm fine" may not have been much of a reveal after all), but here are a few clues...or, as Lynch says, "a string of dreams."

me: Cameron, if you had to make a 2-minute explanation of why you're making this film, what would be your backstory?

Cameron: When I was sixteen, Fire Walk With Me came out and it didn't do very well - even though it played in my town for two months! But I liked the movie a lot. Probably about six months later some friends were talking to me, and they just said ok...if you go down to L.A. and you started working in the film industry and by some chance you were in a room with David Lynch and Mark Frost and they said, "All right, kid, what do you got, you got something to pitch us, what do you have?" I told the story of Queen of Hearts to my friends, and they were like oh that's cool, and that was it. And you have it in your mind maybe it would be fun to write a short story. Then season three comes out and I'm expecting something having to do with Annie in it. And what I got was just, we found the diary entries and my name is Annie. I was like, interesting, they still have not touched on anything I would like to talk about in the film. And then The Final Dossier came out...nope, didn't touch on it either. Did you see that short fan film The Summer House at Pearl Lakes? It's about Leland as a little boy and how Bob found him. And I'm watching this thing going wow, you know - digital technology is cheaper than film. I've got a story that I always wanted to tell too. Maybe I should do it. I floated it out on the video, and I started getting inundated with people saying, well, why don't you make it? I kept getting pestered about it and pestered about it. So I was like ok guys, if you really want me to make it, I'll make it, but you have to pay for it! I set the goal which I thought was incredibly high and they met it. Actually, they exceeded it. This isn't a story that I feel like matters to Mark Frost and David Lynch, the whole saga of Annie Blackburn. So they've left me this huge open space to play with and tell the story that I wanted to tell. But I'll be honest with you, Joel, I expected to have to write this up as a short story and I would put all this work into it and then nobody would even look at it probably. I've been doing film stuff most of my life so I was like let's try it, and the people who supported the project seemed to agree. And here we are.

me: Amy, what was your history with Twin Peaks before getting involved with this project?

Amy: My sister Eva watched Twin Peaks in college five years ago. She was obviously caught off guard by the way it ended, so she needed somebody to talk about it to. She's like, I can't convince anybody to watch this with me, I'm just gonna have my sister watch it. And I was like, oh my God this is nineties, Washington small town, depressing...I don't know, I'm not really feeling it. Then a few months later I watched it again. Then I watched season one with her, and I liked it. I think it was the comedy aspect, the dark comedy, the dryness of it. I got sucked into it and then we find Fire Walk With Me and we make our middle sister watch it - her name is Tara. That would be Eva's third time around, my second time around. She also got into it, and then I'm trying to get my friends to watch it and all that. And of course it's hard to watch if you don't know what it's about. It's got some rough parts. Up comes a comic convention and Eva's like oh shoot, let's make the diner outfits and I'm like ok, I'm down, that sounds like fun. We make them, wear them to a convention. We've got these platters that got a cup glued to it, pie, and that got some cool attention. And then was it like a year and a half later, Cameron comes up to Eva.

C: I think I reached out to Eva about the diner outfits and this started a process. Now I have Millie who makes those dolls in Australia, and she was helping with some of the costumes as well. It wasn't until we all met when I was up there that everything clicked into place and it was like, oh, that's what this is. Because everyone wasn't quite sure what was happening and who was doing what and what is this gonna be. Amy even said to me during the audition process, are you gonna be like Stanley Kubrick, are you gonna be yelling at me like Shelley Duvall?

A: (laughs) Get me to really cry.

me: Forty takes.

C: Yeah, exactly. What was great was, as you've heard already, Eva and Amy finished the dress while I was up there. I wasn't planning on getting any shots of anything but she was like, maybe Amy can wear the dress. And I'm like, sure, that sounds great.

A: Before this I wasn't even involved.

C: We're at the Palmer house and Eva and Amy get out of the car and she's wearing the Annie dress. Amy walks in and I'm like ok, hi, nice to meet you, and she was like, sure whatever you want, man, let's do it. And that was it. We actually had discussions about this, Eva and Amy and other people involved saying we didn't know what this would be, this level of nervousness about how intense filmmaking is. But my feeling has always been that if you're not having fun, what are we doing? You can work hard but you can still have fun with it. I can't speak for Amy but the general consensus I got from everyone who helped with that video we made was that none of them quite knew what I was filming. Nobody knew how I was gonna put it together. And then Amy told me she's at a convention with some friends, and she gets a notification that the trailer's gonna drop, and she's watching this thing and...what was your reaction when you saw it? Did you think that what you saw was what we filmed? Obviously you were there for most of it but were you surprised at how it looked?

A: Yeah - it felt Twin Peaks. I thought it was great, and the way that you added the scenery and the music together, it really sparked a feeling of nostalgia in a way. Of course I didn't actually live through Twin Peaks.

C: Now I feel old.

A: (laughs) It just felt like it's happening again but in a different way.

C: I got somebody contacting me, Joel, saying, is it weird that I felt like that trailer felt more like Twin Peaks than season three did? And I was like, no, I understand. Because Twin Peaks season three, in my mind, is twenty-five years later. We're all over the world, and Las Vegas should not feel like Twin Peaks, and New York should not feel like Twin Peaks so it's gonna have a different mood, a different feeling. This is about Annie in Twin Peaks around the time of the second season at least. It has to feel like that old Twin Peaks, otherwise what are we doing?

me: Lynch and Frost made a point of, other than little moments here and there, not going back and trying to recapture season one and two, they wanted something different. Whereas your actual purpose is to dig up... Actually it was funny watching the long promo, it half felt like a documentary of your love for Twin Peaks as much as a fictional story you were telling. Like you were there in those locations capturing those vibes. This is a weird comparison but you know the film Medium Cool?

C: Yup.

me: Bear with me. There's that scene in that film where - they're shooting a fictional movie but it's at the same time as the protests at the Chicago convention in '68. So there's a character in a yellow dress looking for her son and he just shoots her in the middle of all this real stuff. That's what this felt like to me. I'm watching you with this character you're re-creating, someone in a costume walking through all of these places that are really there and are also part of our collective memory of Twin Peaks. It's just really cool.

C: And the idea of flowing Annie in and out of different times, and also reacquainting everybody back with the world. She's not just walking around at the Double R or the Great Northern, she's there at the dumping site of Teresa Banks' body, she's walking the steps of Ronette Pulaski, she's crossing Sparkwood & 21. There's that line in season one where James tells Donna on the gazebo about Laura, she's out there walking like a restless spirit and that's Annie.

A: It's very literal though. (everyone laughs)

C: One of my favorite moments, and actually watching it last night, Amy, I got to tell you, she's crossing Sparkwood & 21...

A: Oh no. Oh NO. (laughs)

C: What you don't see is there's actually a four-foot gully.

A: With a stream going through it.

C: So when Laura runs through the woods they actually found a place where she could do it. That place is not there anymore but we all thought it was there. Amy starts walking, and all of a sudden she drops out of frame. And her sister and I are like what happened to her? She pops up like, I'm ok!

A: I was up to my knees in mud.

C: At the Palmer house, I was aware to not focus too much on your face. At the time I wasn't sure which actress was going to play Annie. Because at this point she wasn't cast as Annie. She was just doing it as a favor. I didn't want people to get used to you as Annie. But then the next day, we're shooting all the other stuff on Ronette's bridge, at the hotel, at the diner, now all of a sudden she's completely head to toe from the front. Right now at this moment she's Annie and I just really leaned into that. In true Twin Peaks fashion we were at the diner, and I just said to her what are your intentions? Do you want to throw your hat in the ring and try out for this part? And she was like, sure, whatever. I was just saying every little prayer I could think of out into the universe, like please let this work out, because this would be amazing if it did. Thankfully she agreed so here we are.

me: Amy, what were your feelings were about the character of Annie before this project? How has working on it up to this point changed or affected that?

A: I'm not partial to Annie. I thought she was a very cheap character. Cameron has mentioned a very nice description as a throwaway character, because she simply is. She's that one romantic interest who can also help us wrap up this failing season. But I'm trying to get better at seeing where she's coming from. Of course she is a good character if she was written differently because she says things very blatantly, like oh no no, actually I'm weird. Which...you're not supposed to do that in normal conversation and especially not in a film.

C: Well, keep in mind too she has no social skills whatsoever!

A: It's true.

me: She's been in a nunnery.

