SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Melissa Zimmerman: I live in Nashville with my husband and daughter. Currently, I am in Sales as the National Accounts Manager for a major studio at an entertainment distributor. Acting has taken a back seat to my life at the moment, but I will certainly entertain any offers that come my way.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actress?
Melissa Zimmerman: I think it’s always been in me to perform, but I didn’t act on it until I was in my 20s. My brother loves to chide me about doing Pepsi commericals in front of the mirror when I was in grade school. My first film was a horror film, Asylum of Terror. I wanted to be a screenwriter at the time and asked the director if I could be an extra, so I could better learn the filmmaking process. The director suggested I audition, but never having done any acting, I was hesitant. I auditioned anyway, ended up with a small role and when the lead female character pulled out of the film, he asked me to audition for the lead. I did and suddenly found myself the female lead in a movie, when I had never acted in my life! It was an incredible experience and I’ve been hooked ever since. I just love being a part of the creative process and seeing words on a page come to life through acting.
SKSM: How did you become involved in The things they left behind Dollar Baby film?
Melissa Zimmerman: I met Loyd at work. We share an affinity for films, writing and filmaking. He knew I had acting experience, had seen some of my work and asked me to play Paula.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Melissa Zimmerman: It’s such a believable story. It has the same feel as the British science fiction series Black Mirror, where stories are set just enough in the near future to be believable. The entire world is so connected to 911, but it was a paralyzing moment for Americans. We remember where we were, how we heard it and for some, even what we were wearing. It is a terrible, painful moment frozen in our psyche. “The Things They Left Behind” helps one envision an alternate universe that allows some closure for these victims and their families by allowing the things they left behind to find their final resting place.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Melissa Zimmerman: Loyd already had me in mind for the part, so I didn’t have to audition.
SKSM: You worked with Loyd Elmore on this film, how was that?
Melissa Zimmerman: It was great. Loyd is dedicated to the art and made the experience fun. He is open to ideas that could enchance the scene and is particular and precise with each shot. He was so excited about the prospects of the entire journey – from buying the short for a $1, to watching it come to life on film to submitting it to Stephen King and various festivals. You could really see him come to life during the process. Loyd was doing something he had always wanted to do and his passion steered him toward the Dollar Babies and gave him the chance to bring to life a Stephen King short. I honestly can’t remember if this was his first film or not, but he did a fantastic job handling all aspects of the process.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Melissa Zimmerman: I was pregnant at the time of filming. I had just found out and was in that “can’t tell anyone” stage yet. I wanted to tell Tim (Avers) and Loyd so bad, but couldn’t say a word. We also filmed the day the Nashville Flood began. I was afraid I couldn’t get home and was going to be stuck a few towns away, but was able to make it there before the waters rose to dangerous levels. It is certainly a day I will never forget!
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Melissa Zimmerman: Yes, I saw Tim just a few weeks ago and out and about in Nashville at times. I also stay in touch with Tim and Loyd via Facebook.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Melissa Zimmerman: I am gearing up for that screenplay I have yet to write. I write down thoughts, scenes, lines everyday, but have yet to have the time to sit down and bring it all together. I’m also in talks about being the voice for a science fiction project with the creator of a Cable Access TV show I worked on for a few years.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Melissa Zimmerman: Mr. King is an amazing storyteller and though I am a big fan of his work, I have to admit, I’ve only read one of his books – Thinner. I would rather watch my horror than read it because I don’t want to be scared for that long. HA! Some of the movies based on his books that resonate the most with me are Needful Things, It (the old and the new movie), The Mist, The Shining, Carrie, and The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies of all time. I am looking forward to watching his latest book to film, Dark Tower.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Melissa Zimmerman: I love vintage horror comics reprinted from the old EC classics line – Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and Vault of Horror, but now those aren’t even being reprinted, so I moved over to Weird Love and Haunted Horror. I worked in a used music & comic book store after college which sparked that flame. I guess I have always loved comic books though, especially the style of how they are drawn, which probably explains why Roy Lichtenstein is one of my favorite artists. I love the twists of the vintage horror comics, although sometimes, truly, they are just ridiculous. My brother found a box of my old EC reprints in the attic at my mother’s house and it has been a true joy re-reading all of them.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Melissa Zimmerman: The “Dollar Baby” experience is an incredible opportunity for anyone who is interested in film making. To have the chance to film an actual Stephen King short, well, really, it doesn’t get any better than that. It is a fantastic and wonderful thing that Mr. King has done by allowing others to film his work in this fashion. The fact that Mr. King probably watched a film that I was able to participate in…well, that is just amazing.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Melissa Zimmerman: I am a strong believer that the universe has plans for us all. Some of us identify quickly with our passions and others deny them because we are afraid of failure or embarrassing ourselves. When you step outside of your box, you will be amazed to see what you are truly capable of creating. The universe will continue to guide you to your true passions…so, if the world continues to nag you about something, listen.