Born in San Antonio, Texas, Tiffani Fest knew at a young age that performing would be her lifelong passion. She moved to New York City after high school where she scored a bachelor’s degree in theater from Fordham University at Lincoln Center. After doing some stage work she relocated to Los Angeles where she has become known for her work in the horror genre. Much like her good friend and horror film veteran Felissa Rose, Tiffani Fest has 3 films that were just released during quarantine: Clown Fear, which was released worldwide by Lionsgate and stars herself alongside Scream Queen Sadie Katz, Rootwood, where she has a supporting role alongside horror icon Felissa Rose, and of course For Jennifer, where she plays the title role in the final installment of this horror iPhone quadrilogy.
WorldFilmGeek had the chance to talk to Tiffani about these films and her lifelong passion for performance.
How were you approached to take on the title role of Jennifer in this latest installment?
Funny you ask, as a lot of people assumed I was offered the role of Jennifer due to my previous working relationships with Hunter Johnson and James Cullen Bressack.
But actually, I had to audition for it. I received a callback, then I was brought in for a chemistry read with other actors. Then a couple weeks later I got the call from Jody that I had landed the role.
I still remember a day on set, I think it was day six or seven, when Jody Barton came up to me and said he knew he’d made the right decision casting me for the role. It feels great to earn that kind of respect from your peers. Especially when we all worked so hard on this. It was only a10-day shoot, so long days, using only GoPros and iPhones, and basically zero budget. The To Jennifer franchise are all passion projects for everyone involved. You have to love what you do to make these films.
That’s great! I talked to one of your good friends, Felissa Rose, and you two not only appear in For Jennifer together, but another newly released film, Rootwood. I have to say, your character in that film scared the crap out of me! It was on a level close to Felissa in Sleepaway Camp.
Hahaha! I will certainly take that as a compliment. Felissa has been a mentor and a great friend to me in the horror genre. I was basically new to the whole horror scene, launching into it just 6 years ago with my film Circus of the Dead starring Bill Oberst Jr.
Felissa Rose really took me under her wing and championed me for several projects. We’ve done about eight films together so far, and with Rootwood, she was already cast and needed someone to play her evil sidekick. So of course, she recommended me to the director Marcel Walz, a mutual friend of ours from his first film, Blood Feast, a remake of the 1963 cult classic.
Working with Felissa is always fun – we work & play really well together.
Knowing this is an indie film, what obstacles did you face during the filming of for Jennifer?
I think the hardest part about shooting For Jennifer was that not only were we the actors playing our roles, we were the DP’s shooting our scenes at the same time. Since this is a movie about making a movie using only iPhones, we were often filming the other character we were in our scenes with.
This was definitely challenging for me — especially as someone who isn’t very tech-savvy, & who doesn’t live on their phone all day and shoot a bunch of videos or selfies. I’d be in the middle of a really serious scene and have to remember at the same time to capture the other character perfectly on my iPhone.
One intense example of this is the scene between Hunter and I in the prison. I’m so enthralled by him in this scene, and he is such a brilliant actor in it, and at the same time I’m supposed to be filming his coverage with my phone. There’s that crazy moment when Hunter startles my character & starts screaming ” No I’m Jennifer, I’m Jennifer”, and you can see that I drop my phone into my lap.
So instead of capturing Hunter’s face, I wind up capturing only his legs as he’s being dragged out of the room by the prison guards. This was a complete accident on my part and thank God Jody and James ended up loving it! And that’s the take we ended up using.
Wow, that’s awesome! Did this experience of you having to essentially work behind the camera as well, inspire you to get into filmmaking yourself?
Actually, I’ve done a bit of producing, but mostly on short films, a couple of which Felissa worked on with me. I also produced a feature film called Trilogie de Tragedie, an anthology composed of three short films where I play three different characters, all loosely based on the same theme. It’s not a horror film, it’s an ode to French New Wave Cinema, which I also love. I enjoy producing, having a say in the overall production of a film. And putting all the pieces together.
That’s amazing! Did you work on any new projects right before the pandemic?
I didn’t film anything right before the pandemic, actually I was concentrating on writing my first ever feature film for the last 6 months. I’m about 2 drafts in & working on getting that produced in India at the moment. I also just got back on February 1st from spending six weeks in India, where I host and anchor a women’s leadership conference, along with other global humanitarian efforts I am actively involved in.
Wow, that’s great to hear you are writing your first feature! Congrats on everything and thank you for taking the time to chat with me. For Jennifer, Rootwood, & Clown Fear are all out now on Demand & on Digital.
A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and Tiffani Fest for making this interview possible.