C: I always liked the character, I didn't mind the character at all. But the thing that really made it connect for me was like, ok...she was a character who was created solely because no Cooper-Audrey thing was gonna happen. But obviously David Lynch had a soft spot for her because he literally put her in Laura's bed. (Amy laughs) That is a pretty big thing to give to just an ex-nun.

A: Yeah, that's true, that's true. And it's not like he'd put some garbage character in there.

C: So the fact that she was this character who almost seemed too good to be true that came into this town and not only wins the hero's heart but wins Miss Twin Peaks and then she's showing up in Laura's bed... There's so much more to this story, there's a huge gap here. That's always what fascinated me.

A: Eva was telling me, hey it's not that bad, Amy. You're going to make Annie likable. Because I know a lot of people who don't like Annie and I'm like that's a lot to do! But I do see her as a character that does need development, certainly. Certainly! How many episodes was she in, seven?

C: Six.

A: Yeah. She didn't get any development, no backstory. She did get a backstory but not very much. I'm just gonna try my best to be...

C: A character she hates! (everyone laughs)

me: That's kind of perfect though.

C: There's gonna be this perfect symbiosis of a writer who is putting in his own idea of Annie into this fan film and then we have an actress that didn't gravitate toward her character. So it's not gonna be all one way, there's that meeting of the minds.

me: That's what Twin Peaks always needs, the tension between the creators who don't see eye to eye, who come at it from different angles. That's how they created the original Twin Peaks, basically.

A: That's fair.

C: It seems like Amy is intrigued by the idea of, I don't want to say redeeming the character because that's not how I feel about it...I think there's a lot of people out there who, before this project happened, probably didn't give two thoughts about Annie Blackburn. But if you look at the way the Facebook page and the Twitter account are dropping these pictures of Annie just anywhere and everywhere, we're building up a mythology for Annie Blackburn that was never there to begin with.

A: (laughs) It's like when people do the pinboards and they connect all the yarn and the pictures. And they're like, look, this makes sense!

C: But from my point of view, I'm saying that mythology was always there for me.

A: No, that makes sense, absolutely.

C: This is the movie I thought about pitching Lynch and Frost back in 1992. And I love the fact that nobody knows what the hell this movie is about. I really like that until season three started that day, I still didn't know what season three was gonna be about.

me: I have to admit, I did predict there was going to be a long sequence in New York with two random people staring at a glass cube. It seemed obvious that would happen.

A: (laughs) Yeah, of course. Naturally.

C: Let me ask you, Joel, we have Annie Blackburn showing up at Jack Rabbit's Palace and going over to where Naido is and disappearing. And showing up at Laura's house. Given what you know about season three, and the fact that the Giant's lodge connected to Laura's house, does it seem that improbable that Annie would know how to work that system?

me: That relates to what I was thinking about, this idea that the Annie you're playing with in this film, at least in the promo we'll say, is wandering between worlds. It works that she's not perfectly defined because your Annie isn't necessarily, in this glimpse we've been given, the Annie who's making eccentric jokes at the diner, she's a spirit caught between worlds.

C: If you got kidnapped winning a pageant and got sucked into an alternate dimension and now you're boyfriend is this doppelganger, you might be suffering from some PTSD!

A: On top of others!

C: I quoted the guy George on that channel All Things Lynchian. Twin Peaks may have forgotten about Annie but it's obvious from this trailer that Annie has not forgotten about Twin Peaks. In a nutshell that's what it is. This young woman who has gone through a lot of stuff. If you really think about it, it's pretty f'd up. Cooper didn't warn her once, you know my ex-partner, he's in town and he wants revenge because I slept with his wife. So he's probably going to come after you. He doesn't tell her that. She's not really in the most trusting state at the moment.

me: She's going between all these different places in Twin Peaks but as you pointed out she's also going between different times. You've struck upon a really unique characters, one of the few characters you can find in Twin Peaks - and there are a few - who have that kind of freedom. If you were to make a "what did Shelly do between this time and that time," you're stuck within parameters you can work in. But with Annie, it's just such an open canvas you can use, because of her passage through the Lodge. And the way Lynch used her specifically in Fire Walk With Me, that's a free pass right there.

C: Exactly. And this is why after Fire Walk With Me this is what I wanted to see. It's one of those mythological dream projects you think oh, wouldn't that be great to do? Yeah, that's never gonna happen and yet here we are. I'm with Amy, walking up the Palmer house stairs! And she's in the dress, and now we're in Laura's bedroom. We actually shot a bunch of stuff that's not in the trailer, nothing too crazy. Remember how long it took us to get all those shots of you walking past all the mirrors in the living room and stuff? And that never made it into the trailer at all. The living room when we were there was just so bright we couldn't get the right mood for it. The intention behind it is to take it as serious as possible and be like ok, if Lynch and Frost back in 1992 had hired sixteen-year-old me to make this film, how would I have continued this story from this perspective? It's not gonna be, well wouldn't it be great if we shipped these two characters together, that type of thing, it's not that kind of fan fiction. How do we tell this story in a way that not only honors Twin Peaks but also honors the canon that was established? This movie does not in any way negate anything that Lynch and Frost have done. I wouldn't say it's been tricky. But some of the things they did actually helped me out.

A: Yeah!

C: I kept thinking they're gonna throw a wrench in here that's just gonna make it impossible for me to do this. Not that they were thinking about that, let's make things easy for Cameron! If you believe in Lynch's thing about the universe, and everything works out, so far everything's just really worked out. I couldn't be happier. If any indication from that trailer, this is gonna be one hell of a movie.

A: I don't even know what to expect...

C: Amy hasn't even read the script so she has no clue.

A: I don't!

C: She will have the script. But she hasn't read it yet because I'm still finishing the revisions. So go ahead ask her anything you want because she can't tell you anything about the plot!

me: Do you have experience as an actor, or will this be a debut for you?

A: It's going to be a little bit of a debut, film debut. I told Cameron in middle school I was in some of the school plays, I was in The Grinch, and I was in Aladdin and I on purpose crashed Aladdin because I didn't like it. And it was easy to do. I came in in the wrong scene and everyone was like, Yeah let's mess this thing up. But that's about it.

me: How did you get into the headspace you needed to be in for Annie? Was there an approach you took or did you just roll with it without thinking about it too much?

C: I told her to walk. (laughs)

A: Yeah, he told me to walk. It was cold, and I figured that I was going to be like a ghost. I'll just buzz, space out, and do it!

C: She had that Heather Graham spaced-out look.

me: I was almost surprised. I didn't know if you were an actor before this or not but you got into that zone very well.

A: I like goofing off and I like playing around with my friends, doing small characterizations or whatever but it's never been a role. Another thing is I don't know what it's gonna be like actually reading lines as Annie because I've only been her half-dead.

C: But Joel, Lynch has worked with a lot of new actors. And I'm not trying to put myself on the same pedestal but I do understand how you can get performances out of people who are new to the process. I'd rather have somebody who's hungry and feels the part rather than having a completely experienced actor who's going to walk in and say this is how I'm doing the part. I'd rather work with Amy on this whole process. One thing that I really love is I don't have to worry about the first day of filming and establishing a working relationship with Amy. We've already done that. Plus we'll have the couple months before shooting to get everything underway. Is her being relatively new to film acting something that troubles me? Not at all, not at all. If you see her in that trailer, she's already Annie. I'm going to make her blush I'm sure, but the camera loves her. Doesn't matter how close or far the camera gets to her, there's not a bad angle I can get on her. So that's a plus.

A: Thank you. Thank you. I am, like I say, humbled.

me: Cameron, what is your experience with filmmaking before this? What is the work you've done before, and how does that inform this project?

C: I've done a lot of short films. I worked in news for years, photography, editing, that type of thing. I've worked in true crime for a number of years. Just recently, I was on a CNN documentary about a serial killer. What's always been difficult for every new filmmaker, for every indie filmmaker, is funding. I haven't been able to make a lot of things that I've written because of the funding factor. Mostly my work has been in genre writing or in terms of true crime.

me: When you say true crime, do you mean things that you've written?

C: Well, I spent years on this story called Bird With a Broken Wing. I was friends with Michelle MacNamara, who of course was married to Patton Oswalt, who wrote that book I'll Be Gone in the Dark about the serial killer. I'm actually sourced for some of her work in that book.

me: What is Bird With a Broken Wing, the story and your involvement with it?

C: The story is there's a serial killer who's never been caught. He's been wanted for fifty rapes, twelve murders, at least. He stopped in 1981 and then he came out of hiding in 1986 and killed this one girl and then disappeared and no one's ever heard of him since.

