Spotlight: Susan Rathke

LSP Member Spotlight - 2014.08.25

1. How did you hear about Living Storm Productions?

I’ve worked with Bryan Royston in three shows with Madison Opera, and when we finally got around to talking about "What do you do," he began telling me about Living Storm Productions. I immediately perked up, as I've always wanted to be involved in some sort of film production. All of my actual background has pretty much been working in theater, but my love is film. I've just never been presented with the opportunity to get involved before. I've also been seriously lacking in any creative involvement whatsoever, mostly due to my own lack of motivation blah, blah, blah, and felt that getting into a collaborative effort would be a less threatening way to open myself up to confidence around creative ventures. 

2. What first interested you in film?

My mom says that the right answer to this is "Watching 'Pinocchio.'" But it's not. I'll say "Psycho." One of my earliest memories is walking into the room while my parents were watching a documentary on television about Alfred Hitchcockmovies. I happened to look at the TV right at the reveal of Norman's mother. That was my first experience with true palpable horror, I would lay in bed thinking about it, obsessing over it, and wanting to find out more about it. This may seem like a convoluted answer regarding what interested me in film, but it definitely flipped a switch in me that craved that feeling of total fright, and at that point movies were the one way to really deliver. My mother was more than happy to help me with this, weirdly, and introduced me to, "The Haunting," "Night of the Hunter," and I of course sought out watching "Psycho" in full....I still believe this is one of the most perfect movies ever made. I'm always thrilled when a movie can elicit a strong response without doing or showing too much, when you don't need to be led there in an obvious fashion. 

I went on to review movies for awhile at a paper in Seattle. That will really test your love of films! You see everything...the truly wonderful to the appalling. It was a great experience, and allowed for me to meet some of my favorite writers, directors, etc, but part of me still felt that reviewers are frustrated filmmakers. Eventually I thought "Who really wants to know how I felt about the latest 'Halloween' movie?" So now I guess it's time for me to be on the creative side of things and everyone can criticize my efforts instead of the other way around!

3. For you, what’s the most exciting part about making a film?

Seeing how close to "Lost in La Mancha" the real experience is. Will the cameras get washed away in a flooded gully? Will a filming location be too close to a NATO aircraft target practice area? We don't get to face these challenges in theater, so I'm looking forward to the new experience. Speaking of which, I'm really looking forward to being able to start over with a reshoot if someone kicks a prop across the set. You sure don't get that in theater.

4. What is your experience in filmmaking?

None! I did some TV work on a cable access show in Seattle called "What Are You Talking About, Sherman?", which was an odd Jeopardy style game show. I was a Vanna White figure, wearing Viking gear. My name was Chi Chi Del Fuego. But otherwise it's been live theater, opera mostly, where we don't have the luxury (or frustration) of retakes.

5. What are some of your filmmaking ambitions?

Other than working on my first film? My long term film ambition is to play a zombie extra in a horror movie. Can LSP help me attain that?

— with Susan Rathke. 

Robert Westervelt