Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Known for her roles in popular television shows such as A.P. Bio and Disney’s Sonny With a Chance, actress Allisyn Ashley Arm (who also goes by Allisyn Arm) has been making a name for herself behind the camera as well. To date, Allisyn’s production company, Watch The Footage Productions, has produced six short films, including her award-winning Nasty Habits, and have a completed pilot they are currently pitching.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about yourself?
Allisyn Arm: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been an actress since age four, and can be seen in the NBC show A.P. Bio as the mousy high schooler, Heather, and as Zora in the hit Disney shows Sonny with a Chance and So Random. For the past five years, I have been writing, directing, producing, and starring in a weekly web series titled Astrid Clover on Youtube, which has over two hundred fifty videos and a loyal following. My hobbies include trapeze, scuba diving, painting, and roller derby.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film and TV industries mainly in the USA or also somewhere else around the globe?
Allisyn Arm: So far, I have only worked in the USA, but would love the opportunity to work outside the country!
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker?
Allisyn Arm: I have been in the entertainment industry for nineteen years as an actor, but was always fascinated by the directors’ work, and yearned to one day express my creativity through that channel. I graduated high school at age fifteen and began taking cinematography classes at Glendale College.
Andreea Boyer: What has your motivation been and what has inspired you?
Allisyn Arm: I am a big fan of David Fincher, and the way he can infuse bits of comedy into very dark and disturbing content. I am also a big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work, and love how defined and recognizable his filming style is. Just from the opening credits, you can already tell when it’s a Tarantino film. I hope to develop a signature style in my work as easily recognizable as his.
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Allisyn Arm: In 2016, I teamed up with longtime friends, Bryan Morrison and Dylan Snyder, and began producing films. We have collaborated on seven short films and a pilot we are currently pitching. I still work as an actor, but I am definitely devoting more of my attention to pursuing a career behind the camera. I like seeing a project from start to finish, and having a creative say every step along the way. As an actor, there is a lot of waiting around. You wait for a job to come your way, you wait for hours on set while the crew is bustling, then once you’ve filmed your scenes, you wait months, sometimes years, to see the finished product. I am a fast-paced person that loves having a job to do, and the waiting around while everyone on crew is so active always bothered me.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie Nasty Habits?
Allisyn Arm: I based the male character in this film on a creepy neighbor of mine. He stopped by my place to answer an ad I had put on a flyer in my complex. It should’ve been a short simple conversation regarding the rental of a parking space, but he asked to come inside. He sat down at my dining room table and kept diverting the conversation, asking me things like if I liked to drink or party. I tried to be nice, figuring he was just lonely, but then he started talking about how the girls he’s dated loved that he had a violent side. I made up an excuse about needing to leave for work and was able to get him out of my home. The red flags throughout the conversation and the slow build to an extremely uncomfortable situation really freaked me out, and I wanted to see if I could capture that in a film! Our phenomenal lead actor, Josh Phillips, really brought the chilling character to life! Josh’s brilliant delivery on the line “I shouldn’t have picked you up. I’m sorry,” always makes my skin crawl.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film Nasty Habits?
Allisyn Arm: We shot Nasty Habits in three days in Desert Hot Springs, two and a half hours away from Los Angeles. The heat was brutal, reaching 112º at high noon, which is hotter than our camera’s maximum operating temperature! The camera would periodically turn off from overheating, so we had to take breaks to let the camera, and our actors, cool off in the shade. We were so fortunate to have hand-selected such a hard working cast and crew, whose resourcefulness and perseverance allowed us to finish strong, despite the many environmental obstacles we faced.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other films and work?
Allisyn Arm: The very first short film that our Watch The Footage Productions team created was a creepy little project titled Strangers, which follows a couple, fascinated by the macabre, as they people-watch during a date. It is currently unreleased, but will be coming soon to FunSizeHorror.com! The next two short films we produced, Weeji, and It’s Just A Story, are both viewable on Fun Size Horror’s website and Youtube channel. Our latest project, Room 566, is currently being submitted to festivals. For updates on releases and festival wins, be sure to follow our Watch The Footage Productions social media pages on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Allisyn Arm: When working on a low-budget film with a small crew, it is so critical to have a team that works well together under pressure and trusts each other. Watch The Footage Productions is a tight-knit skeleton crew made up of family, and friends that are so close they might as well be family. I absolutely adore my team, and everyone’s drive to complete a project no matter what stands in our path. Our production team has gained so much knowledge from working together in the roughest conditions, and we have grown very confident in our abilities from the obstacles we have had to overcome.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advise for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Allisyn Arm: When working with little or no budget, resourcefulness is everything. Write and tackle projects that align with the resources you have access to. Be practical about what you and your team are ready to handle, so that your productions don’t suffer from lack of finances. Try to be as minimalistic as possible for your first few films, so that you can gain experience working with a team and running a set. Keeping the cast small and filming the whole project in one or two locations will let you focus on honing your skills without having to stress about wrangling a crowd of background actors and relocating for every scene. When writing, try to avoid locations that would be costly to rent or get permits for, and be mindful of budgetary limitations. Wait until you’ve gained experience and credibility to tackle elaborate productions so that you can do them justice. Also, rack your brain for anything you may be able to get for free. For instance, if you have friends that play music, ask if they can create an original score for your film in exchange for the credit instead of purchasing the rights to music you don’t own. If you have a friend that cooks, ask them if they can help with meals on set rather than paying for expensive catered lunches. All the little stuff adds up and can greatly decrease the budget, allowing you to put more money into things like gear that will increase your production quality.
Thank you, Allisyn. We wish you continued success.