1) What drove you to pursue working in the area that you do? (acting, designing, producing, writing, etc)
My father is a famous restoration artist in San Francisco. While growing up I would watch him create and recreate ornate designs in gold and marble as well as painting. My interest in all of the creative arts has come from my up bringing.
2) Can you tell me more about your partnership with Michael Madsen in madbahr Productions?
Ah yes, Michael Madsen. The least likely person I ever expected to help me in the film industry ended up being the person who did. Goes to show life is never what we expect it to be.
I met Michael when I was loaning Jewellery for the Golden Globes. He was instantly drawn to my pieces the moment he saw them. I loaned him 2 that day. He called the next day and left a message saying he couldn’t take the necklace I had loaned him off. When I heard his message, I believed there was problem with the clasp, so I immediately called him back. Much to my surprise, he said he couldn’t take it off because he loved it so much. He said he had already worn it in a film that day. From that moment on we started collaboration on more designs for him to wear in his films. I was Michael’s Jewellery designer. He loved my work and I loved creating unique one- of- kind pieces for his films. Michael was always so genuinely appreciative, and I could see by the look on his face not just his words, that he truly loved my creations.
I remember making this crocodile claw necklace for a sci-fi film he did called CROCS. It was the first time I got a call from a production company asking me how I wanted my name in the film credits.
It was wonderful to have that much creative expression in my Jewellery and for it to be shown on film. Soon we all became close friends.
One day he asked me what I really wanted in the industry-he said “if it were a perfect scenario what would you want Fileena?” I proceeded to tell my friend, from my heart what I truly wanted. When I was finished he said with a Michael Madsen laugh “be careful what you wish for you just may get it “
Michael taught me more about film — finance-deal making-acting-confidence and all other things film related than I ever could have learned in a school or class. He just came to me one day and said “Now we are going to produce movies together Fileena” “I’m going to teach you everything people DID NOT teach me when I started out in the industry” I said “awesome let’s call it Madbahr [the first letters of our last names] he said “Do It!”
The rest is history.
3) You’ve appeared in films such as ‘Battleship’ and ‘Oblivion,’ but what has been your most memorable experience to date? And what can you learn from it?
Every single film experience big or small has something that you can learn from. One of my most memorable experiences while working on a film is a simple one but it meant a lot to me. It was while filming a post tsunami scene in the film Hereafter. Clint Eastwood walked by me after a scene we shot (that ironically never ended up in the film) looked at me, and said “you did a good job” simple but amazing. I learned a lot about working on a big budget blockbuster from director Peter Berg on Universals Battleship. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity of working with Adam Sandler and Dennis Dugan on Just Go With It. They gave me the opportunity to work in front of the camera and behind the scenes as well. Meaning, I was a day player, stand in and recycled (background). I enjoyed everyone I worked with. I got comfortable in my role and felt very emotional when the film wrapped. But honestly, I think I learned the most from director Clint Eastwood while working on his film Hereafter. He’s the kind of director that knows exactly what he wants, explains it clearly, makes you feel comfortable, does one shot and gets exactly what he wanted. If I ever direct a film, I would want to do it just like Clint Eastwood.
4) Being in the industry, what else do you aim to achieve during the next few years? Any goals?
I continue to improve myself as an actor and as a person every day. I am open to any and all opportunities. Que Sera Sera 😉
5) Who do you look up to most as an inspiration? Why this person?
It is so hard to choose one person when there are so many incredibly talented people in the industry. If I had to pick the first person (in film) that comes into my mind would be Anthony Hopkins. There was a scene where I saw the thought change so dramatically in his eyes without ever changing his facial expression. It inspired me as an actor. I remember thinking; I want to be that good someday.
6) What advice would you give to somebody who would like to get into the industry?
You have to love it. Do it one-hundred per cent or not at all. If you don’t love it more than anything then it’s not worth pursuing. With all of its rewards, it’s heart-breaking, a financial strain for many years, full of rejection and disappointment but worth every moment of it when you see the success you can achieve. It Takes Patience and determination. Also, don’t have tunnel vision. I want to be an actor above all, but through acting I’ve discovered other passions and interests within the entertainment industry. It’s an industry that once you are inside the realm, there are many possibilities and you can find a very fulfilling career changing it up a little. Never forget who you are. Be grateful to all those who help you and give you a chance. I am so grateful to all the people who believed in me, who helped me and gave me opportunities I would not have had. I never stood a chance without them.
7) With regards to your jewellery, what gives you ideas for the designs — what approach do you take? Any demands faced?
My inspiration for the jewellery I design comes from my beautiful island home of Maui as well as my addiction swimming with the dolphins every week. I think the beauty above and below the Pacific Ocean inspire me to be more creative. I also do well under pressure. When I designed the Official Star Wars Charity Necklace. I had less than 12 hours with specifics. It turned out amazing and raised thousands of dollars for ANSA the night of the Premiere. I was very pleased with the outcome.
8) As a child, what movie was your favourite? Do you think these have had an influence on your acting style?
I was privileged to see most movies growing up – it was a part of my life. watching all these incredible stories come to life on the big screen – inspired me to take acting classes while I was still in school and to peruse my dream of one day being on the big screen myself.
9) Where is your favourite place to travel to? And why?
I love France. All of it! The city of Paris, The Beaches in the South of France, the medieval cities, the History – I just feel at home there. Maybe because I go there every year for the Cannes Film Festival I’ve become quite comfortable walking the streets of France- or maybe it’s just because I belong there.
10) If you could take 3 things with you when trapped on an island, what would they be and why?
A million things come to mind. Antibiotics, painkillers, and water balloons, but seriously, I guess if I had time to think about it.
A smart, willing companion
A fully stocked top quality doctor’s medical kit.
A working Satellite phone with extra batteries and GPS system built in, (in case the smart willing companion started driving me crazy or vice versa). And non-perishable food.
I guess technically that’s more than 3.