Interview with Cybil Lake of the film “Central Park Dark” by Krista
Cybil was very nice and excited to talk to me. She is so enthusiastic about her work and seems to be a hard worker. She talks about how she is always pitching an idea and always coming up with new ideas. I think some of the ideas she is pitching are interesting, and I hope they will come to fruition. I wish her the best in all her endeavors.
Krista: How did you get started in acting and how did you decide you wanted to write and direct?
Cybil: I have always loved performing. I have always loved acting and writing. I kind of like, even as a kid, you know, and as soon as I could, like even in high school and junior high [break in audio] …Everybody’s student films. I was at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and then, from there, I started making my own films, because I [knew] a lot of actors at that point, and I saw how it was really hard for them to find any roles. So, since I was a writer, I just kind of wrote my own part. Most of the things that I think about I create, so I can act in them. I usually don’t get story inspirations with other characters, not always. I’m more excited when it’s a female lead that I can play, because thus far those roles haven’t been given to me. Thus far.
Krista: Well, hopefully that will change.
Krista: For your new movie Central Park Dark, I see you directed as well as acted, portraying Anna. How did the idea for that movie come about and the idea to direct as well as act in it?
Cybil: I was actually working on a serious project. I was writing sort of a serious project, and then I decided I wanted to write something that was light and fun and entertainment. It was like I just wanted entertainment after that more serious project that I was working on. I thought, “You know, that’s why I like movies.” I like movies to kind of – well, for two reasons. One is for entertainment…which is educational, which is like documentaries, but the rest is really entertainment and having the chance to have an adventure.
So, I love the dynamic of the three characters. You know, I love a love triangle. Love triangles are like my thing, because I think at the heart of everything, a lot of arguments and a lot of stories always boil down to a love triangle. And this initially started as a love triangle, because Tom (Tom Sizemore) is married to a friend that is having an affair with [my character]. That has drama inherent in it. 100% there’s drama inherent in that situation, because there’s going to be problems. Someone’s going to get hurt; someone’s going to get mad.
Krista: What was your experience like directing and acting in the movie? How did you balance that?
Cybil: Since I’m sort of used to it, I enjoy it. As long as I give myself a second to switch gears, it’s okay. There are some times in the movie when I can tell that I didn’t, if I remember that I didn’t. So, I think I can see it on the screen, but I don’t know if other people can. So, if I give myself the same time that I give other actors, then I’m good.
Krista: Without giving anything away, can you give a short summary of what the movie is about?
Cybil: Yes. So, the tagline that we’ve been using, is it’s a one night stand that turns into a never ending nightmare. So, basically, Tom is an alcoholic married doctor who during a relapse reconnects with Anna, my character, and I’m an unstable woman with whom he has a past. We start up again; I think we’re gonna have this great relationship, and then he kind of lets me know that’s not going to happen, that it was just a mistake. So, in a heated argument, I jump out of the window, and then I begin to torment him. So, it’s unclear if I’m alive or not. So, that’s when it kind of shifts into more horror elements. And a part of the story…Anna appears to Tom in his dreams and lets him in on a secret about the long history of dark forces in Central Park. Then, she uses these forces to take revenge on Tom. Then, Tom is trying to get back to his normal life and keep a secret from Brenda (Margaret Reed), and it’s sort of a descent into more of a nightmare.
Krista: Oh, wow, that sounds like a great movie.
Cybil: Thank you. Thank you.
Krista: What was it like working with Tom Sizemore? Did you know him, or had you worked with him before?
Cybil: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know him. I reached out, and it was perfect timing. He had a window before another project, and I was pregnant at the time, so I had to shoot now as well, so we shot ASAP. You know, there wasn’t much pre production or anything. I wish there was a little more planning; we jumped into it. He’s a great professional. I kept my eye on him most of the shoot, that was the biggest job that I had. He was [did] professional work. He knew his lines, and he was very good with showing up when he needed to.
