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Fantasia 2023: Juliet Mills Video Interview on The Primevals

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Fantasia 2023: ‘The Primevals’ star Juliet Mills spoke to The Natural Aristocrat® about filming the movie 28 years ago in Romania… Decades before the 2023 resurrection of Director David Allen’s stop-motion magnum opus!

This Juliet Mills interview transcript contains spoilers for ‘The Primevals’ movie. The film screened at the 2023 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 23 and July 24.

Juliet Mills as Claire Collier in The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

Juliet Mills as Claire Collier in The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): How long ago did you film the live-action scenes of The Primevals? It’s my understanding they only just recently fully completed the stop-motion animation for the movie.

JULIET MILLS: 28 years ago.


JULIET MILLS: I mean, I can’t believe that it’s releasing! It’s with much gratitude and admiration for Chris Endicott, who was Director David Allen’s assistant.

He has really made this happen with the help of Full Moon (Features) and their money, of course.

But it’s a labor of love as far as he’s concerned. He just was determined to finish David’s movie. All the live action stuff was done in Romania 28 years ago.

I mean, I had probably forgotten about it. And suddenly I hear it’s premiering in Montreal at the festival. So it’s very exciting!

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Is that pretty much the ultimate gift as an actress? To have a project you thought may never see the light of day suddenly surprise you like this.

JULIET MILLS: Yes! It’s never happened to me before, especially this many years. I see myself and think, oh my goodness, that’s nearly 30 years ago! But I remember the whole experience very, very well.

It was a very happy experience filming in Romania with David (Allen). It was a wonderful cast. And we had a lot of fun. I mean, it wasn’t all easy because filming in Romania that many years ago, there was nothing to eat to start with.

You went to the market in Bucharest and there was like three lettuce leaves on the counter and a, you know, half a rasher of bacon.

We lived on potatoes it seemed to me. Fried potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, no greens! (laughs)

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What were your first impressions when you saw the final cut of the film with all the stop motion animation animations added in?

JULIET MILLS: That it’s brilliant! The effects are wonderful. Filming it, you didn’t get to see any of that. Sometimes half a Yeti or one arm of it.

You don’t have any idea what it’s going to look like in the end, really. Of course, as my husband (actor Maxwell Caulfield) says, “There’s something creepy to stop motion animation!” (laughs)

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

Which is to our advantage in the film.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I actually prefer this look over modern CGI, I really missed the stop motion aesthetic. There’s something dreamlike and imaginative about it.

JULIET MILLS: I’m glad to hear that! Of course there are films that still use it, have used it, but less and less I suppose. I agree.

I think it’s a shame really because it’s (stop-motion animation) a very special technique. Soon with AI, they won’t need us either! (laughs)

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

Major Spoiler Warning:

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I was really surprised to see what ended up happening to your character. I thought for sure that Claire Collier would make it all the way to the end. What was it like shooting Claire’s character ‘end’ scene?

JULIET MILLS: Yes, it was quite hard… Especially as I’d been bitten by a spider and had a very uncomfortable big spider bite on my backside! (laughs) It wasn’t a comfortable death scene, let me tell you that!

/ End Spoiler

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What were your favorite memories working with the cast on The Primevals?

JULIET MILLS: I think the camaraderie of being on a location like that. We did some shooting in Transylvania, which was fascinating. I loved Romania! The cast was wonderful, but it was a hard shoot.

We did a lot of night shooting and had very bumpy bus rides to the locations, but it was a one of a kind experience.

David (Allen) was a wonderful captain, a wonderful leader. He was thrilled and excited by the fact that he’d got the film to the point that he had, and we were actually shooting it.

It was totally his vision and I’m just so grateful to Chris Endicott, who’s actually finished it for him, albeit decades later.

I haven’t been in touch with any of the actors since we filmed, but that so often happens. But maybe I’ll see them again at one of these festivals.

I hope it does well on its circuit. I believe it’s going to be at a festival in Barcelona in October.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: The cast should take a side-by-side shot to a photo that you took 28 years ago.

JULIET MILLS: Sort of like an awful school reunion? (laughs)

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like shooting Claire Collier’s speech where they show the Yeti? Was there really anything behind you or was the whole Yeti added in later?

JULIET MILLS: Oh no, that was added in later. I think maybe there was a part of him but everything was added later.

We’d never really worked with any huge creature or anything like that.

A lot of it was of course, in our imagination as well.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I was wondering what you thought overall of the The Primevals script, in terms of the way it was structured.

It kind of reminded me of films like Return of the Jedi with the Ewoks being gradually introduced.

