Christina Storm is one of the stars of South Africa's first vampire film, Eternity. The model and actress talks fake blood and fake teeth, all-night shoots, dreadlocks, fight scenes, stunts, true love, haunted sets, and the Twilight phenomenon.
How do you prepare to play a vampire who's a few hundred years old?
I didn't want to watch any vampire movies because we're so inundated with things like Twilight and True Blood so I didn’t want to be influenced by any previous vampires. My idea with Lisa is that she had dreadlocks and she's kind of a dirty vampire living in abandoned buildings in Hillbrow, Soweto and Orlando, just moving underground.
So I pretty much didn't wash my hair for a month or two... But my main thing was I didn't want to be influenced by any existing vampire movies.
Being a model, how did it feel being grubby like that?
Obviously there are products I could use in my hair but I couldn't really wash or condition it. So that's rough. And it was hectic shooting at night for five or six weeks, so when they said: 'That's a wrap' at the end of production, it was the best day of my life. I was so grateful because the process had been really painful.
What made it so tough?
Because everything was filmed at night, call time was about 5 or 6pm, we worked throughout the night, and then drove home in the morning rush hour traffic. The rest of the crew were able to change their schedule and slept during the day but, being a single mommy, of course I couldn't do that.
So when I got home in the morning I had to pack a lunchbox, take my child to school, and ballet, and drama, and swimming lessons, and everything else. It was rough.
The make-up can't have been easy either.
The fangs were an absolute nightmare. I detested them. We had a guy from LA fly in to do the prosthetics and when he went back, in his confusion he changed my teeth with the other cast members'. So I couldn't find my teeth - when we started shooting and I put the fangs in my mouth, they broke.
So we had to use his original fangs glued to my teeth with false-teeth glue. It was not a pretty sight. And the glue spreads all over your mouth, which is pretty nauseating. Plus you have to put the fake blood in your mouth, so I was standing there before every take trying not to throw up over the balcony - and when I did throw up, I was trying to hold onto the teeth.
I remember watching the dailies and seeing myself throwing up, hearing the director call 'action', and snapping into character immediately. If you had to see that footage before they edited it, it looks really ridiculous. [Laughs]
Not too many good memories then?
No, the whole shoot was a complete nightmare, purely because it was the middle of winter and we had no facilities for heaters - we had to bring generators in for the crew just to have lights - so it was really absolutely freezing. I don't think it's any fun playing a vampire or being a vampire at all.
What about the stunts?
I had to do a couple - we had a stunt guy come in from Cape Town who I'd worked with on other movies who showed me how to do a few things like grabbing people by the hair and throwing them around so they didn't break their neck and end their career. But we had a lot of Parkour guys like Jacky Ho who did most of the stunts like jumping from buildings - they're trained to do that.
Apart from the long hours, did the film mess with your mind at all?
Definitely, because you were working so late at night. At about 2 or 3 in the morning you start thinking 'OK, what's going on?' And, really, the locations they chose were so creepy we were convinced there were actual vampires there - and if not, then some other creepy monsters. So the whole crew was very freaked out.
Considering how demanding the shoot was, was there a lot of joking between takes just to keep the mood up?
Now, we did have a lot of fun... just imagine us all arriving in these bad areas in Hillbrow with hot water bottles in our panties, in our bras, covered with blankets, anything we could do to stay warm. And in between shots we did have laughs - but the circumstances weren't ideal.
Nils van der Linden