Krista: I just didn’t know if you had known him in the past or if he was a new contact.
Cybil: It was a new contact, and we hit it off well. We had things in common. We both struggled with addiction, so that’s a good bond. That kind of levels the fear, and you can talk to each other with a common language and have an understanding and compassion for each other. We were lucky. Actually, I think looking back, there was sort of a rapport that we had immediately, and that’s actually just luck too. You know, with having never met somebody, that’s not always achievable. You see it even on movies and TV shows. You’re like, “Those people don’t look like a couple.”
Krista: What was the biggest challenge for you for Central Park Dark, and did the pandemic impact any of the filming or anything?
Cybil: The biggest challenge was definitely the budget, because we didn’t have one. When that ended up being a bigger problem, because I also rushed to [into] shooting, and so I had problems with the script. I probably could have done a rewrite, but there wasn’t a time for it. So, I tried to fix it in the editing process and [with] reshooting, I think, two times. I did what I could, and I kind of rewrote the story when I was editing. But, for sure, in an independent film, always I would say that answer is going to be cash flow. You’re just not able to do certain things with with a small budget, but I also think that sometimes those constraints open up the project to creative answers instead of monetary ones.
Krista: Think outside the box.
Cybil: Yeah, exactly.
Krista: What was your favorite moment from Central Park Dark, either on screen or behind the scenes?
Cybil: Because I’m a mushy mother now, I would say the ending – this isn’t giving it away, don’t worry. She’s holding a baby. That was my three month old baby, which I had in reshoots. So, seeing him, that was the best.
Krista: I can imagine.
Cybil: But I also love the scene when we have a really heated argument, and that was definitely my favorite stuff. The horror stuff I enjoyed. I surprised myself, and I liked that stuff, but I really liked the heated, you know, one person to another person argument, because as an actor, that’s the most fun, because it’s sort of alive. It is on fire. He was really angry at me, and it’s kind of fun.
Krista: Well, how does acting and directing in Central Park Dark compare to the other work that you’ve done in the past?
Cybil: You know, I think that [for] this I had to learn all the ugly technical details. I knew some things, like I knew how to edit, you know, rudimentary, and things like that. But it taught me to really persevere in complete, like completion became the option, because I could I could quit. I could set it aside, knowing it has issues, but instead, compelling myself to complete it was the biggest challenge. It really shows me there’s something to be said about finishing a project, even if it’s going to be imperfect, because actually, things that have a $200 million budget are also super imperfect. So, just finishing it. And now, I feel that I’ve had a lot of opportunities with the press, and it’s something I get to talk about while I move forward, and I’m ultimately proud of accomplishing it, of completing it. Completing a film is probably the hardest thing. As an actor, you go, and you do a few days here and there. When you’re done, you don’t even hear again [from] the TV shows and network stuff, like I rarely even hear people say, “I saw you on such and such.” I’ve never seen most of my work, because there wasn’t any communication. It’s interesting. So, it’s night and day. This is maybe too much control, because there’re too many details. This is, for me, personally, wearing too many hats. I love just showing up and acting. I think that’s what I’m going to be looking forward to more of. I think that’s hopefully within my future, because the nitty gritty technical stuff can be rough…
Krista: I understand that.
Krista: I see that you recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles. How’s that been?
Cybil: Oh my gosh. I mean, talk about crazy timing. I guess I moved here seven months before the pandemic, and now I can’t believe it, because I’ve been here for a year and a half. So, I can’t believe that now, the majority of my time in California has been pandemic life, which is different all around. It’s a big shift, because I’ve been in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in New York City for a long, long time, 22 years. This is – I’m used to [unintelligible], but people say, because of the pandemic, that’s not really there now, but I really thrive in – I like the feeling of a crowd and that there’s lots of people around. I like the activity, it gives you this sense [that] there’s always something that’s about to happen, even if there’s not. And that’s what’s actually kind of weird, is that now, living somewhere different, I’m like, “Oh, wow.” Like, even then, if you want to make something happen, you actually just have to do it, but with New York, you sort of think you’re just gonna be swept up and something’s gonna happen. Here it’s just like flatline. It’s just not loud. There’s not that energy. Just, especially with the pandemic, it’s like you and your mind, and me and my mind and my two tablets.
Krista: [When you moved] to Los Angeles, was it for an acting career to hopefully give you more opportunities?
Cybil: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And actually, both, ironically, fell through. It’s funny, but not graceful, actually, because I do really like LA, and I’ve been out here for different things, but even with those opportunities, I was bummed out that they fell apart, which, that’s what happens with projects. I mean, in fact my project would be one of those many that fall apart, if I didn’t say, “Let’s reshoot.” [unintelligible] It’s so interesting, because now I really see how easy things can just fall apart, you know, because problems come up.
Krista: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Cybil: Yes, I have a feature film that I wrote. It’s called White Lies and Darker Ones, and I can tell you that’s about Nina, a mother who seeks revenge for her daughter’s death, [but] instead uncovers the small town’s darkest secrets, including those within her own marriage. So, that’s a dark thriller.
I was pitching that for a little bit, and then people were kind of saying, “You know what? We’re not doing dark stuff.” So, then, I wrote a dramedy, you know, because I think the pandemic people were like, “We need lighter stuff.” That was the feedback I was getting from different people I pitched it to. And pitching now is 100% on Zoom and Skype. So, then, I wrote a dramedy called by Bicoastal, and that’s a fish out of water drama about a New Yorker who moved to LA to become a talent agent while struggling to stay sober and reconnect with her husband and find forgiveness. So, that’s a little bit lighter.
So, those are some of my options. Then, I also started writing something called Really Light, because I was like, they keep saying “light.” I’ve got to write something lighter. I started writing something called the Malibu Mother of Two. I just started writing that one.
Krista: Oh, well, they all sound good. I hope they all come to fruition.
Cybil: Thank you, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Krista: What do you do when you’re not writing, acting, or directing? What do you do in your free time?
Cybil: I was going to say, I start pitching, pitching people the ideas. I meditate and [unintelligible]. I meditate, and I go to the beach, and I take care of my two toddlers. I also paint; I love painting.
Krista: I like the beach too.
Cybil: The beach is the best. I grew up in Rhode Island, which is on the East Coast, and now I’m on the west coast. It’s different. It’s different but equally beautiful, but it’s really different. Unless you were near the beach in the pandemic when everything shuts down. We can still go and sit in the sand, and that’s something really to do, and go for a long walk or run. So, I do that a lot. Yeah, even when things are closed, and there’s mountains here, which is really cool. We go hiking as well. It’s just the quality of life in California is superduper high. It’s a quality, beautiful place. It’s expensive, and it’s gorgeous.
Krista: Sounds pretty peaceful, and it probably helps a lot to clear your head and give you some inspiration.
Cybil: Absolutely, totally, totally. I think I’m actually more creative here, and I am so surprised, because I don’t know, like I’ve just been creative in this pandemic and over here in California. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know what’s contributing into it to it, but I’ve been feeling like I just have a lot of different ideas.
I wrote another project called Moontown, and I was pitching that, but that was too big budget. I’m just always trying to hustle these days, because I think that’s the only way that things can happen. I actually I want to believe that things will just kind of roll towards me now peacefully. That would be nice.
Krista: What is the most memorable piece of advice that you’ve ever been given that has helped you in your career?
Cybil: I would say it’s really simple, but it’s be inside your own skin, because as an actor, that’s really good advice. Be inside your own skin, because that’s sort of like a ground view. So, I always find that very powerful.
Krista: Be yourself.
Cybil: Yeah, totally.
Krista: What piece of advice or tips would you give to someone who wants to get into a career with acting or directing?
