Interview: Paige Davis Talks 'Fulfilling' Short Film BEYOND THE FOG

Beyond the Fog is written and directed by Desirée Abeyta.

By: Mar. 07, 2024
Interview: Paige Davis Talks 'Fulfilling' Short Film BEYOND THE FOG
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For Paige Davis, the "boundaries" of working on an independent movie allowed her to witness the creativity on set "explode."

She stars in Beyond the Fog, a new short film written and directed by Desirée Abeyta. It follows June (Davis), who is determined to protect her daughter from the arrival of the Fog: an ominous force that comes for young girls at a certain age. But when confronted with echoes of her own encounter, she struggles to suppress fears that her mother's failures will become her own.

While the film is currently aiming to be completed in time for a festival premiere, it was selected by Indie Grants for funding to shoot the film in South Carolina. It was then captured in Aiken, SC, the hometown of cinematographer Austin Lee Smoak.

BroadwayWorld sat down with Davis to discuss what drew her to the story, the "satisfying" feeling of working on an indie film, and more.

Starting off, what initially drew you to this film?

Honestly, Desirée. I've wanted to work with her. I think she's a budding new, wonderful talent. It excites me very much that she is a new budding female talent, I really believe in her and I was thrilled to have the chance to work with her. 

It was also exciting seeing you in this suspenseful, thriller genre. What did you enjoy about playing June in the film? 

I enjoyed playing a mom. I really enjoyed my relationship with the actress who played my daughter, Amelia Salazar. That was a really fulfilling experience. My favorite scenes were with her being able to genuinely connect face-to-face. I felt a real relationship in those scenes. We did a lot of work to build that relationship.

Interview: Paige Davis Talks 'Fulfilling' Short Film BEYOND THE FOG
Amelia Salazar and Paige Davis in Beyond the Fog

At its core, the film is about the bond between this mother and her daughter. What about that storyline appealed to you?

Well, I've always appreciated that Desirée has a magical realism approach to her work. She's done other work that's not that but it is sort of her sweet spot and I really love that, too. I love when things can be like kind of up for interpretation and I just thought it was a way to appreciate what girls face without maybe being so on the nose. Like, you know, "input your struggle here," right? So it also allows, hopefully, for maybe young men to relate to the movie, as well.

Everybody faces a deep fog that's coming to get them. A lot of people try to ward it off by preparation. You have survivalists trying to ward off danger with preparation. In some ways, June is doing that for Matilda. She thinks that she can protect and stop the bad. And what the movie represents is that the only thing you can do is face down that fear and go through it. There's no way around it but through.

It does seem like this was also a very female-heavy team and set, especially with Desirée and the cast! What did you enjoy the most about that environment on this film? 

Girl power all the way! It was amazing. We had our share of men, as well. Desirée's husband, J. Max Baker, was very instrumental in helping to create some of the special effects with the fog. That was enhanced in post, but there was real fog on set. That was super cool to watch them do that on such a low budget.

That's the other thing that is so great. There is nothing more satisfying than building something from the ground up with a grassroots effort with people who are putting their imagination and their creative and craft skills to the test with boundaries of time and budget being very strict. When you have all the money in the world, you almost can do anything, right? But I am a firm believer that boundaries actually enhance creation. That when you set parameters is when your creativity explodes. We see that with deadlines. We see that out of necessity. We witness it. The greatest example of that is mortality. If we had all the time in the world and all the money in the world, we'd probably never get anything done.

I feel like that's also when the real passion comes in, too.

You have to want to do it. You've got to want to do it because who wants to go trudging through the mud in South Carolina? And it was seriously very very very very muddy. I actually bought a pair of tennis shoes just to ruin. [laughs] There's no saving them.

To succumb to the elements and to be in the cold and to work as hard as that crew did, you have to believe in it and you have to want it.

Interview: Paige Davis Talks 'Fulfilling' Short Film BEYOND THE FOG
Paige Davis in Beyond the Fog

Switching gears a little bit, as an actress, what are the challenges of creating a character for a 15 minute short film?

I felt that the character as written on the page was similar to me. I related pretty easily. I didn't have to do a tremendous amount of imaginative backstory work. I was able to relate readily to the idea of over-preparation, fear of the unknown, worry about how I will conquer that which might even be my own hand over my head but whatever is keeping me from being brave. I could relate to all of that so much.

In terms of relating to being a mother, I really almost sort of looked at that as parenting myself. The movie has the generational layers in it. So it wasn't a big leap for me to witness my mom's relationship to me, right? June's mother's relationship to her daughter, me, and then my relationship to my daughter, Matilda. It wasn't that difficult to just slide my little inner child in there and be able to talk to myself. That was really the main preparation I did. That part came relatively naturally to me. That wasn't difficult.

Then, it's a matter of really focusing in on what are you actually doing in each scene. What is your intention here? What do you need your daughter to understand? What are the beats of this scene? Play those intentions. And then I just hoped for the best!

As we finish up, what do you hope other people who may watch this film when it comes out?

I hope that people won't overthink it. Honestly, I hope people will let it be the allegory that it is and the magical realism that it is and not be afraid to put your own life experience, to replace the details with your own. And to follow Matilda's lead and trust that you have everything within you already, to battle any demons that are keeping you stuck or holding you back.

Interview: Paige Davis Talks 'Fulfilling' Short Film BEYOND THE FOG
Ella Pearl Levy as Young June in Beyond the Fog