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An Interview with Jade Risser Print E-mail
Written by Elaine Lamkin   
Sunday, 31 July 2005

Jade Risser is the amazing young star of director Nick Palumbo’s controversial but mesmerizing serial killer film, Murder-Set-Pieces.  All of 11-years old when she took on the part of Jade, the younger sister of Charlotte (Valerie Baber), the girlfriend of The Photographer (Sven Garrett), she completely and believably inhabited her part and ended up a most worthy opponent for the maniacal killer.  Severed Cinema recently conducted an e-mail interview with this budding star and found her to be every bit the professional off the set as well.

Hi Jade! Thanks for taking time to tell us about your experience filming “Murder-Set-Pieces”. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself - where are you from, what are you studying in school, what is your birthday, just stuff like that? 

No problem, I’m from Pennsylvania.  I’m in 8th grade at a public middle school right now. We don’t really get to pick what we study, but I chose French to take as a foreign language. I enjoy drama and am on Student Council as the secretary.  I’m currently 13 and my birthday is January 26th, 1992.

How did you meet director Nick Palumbo? 

I met Nick when I was in 4th grade.  I decided the year before that that I wanted to try acting.  I was called for an audition in New York for a horror movie trailer.  I was called later that night to say I was picked to act in the “Sinister” trailer that Nick was putting together, so I went up to new York again for a couple of days to shoot it.

How would you describe the story of “Murder-Set-Pieces” to someone who hasn’t seen it? 

It’s about a photographer who had a terrible childhood and that helped to mold him into the monster he is in the movie.  He goes around Las Vegas killing women and children mostly because he feels that he has to rid the world of “sinful people” like his mother.  And women to him fit that category.  He started dating Charlotte, my older sister and my character (Jade) senses that something is wrong.  She does some snooping and her curiosity takes her on a wild journey.  If you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil the ending.  There is a message that the movie gives out - you never really know what’s out there.  There are people like The Photographer.

What do you like about your character Jade? 

I love the fact that she’s fearless. In real life I’m not all that brave, so having that kind of character was definitely a nice change.  She was a normal teenager just like me and it was nice to have a character that was smart enough to know something was up with her sister’s relationship.

What do you think of Nick after working for him on the "Sinister” trailer and “M-S-P”? 

Nick, he’s great.  He’s really easy to get along with, is open to new ideas and can stay calm in tense situations.  I think our personalities are somewhat the same when it comes to working.  We both understand that being serious on set is important, but when we’re not shooting its fine to have some fun.  Nick’s easy to communicate with, we added parts into the script as we went and I think it worked out well, especially the fight scene at the end.  That was all changed around.  He’s a great director.

Did you have to audition for “M-S-P” or did Nick just offer you the role? 

No, I didn’t audition.  After the “Sinister” trailer I knew him really well so I was glad to work with him again.

When did you first meet Sven Garrett and what did you think of him?  He told me you all had pillow fights between shots and he would let you win once in a while :-D. 

I first met him at the airport when I arrived in Las Vegas.  I remember thinking “Wow, he’s tall.”  I had no clue what to expect, but once we started filming we got to be pretty close.  Yes, I remember the pillow fights, in between scenes if I wasn’t doing schoolwork we’d pick on each other.  The mood was intense for the scenes that we did together, so him being somewhat like an older brother helped lighten the mood.

How did you and Katie Richards get along, playing best friends and all? 

We got along great. She was the only other person on set my age, so we really clicked. When we rehearsed scenes together we could criticize what the other one was saying to try to make it sound better or more natural. We worked well together.

How about working with Valerie Baber as your big sister? Do you have a big sister in real life? 

Yes, I do have a big sister in real life and working with Valerie was kind of like being with my real sister.  We worked on saying our lines different ways when rehearsing and we’d pick what sounded best. We also got to talk some of the time, about anything (school, careers etc.) She was awesome.

Did you ever get scared while you were filming the movie? Which parts were the scariest for you and how did Nick help you get over being scared? 

Yes, at times being on set was scary.  I knew all of the props were fake, but everything looked so real and like I mentioned before I’m not a very brave person.  It took a little getting used to the basement, since it was trashed with blood, skulls and who knows what!  Once I was comfortable, I was interested to see how all of the props were made and how the make-up was done.  Toe Tag did a tremendous job on the special effects!  When I wasn’t certain about something Nick showed me what it really was or how it worked and reassured me that whatever it was, was fake.

What did you and your mom do when you weren’t needed on the set? Did you get to see much of Las Vegas or did you do other things? 

When I wasn’t on set I slept, ate or did school work.  Not too interesting, but a lot of times we worked really late so whenever I could I slept.  I didn’t get to see a lot of Las Vegas.  I saw the strip a lot though; it was really pretty at night.

What did your mom think about the movie? She was there with you and even had a small role as a beauty parlor patron. 

My mom loved it.  My mom is a hairdresser, so she helped set-up the scene in the parlor.  She gets really excited about this kind of thing.  She had a blast on set.  It’s just something different and exciting for her to do.  She likes learning how everything works in filming.

Have you seen the whole movie yet? If you have, what do you think about it? 

Yes, I have.  I love it.  The music was great and I thought that Sven did a spectacular job as the killer.  I was shocked too.  When you actually see the film finished it is so much more real than you thought.

Did you get to meet Gunnar Hansen and Tony Todd?  How was it working with Ed Neal on the scene where you’re going to The Photographer’s house?  I have heard he was very funny. 

I never met Tony Todd, but I heard he was great.  Gunnar Hansen, yes, I met him, but it was when I did the “Sinister” trailer.  We had some fun times. Yes, Ed is hilarious!  We were very serious when we were shooting or rehearsing, but when we were just waiting he did impressions of people and was cracking jokes.  I couldn’t stop laughing.

Has anyone said anything to you or your mom about you being in the movie?  If anyone has, what have they said? 

At the moment no one has seen the movie in my area because it’s not available yet.

Do your friends at home know you are an actress? What do they think? 

Only my closest friends know about it.  I’m pretty low-key and I don’t like drawing attention to my acting in my town yet.  My friends think it’s cool.  We don’t talk about it a lot though.

Did you ever take acting lessons or are you a “natural”? 

I took an acting class once, but other than that no.  My fourth grade teacher was the one who got me started into acting.  After I did a report on Jane Goodall (pretending to be her) he told me that I was great at acting and I still go back and talk to him about new things that are happening with my career.  I’m a shy person at first but once I’m in front of a camera my mom says I “bloom into a new person” and I guess I’d like to think that too.  I like not being me for a while.

Will you work with Nick again on a future film he does? 

Yes! I’d love to do that.  I loved being on set and it’s nice to get out of the town I live in to do something new and exciting!

Do you like scary movies?  If you do, what are some of your favorites? 

Yes!  I love them now!  I’ll watch anything, but before doing “M-S-P” I didn’t watch them at all.  When I wasn’t shooting or rehearsing we watched a lot of horror films, older ones.  I loved that.  "Gothika", I thought was a pretty good movie.  I like blood and gore movies ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre") and movies that make you think ("The Sixth Sense").

Do you like scary novels?  What are some of your favorite books? 

I really haven’t read many scary novels, though I LOVE reading! “Pet Sematary” by Stephen King was good.  I saw the movie for that too.  I’m going to try to read more books by him.

What would you tell people who are all upset about “Murder-Set-Pieces” but haven’t even seen the movie?  That have only heard about all the violence and stuff. 

I would tell them to watch the movie and then see what they think about it.  It’s not all just blood and gore, it has a meaning to it, which I mentioned earlier.  "M-S-P" is not a movie for everyone though, but for the people who haven’t seen it, I don’t think they should judge it from what they have heard.

You are an excellent screamer – did you have to practice that? 

Thank you and no. I never knew I could scream like that until Nick asked me too.  That was the best part!

What was it like, being in The Photographer’s basement and being covered in all that blood?  It looked very nasty and sticky. 

You’re right, it was extremely sticky, but you get used to it.  I got stuck to a table once!  I would describe the blood as having your body drenched in honey.  The basement was a little intimidating at first, but after I got used to being down there that was one of my favorite places.  There were so many things to look at!

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you or your mom would like to add about the movie or Jade Risser? 

I’ve read reviews that said my parents must be “crazy” for letting me act in a film like “M-S-P”, but they’re not.  I was only around for the scenes I was in.  I never saw any of the sexy or really gory scenes.  Everyone was so nice on set, so I was comfortable with anything.

Are you going to continue acting?  You were amazing in this film – your performance blew me away.

Thank you and yes I would love to continue acting.  I would be fun to try other roles, in different types of movies.  I loved horror though!


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