Rena Riffel [Interview]

Rena Riffel

Rena Riffel came to the spotlight in the mid 90’s with a strong supporting role in the now cult classic film, Showgirls.  Not only that, she was also the almost single-handedly curator to keeping the Showgirls legacy relevant and in existence when she not only starred in Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven in 2011, but she wrote the script, directed, edited, and produced the film herself through her company Rena Riffel Films, leaving her name edge in infamy in one of the most talked about film series in modern cinema history.

To date Rena Riffel has over 40 films alone to her acting credits, as well as several stints as producer, and much like Showgirls 2, prior to it actually, she found herself acting as an almost one woman show when she put out the Fangoria approved film Trasharella, once again taking of writing & directing and editing & producing credits.  Beyond all this you may also recognize Rena for her roles in films like Mulholland Drive, Striptease, and Candyman: Day of the Dead.  She is an amazing and talented woman who never seems to take a break.  But, we were fortunate enough to get her to take a quick moment for us to throw a few questions her way, and making her actually the second cast member from Showgirls to enter the TWS alum (see, Robert Davi).  So sit back and enjoy a delightful conversation with one of today’s hardest working women in show business.  Enjoy!

 

What was it like growing up in a family filled with so much talent?  Was there any pressure to succeed?  

It was always entertaining, lots of playing and make believe, using my imagination, arts and crafts, lots of music and singing.  My brother, Todd, and I put on a lot of musical shows in our house.  I grew up in a small town, endless forests and big oak trees, river beds, we rode horses, built tree forts, ect.  There was no pressure to succeed.  My parents encouraged me to accomplish my dreams, but they would have been happier if I would have stayed home in Atascadero and worked for my Dad, and had been successful by being happy in Atascadero, not in the entertainment biz.  But, for some reason, I had my heart set on having a career in Hollywood.  Achieving dreams takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice, gotta get your priorities straight.  And I realized sometimes you have to do what isn’t as much fun in the moment, more blood, sweat, and tears, to ultimately reach that goal that will be truly fulfilling.  It’s not instant gratification, it’s a long road to get to the end of the rainbow.   

You’ve become involved in producing some of your own projects.  What made you want to get behind the camera?  Do you prefer starring in your own works, or those of others?  Why?

I have been trying to make a movie for so many years.  I love creating fantasy worlds and putting them on film.  I really love what Sandra Bullock has done with her career, she produces all of her movies, and I’m inspired by Mae West who wrote her movies, and others like them. So, it definitely gives me more freedom to just do what I love to do, which is act, write, and make the movie.  But.. it’s great to just be an actress, especially if it’s an exciting project and getting to work with a great director and talented crew.  To answer your question, I prefer both, as long as I get to work and be creative and enjoy the process.

Rena Riffel2

Along with your illustrious acting career, you are also an acclaimed songstress as well.  Do you have any plans for advancing your musical career in the future?  If not, why?

Thank you.  I do plan to put more attention on my music.  Ever since I began making my own movies, which was in 08′, I slowly stopped being as interested in recording songs.  But, I would love to get my head around writing some new songs and going in the studio.  I love it, it really inspires me.  I would like to make some music videos for all my songs I have recorded.  I’m directing a new video for my brothers band right now, I really enjoy doing that.. (shameless plug, video coming soon at Slowfadeband.com )

What was the dynamic like in creating the sequel to the now cult hit Showgirls?  Was it difficult or stressful to try to recreate or reestablish the magic from the original film?

It wasn’t difficult creating the magic because I just let things happen, let the magic unfold in the scene.  I had hoped for the right chemistry, and had planned for the right elements. I embraced some of the flaws that happened, which brought a bit of a campy element to certain scenes.  Although, it is a parody, a satire, but while writing the script, I meant for it to be a drama, very serious, a thriller dealing with life and death dangerous situations.  The production was incredibly stressful, a lot of pressure on me, and exhausting beyond belief, and a certain part of my “perfectionism” gave up, and I just went with it, trusting in the process, and trusting that magic will happen again.  This movie is not quite “Showgirls”, not at all, it may be more like an early no-budget John Water’s film, but the audiences seem to get a kick out of it. Check out the magic at showgirls2movie.com 🙂

For those who may not completely understand, or have never heard of Czechsploitation, can you tell us a bit about it?  And what was your role in the scene?

It’s a funny word, but, there are movies they make in Czech Republic, usually consist of pretty girls, and most have to do with women-in-prison plot lines, wars, authority, with a tough dominatrix and slave girls.  It’s B-Movie exploitation, nudity, violence, sapphic/lesbian erotic sex scenes, ect., all those elements some people enjoy watching. ;-).  I first worked with Lloyd Simandl on “Dark Confessions” in 98′, starring in the movie.  He had directed the women-in-prison film, “Chained Heat II” (starring Bridgitte Nielsen), the sequel to “Chained Heat” (starring Sybil Danning and Linda Blair), and he has produced and directed a hundred other films, he is the best and very respected, even Tarantino says his films have influenced him in the Czechsploitation/exploitation genre. I’ve made 4 movies with him, you can see them and buy them at www.boundheat.com and learn more about what czechploitation is.

On a personal level, what do you believe is your greatest accomplishment to date?  Why?

That is a hard question… I don’t know… I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, and happy I survived them all.  On a personal level, I guess my greatest accomplishment is that I have kept myself healthy, I don’t smoke, I am athletic and physically fit, and I am still dancing.

RenaRiffel32013 seems to be a big year for you as far as projects are concerned.  What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?  Why?

I am filming a new movie now, “Astrid’s Self Portrait”, it’s an avant garde/film noir, an experimental type art film. (that is the working title, it might change to just, “Astrid”.)  It’s kind of a blend of cinema verite’ meets Dogme 95.  It’s been a really great experience, which is just what I was hoping for.  Very relaxed and no stress, nothing like the “Showgirls 2” production.  I am working with my family on it, and my childhood best friend, Greg Heath, who I grew up with, he is my cinematographer and is also acting in the film. And my friend, Director Philippe Mora, will make an appearance in the film. (He is currently directing me in “Absolutely Modern”).   After I get Astrid in the can, I plan to make the sequel to “Showgirls 2”, currently Untitled.  I am really looking forward to making a new one, and some of the actors will be returning, Shelley Michelle, Paula Labaredas, and more.  I have written so many scripts, I would love to make them all.. especially my “Marie Antoinette” film and “Trasharella 2”.  And I am excited to wrap up “Spreading Darkness”, directed by Josh Eisenstadt, produced by Esther Goodstein.  I am one of the stars in it, along with Eric Roberts, John Savage, James Duval, Dominique Swain, Tara Cardinal, Louis Mandylor, and Nataliya Joy Prieto.  We’ve been trying very hard to get it in the can for 3 years now. And excited to start on the festival circuit with it.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Broadway, our very big cute dog. 🙂

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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