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Interview: Dorian Brown Pham Talks Running Wild (Exclusive)

Defending their most valued beliefs, especially when other people don’t approve of those notions, can be a harrowing, but equally important, life experience for many people. But the characters in actress Dorian Brown Pham’s new drama, ‘Running Wild,’ are honoring their ideals, no matter what obstacles they’re forced to overcome in order to maintain them. That celebration is an important aspect of Pham’s protagonist learning to not only to finally accept full responsibility in her life, but also embrace how her actions are influencing other people.

‘Running Wild’ is now playing in select theaters and On Demand, courtesy of SP Releasing and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The drama was directed by Alex Ranarivelo and written by Brian Rudnick
and Christina Moore, who also acts in the movie. Moore and one of her co-star, Sharon Stone, also served as producers on the film.

Set on a ranch, ‘Running Wild’ follows Stella Davis (Pham), a socialite who’s thrown into a world of chaos when her husband dies unexpectedly, and she discovers that they are in financial ruin. Her late husband had secretly mortgaged their massive acreage, the Double Diamond Ranch, to keep them afloat, and she has 90 days until the creditors will start calling. She must decide whether to address her adversity head on, or quit and let the bank have the land that has been in her family’s name for four generations.

Stella stumbles upon her great grandmother’s diaries, and finds inspiration in the tales of the dramatic obstacles her ancestors endured when they first secured the land hundreds of years ago. Stella decides that she must find the courage to persevere. She has to abandon her days of leisure and actually get her hands dirty. Her ranch manager, Brannon Bratt (Jason Lewis), is there to educate her on the day to day operations of the Double Diamond Estate.

While on an exploration through the property, Stella discovers a herd of sickly wild horses that have broken through a fence and are grazing on her land. Brannon explains that it is a federal crime to feed or water the animals. Stella refuses to accept this fact, as she can’t bare the thought of their continued suffering.

In order to keep the horses on her property, she makes a deal with the prison system to use her ranch as a Prison Rehabilitation Equine Program (PREP). The state funded program also supplies some cash for her to maintain the estate while she figures out how to pay the creditors back. Every day for three months, five convicts are brought to her property and work with the wild horses.

All seems to be going according to plan, until Stella’s best friend, Jennifer Hutchins (Moore) invites her sister, an animal right’s extremist, to town. Meredith Parrish (Stone) shows up and threatens to shut Stella’s PREP program down. Meredith uses her massive wealth, media savvy and charismatic power to turn the town against Stella. It is only a matter of time until the pressure might cause Stella to fold.

Pham generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Running Wild’ during an exclusive interview. Among other things, the actress discussed how she was drawn to the role of Stella in the drama because not only did she value the opportunity to work with horses on the California ranches were the film was shot, but she also appreciated the story’s themes of love, redemption and the relationship between the horses and humans. She also appreciated the fact that the movie’s writers and director encouraged the cast to share their thoughts and ideas about the development of their characters and the story.

ShockYa (SY): You play Stella Davis in the new drama, ‘Running Wild,’ which follows Stella Davis, a young widow who’s trying to save her ranch following her husband’s fatal car crash. She creates a convict rehab program, in which they work with wild horses that wandered onto her property. What was it about the script that influenced you to take on the role?

Dorian Brown Pham (DBP): The idea of being in Petaluma and riding horses for a month certainly made an impression. But also the journey I would be able to take while being Stella was very exciting.

SY: The story focuses on several themes, including love, redemption and the relationship between horses and humans. Why did you feel it was important to include all of those elements in this story?

DBP: I was happy that those elements were already beautifully portrayed by the writers, Brian and Christine. My job was easy – I just had to bring those elements to life. Even when we would rehearse before each scene, our director Alex would say, “Don’t cry during rehearsal – save it.” But I wouldn’t be able to help myself-the writing was so clear to me.

SY: Sharon Stone’s character, Meredith Parish, is an animal activist who wants Stella to stop using the wild horses in the rehab program. Why do you think it was important to make a film that focuses on the clashing views on how people can best care for animals?

DBP: I had never thought about both viewpoints, but they’re both very strong. In a way, both viewpoints save Stella and Meredith’s lives. The idea of saving those horses is what gets them up in the morning. So it’s not even just different opinions, it’s different livelihoods.

SY: ‘Running Wild’ features a diverse cast, including Sharon, Tommy Flanagan, Jason Lewis, Christina Moore and Tom Williamson. Were you able to rehearse with the rest of the cast, and speak to them about their characters and the story, as both an actress and a co-writer?

DBP: Christine and Alex were very open to our thoughts and ideas. They constantly wanted us to pitch them anything and everything, and I think that was mainly because we didn’t have time for any rehearsal. I didn’t speak to the other actors about their characters, though. That, to me, is personal and between them/me and the creators.

SY: What was your working relationship like with Alex Ranarivelo, who you mentioned, and who directed the movie?

DBP: I love Alex! I felt like we were on the same page pretty much the whole time. He has a great sense of humor and sense of calm while leading us on setM and that is so important. He is a workhorse. That man is constantly working.

SY: What was the experience of shooting ‘Running Wild’ independently an actress?

DBP: Working on the film as an actress was one of the best experiences of my life. Working with the horses and in that location and with those people was just perfection. (The ranches in California were the drama was filmed were) so gorgeous. You can’t ask for a prettier location.

Watch the official trailer for ‘Running Wild’ below.

Dorian Brown Pham as Stella Davis in the film, ‘Runing Wild,’ an SP Releasing and Sony
Pictures Home Entertainment release. Photo courtesy of SP Releasing and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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As a life-long fan of entertainment, particularly films, television and music, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic. While still attending college, Karen began writing for Shockya during the summer of 2007, when she began writing horror movie reviews. Since she began writing for Shockya, Karen has been promoted to the position of Senior Movies & Television Editor. Some of her duties in the position include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, producing posts on celebrity news and contributing reviews on albums and concerts. Some of her highlights include attending such festivals and conventions as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, SXSW, Toronto After Dark, the Boston Film Festival and New York Comic-Con.

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