“Cleaning” House: An Interview with Alexis Kendra

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Alexis Kendra has had a steady career since graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was part of the midsummer Shakespeare program at Oxford University. Aside from her acting, Kendra is a writer and producer. She can be seen in films such as Thor: Hammer of the Gods and Hatchet II. Her latest film, The Cleaning Lady, is coming to DVD and On Demand on June 4 from RLJE Films.

World Film Geek had the chance to talk to Kendra about her latest film.

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Thank you so much Alexis for talking about The Cleaning Lady. I was blown away with how the film came out. It was very well-paced until the last half hour just grabs you by the throat.
I am so happy to hear that you liked it! Thank you!

What inspired you to come with the idea for the film?
My partner Jon [Knautz] and I have been working for years and we both love to do psychological thrillers. One of the ideas I had was based on a real-life experience. When I was young, I met this girl who was deemed an outcast. She was always bullied and felt out of place, so I became nice to her. I started becoming her friend, but then things stated to get weird when out of nowhere, this girl would just show up at my place unannounced and I was thinking, what is going on here?

Then Jon came up with an interesting story. Years ago, he worked at a movie theater and he met this guy. He offered the guy a ride to his house and they drove in the middle of the woods. The guy told Jon to stop the car in the middle of the woods. And Jon was freaking out. He kept asking the guy if he was sure and the guy said yes, and he left the car in the middle of the woods. So we took both of our real-life experiences and of course came up with some connections that rounded out the story.

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Alexis Kendra as Alice in The Cleaning Lady (RLJE Films/Olivargo)

Your character Alice is quite complicated, due to her relationship with Michael, who when she tries to break things off, gives off this creepy vibe. What was like working with Stelio Savante on the set?
Stelio was great to work with. He’s very professional. This guy is a veteran who has done about 100 movies. He came with a lot of ideas, like what if we did this. Jon and I actually appreciated that. Jon is a very appreciative and collaborative director. I’ve seen actors come on set and they’ll be like, ‘what do we do?’, ‘where do we go?’ What I like about Jon as a director is that he will let you have your moment. He will let you do your thing, bring your stuff. He’ll be like, ‘oh you want to use the road? Go ahead!’ then he’ll be like, ‘Let’s do it my way’ (laughs)

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Shelly (Rachel Alig) and Alice (Alexis Kendra) bond in The Cleaning Lady (RLJE Films/Olivargo)

That’s one thing I like about independent films. There’s not as much pressure because everyone is doing it on their own with no studio pressure. And I always love hearing when the director allows the actors to give input rather than be some sort of ‘dictator’.
It’s worked out and everyone had ideas, but we didn’t use them. But that’s okay, we did well with what we had and Jon is a very collaborative director, which was appreciative by everyone.

Let’s talk about the actual “Cleaning Lady”, Shelly. She was quite a character but the chemistry between the two of you was wonderful. What was it like working with Rachel Alig, who played the titular role.
She is wonderful. The reason why we have this great chemistry together, which you’ve noted and I’m glad you said that, is because we’ve known each other for a while. She came in to audition for a role in a movie a few years ago but we didn’t have a role for her. But she came in, did her audition and Jon and I looked at each other and he said, ‘let’s keep her headshot, contact info’. We eventually did a movie together, Goddess of Love and a few years pass by. Originally, when we came up with the film, we had no one to play Alice because I was going to play Shelly. It soon became a no-brainer. It was just right for us to switch places.
 

As a producer and writer, what difficulties did you face on the set?
I co-wrote it, produced it, took the lead, and I was also production designer.  I think the biggest challenge was wearing so many hats. As a writer, you just write the script and then it’s done. So, it’s a matter of the other three roles. And then, the production design is done before shooting. It was manageable but what really helped was that we had a great team. I had a great team and the acting itself was challenging.

There’s a pivotal scene in the film that required a lot of emotions. And when Jon yelled ‘cut’, I was yelling about the picture frames in the shot being all wrong, but it was while I was still in this emotional stage (laughs). I was just so full of emotion that it carried over after ‘cut’. It was crazy! (laughs)

If you had to choose a favorite scene, what would it be and why?
Hmmm…okay, without spoiling anything, I would say the final scene of the film because it brings everything together.

Finally, are there any new projects that you can talk about?
We’ve got many more ideas but nothing that is concrete as of yet. We’ll see what happens!

The Cleaning Lady comes to DVD and VOD on June 4. This is a tense thriller that is well-paced with tension that culminates in a grab you by the throat third act. Thank you again Alexis for talking about the film.
Thank you so much!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Alexis Kendra for making this interview possible.

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