Hot List: Amy Seimetz
By R. Kurt Osenlund
Photography by JUCO. Hair: Karina Vega. Makeup: Tsipporah Liebman/Tracey Mattingly.
Amy Seimetz is a nomad. In recent years, the indie breakout has lived in Tampa, San Francisco, New York, North Carolina, Vancouver, and France. Even as we chat, Seimetz is on the move, briskly walking past shops and produce markets on the streets of L.A. “My mom is very action-oriented,” she says. “If I was ever bummed out, she would always say, ‘Just go do something. Go take a walk — be proactive and change your situation.’ ”
Anyone who’s followed Seimetz’s career can see that Mom’s advice stuck. Continually teaming with film fest regulars and mumblecore maestros like Joe Swanberg and Ti West, Seimetz is a creative workhorse. Her turn as a struggling waitress in the 2011 Sundance fave The Off Hours had reviewers dubbing her a low-budget It Girl with a palpable collaborative approach, and she was as cool with playing the female lead in Shane Carruth’s 2013 curio, Upstream Color, as she is with working the boom mic or getting people lunch.
“I think it’s important to remind myself that, on a certain independent level, there aren’t many people actually following through with making films,” Seimetz says. “It seems like there are, but really, I feel connected to pretty much anyone who’s made an independent film in, you know, the past five years, at least by one degree. It’s just about people showing up and plugging away at the project.”
Seimetz’s humble work ethic has spurred her to write and direct her own material (like last year’s Sun Don't Shine); landed her a recurring role on AMC’s The Killing (she’ll return for the final season, on Netflix); and led her to directors like Yen tan, who cast her in last year’s Pit Stop as a wife and mother who continues to live with her husband after he comes out as gay. “I’ve seen so many films in which somebody comes out, and it’s devastating,” Seimetz says. “that happens, sure, but it starts to become detrimental — like, ‘Don’t come out because you’ll devastate a family.’ I thought it was really progressive and interesting to just show people making it work.”
In June, Seimetz is back on screen as an indoctrinated expat in The Sacrament, a West-directed thriller about a group of VICE journalists who trek across the globe to investigate a religious cult. Founded by an extremist known as “Father” (Gene Jones), the commune seems like a clear nod to Jim Jones’s People’s temple, but, especially in the wake of Fred Phelps’s death, it also evokes the Westboro Baptist Church.
“I don’t know the right way to approach wrong ideas that people have, like bigotry and racism,” Seimetz says, “but I think it involves finding out exactly where those ideas came from on a human level, even if it’s as monstrous and odd as ideas get.” She continues, “But it’s hard. Like, you could be having a completely normal conversation with someone, and suddenly they’re like, ‘I think the comet’s coming for us.’ And you’re like, ‘Are you joking? Oh, you’re not joking. OK.’”
Watch the "Red Band" trailer for The Sacrament below: