Interview: Amber Moelter of ALM Talkies

Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and raised in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, Minnesota Amber performed as an actor, dancer, and singer in America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. She trained at the Academy of Arts, QUT in Brisbane, Australia in Contemporary Dance and later at London Studio Centre, attaining a BA Honors in Theatre Dance (Musical Theatre). While in London she acted in various shorts, pilots, and features including the leading roles in TrashHouse and Cross-Eyed Waltz

Amber’s first foray behind the camera was the co-production of the feature film, Cross Eyed Waltz.  It played at the Independent Film Festival of North Texas, Fylmz Online Festival and The B-Movie Film Festival in New York, where it was nominated for Best Foreign Movie. In 2005 Amber executive produced, co-wrote and starred in the popular short fan film, Catwoman: Resolution (HERO Fest San Francisco & Fetisch Film Festival).  After its release in 2006, Amber formed ALM Talkies. In 2007 she produced, directed and shot Dirty Step Upstage, her directorial debut. In 2008 she spent four months in India, attending an artists residency in New Delhi and later working in Mumbai.

Dirty Step Upstage premiered at the opening night of 2009’s Chashama Film Festival, New York where she also performed as Girl In The Red Dress, a character from the film. She went on to win The Victor Award for Best Actress. Dirty Step Upstage went on to collect 10 nominations and one win (Best Actress – Nova Reid) at the Maverick Movie Awards 2009. MMA went on to claim: “DIRTY STEP UPSTAGE” IS EASILY ONE OF THE BEST FIRST-TIME DIRECTOR FEATURES WE’VE EVER SEEN.

Amber is a member of the New York Women in Film and Television, Women in Film Chicago (WIFC), Women in Production (New York), Shooting People (New York), Downtown Community Television (NY) and American Screenwriters Association. She was included in Who’s Who Among Executive & Professional Women Honors Edition 2006. She supports various charities including PAWS and Human Rights Campaign. She ran the 2006 San Francisco Marathon to raise over $4,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

VisualCrack: Amber, you describe ALM Talkies as a boutique production company, tell us a little bit about what that means?

Amber Moelter:
It means our projects are very specialized, and geared to expressing my own vision. After founding the company it took me more than three years to pin down just what that vision was, but I now believe that ALM Talkies can be unique: innovative and edgy, with an emphasis on artistry. 

VC: ALM Talkies seems to have managed to bring together some strong team members, I'm sure our readers will be familiar with Deborah Kampmeier and Colin Blakeston, how did you manage to bring all these highly experienced people together?

I've always focused on putting together a strong team. Positivity, creativity, support and passion from the people I work with matter a lot to me. Deborah is my mentor through New York Women In Film and Television, and hearing her talk about the difficulties she went through with her film Hounddog reassured me that I wasn't the only one to face challenges. As for Colin, he’s a long-time friend from my days as an actress in London. I played Catwoman in two fan-films he directed - although only one saw the light of day - and he recently helped me with the titles and colour of my film Dirty Step Upstage. He's a great collaborator and incredibly supportive friend.

VC: Your professional background was very much in front of the camera, what made you want to be on the other side of the lens?

Even when I was acting, I always prepared wardrobe and make-up for myself and anyone else who needed it. That’s the nature of low budget films: Everyone lends a hand. But after making Catwoman: Resolution I discovered how much I liked producing, because it was creating something out of nothing. I never realised that pulling a small group of people together to work on a short would be so satisfying.

VC: Why Catwoman as a first short?

Synchronicity. One of the actors from the first, defunct Catwoman short was heading out to NY. I mentioned it to Colin and suggested we shoot a sequel. It was meant as a joke, but he said yes, so I had three weeks to pull together the story, actors, locations, costumes...everything. Very stressful and exhilarating, but I think I had no choice in the matter: Catwoman chose me.

VC: Have DC & Warner Bros. approached you with feedback, positive or negative?

I haven’t heard anything from them. I've got an idea for a web series that I developed with Catwoman in mind, but may end up using original characters instead. But I did find out that Jim Balent, whose art inspired the latex catsuit in Resolution, was a fan. He gave me some advice on the artwork I used for Dirty Step Upstage and offered me a spot in his current comic book, which I hope to take him up on. But the most rewarding feedback has been from the fans. I highly recommend that first-time filmmakers do a fan film or two. You will find an instant community that, on the whole, is incredibly supportive.

VC: So tell us about your first feature as Director, Dirty Step Upstage?

It’s not at all like Catwoman: Resolution. DSU is about a young singer hungry for fame, and the price she’s prepared to pay for it. A lot of the movie is filmed as a docu-drama, since I’m very interested in the rise of Reality TV and what it means to have everything about your life caught on camera. But some of the story is presented in a very different way, pulling in elements from music videos, dance and latex fetish, and it plays with a lot of different styles. It’s inspired by something that actually happened to me.

VC: You wrote, directed, shot, edited and co-produced. How delicate a balancing act was it for you (and how did you find the hours in a day!)?

I didn’t bathe, so that saved time. The whole shoot was a whirlwind and I got about two hours of sleep each night, but I think I work best under pressure. As for post, I’m sure it would be a very different film in the hands of a more experienced editor, but that’s another beauty of low-budget filmmaking: whatever the flaws, the film is all mine.

VC: You worked previously with Tom Wontner in Cross-Eyed Waltz & TrashHouse, what made you decide to cast him as Tommy in Dirty Step Upstage?

I can’t comment too much on Tom in DSU, you have to see it to believe it. He’s absolute amazing and surprising.

VC: How much of a surprise has the success of the Dirty Step Upstage original music been to yourself and the team, and will Girl In The Red Dress become an ongoing music project for ALM Talkies?

It’s been a huge surprise, but I like to go with the flow. We recently produced the Girl’s debut EP, with two songs from the film and one inspired by it. You can find it on iTunes and other online shops, and soon we'll have our own online store selling a limited edition complete with artwork, lyrics and posters. I'm back in the studio working on another track for her and have several more already written. And she's the basis of the Fan Fridays project, which I’ll explain below.

VC: So the big question is, what next for ALM Talkies and for you?

We're expanding really fast, and it's great! DSU will continue to play the festival circuit, where we've already won two Best Actress awards and the Maverick Movie Awards gave us no less than ten nominations. Our distribution plan is coming together nicely and it’s been very rewarding to have companies approach us.
I've started a daily blog on, to chat about not just ALMT business, but also movies, music, and other topics that interest the team. There's a monthly newsletter that digs a little deeper into various elements of ALMT, and subscribers are automatically entered for monthly iPod giveaways.
We’ve launched a project called Girl In The Red Dress – Fan Fridays, allowing artists of all disciplines to contribute to the saga of the Girl. As well as being a lot of fun, it's an audition process of a sort: There will be scope for fans to get involved in some of our future projects, such as a graphic novel, and Fan Fridays is the perfect way to introduce yourself.

And our baby is a TV show that’s in development, based on my experiences as a filmmaker.

VC: Anything you would like to ask our readers, or any advice you like to impart to budding filmmakers out there?

I want my blog to be a place where movie and music lovers can discuss what they’re working on or what they’re interested in, and I’d love to invite your readers to visit and be a part of that community.
As for advice, I’m a firm believer in visualization. It might not suit everyone, but I think that if you really believe in something, it will eventually come true, at least if you have a solid plan. That, and always get your contracts nailed down.

My biggest piece of advice is simply to persevere. It’s going to take longer and be much harder than you thought, but somewhere in there you’ll discover that the tougher something is to achieve, the more rewarding it can be. It’s taken three years for me to see a clear path ahead, and I still can’t be certain where it might lead. But I’m going to try to enjoy the ride.

We'd like to thank Amber for taking time out of her incredibly busy schedule to grant us this intervview opportunity, to find out more about ALM Talkies and Amber and her team, visit their official websites:

Or alternatively you can connect with ALM Takies via these social media sites:

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