Since my first interview with actress Judy Cerda, more than three years ago, she’s continued to stay very visible in San Francisco’s indie film scene. Last year, she appeared in Last Doorway Productions’ Monster of Golden Gate, and Forgotten Tales, the former of which she was on hand to promote at this year’s Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose. The latter, currently in post-production, was filmed at an actual cabin in the woods that Judy says added to the horror-movie feeling of the shoot and helped her get into character.
Some of the recent short films Judy has done, include Jon Schipsi’s Cosplay Dreams and Jeff Lunzaga’s Agent 6, in both of which she plays a psychologist, albeit within very different storylines. In David Millett’s Autum’s Fall, Judy took on the role of a jaded, tough-talking prostitute, a role she tells me she had a lot of fun with. Always a true professional and highly-respected by those she works with, Judy was prompt and gracious to accept my offer for this follow-up interview.
CHRIS CHARLES: Since we last spoke, you’ve done several projects with Reyna Young. Monster of Golden Gate, and Forgotten Tales, to name two. Tell me about those.
JUDY CERDA: Well, I played the role of Melissa Thompson, a TV reporter, who also dates one of the annoying detectives in Monster of Golden Gate. It was quite a fun role as she is a strong woman who loves her career of reporting the news but also falls for the wrong type of guys, and I enjoyed my scenes very much in this feature length movie. The movie is dramatic but a little comical and I hear it is already doing well with its sales on Amazon. I hope to see it in theaters soon as well. It is reminiscent of a 1950s cheesy monster movie. The director was selling DVDs of it at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose this year and I was invited to autograph DVDs there which was a really fun time. As for Forgotten Tales, I play a victim/ghost role in this movie so my role is a little gory. I can’t give away the story yet so I’ll just say that this is a real thriller and the whole experience of filming in a cabin in the woods all night really added to the horror movie feeling and helped me get into character very well. I’ve always loved horror movies and remember going to the drive in with my parents to see the scarey movies when I was a little girl. Even though they gave me nightmares then, I still loved them so it’s so nice to be able to act in them now and make a dream come true. I hope to do many more like this.
CHRIS: What’s it like to work with Reyna?
JUDY: It is really great not only because I now consider her a friend after doing so many projects with her over the last six years or so, but because she is so efficient! She knows how to get the best out of her actors right away and doesn’t make us do a scene 20 times once we’ve gotten it right! Doing three great takes at each angle should be enough and Reyna seems to realize this. It also keeps the newness in the scene and doesn’t allow for burnout. She is also encouraging and gives me some room to be creative and improvise a bit which I love!
CHRIS: You’re also included in Reyna’s Welcome to My Darkside: Women in Horror documentary, which finally got a distributor. When did you hear the news it was finally going to be released?
JUDY: I think it was a month or so ago. She sent me a message and I was really excited! I think it’s a great DVD that celebrates horror movie actresses like myself and gives us credit for the hard work involved in a horror movie. Worldwide distribution of a DVD is no small feat and I’m so proud to be in it.
CHRIS: Right, and I gave Reyna a congratulations on that. So, you’ve also been in a few shorts since we last chatted. Cosplay Dreams and Agent 6 to name a couple. Tell me about those.
JUDY: It’s funny that you would mention those two out of all of them that I’ve done because I happened to play psychologist roles in each film with two very different story lines and different companies. In Agent 6, I played Dr. Laura Peterson, a psychologist with some questionable behavior. This is a great action movie that has played in so many theaters at film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. It was a good role and it was great to work with the director, Desciple [sic] (the name Jeff Lunzaga prefers to go by, according to Judy).
I have worked on five other movies with this director and his skill at directing is incredible! In this role, I appeared to be helpful and caring but turned out to have issues of my own and not be who I said I was. It’s definitely a movie worth seeing. As for Cosplay Dreams, this movie played at Camera 12 in San Jose to a huge audience as part of a 48 hour film festival. I played Dr. Jennings to a prisoner who was trying to learn from his mistakes. I got to be the sympathetic type in this who uses her own understanding of philosophy to help her patients. I also worked with this same director in an upcoming feature film called Things That Change Us, playing Anna Mills. This will be released some time next year.
CHRIS: Another short you did last year was Autumn’s Fall. I haven’t seen it but judging from the trailer and synopsis, it seems like sort of a hard-hitting “riches to rags story,” correct?
JUDY: No, not really. It was about a woman who had lost her way by getting into the drug scene and became a prostitute by trusting the wrong person. It didn’t have a happy ending.
CHRIS: Tell me about Cristal, your character in that one.
JUDY: I was a tough-talking prostitute in this who had accepted her fate and wasn’t even phased by it anymore. I got to wear the sexy outfits and talk trashy so it was really fun. I had my fellow “prostitute” friends to hang around with and was totally into the lifestyle so that I had no sympathy for a newcomer.
CHRIS: I know you often do shoots in some pretty nice locations and homes in San Francisco. What has been the most impressive private home there, that you’ve shot in?
JUDY: Without a doubt, it was a beautiful mansion in San Francisco. I was in the movie American Horrible Story which is a parody of the TV show American Horror Story and I played a real estate agent in it. To film in that incredible mansion was a real treat. Us actors and crew were given a complete tour of the home before we began filming and I was able to see beautiful views of San Francisco from the living room as well as old fashioned chamber types of rooms that were preserved from decades ago. I dream about living in a home like that. I loved the character I played too. I was this cheerful realtor who didn’t care if dead bodies were found in the home just hours before showing it to a new family. This was a real comedy/horror. It was so well made and can be found online now.
CHRIS: Yes, I did a short feature on that one a while ago and remember the mansion it was filmed in, so I thought that one may have been the most impressive, and since it’s in San Francisco, I’m sure the price tag on it is even more overwhelming than the house. So anyway, you also do a lot of commercials. What are your latest ones?
JUDY: I have done several this year. I recently did one for a car product playing a businesswoman/commuter for a company in Ohio. They hired a director in Petaluma to cast and produce this so when I was cast, I got to go to Petaluma to film it in this very quaint town. I really enjoyed it and I think the people watching my different scenes around town were pretty thrilled too to see a commercial being filmed in their small town.
I also did an insurance commercial playing an insurance agent. This was a really interesting commercial as I did modern day scenes as an insurance agent and then flashback scenes from the 80s, showing how insurance agents operated then. This meant going from my normal today look to styling my hair big, putting on tons of make up and bright colors to look like the 80s style. This commercial will be out soon and I look forward to seeing it myself. I also did a commercial for Avermedia, a recording product, playing a college professor. This was a fun one and I liked the efficiency of the director. This is already out on a website and I think the product will really sell.
CHRIS: During this Halloween season, are you going to be making any appearances at any horror conventions or events?
JUDY: Not that I know of yet. But I will be doing a horror themed music video soon playing an ex-girlfriend being stalked by her crazy ex-boyfriend with the musician, Moe-Gazzem. This will be released in time for Halloween and will be a really good one.
CHRIS: With that, I thank you so much for doing this Judy. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
JUDY: Thank you so much Chris! I appreciate your time and interest in interviewing me and all you do for horror movie actresses and I’d like to say, keep up the good work!
Last May with “Miss Misery” Reyna Young at Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose