Cole Meyer’s upcoming drama Chaste, which is currently in production and slated for release later this year, is being filmed in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area. The brief synopsis is; “A womanizer must overcome his inner-demons in his pursuit of love and living a chaste life.”
The Cinematics Production team, that includes the film’s producer, H.T. Altman, who plays the aforementioned womanizer, contacted Idol Features to bring to our attention their upcoming film and its cast that features some of the best indie film actresses in the Twin Cities area, 13 of whom (which is most, but not quite all of the ladies who appear in the film) were assembled for this recent and exclusive group interview. Of course, the ladies in the starring roles, Sarah DeYong, Jamie Houk, and Lisa Shafer, are included. Also included are; Ellen Engelson, Gabi Del Moral, Jessica Mraz, Anna Lee, Lisa Shafer, Gwen Ruhoff, Jess Tomasko, Donna Marie Beard (the only one of these 13 ladies who has graced our pages before), Lori Roovers, Jennifer Kelzenberg, and Kate Peabody, who all play supporting roles in the film. Above is the first-released version of the film’s trailer. All the accompanying head shots are courtesy of the ladies themselves.
CHRIS CHARLES: It’s a pleasure to have all you ladies together here for what will be Idol Features‘ largest group interview to date. As you all know, producer H.T. Altman contacted me about this film and all of you appearing in it. I know you’re all based around the Twin Cities area or nearby, so I assume some of you have previously worked with some of the other actresses in this cast. So, among the 13 of you, before Chaste, who here has worked with whom?
ELLEN ENGELSON: I’ve worked with Gabi, Jess, Lori, Gwen, and Jamie. One of my most recent films is Fast Times at Senior High with Gabi and Lori. We had a blast filming! We play older ladies in a nursing home fighting for the same man. That can be seen March 1st. One of the first films I did was with Gwen called The Foursome. That was entered into Z-Fest back in 2014.
GABI DEL MORAL: I have worked with Ellen, Lori, Jess, and Lisa. I’ve worked with Lisa and Ellen on several different films. With Lori, we worked together at Fast Times at Senior High. And with Jess, we did a web series, So Cal and a short, What a Shame. Am I missing anyone?
JESSICA MRAZ:Chaste has been my first experience working with any of the actresses in this group. Actually …I am mistaken. I am one of the executive producers of Devil’s Night, so I have been involved in other projects with some of the actresses here. Gabi, for one.
ANNA LEE: I’ve worked with Jaime before in a music video and the film Torino, if I’m remembering correctly.
LISA SHAFER: I have worked with Gabi and Jamie before in different capacities. Gabi and I have met on various short film sets a couple of times and have appeared in projects not knowing the other was even involved. That is always funny when you are at a festival and you can say; “I didn’t know you were in that one too!” Jamie and I have gotten to work together in a couple of projects. There was a horror film we did together that was a blast and resulted in me naming a pair of running shoes after her character. We are also currently involved in a ghost hunting group. In fact, it was Jamie that told me about this project and to get in touch with Cole to audition.
GWEN RUHOFF: I’ve worked with Ellen, Lori, and Gabi multiple times. I also worked with Jennifer on Necropolis. Donna, I think I’ve worked with. Friends with some, but I haven’t actually worked with them yet.
GABI DEL MORAL: That’s right Gwen. we have worked together. I’m losing it! (laughs)
JESS TOMASKO: Hey everyone! As I remember, I’ve worked with Gabi and Ellen. I recognize some of the other girls’ names as well.
JAMIE HOUK: I have worked with Anna on a supernatural-based music video, so we connected on our love for that show. We’ve also worked on a gangster inspired film called Torino. Ellen and I played sisters in a 48 hour film called The Game of War. That was really fun. I had the honor of having Ellen in my first short film, PLR: Session 5, that I submitted to Z-fest last year. Lisa and I were in a horror film and I loved how we were able to just play off each other and had that synergy. It made the acting effortless. And we are currently involved in a ghost hunting group. I met Lori at a table read. The others I may have been in film with but we didn’t film the same days. It is pretty crazy seeing a film and noticing how many other people were in it.
DONNA MARIE BEARD: I have met some of the girls, but haven’t worked with any of them yet. I met Gwen when she had a film showing at the Mall of America. I met Gabi after seeing her work as well!
LORI ROOVERS: Hey everyone! I have worked with Ellen, Lauren, Gabi, Gwen, and Jamie. I’ve seen some of the work of almost everyone else and all are crazy talented. I feel fortunate to be associated with everyone on this project.
ELLEN ENGELSON: Yes, Jamie wrote a film called P.L.R Session 5 that I was in and Donna, I think we met briefly at an audition.
DONNA MARIE BEARD: Ellen, that’s right! Lori, you are always so very supportive and encouraging!
SARAH DeYONG: I think the only person I worked with is Gabi. We did a photo shoot for the Burkwood Treatment Center a few years ago.
GABI DEL MORAL:Oh my god, Sarah! That’s right!! That’s what it was! I completely forgot about that video shoot we did for Burkwood Treatment Center. I kept thinking what did I do with Sarah? Must of been a class, because I can’t think of a film we did (laughs). And I’ve also worked with Jaime in Only the Good Die Young.
SARAH DeYONG: I know what you mean, Gabi. One of my friends found some of those photos as she was browsing treatment centers the other day (laughs).
GABI DEL MORAL: Really? Please share.
SARAH DeYONG: There are photos and a video montage here.
JENNIFER KELZENBERG: have worked with Lori on Necropolis and Lost and Found, Gwen on Me, Myself & Ida and House of Tomorrow, Gabi on Me, Myself & Ida and Electric Addiction, Ellen on Lost and Found, Jamie on Armstrong’s Manor, and I’m pretty sure everybody mentioned was in Only the Good Die Young as well.
KATE PEABODY: Hi all! So great to finally connect! I have worked with Corban, H.T., and Cole. Done voiceover commercials, small roles in two features, and lots of shorts in the past.
CHRIS CHARLES: (To everyone) Were you contacted by someone about appearing in this film or did you hear that it was being cast and audition?
GABI DEL MORAL: I was working with Cole in Me, Myself & Ida when he was writing this film. I had the chance to read the script and loved it., so he offered me a part.
ANNA LEE:I had been following the production of the film through Facebook for some time. I never thought about being a part of the film, but then a small part opened that I fit the description they were wanting and it worked with my schedule so I submitted my information. A short time later, Cole contacted me to do the part.
SARAH DeYONG: I came to a casting call and read with H.T. They ended up deciding my version of Lily was the direction the wanted to go!
JESSICA MRAZ:I submitted through Facebook and was cast for a non-speaking role. The day of the shoot, Cole called me to offer me the role of Gia instead. I happily accepted.
ELLEN ENGELSON:I read the script and knew I wanted to be a part of it! I’ve gotten to know Cole over the last few years and have been wanting to work with him for a while. I believe I auditioned for the role of Cybil and he offered me the part.
LORI ROOVERS:I had met and auditioned for Cole previously. After that meeting, I knew I wanted to work with him. He is very sweet and engaging. I auditioned for Chaste after seeing the ad on Facebook, but didn’t fit a part. He contacted me later and told me they liked my reading so much that he was going to write a part for me. I was elated!
GWEN RUHOFF: Cole and I have worked on multiple projects together, some his, some mine. We became fast friends. He had asked me to read the script’s first draft and give him some feedback, which I was happy to oblige. When the auditioning/casting process started, I auditioned for two speaking parts and one nonspeaking role. Cole immediately responded to my voiceover work as the phone sex operator. I was excited for it is to be my first voiceover work, great for resume, but also a little saddened thinking about not actually being seen in the film. Cole remarked that Shane would be holding my calling card. A few pictures were taken, and Miranda Sparxxx came alive. Soon Chaste began to grow, the script adapting and new roles were created, but nevertheless, I am still excited to do voice work for the film. To be honest, rarely do I see the sexy roles come across my table. With Chaste, I have that sexy role and push the envelope with the character, but at the same time, remain within my comfort zone. I’m so exited.
JAMIE HOUK:I’ve worked with Cole on a few other projects and reached out to him about the upcoming auditions to let him know I was interested. I was first going to audition for both Lily and Mollie, but after reading the script, I fell in love with Mollie’s character and decided to just audition for her. I read at the audition and was asked shortly after to play Mollie.
LISA SHAFER:I came to hear about the project after talking with Jamie. I looked it up and sent my info in for the roles of Lilly and Kendra. I was sent the sides for the role of Kendra and had the initial audition followed by two callbacks and two interviews.
DONNA MARIE BEARD:I have worked with Cole before in another short. I found out about the audition on Minnesota Film Board and submitted my information. I auditioned twice and Cole and H.T. offered me the role of Sara’s mother! I was very excited and happy about the opportunity to be in such a meaningful film.
JESS TOMASKO: Cole knew of me from mutual film directors I had worked with, and had offered me the part.
KATE PEABODY: H.T. is a good friend of mine and called me up to be a part of the film.
JENNFER KELZENBERG: Oh my god yes! I have worked with Cole on the Bedtime Defenders and Me, Myself & Ida, so I sent in three different audition pieces and was cast as Debbie. And let’s not forget (the film) Soirée, Gabi, and Ellen.
ELLEN ENGELSON: Ah, yes! I worked with Jennifer and Gabi on Soirée.
CHRIS CHARLES: (To everyone) Tell me about the characters you play in Chaste and how much of a stretch was it, or will it be if you haven shot your scenes yet, for you to get into the characters?
JESS TOMASKO: I am done shooting my scenes. My role was minor. I play another one of the girls H.T.’s character had a “thing” with. I filmed two different scenes. For me it was a big stretch. I was playing the youngest girl he had a “thing” with, and I always play younger than my age, generally 16-17, so I had never filmed intimate scenes like that with someone. In one of my scenes My character and H. T.’s character burst into a room making out and we take each others clothes off, etc, so that was very new territory in film for me. But I already knew of everyone on set, and they all made sure I was comfortable with everything. It was honestly fun filming with everyone!
ELLEN ENGELSON: There is a flashback scene when H.T.’s character is a young boy living with his aunt after his parents were killed in a car accident. I catch him looking at an adult magazine and scold him for it. Preaching the Bible and telling him what a terrible kid he is, etc. My character was really not a stretch for me to play. For awhile, I seemed to be getting cast in that type of role. More venomous and hostile, which is fun for me to play.
ANNA LEE: Similar to Jess’s character I also had a minor role of one of Shane’s flings he takes home from the bar. The type of role wasn’t a big stretch for me as I am often type cast in those roles. However, I hadn’t filmed as intimate of scenes prior to this film so that was a bit of a stretch. But the entire film crew and H.T. were so amazing to work with that it was easy and a ton of fun! Honestly, one of those rare times I actually wished we had to do re-shoots (laughs).
GWEN RUHOFF: My work in Chaste is all voiceover work, so I feel I can be as sexy …or even dirty …or even raunchy as I like. To be honest, I believe most of us have that steamy side of our persona. Honestly, I didn’t have to dig deep to find my inner Miranda. My role is a phone sex operator. I get to play out a man’s fantasies and I’m excited to do it. And to be frank, I know I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. I was pleased with the immediate response to my voice message audition, but I’m not sure that’s the “proper, ladylike” response.
JESSICA MRAZ: My character is Gia. She is a married woman who lives in the same building as Shane. She has a short-lived affair or series of encounters with him. I cannot see myself having an extramarital affair in real life, but I did envision being in a movie and it being shot in the elevators of my building two months before my scenes were shot in November. Then later, in January, Cole asked if we could shoot some more scenes of me and Shane, scenes in my building. He specifically requested the elevators. Our thoughts become our reality, don’t they?
GWEN RUHOFF: Wow, Jessica ….intuition?
DONNA MARIE BEARD: I play the the role of Ruth Gable, Lily’s mother and the preacher’s wife. My role is pretty small, so there wasn’t a big call for me to really have to make a stretch. I already had the look that it was plausible for me to be Lily’s Mom, so we got lucky there. Ruth is sweet and caring mother and wife. In real life, I’m a mother and I love and adore both my children very much, so it was very easy to align myself with my character portrayal.
LORI ROOVERS: I play Rhonda Byrne, the wife of the boss. Cole describes her as a “Stepford” wife. She finds out her husband is having an affair and is more concerned about her perfect world shattering than the infidelity. I understand this and have seen it play out in real life. I have a complicated view of it and a short scene, so I hope I can leave the impression of the shards of glass Rhonda is left holding. I do a lot of research and develop large backstories for my characters, even if they only have a few lines.
DONNA MARIE BEARD: Yeah, Lori. I probably need to improve there!
JESSICA MRAZ: Lori, I love your comments. I cannot wait to see you and the rest of us in Chaste. We should have a party!
GABI DEL MORAL:I am Susana, a Venezuelan who is having the affair with Rhonda’s husband.
SARAH DeYONG: I play Lily Gable. A recent post described her as a “well-intended, natural spirit, who must choose between being consistently strong in her desires to stay chaste or to satisfy her lust for Shane.” Our make-up artist, Lexi Tyrell often laughs at the behavioral differences. I swear like a sailor. Lily uses words like “fiddlesticks.” Behaving with sweetness and “purity” isn’t completely foreign to me. My initial presentation of myself is usually as agreeable as possible. While I differ from Lily in a number of ways, what I can relate to is her yearning for something she shouldn’t take. She holds herself to a certain moral and behavioral standard that isn’t always easy to maintain. It’s these feelings of conflict, desire vs. morality, that are very easy to tap into.
JENNIFER KELZENBERG: I play the grieving mother Debbie Shore. Having lost a good friend at about the age my daughters character is in the film, I thought of the anguish her parents must’ve felt.
JAMIE HOUK: I play the role of Mollie Hart. She is an old fling of Shane’s. They went their separate ways and just happened to run into each other years later. Mollie is a single mom who chased after her dreams. She is very caring and has a big heart, but will stand up for herself. It was not a stretch to play this character as I feel her and I have similarities qualities, which is why I wanted to portray her. Let’s just say though it has definitely challenged my emotional range and creativity.
KATE PEABODY: I play the character of Elektra, a high class escort! I have supported a few organizations in the past around human trafficking, real issues we face in the US. Anyway, why I mention that is because I got a chance to meet some of the women that got out and how their lives were impacted. They shared before they were trafficked and after. Quite moving and it helped me craft a character I felt was a match for what H.T. Altman’s vision was. It also helped me come from many emotions someone might have had in the moment of being with a paying customer during that time. As for “stretch” …hmmm. I would say more like comfortable playing the role, yes? I think the idea is to first craft your character in writing, dig for experiences you can relate to and then try it on like a coat. If it doesn’t fit, take it off, try crafting some more until you get comfortable. Method acting is key for this. Helpful?
LISA SHAFER: My character is Kendra, the part of Shane that he is trying to remove himself from, but is clinging on like nicotine. She is spiteful and unapologetic. Kendra truly lives in the here and now with very little desire to consider the future and consequences. Even if what she is doing is destructive, she will keep going because simply, she can. Personally, these are not my defining traits, but I can find this relatable. I find moments in my life that have triggered reactions of manipulation, competitiveness, and willful retaliation to help me portray this character of Kendra. Now some of those moments are from when I was a teenager, but those traits can stick with people and spur visceral reactions.
CHRIS CHARLES: With that, I’ll thank you ladies again for taking the time to do this. In closing, would you like to mention your other upcoming film appearances?
SARAH DeYONG: I’ve a student film for MCTC (Minneapolis Community and Technical College), Ten to Close, that has yet to be released and several upcoming music theater credits. I’m playing Cunégonde in Candide with Theatre Latte Da/Vocal Essense, and in Sisters of Swing: the Story of the Andrews Sisters with Maplewood Area Historical Society, I’m playing Maxine Andrews.
GWEN RUHOFF: Last week, I filmed a music video for Sontalk. I have a music video by Shake ‘Em Dirty coming out this month. I am a finalist in the monologue competition Mono vs. Mono this Thursday. I have a short film/music video, Salt and Sand playing at Z-Fest this Friday, with the extended version playing in two other festivals. I’m doing a table read for a feature film, The Hunter, this Saturday, to which I have a role in. Next Saturday, I am acting in a student’s thesis film. At the end of March, I am embarking on something new, a sociopsychology experiment/documentary at a hotel known to be haunted. I am continually auditioning and looking for my next role, so hopefully a few more jobs before April rolls around.
DONNA MARIE BEARD:In March, I will be wrapping up Scarlet Rose, where I play Sister Agnes. I’m also on the lookout for some new opportunities!
GABI DEL MORAL:I’ve worked on four short films that will be screened at Z-Fest this weekend. Fast Times at Senior High, were I play an 80-year-old woman. In The Oregon Road, I have a small part. In Bryan’s Two Weeks Notice, I play Bryan’s coworker and in Hunting the Hunted, I play the part of the victim. Also, working on a play, The Last Firefly, with the opening night being on March 22nd. In April, I will be shooting an episode for the web series Utopia Planitia. I play the part of Elona Reyes. Always looking for what’s next.
JESSICA MRAZ:I have to short films coming up. Marta’s Cup, in which I play Gloria, a ruthless and controlling boss. Next, I have a role in Like Magic, which also stars my son, Nicolàs Miniño. In this film, I play a fun and happy school teacher. Thank you, Chris Charles. I’ve enjoyed being part of the Ladies of Chaste.
ELLEN ENGELSON:I just completed a radio play. I have two shorts that will be featured at Z-fest; Fast Times at Senior High and Olive Garden of Eden. In March, I have two more films I’m working on. In Beautifully, Positively Different, I play the lead, a women struggling with alcoholism and Glass Bottom. I also just finished Lost and Found. We will see what’s around the corner!
JENNIFER KELZENBERG:Journey to the Docile Pink Planet, which was just released on Amazon, Daze Like This, also on Amazon, and House of Tomorrow on iTunes. In post production, but releasing sometime this year are The Last Date, Electric Addiction, Critical Mass, Master Servant, Lost and Found, Necropolis, and I’m currently working on Revealed and Testified.
GWEN RUHOFF:Yes, I , along with a handful of the other ladies here, am a part of Necropolis. I was a lead in this short. It was to be part of Z-Fest, but it wasn’t turned in on time. Looking forward to that being finished and coming out. I was also an extra in a short by Red23 Films playing at Z-Fest on Friday. I am soon to be doing my voiceover work for Chaste as well, which I’m really excited about. Oh yes, I too am waiting for the release of Gehenna for which I have a role in.
LORI ROOVERS:Thank you, Chris! I will appear in four Z-Fest films; Fast Times at Senior High as Suzykins, Riled Child as the Therapist, Mercenary Kingdom as Gloria Bishop, and Olive Garden of Eden as a featured extra. I am also in Necropolis as the Zombie Bride, which was intended for Z-Fest, but didn’t make the deadline. I am in Gehenna as Domino, which is a horror film by Jorge Sosa and Jennifer Prettyman that should be released soon, as well a comedy sketch about a 911 operator, played by me, by Tyler Perry. Also, Lost and Found as Brittany’s Mom and a stunt driver. It’s by Jocelyn Sanchez as part of the Kids 50/50 Challenge. And yes, I really did do the stunt driving. I have the dents in my car to prove it. Thank you for the interview!
ANNA LEE:This summer I directed and choreographed the Broadway play Mary Poppins at a community theater. I appear in Max Bishop and House of Tomorrow, which will be released sometime this year, I believe. Currently, I’m back in school to further my career in physical therapy at the Mayo Clinic, so no more movies on my schedule at this present time. However, I’m sure there will be more at a later date. Thank you so much for the interview and it was wonderful to get to know you ladies!
JAMIE HOUK:Upcoming films are Daytimers, which was filmed in Oklahoma and was just accepted to a film fest out there. I have plans to film the last couple scenes needed for my short film that I wrote, produced, and directed; PLR: Session 5. I plan on submitting that to film fests once that is completed. Worthless was shown at a couple film fests last year and they are still working out a distribution deal. There are several other projects I am a part of, but they are still in post production. Ones that are already out are I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker, No Blood of Mine, Closure and One Bad Night.
JESS TOMASKO: Upcoming projects: I’m in a feature film called Beguiled Company that will release in Minnesota this summer, and I have a guest star role in an episode of A Devil Unchained on Investigation Discovery that will air in the fall. I’m currently living in Chicago studying at some acting schools.
KATE PEABODY: Chris, you are welcome! I have no upcoming film projects to mention at this time. Thanks!
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
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