"Harvest Lake" Interview: Tristan Risk

(Tristan Risk is a multi-talented performer, creative and all-around creative exotic. Recently she added her considerable talents to the film 'Harvest Lake'.)

Tristan Risk

Brian K. Williams has said you accepted a role in 'Harvest Lake' after reviewing the script. What was it about the story that convinced you to get involved?

It had tentacles, need I say more? No, I kid. There's far more to it than that. There was a number of factors that attracted me to this story, all retractile humour aside. It wasn't a straight up horror film, it offered some fantasy, some science fiction and elements of horror. I've not seen anything quite like it, and I knew Scott Schirmer of 'Headless' and 'Found' fame was involved, so I knew that this would anything but typical. The writing was clever too - the dialog was snappy and I appreciate some good patter between characters. And because: tentacles.

What kind of preparation did you undergo for your part?

I worked closely with both Bryan Williams and Ellie Church before I got to set. Ellie and I had a large number of scenes together, and so talking to her about our parts and our interactions was the best prep. I also watched a lot of 90's films that had the bitchy chick in it that you were supposed to hate, but you kind of had a crush on - think Nancy from 'The Craft' and you will likely catch my line of thinking.

Tristan Risk, Ellie Church, Harvest Lake
Tristan and Ellie together again in 'Harvest Lake'.
You've worked with Ellie Church in the past. Can you tell us a little about that as well as your working relationship in 'Harvest Lake'?

Ellie and I have had some pretty crazy adventures together and this is only our third production together, and I hope not the last. The last time we worked together was when we were in Atlanta on James Bickert's 'Frankenstein Created Bikers'. Because neither of us had scene together, and there was a lot to shoot, she and I got to spend quite a bit of time together. So you can imagine when Sugar and Spice are hanging out, unsupervised, on a set, then the pair of us can get up to no good. There were a large number of raids to craft services, pestering other folks on set, and impromptu photo shoots. It's a sad thing that we live so far apart, because she, and so many other people on set, were folks that I'd actually go out of my way to spend social time with, were geography not a major factor.

Nevertheless, Ellie is an exceptional actress and an icon in genre film with projects like 'Time To Kill' and 'Headless' under her belt. Her talent is palatable from when you see her on screen, and her warmth comes through in spades, even when she's splattered with blood, which is not something that one could say of every actress.

Tristan Risk, Kirsten Hogan, Happily Ever After
Kirsten Hogan and Tristan in 'Happily Ever Evil'.
You were the writer for the short 'Happily Ever Evil' and are a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and others. Do you have any aspirations to write / direct a feature of your own?

Actually, I should clarify that point: Kate Kroll (Calamity Kate) and I co-wrote 'Happily Ever Evil'. It was on the last tour I did with my former band prior to me quitting, and we were locked into a three month long tour across North America and Europe. Tensions were high, and so we would take off to cafes while in Germany to work on it. It was our way of avoiding the others and venting, and it proved to be very therapeutic. When we got home, Kate pushed to make it into a short film and directed, produced and had a cameo role in it, which I was really impressed by. It wasn't her first film, either. Her documentary 'No Fun City' that she co-directed about Vancouver's punk scene is good viewing, and she continues to dazzle onstage with her troupe The Lost Girls. A legit Renaissance woman, all around!

I have written a number of script treatments, mostly shorts, but two features. I've been sitting on them for a while but this year will be the one where I tentatively dip a toe in directorial waters. It will be based on a short story I wrote that was first published in Malevolent Magazine, and I'm excited to bring it to life. I'm not certain how or if I will succeed as a director, but it will all go towards experience. Besides, I figure if I wind up being a terrible director, I'm happy to step back in front of the camera again and let someone else drive. As for a feature, if I can show myself that I can handle a short, I might just grow a pair of iron ovaries and go out and see about financing for the feature in my hot little paws called 'Skynn'.

Do you have anything in particular that inspires or motivates you when you run into difficulties? What is your Muse?

When I hit a wall I dig deep in my brain to find common experience to whatever my character is facing and just go deep into that head-space. It's oftentimes my go-to, and while not everyone likes this method of 'method', so to speak, if I'm truly struggling I hit up the director. I feel thankful that this isn't a problem that I've really had to deal with (yet) since the larger bulk of my directors and crews I've had the pleasure of working with are pretty on point and 98% of the time we've all shared a really good rapport.

Tristan Risk
Is there anything personally or professionally you would like to do that you haven't already accomplished?

Of course! There are so many interesting characters to portray from an acting standpoint alone that I don't think there's really adequate space to talk about it at length. Suffice to say, I still have a lot of work ahead of me in what I hope to do from an acting standpoint. I don't think I'll be able to look at the film version of my curriculum vitae and think, 'Well, shit... I've done it all. I'd better go learn to fly a helicopter or something."

Outside of acting, I've recently started to do more circus training in acrobatics and aerial hoop, and it's refreshed my passion for the stage and touring. My circus troupe, Caravan Of Creeps has a number of tours lined up for this year, and I've been really enjoying collaborating with jugglers, sideshow freaks, contortionists and what-have-you. It's definitely rekindled my love affair for touring with this company. As well, I'm hoping to release a series of highly stylized fetish videos, either direct/write/produce short films out of my own writing, and publish a book this year.

So yeah, I'd say my work is long from being over.

You appear to have successfully created a rather unique life for yourself. What advice do you have for others who want to blaze their own trail?

I think that you just answered my question for me there, to be honest. If you want to blaze your own trail you will. It will be borne out of a need to create something and express myself. I was told that there was a myriad of reasons why I couldn't model. Instead of moping that I might not be good enough, I went out, found photographers/make up artists/fashion designers that wanted to collaborate, and we made art together.

Tristan Risk
The same with burlesque, as when I started there were no classes or schools that taught it - I just went out and put together outfits out of whatever I could scrounge, and got stage time opening for bands and later found other people who were doing the same and teamed up. Hell - I had a website that I learned to code HTML because that WAS your social media at the time! Now there are infinite resources available, which is awesome, but it strengthens my heart when I hear about people putting on shows and parties because they want to - not because they took all the classes.

If there is something you want in life, you won't wait for it to drop into your lap. I find that kind of laziness vastly irritating and the sense of entitlement of a lot of folks saddens me. Anything worth having or doing is worth pursuing on your own terms, and while it might not always be easy, or financially viable, or handed to you, if you have the drive you can make it happen.

What is the best way for people to keep up to date with your many pursuits?

I have a website that I tend to spend more time with my thoughts on and where I am unencumbered by the limitations of social media. You can check out my writing there at www.littlemissrisk.ca and I like to liberally sprinkle it with interesting NSFW photos. If you prefer the ease and access of social media I am on both Twitter and Instagram as @littlemissrisk, and you can usually find me on some form of stage in a state of undress as well!


(If you enjoyed this interview, you may like my conversation with Ellie Church here.)

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