Q&A with the writer and director of THE LOVE WITCH, Anna Biller

by Thea Basiliou August 26, 2016

Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

Did you get a chance to see The Love Witch at either the Queensland Film Festival or the Melbourne International Film Festival?

Written and directed by Anna Biller, The Love Witch is her second full length feature film after Viva (2007).

Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

 The Love Witch was shot on 35mm film (yes, actual film!) by David Mullen and is a tribute to 1960's Technicolour thrillers.

 It is so delicious to look at. The colours are very pretty, clean and kind of lustrous. 


Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

Anna is incredibly hands on with her projects and also did the Costume Design, Set Decoration, Art Direction, Production Design, Music AND Edited the film. Most of the set designs and costumes were hand made by Anna! Phew!

Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

The lead of the film is Elaine played by LA based actor Samantha Robinson and though the story is based on a retrospective aesthetic, there are strong feminist messages coming through under the guise of this comedy thriller.


Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

The film left such a visual impression on me and as you know I love a good aesthetic, I decided to contact Anna with some questions about Elaine's screen look and she kindly replied:

Thea -I haven't seen VIVA but have watched the trailer. I noticed that the makeup is a similar idea but much more polished for and maybe intense for The Love Witch. Was this intentional?


Anna - Yes, because VIVA is a period movie where that’s the type of makeup everyone wore at the time, including my character who was just an ordinary housewife; and THE LOVE WITCH is set in the present so it’s Elaine’s own special weird makeup that she wears as a sort of mask and as a trap for men, so it had to be more perfect and striking.

What was the inspiration behind the makeup?


I wanted her to look like the sex sirens in movie posters and pulp novel covers from the late ‘60s.


How would you describe Elaine’s look?


It’s a classic’60s glamour look.

Did the key makeup artist Emma Willis have much input in to the direction?


Yes, she knew just what I was talking about when I told her I wanted the heavy eyeshadow and lashes and pale lips of the ‘60s glamour girls. She’d done some of that type of work before, and I saw some photos of amazingly done eyes on her website. But we worked together to create the look, and Samantha (the lead actress) and I went wig shopping and tried on various wigs until we found the right one for her.

Did you reference any particular characters or films for Elaine\'s look?


We looked at classic sex sirens from the ‘60s, such as Brigitte Bardot and Claudia Cardinale. They both wore that kind of heavy eye makeup, with a fall on top of their hair for extra body and height.


Did you trial many looks before choosing?


The makeup artist did a makeup test for film where she came up with the look based on my initial comments, and after that we refined the look quite a bit through emails where I suggested different makeup brands and shades. Initially she had the foundation too heavy and the lips too pale, which made Samantha look older and not as pretty. I knew from my makeup tests for VIVA that the foundation needed to be more sheer and light  and a little more yellow because of Samantha’s olive tone to be more flattering. When you put pink on olive skin, the skin turns grey.


Was it difficult to keep her looking so pristine under the lights?


Amazingly, no. She is a very controlled person who doesn’t rub her eyes or touch her face or do anything that will smudge her makeup, so that helped a lot! She was also powdered quite heavily.

Can you recommend any commercial colours / products to achieve Elaine's look?


We used mostly Shiseido makeup - eyeshadow, foundation, blush, and lipsticks. We found that with Samantha’s porcelain yet slightly olive-toned skin, Shiseido was the right product to achieve a flawless look for her. They make some very pretty orange and pink lipsticks that are creamy and opaque like the vintage lipsticks, but of course much smoother and less chalky than vintage lipsticks. And their eyeshadows are surprisingly vintage-looking for powdered shadows, since the colors are so vibrant. Emma also used a cream eyeshadow for the blue, but I’m not sure which company made that; and of course she used a liquid liner for the strong black line on her upper lids, and a nice full set of eyelashes on top of two or three coats of mascara on her natural lashes. Samantha’s lashes are already very long and thick, and she has enormous eyes like Audrey Hepburn, so all of that helped as well.

I contacted Shiseido post interview, for some product recommendations but they didn't reply ...so I suggest asking the helpful staff at Mecca if you would like to try Elaine's 'killer' look as I'm can picture some Nars products that would fit the bill.


Anna Biller is currently on her way to London for FrightFest where The Love Witch is screening this Saturday the 27th of August.

You can watch read more about Anna Biller and her projects here.

You can watch the trailer for The Love Witch here.

Thea X

Thea Basiliou
Thea Basiliou