JULIET MILLS: Yes! Well, it’s a throwback. It reminds you of other adventure films that used that technique.

We did go to the Italian Alps to shoot all that snow stuff. We did that at the beginning of shooting on-location.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Was it freezing there?

JULIET MILLS: Yeah, it was! Well it wasn’t actually mid-winter, but it was early spring and very cold.

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

That was the first time that we’d all met, the cast all met, and we all came together and, and so that was fun. But the actual shoot in Romania was quite hard.

And we did a lot of studio stuff as well, so it wasn’t all on location. But some of those caves and stuff we worked in, they were for real. And so it wasn’t comfortable.

And spiders. Lots of spiders! (laughs)

Major Spoiler Warning:

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Why do you think Claire Collier stayed that extra second to look at the Yeti before she got shot with the arrow at the doorway?

JULIET MILLS: I don’t know. Why do you think?

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought she was in awe because the Yeti showed this humanistic quality. They kind of connected with this bond.

Really, I thought the character of Claire was kind of patterned off Jane Goodall in some ways. The primatologist and anthropologist who taught a modified version of sign language to apes.

JULIET MILLS: Yeah, that’s right! It was a wonderful part for me, to be an archeologist and a great adventure.

She was very much like my character in a sense. Claire definitely had an affinity with this Yeti. I mean, she wasn’t afraid of it.

Claire was just fascinated and wanted to find it, believed in it. And then of course she found it. They found it.

It’s a marvelous movie for people who like that kind of a genre, you know? And you do, obviously.

I loved filming it and I was very, very sad when David passed. Of course, he was very young and we used to see him quite a bit after we filmed…

I knew he was very ill, but I didn’t think he was going to literally leave the stage.

But anyway, he must be very happy now is all I can say.

/ End Spoiler

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like when you first heard that David passed? Does a film always get shelved indefinitely when something like that happens in the industry?

Or does it depend on how finished it is?

JULIET MILLS: That’s what we thought because the master was gone and it was David’s vision. He was the technical wizard on it. But he had this great assistant who Chris Endicott, who just took it upon himself to take over.

And against all odds really, because they still needed to raise quite a lot of money. It’s just very expensive as you know, and without the director, it was shelved for some time. I thought that was it.

I certainly didn’t think it would be resurrected, frankly. So it was a great surprise. I only heard, I think at the beginning of this year.

Chris Endicott contacted me and said that it was finished and with music and everything. It’s so exciting for all of us that were involved.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Has this kind of thing where a project you worked on is shelved happened to you before as an actress?

I know today even finished shows and movies can be pulled off streaming services into purgatory if they’re not performing well enough. Like they never happened.

JULIET MILLS: I don’t think I’ve ever had this experience before of anything this long anyway.

I’ve actually got another film on the festival circuit right now, which is called 7,000 Miles that we shot in Hawaii with Wendie Malick starring.

So I’ve got two movies doing the Circuit.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What did you think of the film’s messaging about the most intelligent alien being killed off and society degenerating to a brutal Roman Colosseum?

It was a noticeable subliminal statement on human society.

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

JULIET MILLS: It is and kind of current too, right? I mean nothing much has changed in many ways.

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: You mentioned AI before. I was curious what you thought as an actress of this transition of people watching shorter and shorter form content via TikTok

You think eventually people will just not have the patience to watch a two hour movie or even a one hour movie, 20 years from now?

JULIET MILLS: Well, I don’t know. The business is changing so much, which of course is what this SAG-AFTRA strike is all about. The writers’ strike… Everything’s different and we can all be replaced it seems.

I just did a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and I was asking them when I went there, ‘How did you manage with the COVID protocol and all that? When an actor went down, did everything stop?’

And they said, ‘Oh no, no, we’d get a body double and then we’d use what we had to put a face on and a voice. Nevermind CGI, AI is is pretty scary for actors.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Would you ever agree to have your likeness used essentially even when you’re not around anymore? I’ve heard a lot of actors have been asked about this kind of perpetual eternity use.

JULIET MILLS: Well, only if you’re very well paid for it and you have some say in what you do. I mean, you don’t want suddenly find yourself in an adult movie or something. (laughs)

So I don’t know, it’s an unknown quantity really. That’s the problem. Or at least one of the problems. It’s a big issue and a big change.

That’s why these issues have to be really addressed and we can’t just all accept being replaced,

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I saw you worked on a theatre production of The Elephant Man, I’ve always loved the film. I was curious what that experience was like and if you have fond memories of it?

JULIET MILLS: I’m glad you brought that up because The Elephant Man was where I met my husband ( Maxwell Caulfield)! I really met my husband doing that play.

That was 42 years ago. It was a marvelous play and it was a huge success in London and New York and everywhere. We did the national tour, the Florida tour, all of it. It was an extraordinary play.

It was illusion more than anything because the actor playing The Elephant Man who in that case was Maxwell Caulfield, didn’t have a lot of makeup and prosthetics and stuff the way they did in the film.

It was just an illusionary thing. There was a slight change in the body and a movie screen behind that showed him as he had been, et cetera.

But it was a very, very effective and beautiful production! They played beautiful live cello music in it.

It was one of my favorite experiences in the theater as a matter of fact!

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT; How did your husband first approach you in that production? Did he ask you for a coffee or something?

JULIET MILLS: (laughs) Yeah, he did! We did have a couple of coffees and a couple of Manhattans and he held my hand crossing the road in front of the Plaza Hotel. And that was it really!

I did wanna add producer Charles Band as far as The Primevals goes made this all happen because of Full Moon supporting the film even after all this time. And raising the money to finish it.

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

The Primevals. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

And the other thing I didn’t actually say was I made a film many, many years ago, 50 years ago now we’re going even further back (laughs) called Beyond the Door, which was a horror movie and very successful Italian production filmed in San Francisco. Very, very successful.

Now we are making a sequel. We were supposed to be shooting it right now in Vancouver, but of course with the strike, we’re not.

So when you say things coming back around, this is another thing that’s come back around for me, is to make a sequel to Beyond the Door.

Which is playing the character (Jessica Barrett) I played originally. By now she’s in a loony bin from all her dreadful experiences with the devil. But it’s a good script and I have a featured role in it and I’m executive producing it as well.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Could you ever imagine a prequel maybe to The Primevals? You did have that early scene where you were talking to Matthew (Richard Joseph Paul) about his thesis paper on the Yeti in the past.

JULIET MILLS: You never know! I mean, nothing’s impossible anymore, that’s for sure.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What was it like filming that attempted mugging scene in The Primevals where they grab Matthew Connor?

JULIET MILLS: Pretty dramatic and pretty physical. I remember it being a pretty long, stressful night.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Would you have liked to be at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival for the screenings?

JULIET MILLS: Yes, I would have! That would’ve been great. Because I really want to see the film on the big screen.

I think it warrants that now after all these years. I’m gonna wait and watch it on the big screen.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Yeah, plus you’ll get to enjoy the live audience reaction.

JULIET MILLS: Oh yeah, I’d love that!

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I hope to see you at a future post-screening Q & A, maybe it’ll be around New York.

JULIET MILLS: Yeah, that’d be fun! I’m so glad you enjoyed the film and you are giving it this podcast, this airing, this plug. It’s wonderful! Thank you so much!


– You can also watch this Juliet Mills interview on YouTube, be sure comment and subscribe to our channel!

About The Primevals’ World Premiere at Fantasia 2023

“Full Moon Features’ world premiere of THE PRIMEVALS at Fantasia Film Festival represents the culmination of a longtime dream harbored by visual effects wizard David Allen, whose career stretched from 1970’s EQUINOX through Oscar-nominated work on YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES and beyond.
Allen first conceived THE PRIMEVALS as a vehicle for his stop-motion talents in the 1970s. He finally began directing the movie, which he scripted with fellow effects artist Randy Cook (THE GATE), in the 1990s under producer Charles Band, CEO and Founder of Full Moon Features, for whom he’d brought all manner of beasties to life in LASERBLAST, PUPPET MASTER and many others.
Sadly, the film’s completion was scuttled by Allen’s death from cancer in 1999 at just 54 years old.
Now, at last, Band and longtime Allen associate Chris Endicott (Avengers: Infinity War, Spider-Man: Homecoming) have seen the film to completion, and it emerges as a glorious tribute to the classic films of Ray Harryhausen, with a true sense of adventure and eye-popping, remarkably fluid dimensional animation. “

'The Primevals' Movie Poster. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

‘The Primevals’ Movie Poster. Photo Credit: Full Moon Features

More 2023 Fantasia Film Festival Coverage:

Be sure to read:

Fantasia 2023 World Premiere: The Primevals Photos, Trailer

Fantasia 2023: Director Mark H. Rapaport Interview on HIPPO

Anime Films to watch at Fantasia Film Festival 2023

Visit the Fantasia International Film Festival for exclusive interviews and reviews from festivals past and present!

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