A: Is this the Zodiac?

C: Now it's called the Golden State Killer. Before he was the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker and things like that. Not Richard Ramirez, but they called him the "Original Night Stalker." Anyway, I was fascinated, why did he come out of hiding for this girl? So I started researching the last victim and I worked with her family and got her home videos and her writing and things like that.

A: Oh wow.

C: I wanted to make a film about this girl and her story and what happened to her and back in 2009, 2010, nobody cared. I couldn't get anybody interested to bite. I did some little podcasts about the story but nobody was interested. And now there's six or seven documentaries made in the past year and a half about all of these cases. I did an interview with Michelle MacNamara, but she didn't do a lot of camera interviews because she was a crime blogger. So when 20/20 or maybe it was 48 Hours, can't remember, they wanted to have some interview stuff but she died so they didn't have anything. So every interview you see of her in that hour special is my footage. All of the footage you see of Janelle, who was the last victim, all of that footage is mine. It was a story I really wanted to do, but no one cared. But now everyone's all into it, so maybe people will come around to me eventually and go, oh you were one of the first people getting articles written about this story out there in the public so maybe one day it'll get made. But that movie would be the real version of Fire Walk With Me.

me: Have you written it as a screenplay?

C: Oh yeah, it's all done. It's been written since 2011. What's really funny is there's a lot of people with the CNN thing - my Twitter is blowing up, people are following me, people are following the Bird With a Broken Wing Facebook page. But what's hilarious is that people googling me and going on True Crime message boards are like, can you believe this guy's making a Twin Peaks fan film? (laughs) It's also upped the status of this project too because people are like why is the guy who wants to make this making this? Doesn't he have something better to do or something? (everyone laughs) But as you can see from that trailer, I'm approaching this as if I'm Christopher Nolan and I'm making my next serious film. This isn't like, let me just run around in my backyard with Amy and shoot...

A: With your iPhone?

C: Hey now. We shot that whole trailer with an iPhone!

A: Ok, but I have...yeah, that was impressive.

me: All of that was shot on an iPhone?

C: An iPhone, and it was shot that way because I had no idea I was gonna shoot anything when I was up there.

me: You just went up there to check locations.

C: Yeah, and I thought I'd get some pictures and maybe a few seconds of video here and there. But you know what, Steven Soderbergh just made a film on an iPhone and Florida Project was filmed on an iPhone. So I felt comfortable filming a Twin Peaks trailer on an iPhone 6 if Soderbergh and The Florida Project was filmed on an iPhone! But I remember her sister, Eva, comes in and says, You're filming this on your phone?! And I said, trust me, it's gonna look fine. But when you see that footage of her at Jack Rabbit's Palace it couldn't look any better. It's beautiful. What I really liked about the shots and the music and all of that was it was bringing me back to what it felt like as a teenager to watch that show every Saturday night at 10:00 at night.

me: You've got a trailer with the actor who plays Freddie, green-glove Freddie from season three, can you talk about how that came about?

C: We were getting closer to the end date of the goal and I knew I wanted to do one more trailer. As you see in this new trailer, Annie goes into Jack Rabbit's Palace and disappears. Well, who else knows about the Giant or the Fireman? Freddie. There were two things that popped in my head. You ever go to Universal Studios and you're waiting in those long lines to go on the Terminator ride or the Back to the Future ride? There's always a screen with Doc Brown or somebody from Cyberdyne or whatever. There's always somebody going, now listen - when you get into the car, I want you to sit down and strap in and it's gonna be a bumpy ride but we're gonna get you there. They always talk to you on that screen. I wanted to take something like that and I also thought about that awesome scene at the end of The Abyss where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is on the microphone. She's talking to Ed Harris as he's falling into the depths of the ocean, not to get a response from him but just to keep him focused so he doesn't lose his mind. I wanted to combine that waiting in line feeling with that scene from The Abyss. Who could talk Annie into keeping her mind sane? And I thought, Freddie! I had just interviewed Jake [Wardle, who played Freddie in Twin Peaks]. We were on a friendly basis, and I just stupidly one night at 10:00 at night sent him a quick message saying here's what I'm thinking of doing, are you game? And he wrote back, sure! And so at 11:00 at night I'm writing this script, this is what you're gonna say. So he goes great, how long do you think it's gonna take? And I say, twelve minutes. And he says, twelve minutes? I got him on here and I recorded it in eleven and a half minutes, right? Within six hours the trailer was up, that's how fast it all happened. And he couldn't believe what he saw, he was like, that's what we did? He couldn't believe it. I think when you see all four trailers and you see the endorsement that people have for it and the way people are making fan art for a movie that hasn't even been made yet and you see this extended promo trailer, you get the sense that what we're trying to do has never been done before. At least in the world of Twin Peaks.

me: Is this intended to be feature-length?

C: Can't say! Please don't ask that question! (laughs) I can't get into that at all but I will say this - it will be longer than ten minutes.

A: Psych! It's just the trailer.

C: That trailer that we shot, that's usually what a fan film is. And that's just the trailer.

me: Even as what that is, it's such a cool thing in itself.

C: I couldn't have done it without Amy! That thing never could have happened without Annie Blackburn! You show up with the dress... You've been to this location so many times and now you're shooting footage at this thing, what was your experience of doing that?

me: Did anything kinda cool happened besides the Norwegian tourists showing up at the Palmer house while you were shooting, and the almost falling at Sparkwood & 21?

A: Oh no, I did fall.

C: We had that old guy looking at us in the Double R.

A: Oh yeah, on the flip phone? That's Windom.

C: We kept saying that we should have had him approach her and say, Are you talking about that little girl? (laughs)

A: That was great, Shoot, I'm trying to think back. It was a little...underwhelming. Like I know you were like Oh my God, we're in Twin Peaks right now, but I was like, I've been here before, I'm freezing my ass off, I'm in a dress and heels.

C: But she's not complaining at all, right?

A: Right, I'm from here. But it was fun, don't get me wrong. It just was cold. We had fun, we had a lot of laughs. It was Cameron, Eva, and I when we were doing the filming at Sparkwood, and at Ronette's, and at the diner, that was all on the next day after the Palmer house. So it was just us three and we were all hanging out. It just felt natural, it was nice.

me: These were all places you'd been before? Had you been there as a Twin Peaks fan or did you just live near enough that you'd been there for whatever?

A: I did go as a Twin Peaks fan. Eva only took me after I saw everything because she would have been like (Midwestern accent) Oh shoot, Amy, you haven't seen this part yet! It was absolutely an experience. I was in awe when I first went, and I keep going. It really is a homey kind of feeling to go on my weekends to the Double R and to visit Jack Rabbit's and to visit Mary in Everett, the Palmer house, and it's just become, I don't know...I wouldn't say a routine, because it's not a routine. It's just cozy, and it feels nice to be immersed in such a nice - well, it's not nice - quite an exquisite world of Twin Peaks. But it not being Twin Peaks, and I'm not gonna die.

me: From a safe distance.

A: Yes, right. It's fun, it's great, it's exhilarating. It's excellent. Feels like home.

C: You won't be quite as cold when we make the film, I promise.

A: I know, it's gonna be in summer.

C: Which is great because it will match the timeframe of the film.

me: You said you were shooting in June or July - I know they have a festival up there, but it's in August I think, right?

C: Last week in July, usually.

me: The last scene should be she reaches reality and she ends up at the film festival.

A: (laughs) Who are these guys? How do they know me?

C: Annie just walks in and they all bow to her and she's like queen. Or no, she goes all Carrie and just takes out the whole festival! (everyone laughs) I should rewrite the ending!

me: I know you want to keep the story a secret. What else can you say aside from the promo about the film? I guess Amy actually can answer this, because for her it's speculation. She's free to say whatever she wants.

A: He has told me some scenes, no dialogue, but just premises of scenes and what they will tie into in canon Twin Peaks universe. I guess I haven't been thinking too hard into it because I'm putting all my trust in Cameron.

me: That's the good answer.

A: Thank you!

C: I think she's a little surprised, every morning she wakes up and there's sixty, seventy more notifications of people on her Facebook.

A: My mom's like, what's with all these pictures of your face, and that wonderful dress your sister made? They're all over my Facebook! And I'm like Mom, I tried to tell you about it, but...she didn't finish season two back in the day.

C: I will say this though. We have Amy playing Annie. We have Caitlin who's producing the film, she's also playing Laura, she's in the trailer as well. And what I have been the most surprised about is that there's been nothing but open arms for these two actresses to play these parts. You would think with a fanbase as rabid as Twin Peaks, as opinionated - as Amy says - the internet is... (Amy laughs) You would think there would be a lot of negative comments on the video or on the Twitter. Either people have been really supportive or they haven't said anything mean, which I couldn't be happier about. Let's be honest here, Caitlin's not Sheryl Lee. Sheryl Lee is Laura Palmer. Amy isn't Heather Graham.

A: (stunned) What?

C: But everyone is like, this is awesome! Because this is not so much about the lookalike, it's about the feeling. When you see Amy in that dress walking around, you almost forget Heather Graham, and it's just Annie! She's almost like you saw Annie Blackburn in the original series, and then you went on with your life and then you see this trailer, she reminds you of Annie without having to, she's not competing with Heather Graham, she's capturing that essence. I just can't believe how supportive people have been. Now of course let's be honest here, the film wouldn't even have been made if it wasn't for the support of said fans.

A: Yeah, said crazed fans!

C: So maybe they're just happy that it doesn't look like shit yet! But I've had people contact me going, this has already exceeded my expectations. I thought that you wouldn't even get here, and this is the promo trailer. In a way, yeah, that presents a challenge. But as Amy likes to say to me, challenge accepted. That's what I adore. And I think the team that I'm building is pretty awesome. Amy, what made you feel so comfortable right away at the Palmer house? You were at ease right away; within a minute we were already shooting after meeting each other.

A: That's true, that's true. I think part of it is - well, actually, a big part of it is I had been there many times before. Maybe less than ten but more than five. And so I've become acquainted with the place and Mary, and she makes it really easy to feel comfortable and feel welcome and to say hey, this is for the experience of whoever wants it.

C: You're like one of those ghosts from Crimson Peak or something, this Gothic romance, I almost want to put those - what do you call those giant candles they carry in those old Victorian films, that would be incredible. Just turn the Laura Palmer house into...

A: Honestly, I was just trying to pretend I was dead.

C: Well, you did a great job.

A: (laughs) Thanks!

C: Joel, we didn't use it in the trailer but we actually shot her going down the entire staircase backwards and it looked amazing! But it didn't sync up with what I was doing with some of the other shots and so I had to put it aside. But she nailed it. If there's ever a moment where I'm like hey, next time can we try it this way - sure, boom! It's tweaked, and it's done. And there's not too many actors like that, let me tell you.

A: I mean, there's a million different variations of what could be done. And it's only natural, or it's only necessary to try and tweak it to be how it should or could. Because there are so many options, it's like, guide me in that direction.

C: I'm appreciative because I've had so many projects get close and then are not done. Here's something that I can't make a penny on but I'm putting my whole heart and soul into it. I'm really just appreciative of anyone that is helping because as you can see the results are pretty amazing. Amy and her sister not only made the dress but then they painted it.

A: Yeah, hand-painted. We put on a couple records and were just going for it.

me: Were you referencing the original dress, was there a picture of it that you were using?

A: We were looking at the original dress itself and seeing what kind of colors were popping out and how big should this color patch be comparatively to this flower over here. So what we did was we painted some flowers, well, there was this one flower that we needed to paint yellow. But it needed to be small so we would paint just the inside of this flower and the outside would be white. Other flowers were big red ones that we had to paint.

C: There's been a lot of women who have contacted me like, I want that dress, I want that fabric. So she became the envy of many Twin Peaks fans out there.

A: I say, get in line.

C: Joel, what do you think of this project, and what do you think of what you've seen so far, what's your takeaway from it so far?

me: First of all, I was just intrigued by the whole idea of re-creating this world and I loved that about the trailer. But now I think, even more so, I'm really curious to see what you personally are bringing to it. Because the way you've talked about it now without revealing too much, that I think is going to be unique. A lot of fan tributes, they can be great, but they're on one specific note, and that's what they focus on. And I think that's true of short films in general, I'm talking usually under ten-minute films, they have one hook, they do that hook well, and that's it. Even just from the trailer, this seems like it's more ambitious than that. What's going to be the combination of Cameron and Twin Peaks... (claps hands together) What's the line that Cooper says? Ham and maple syrup?

A: Ham and...syrup. I almost said mayonnaise.

me: Or, "health and industry go hand in hand."

C: Amy and her sister, for fun, will go to the Double R Diner and bus tables!

me: In uniform?

C: Yeah, in uniform.

me: That's hilarious.

A: Ok, we've done it once!

C: But still, you did it.

me: I was curious to hear what you wanted to say about Caitlin Thayil, in her role as producer and Laura in this.

C: Caitlin was somebody who was referred to me by a mutual friend. When I met her, people were like don't you think she'd make a good Laura? And I was like, yeah, actually she would be. We were at the Palmer house, so I said let's get some shots while she is here too. And that's how that all happened. I was driving back to where I was staying, about an hour drive and I was thinking, because Caitlin was saying, what are you looking for in terms of help with this and that? She just was really intrigued by the whole idea of making this film as good as it could be. And I'm in California and have nobody on the ground in Washington, so I was like I kinda need somebody to help facilitate all of that. We went out to lunch and she looked at me and said, what do you need? And I just said innocently, I want you to be my Sabrina! Because I need somebody who's going to run the ship while I'm trying to tame these script revisions and all this other stuff. There's a reason you see a million names at the end of movie credits because one person can't do it by themselves. And I have a job. I spend most of my day there. Caitlin is wonderful - it's hard for her because she's learning this but at the same time, there's a lot of moving parts. The script's not finalized yet. We have all the scenes, we know about characters and scenes and props and all that stuff. It's hard when you don't have the finalized copy in your hand. We're trying to get that rectified real fast, I'm trying to finish that - but it's almost done.

me: Do you feel like you have a model for this in any way, in terms of the way it exists as Twin Peaks?

C: It's not an ensemble piece. It's more of a quartet. It's a little bit like Blue Velvet in a way, with those four leads. You have Annie, you have Windom, you have Cooper, you have Caroline. Those are the four leads. The focus is on Annie's perspective on it. Right now, we're running around, we're trying to finish the casting of this thing. It's really hard to cast, I gotta tell you. It's really hard. We're running up against...we don't need to necessarily find lookalikes. It's about finding someone who can bring that same kind of essence to it. The hardest thing ever is Cooper, finding somebody who can literally traverse between the innocent world and the knowledgeable world. The Cooper we see in this film is an earlier Cooper. It gets into the whole Windom Earle and Cooper dynamic, so this is more Cooper as Jeffrey Beaumont than Cooper as Cooper. In a way, Cooper doesn't really become Agent Cooper until Caroline dies. That's the defining thing for his character. And Cooper in this film takes place before that. I wanted to do that anyway but I thought, that makes it easier for an actor who doesn't have to try to come in and copy Kyle's performance. He can create his own thing because it's prior to everything we've seen.

me: My last question is The Final Dossier, how did that change any of your thoughts on Annie, or not change them? How did that open you up for what you were going to do with this?

C: It seemed like a sick joke to a lot of people - "How's Annie?" "I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine." It was like a sick demented joke on Frost's part and when I read that in the book, the first thing that popped in my head was her saying to Cooper [in dialogue from episode 25], "Look at me! I've completely forgotten the social niceties. I'm not supposed to say how I am, I'm supposed to just say I'm fine." I know Frost is meaning it to be like, "I'm fine, I'm fine." But what I wanted to throw back out there to the universe was, you've already planted it out there that she says "I'm fine" when she doesn't really want to say how she's feeling. I'm acknowledging The Final Dossier. It exists. I'm not betraying anything in the mythology that Lynch and Frost have set up. I'm just saying there's still more to the story that nobody's told. Now again, it's my story, so it's not canon but I'm approaching this as if it would be canon. The most exciting thing is just going back into this world and being able to tell it on the scope that I'm gonna be able to tell it. We raised a lot of money! We can do a lot of stuff and have a lot of fun.

me: Is there anything else you wanted to say?

C: I can't wait till it's done. Nothing's gonna make me happier than being back at home with all the footage and editing it, because then it's done. I'm shooting for a December release and it's gonna be dropped online. I don't know where yet but obviously it's gonna just drop free for everybody. I'd like to drop it mid-December, because that would be right around my birthday and I think that would be awesome. I can't wait to see it!

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