Erica Fox (Director - 'Dead Women In Lingerie')
'Victoria's Deadly Secret May Just Be Out!'
In 'Dead Women In Lingerie,' a private detective is hired to catch a serial killer who makes immigrant garment workers his victims.
The film was co-written by the films’ star John Romo and the films’ director and producer Erica Fox ('The Christmas Box'). The film stars Maura Tierney ('ER'), Dennis Christopher ('Chariot’s of Fire'), June Lockhart ('Lost in Space'), Laura Harring ('The Punisher'), and the Late Jerry Orbach ('Law and Order').
Chatting recently with the Director of 'Dead Women In Lingerie' herself, Erica Fox, knowing that this film was shot in the late Eighties, I wondered why it had taken so long to come to DVD? "The film takes place in 1987. That was the year that the immigration amnesty law went into effect, which gave us the idea for the film. It was actually filmed a few years later."
Did you have to add the inscription of the film being backdated to '87 at the beginning of the film so as to not shock people with the fashions, etc.?! "Actually, when I watch the film, it doesn't seem dated at all. The costume designer, Catherine Beaumont, did a great job. The lingerie still is the most beautiful lingerie. I do think that we started the fashion trend of bra straps showing. I remember having a conversation about that before we started filming, wanting the bra straps to show. I guess we were ahead of our time!"
"And certainly the plight of the undocumented worker in this country continues. Even the conversation around the dinner table at Molly's mother's house, while funny, talks about issues that are still so relevant today. A good murder mystery never goes out of style. Neither does humor."
Where was the movie filmed and how long did it take? "The film was all shot where it takes place, Boyle Heights area, east of downtown Los Angeles. We converted an empty warehouse that had been a toy factory into the lingerie factory. The sewing machines had been left behind and we used them. There were no needles in them. So you see the magic of how sound makes you believe what you are seeing. There are some scenes that look like we're on a backlot, the locations are so perfect. I'm a big fan of shooting in Los Angeles."
"We shot for 24 days. As a director, all I wanted was more time. As the producer, that's all we could afford. I was constantly fighting with myself!"
Jerry Orbach was ALWAYS seen chugging on Pepto or Maalox ... was this really something he had to do during filming (health wise) or a character quirk? If the latter, what was in the bottles?! "We conceived of Jerry Orbach's character, Mr. Bartoli, as someone who was always chugging Maalox! A stressed out guy in a stressful business that's going through stressful times. So the bottles were his character's props. I can't remember what was in them but it wasn't the medicine!"
Maura was ALWAYS on the phone to her mother - was this to lengthen our scenes as you didn't have enough film in the can? "As the Maalox bottles were one of Bartoli's character's props, the phone was a big prop for the 'Molly' character - Maura Tierney. It's actually more than a prop, it's part of Molly's character. In some ways this character is based off of my relationship with my mother and we are constantly on the phone to each other, having the kinds of conversations Molly has with her mother. Aggravating and nurturing all at once!"
"Those phone conversations were, for the most part, all scripted. In her design studio in the lingerie factory, the phone with the long chord was constructed for the purpose of allowing Molly to wander around while she was talking, giving Maura something to do and creating a more dynamic shot."
Being heralded as Maura's first 'nude scene', a shot of a nipple twice and left breast is hardly OTT now - but, back then, was it a big deal for you, the film, and her? "The love scene was part of the script! Themes are explored in this film. There is the dark side of sex - the murders - and there is the beautiful side, the love scene."
What else could have this movie so easily been called? "We actually came up with the title first and then wrote the script to fit it.
The title has been a double edged sword in that when people hear the title they think they're going to see something that it isn't. So if they're not looking for a murder mystery, they may be disappointed. On the other hand, the title is interesting and so people want to see the film based on the title."
Tell me more about your ending statement about whose memory you dedicated the film to, etc. "The statement pretty much speaks for itself. My grandmother was a coat finisher in the New York garment industry. Like the seamstresses in 'Dead Women In Lingerie,' she was an immigrant but from Eastern Europe. So the seamstresses in the film are like her they are just a more recent era. People coming to this country to seek a better life. Unfortunately, she died just before we made the movie. She would have liked it. I thought about her a lot while we were working on the film. We named our daughter who was born last year after her."
What's next for you as a Director? "I have just completed two scripts and am currently writing another script. Am planning to be in production on one of them next year. The scripts are fun and action packed with great, really great female characters. In my stories, the themes are serious but, as in life, no matter how dire the circumstances, there's always humor. 'Dead Women In Lingerie' is like that. I remember sitting in the audience during the premiere and it was great to hear a huge audience roar with laughter one minute and be on the edge of their seats the next."
Finally, please tell me a couple of interesting behind-the-scenes gems about the filming of 'Dead Women In Lingerie.' "Jerry Orbach would sing to us at lunch every day! It was wonderful.
One of the most fun days of filming was the family dinner scene. It was one of the first days of shooting and June Lockhart was so helpful and so funny. I loved her and her energy. And everyone around the table. It was great fun. I also met my future husband on the set, the cinematographer, John C. Newby A.S.C."
"'Dead Women In Lingerie' was selected as an AFI Showcase Feature Film. A huge honor. Additionally it played in the OAS/AFI Film Festival and the prestigious Havana Film Festival in Cuba."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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