Chase Masterson produced and appears in Yesterday Was a Lie.
At its best, science fiction is built upon lofty ideas and filled with complex concepts. James Kerwin's independent sci-fi movie Yesterday Was a Lie is no different. In the film, protagonist Hoyle (Kipleigh Brown) pursues former flame Dudas (John Newton) against an ever-changing black-and-white landscape, only to discover that the terrain she navigates might be not physical but emotional.
Bringing such conceits to life requires clever filmmakers and a game cast; luckily, writer-director Kerwin found a more than suitable collaborator both in front of the camera and behind the scenes in Chase Masterson, who plays the film's comely Singer and serves as one of the film's producers.
Masterson appeared last week alongside her director and fellow crew members at the Beverly Hills High-Def Film Festival, where Yesterday Was a Lie screened as the closing-night feature. Following the screening and a Q&A, SCI FI Wire sat down for an exclusive chat with the former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star, who talked about the intricacies of Kerwin's vision and the challenges of realizing it on the silver screen. Following is an edited version of our exclusive interview.
Kipleigh Brown stars in Yesterday Was a Lie.
Chase, this story is very complicated and doesn't lend itself to simple descriptions. When you read this and saw how sophisticated it was, what convinced you to make Yesterday Was a Lie?
Masterson: I think, as an actress, the thing that appealed to me most was the beauty and the honesty of the dialogue in the film—"You not only broke my heart, you broke your promises." Some of those things resonated so truly with me, and I just thought, "This person is writing what I feel." A lot of people have said that, and I think that's what makes an indie film worth doing, when you can just sit there in the dark of the theater and think, "I've been through this." That's when healing takes place, when you hear those things, and that was true for me.
As a producer, what made me want to do it was, well, I wasn't a producer yet when I started, but what made me follow through on making James' vision come to life was the knowledge of how important it is to have support in this business. As an actress I've needed the support of people who were behind me, and I know that filmmakers are like that, too. Otherwise, you just never get to do the work that you were made to do.
How much of this did you understand when you first read the script, and how much do you understand now that you've made the movie and seen it so many times?
Masterson: For me, I think that I got it pretty much right away. I read it straight through without stopping, and then I read it again immediately, because I thought, "Wow, that is so cool, but now I need to process it." But there are still nights, like tonight, where someone in the audience said, "Could this be?" And I thought, "Oh, my gosh, I've been working on this for three years and never got that." So it is the type of [material] that is subject to the individual audience member's personality.
When you look at the script, and there's not a clear definition of who the characters are or even what they represent, how do you create a throughline for yourself in terms of who this character is and what is her arc?
Masterson: Gosh, I love that question. Singer occurred very late to me in the process; in fact, we were worried I wasn't going to get the hang of Singer by the time we shot. Frankly, that was because I spent all my time producing: We were literally pulling 20-hour days four months before we rolled the camera. It's really hard to think with both the left and right sides of your brain—which is one of the themes of this film—so I was really smack in the middle of that. It occurred to me about a week before we shot that Singer is this part of Hoyle that's trying to reach her and in a struggle to have her life from my side of the brain, the right side of her brain, the creative, loving, sensitive side. I thought, "OK, I'm this full being, and the only time I ever get to live is when I'm in touch with Hoyle."
I came to the decision to play Singer as someone who is, yes, an ethereal being. But you can't play ethereal, or it's just too ethereal! My living through her only raises the stakes of everything I say to her, so it's the kind of passion that I love my son with, and I believe God loves us with—and Singer loves Hoyle with. It's "I must be in touch with you. You're my life."
How much room was there for you to develop the different dynamics of your relationship? For example, there seems to be at least the possibility of a romantic undercurrent between Singer and Hoyle by virtue of the fact that Yesterday Was a Lie borrows from film-noir conventions but features a female protagonist.
Masterson: Oh, we get a lot of that. But I think that the vulnerability, and again, the passion that sometimes gets mistaken for sexuality—but we're not saying it is or isn't, and there's a lot of crossover in that kind of passion. ...
You've said that James was reluctant to tell you what the movie is or what it's exactly about. Is there a right or wrong interpretation of this movie? It seems like there are any number of different ways to look at the film.
Masterson: I love that you see that. There are endless possibilities how you see it. I've said this before, but you can hold your ground during the fight, but half an hour later, there's this voice that says, "Maybe they were right." And then you start seeing things from their point of view. Maybe it's Hoyle seeing the relationship from Hoyle's point of view, and, no, they weren't right to be together, or maybe it's Dudas' [perspective].
You previously indicated that it may be a little while before the film is distributed theatrically. What's the next step for you and the movie?
Masterson: We've been on the festival circuit for a year now. We do have three distribution offers; at this point we're sorting through to try to figure out exactly which one is best. The music licenses are the holdup at this point, and it's a warning to indie filmmakers out there: You've got to make sure your ducks are in a row on every level before you even start.