Cybil: Definitely, I would say, start making your own work. You know, learn the mistakes, because I remember when I made my first short films, you make a film, you make so many mistakes and learn so much quickly, and then you do it again. And then you do it again. That’s the same feature that shows you just that you – it is always learning. Be willing to be learning. Be open to always be learning. It doesn’t stop; you have to keep working. You have to keep working on your own development as an artist, and you can choose to anytime give up, but if you really want to succeed, you have to really just stay on the path. You have to really stay on the path.
What I regret is I got discouraged when I was in my 20s. I made a feature film that was really good selling myself. In today’s market, I could totally sell it, [but] back then, there weren’t too many options. It was like you either get in Sundance, or you just sort of have a few small things and that’s it, but today, it’s so different. I mean, there’re so many outlets. And I got discouraged, and I kind of didn’t do stuff in film and TV for a few years. I really regret that time. I should have just kept going, but it pulled me back in anyway. I got cast in a commercial, and then I remembered how much I enjoyed acting, and I kind of got roped back into the business. When I did that, when I decided to come back, I was like, “Okay, but you have to understand, it’s unfair, and you have to deal with that.”…It’s an unfair business; you’re going to have a lot of failure. I have had so much failure that I don’t like to even tell people who are starting out. People ask me for advice. I don’t even want to tell them the truth. You don’t want to know. You don’t want to know, because the people who achieve it really young and continue to do so forever are real exceptions. You have to love it, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it; do something else.
Krista: I would say that you probably have to achieve your dreams and go for your dreams, but you probably have to also learn to accept the word “no.”
Cybil: Totally, totally, totally, totally, totally. Yeah. It’s all you’re gonna hear. In fact, I heard a producer, and I was like, I hope that’s not true, but I once heard a producer say, “You have to hear 1000 no’s before you even get a meeting.” I was like, “I don’t want to hear that.” I don’t know if I believed him. I hope he was exaggerating.
Krista: Well, that’s all the questions that I have for today. I thank you very much for talking with us. Talking was me today. I really did enjoy it. I hope that Central Park Dark will be very successful for you, and I hope all your upcoming projects will come about as well.
Here is the audio version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Cybil Lake stars in the horror/thriller film CENTRAL PARK DARK, about a one-night stand that turns into a never-ending nightmare. Cybil is also the director of this mind-bending horror film that follows ‘Thomas’ (Tom Sizemore), an alcoholic married doctor who has a one-night stand with ‘Nina’ (Cybil).
Please see new trailer here: Central Park Dark Official Trailer
CENTRAL PARK DARK is a ‘Fatal Attraction meets Blair Witch Project set in Central Park’. Cybil recast Central Park as a darker place of unknown forces. The picturesque parts of the park are displayed, but Cybil’s film digs into the park’s underbelly, the off-limits woods that might as well be in the middle of nowhere. This film illustrates how individuals can be completely isolated in a city of nine million people.
Cybil Lake is an American actor and filmmaker who has significant experience in the TV and film world. Her TV credits include “The Black List” with James Spader on NBC, “The Following” with Kevin Bacon on Fox, and “Show Me a Hero” directed by Academy Award Winner Paul Haggis for HBO. She has written, directed, and acted in numerous shorts, including An Echo Remains, which she screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Cybil was selected by NBC for a new filmmaker’s program, The Screening Room in 2010. She’s a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she majored in film and acting.
Tom Sizemore who stars alongside Lake, has established himself as an unforgettable tough-guy actor, sought by the most respected directors in Hollywood. His first break came when Oliver Stone cast him in BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Sizemore wowed audiences and critics in Michael Mann’s crime thriller, HEAT. He was then cast in Martin Scorsese’s BRINGING OUT THE DEAD, RED PLANET, PEARL HARBOR. He then starred in Steven Spielberg’s WWII epic SAVING PRIVATE RYAN followed by another leading role in BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott. Recently, he starred in “Shooter” on USA Network with Mark Wahlberg and the reboot of the TV series “Twin Peaks” directed by David Lynch.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda